Not to start a TIF, or should I say a TID, but the city (taxpayers) support a hotel on Hwy. 51 and other large businesses in the community with tax districts. The goal is to create and retain jobs. City taxpayers have also pitched in to have the old tissue plant property cleaned up, which through matching funds from a private investor, would make the property one day eligible to be developed.
Sure, the jobs created under the Main Street Program might not be in manufacturing, but they are the kind that allow your neighbors to pay their property taxes and stay in their homes.
The city provides something like $3,000 in cash annually to the Main Street Program, which is far below the amount spent to create roads and utilities in TIFs, and the $15,000 most communities of similar size typically spend to support local Main Street Programs. Funds locally are also raised through a business improvement district (BID) funded by the downtown, from pledges from outside the district and from fund raisers through volunteers efforts to support the program. The state Main Street Program does not provide any financial assistance to the local program, but instead, provides technical assistance in the form of helping small business owners and providing free facade renderings to those who would like to invest their money into improving buildings. Any other funds provided to business owners in the downtown are done so through a low-interest revolving loan, meaning the amount has to be paid back by the business owner.
There's also the reverse side of not investing in the district. Take Antigo's downtown for example, or for that matter, take any number of downtowns across the country that have fallen into decay and are now blemishes in their communities. Visit a community where a downtown is no longer relevant, and I think repercussions will speak for themselves.
Financing aside, I think the most important facet of the local Main Street Program is the effort to restore downtown buildings. These buildings are the remaining few statues of Tomahawk's past and provide an important sense of identity for the community. What would Tomahawk lose if the downtown wasn't preserved? Personally, I think it is a lot more than just a few old brick buildings.
I also think downtown Tomahawk businesses have a lot to offer. There's food stores, restaurants, antique stores, retail, a book store and the list goes on and on down the street. The best part is, as previously stated, the owners of these businesses are our neighbors and fellow community members. They support local numerous non-profit organizations by donating merchandise for raffles and prizes for fund raisers. They care about their customers and depend on return visits. It's been my experience that if they don't have what I'm looking for, If you ask, they'll accommodate as best they can to meet your needs. That's a real nice thing about shopping in downtown Tomahawk, which rarely is the case when shopping at big box stores.