The city of Kewaunee has received two grants totaling $1.75 million from the state Department of Administration (DOA), part of the 2020 Community Development Block Grant program.

$1 million of the funding comes from the CDBG-PF (Public Facilities) program, and $750,000 is from the CDBG-CLOSE funds that sprang from the now-defunct county Revolving Loan Fund. The CLOSE funds will be used as matching funds for the public facilities grant.

Kewaunee City Administrator Fred Schnook thanked the County Board and its staff on Tuesday (Sept. 15) for their help in applying for the grants in tandem.

“That strategy was developed by Kewaunee County,” Schnook said.

The grants are “a huge shot in the arm” for the city in its efforts to reinvent its downtown, especially the waterfront area, he said, speaking on behalf of Mayor Jason Jelinek.

“We think it’s an important economic development tool for the city of Kewaunee to look like it is worthy of investment,” Schnook said. “Why invest in a city if it’s not going to invest in itself?”

The funding is the latest step in a process of blight elimination that has been ongoing for about three years.

“These two grants are going to fundamentally alter the look and the feel of the city of Kewaunee, particularly our harbor front area, Fishermen’s Point, remove the industrial feel of our waterfront area, and soften the feel and make it more appropriate for our 21st century economy and commercial development,” Schnook said.

Gov. Tony Evers, with Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan, announced more than $36 million in funding for 42 public infrastructure and facility projects across Wisconsin, including the Kewaunee grant.

“This funding is not only critical to public safety, but to improving Wisconsin communities across our state where folks enjoy living, working, learning, and recreating,” Evers said. “These 42 projects will benefit Wisconsinites from Antigo to Whitehall and will bolster our communities.”

“Investing in core infrastructure services ensures Wisconsinites can remain proud of the communities in which they live, work and raise families, as well as maintain a positive and healthy quality of life,” said DOA Secretary Brennan.

The grants will be used by local governments to assist with infrastructure and facility projects totaling more than $72 million. The projects include but are not limited to water, stormwater, and sanitary sewer improvements and replacement activities, as well as sidewalk and surface street projects, and blight elimination activities.