WAUSAU – The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. recently recognized Wausau among the best downtown revitalization projects of 2020 at the 30th Wisconsin Main Street Awards ceremony held virtually.

These projects included historic preservation and downtown economic development efforts supported by communities across Wisconsin. Wausau was recognized with two awards: the Diversity and Inclusion award for the Black Lives Matter March and the Best Special Event for Dining on the Street.

Diversity and Inclusion Award – Black Lives Matter March

Black Lives Matter. Photo courtesy Wausau River District.

The Wausau Black Lives Matter March was recognized for the Diversity and Inclusion Award as a display of the most creativity and success in fostering and embracing diversity and inclusion within the community. The march, organized by Carmyn Hoen, Kayley McColley, Miah Medina, Christine Salm, Jaxon Seeger, and Gwen Taylor, created a space for collective mourning and called attention to the significant disparities in this country. Starting at the 400 Block in downtown and with more than 3,000 community members in attendance, the march highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in creating a welcoming community for all.

Best Special Event – Dining on the Street

The Wausau River District received the Best Special Event award for the Dining on the Street series. In the wake of COVID-19 and the ever-changing restrictions placed on restaurant capacity, the Wausau River District used this as an opportunity to forge a new dining experience. Two blocks of Third Street are closed every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for restaurants to expand table service into the street more than tripling their outdoor seating. 

With eight restaurants participating in Dining on the Street, weekly attendance ranged from 800 to 2,000. The series generated an estimated $600,000 in economic impact, created opportunities for local artists, and was often the best night of the week economically for restaurants, according to Wausau River District.