Whiting pursues WEDC grant for Wellness Spa development
By Taylor J. Hale
WHITING — Officials from the Village of Whiting unanimously approved a resolution to pursue funds from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Community Development Investment Grant at the Village Board Agenda meeting on Mar. 12.
The grant will allow for the reimbursement of up to $250,000 in expenses for the future Wellness Spa development in the Whiting area after the business has invested at least 75% of the projected $1 million-plus project.
Though the grant is for private developments, the funding is geared to stimulate activity in central areas of growing towns and villages. Community leaders must apply for the funds, rather than business owners.
“The grant is going to help the developers considerably,” said Village of Whiting President Paul Stroik in an interview with the Gazette.
The Wellness Spa is going to utilize the grant to continue to expand its establishment, located at 3916 Water St. The organization is in the works of adding additional “resort” quarters for guests to stay during their visits. The expansions will encourage out of town guest to spend more time in Portage County.
“So when people come up here and go to the Wellness Spa, and they want a place to stay and go biking or walking on the trails, now they have the option,” Stroik explained.
An application for the grant must be submitted by April 1 for plans to continue this fiscal year. Board members gave Stroik authority to proceed with the forms along with the village’s assigned attorney as they see fit.
WEDC Economic Director Tim Weber spoke at the meeting. He informed officials that although the responsibilities for accepting and dispersing the funds falls on the village, the involved business must have completed at least 75 percent of their set project – making the grant relatively risk-free for Whiting.
“We won’t release the funds until the business does about a million dollars worth of the project,” Weber explained. “It is a three to one release. The village would protect themselves with a developers agreement. In my six years here, we have never come after a community for the funds.”
The mandatory prior commitment by the business gives officials breathing room on the project. The village would also be responsible for completing an estimated two annual reports, depending on the specified project length. A schedule of expenditures must also be submitted to the WEDC by the involved groups.
Wellness Spa Owner Deborah Adams was in attendance at the meeting. She sees the reimbursement program as a means to shape Whiting’s “downtown” area. She brought the grant to the board’s attention initially.
“I think our whole goal with this is to make the area around here like Whiting’s downtown,” Adams said in reference to Whiting’s expanding commerce space near the spa. “This main area is kind of the hub now.”
Village officials can apply for the grant once per fiscal year. The board sees this funding tool as a new major asset in financing future projects and helping attract new businesses to the region. Mosinee, Marshfield and Wausau all have participated in the WEDC grant program. Stevens Point is also in the process of working with WEDC representatives for the grant. An estimated completion date for the Wellness Spa extensions is unknown at this time according to officials.
“The completion date is going to be an ongoing thing,” Stroik explained to the Gazette. “There are going to be multiple additions.”
For more information on the WEDC grant visit their website at https://wedc.org/programs-and-resources/community-development-investment-grant/.
Contact Taylor J. Hale at [email protected] with Portage County news and information.