Moving ahead: Calumet DDA seeks to increase business in downtown district

CALUMET — While many residents have heard of the Village Master Plan, and some had issues with it, the master plan remains a very valuable and little understood tool to any municipality, and its several committees. It is from the guidelines set down in the master plan that village officials act to increase the quality of the village, economically, residentially, and recreationally. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) plays a vital role in that, according to DDA Executive Director Leah Polzien.

“All of the village’s entities should be working from the same playbook,” she said, “which is the Village Master Plan, and provides a guideline for how the community should move forward. The DDA is currently working on its plans for 2019, based on strategies laid out in the Master Plan and is looking forward to some joint work sessions with the newly seated Village Council and Planning Commission in the next few months.”

The DDA also feels that blight is a major concern, Polzien said, and in 2018, the DDA paid for the Village’s blight ordinances to be updated to meet state statutes, so that they are enforceable moving forward.

This is a benefit, not only to the business district, but to the community as a whole, said Polzien. In an effort to address blight and help support the district’s business owners, the DDA budgets $10,000 for a mini-grant program that awards applicants up to $2,000 with a 50 percent match for authorized design and improvement projects.

Polzien said that as the DDA is funded by Tax Increment Financing, it does not have a membership program, but like most government units, it is able to accept donations, which are tax deductible.

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