The spirit of collaboration received some recognition this week as the city of La Crosse accepted a state-wide organization’s award for its work on the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood Revitalization Project. Mayor Tim Kabat announced the award Friday, September 16, saying the city was “very honored” to receive the Wisconsin Economic Development Association’s Community Economic Development Award on Wednesday, September 14. “It’s really a testament to how great we do things here in the Coulee Region,” Kabat said. “We see a need, we get together, and we really roll up our sleeves as a group of partners to make this happen.”
The statewide group of economic development professionals chose La Crosse’s initiative due to its work to revitalize the neighborhood on La Crosse’s South Side, which began with the creation of tax incremental financing district 16 in 2006, and led to a city partnership with Gundersen Health System and the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood Association to combat perceptions that the area was unsafe. It grew into partnerships that included Coulee Cap, Habitat for Humanity, Western Technical College, La Crosse Promise, and La Crosse County, focusing on improving housing and promoting education.
City planner Jason Gilman praised the work of the city’s partners saying the project earned the award “because it has all the hallmarks of a tremendous economic development initiative.” “It hits on some of the things like social equity and environmental sustainability and economic policy, and I think that’s what sets us apart,” Gilman said. “It’s a very unique project that people can learn from around the state.” While work in the area is ongoing, council member Francis Formanek said he has been amazed at how far it’s come in the past five years.
“The metamorphosis and the change have been outstanding,” Formanek said. “As we grow in the years that are coming about, it’s just going to be better.” James Hill of the La Crosse Area Development Corporation nominated the project for the award because he believed the neighborhood can set an example of what neighborhood revitalization can look like. “What we saw is that Powell-Poage-Hamilton is a story of vision, collaboration and resources,” Hill said. “It’s a story that can be replicated throughout our area and across the state.” Hill also took a moment to remember the late La Crosse Promise Executive Director, Jerilyn Dinsmoor, who passed away September 4, praising her work in the neighborhood.