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Entrepreneurship Program is an Important Factor in Local Future

The city of Antigo’s downtown entrepreneurship grant program continues to plant seeds toward the regrowth of downtown, with hopes for a successful harvest in the future.

Officials from the city, Langlade County and CoVantage Credit Union gathered recently to announce a new round of funding for the program, which to date has funneled $150,000 in to the downtown spurring over half-a-million dollars in development.

The $75,000 injection of cash included $25,000 from CoVantage along with $25,000 from the city and $25,000 taken from the closure of the state revolving loan fund program, a joint city-county account with portions also earmarked toward the reconstruction of Fifth Avenue through downtown.

From left, Angie Close, Langlade County Economic Development Corporation executive director; Mayor Bill Brandt; Stephanie Bartletti, CoVantage Credit Union vice-president of marketing; Pam Resch, Langlade County finance director; Dillion Gretzinger, CoVantage commercial loan officer; Rhonda Norrbom, vice president commercial lending; Mark Desotell, City of Antigo director of administrative services.

“We are grateful to continue to support the city and county’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and development in downtown Antigo,” Charlie Zanayed, CEO of CoVantage Credit Union said, adding that the support of members allows CoVantage to do well by doing good.

“CoVantage was founded in Antigo in 1953 and our Antigo headquarters now houses over 200 employees and supports CoVantage’s 115,000 member-owners across all of the communities we serve,” Zanayed added. “We certainly feel an obligation to all of the communities we serve and especially Antigo.”

The Downtown Entrepreneur Grant Program originated in 2015 with an equal contribution of $25,000 from CoVantage Credit Union, Langlade County/Langlade County Economic Development Corporation and the city and was supplemented with an additional $25,000 each in 2018.

“This is Mayor Bill Brandt’s vision,” Mark Desotell, the city’s director of administrative services, said. “We already had a facade grant program in place but he wanted to do more for the downtown.”

The facade grant initiative, which has concluded, supported $567,000 in improvements through $82,000 in grants.

Desotell admitted that not all the redevelopments have been carried through to a successful conclusion, but stressed that grant funds are not released until a project is completed.

And a few disappointments have been outweighed by the array of successes, including Bremax Insurance, located in the remodeled Toburen photography studio, Mortar and Pestle, Nortec Sales, and Farmers Insurance.

Projects currently underway include Stitch & Print, Missy’s Inspiring Images, Wild Epitome LLC, the renovation of the former Antigo rental into the Head Start daycare center, Thrivent Financial, Antigo Shoppers, Savers Food Mart, a new commercial kitchen establishment in the former MoJo’s, and KBV Enterprises, which purchased the former Smitty’s.

The grant provides up to $25,000 in funding for an owner-occupied downtown building or $10,000 for leased space.

“All feed into creating downtown businesses,” Desotell said. “The idea is to grow brick and mortar businesses,”

Source: Antigo Daily Journal