Wausau café named WEDC finalist for 2024 Main Street Makeover contest

One grand prize winner will receive funding and assistance to upgrade their business
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 1:06 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Three downtown businesses from around the state have been named as finalists in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s annual Main Street Makeover Contest.

One grand prize winner will receive funding and assistance to upgrade their business. Finalists were selected based on their business track record, the vision for their business, and the potential for the makeover to have a positive impact on their downtown district.

The three finalists are:

Café 529, located in downtown Wausau in the former LaPrima Deli location, was established last September.

Owner Tammy Bailey stated, “We’ve had some struggles during our first year in business, but have worked through many of them. We have a new website, a streamlined catering menu, and a brand new partnership with Wausau Charcuterie, another new business just starting out. In addition, I have a great new manager, Emily, who has really helped maintain a consistent schedule during the week. We’re ready to focus on growth this next year and what better way than with a makeover of our space!”

Based on the popular reality show concept, established businesses located in one of the state’s 35 Wisconsin Main Street and 83 Connect Communities had the opportunity to nominate themselves for a “makeover” that will take place in the spring of 2024. The winning businesses will receive personalized technical assistance and up to $10,000 to implement recommended changes, which could include interior and exterior design improvements or personalized assistance to boost the business’s image and operations.

The winner will be announced in early November. The winning businesses will spend several months working with Main Street staff and consultants from RetailWorks, Inc. a Milwaukee-based interior design firm, on a renovation plan, followed by a 48-hour transformation event in the spring.

In the future, Café 529 plans to offer hands-on baking and crafts classes as well as the rental of space for small events like bridal and baby showers or small business meetings. “The makeover will help us provide a fresh new space for the community,” Bailey added.

The new and improved business spaces will be formally unveiled during a public celebration featuring state and local officials. All eligible businesses that submit applications for the competition will receive technical assistance from the Main Street team to help achieve their goals and enhance their business.

Now in its eighth year, the Main Street Makeover Contest is an initiative of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, a comprehensive revitalization program overseen by WEDC and designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in Wisconsin. The contest is designed to raise awareness of the Wisconsin Main Street Program and Connect Communities Program, which are the two downtown revitalization initiatives overseen by WEDC.