WEDC: City of Merrill receives $417,250 state grant to help redevelop riverfront

WEDC’s Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment grant assists city in spurring future development and job creation

MADISON, WI. March 16, 2015 – The City of Merrill has been awarded a $417,250 grant from the state’s Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment Program, an initiative that helps spur redevelopment on abandoned properties throughout Wisconsin.

The grant, awarded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), will be used to help fund a $1.4 million project to redevelop 19 acres of vacant industrial property along the Wisconsin River. The city’s Eastside Riverfront Redevelopment Project calls for demolishing the aging, idle buildings on site and clearing the land to make way for new development that will ultimately create jobs and increase the city’s tax base. The project also aims to put more of a focus on one of Merrill’s greatest assets: the Wisconsin River.

“This project provides Merrill with an outstanding opportunity for long-term economic development, and WEDC is pleased to assist the city in making it a reality,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “The first step toward future development is eliminating the existing idle buildings on that property, and this grant will help the city do just that.”

“This project and grant are the result of a great deal of hard work by city staff and consultants” said Merrill Mayor Bill Bialecki. “We look forward to the completion of this project to provide more additional jobs, tax base and recreational opportunities. We also thank WEDC for their assistance in making this project possible.”

WEDC’s Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment Programs, created in 2013, stimulates investment and job creation in idle, abandoned and underutilized manufacturing sites that cannot be solely redeveloped by the private sector due to their scale and complexity.

The competitive program offers grants of up to $1 million to communities for the implementation of redevelopment plans for sites of 10 acres or more that have been idle, abandoned or underutilized for at least five years. The sites must have had at least 25 years of prior commercial or industrial usage to qualify. The funds can be used for demolition, environmental remediation, or site-specific improvements defined in a redevelopment plan.

WEDC expects to award $3.4 million to municipalities in this round of funding, and more grant announcements will be made in coming weeks.

Officials in Merrill, a city in north-central Wisconsin with a population of about 10,000, have spent the last four years reclaiming and transforming property in the downtown and riverfront areas. The Eastside Riverfront Redevelopment Project is a continuation of that effort, and is expected to act as a catalyst for continued redevelopment and private investment along the riverfront.

The Eastside Riverfront Redevelopment Project will finish clearing the long-vacant 15-acre former Anson-Gilkey site for redevelopment and facilitate extension of the River Bend Trail along the Wisconsin River east of Center Ave. The project includes the demolition of the former Page Milk facility to facilitate redevelopment of that property adjoining the former Anson-Gilkey site.


About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.