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Envision sees its contribution from city cut in half

Some member businesses step up to make up the difference

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October 19, 2022

FOND DU LAC – A recent move by the Fond du Lac City Council has Envision Greater Fond du Lac looking more to private funders to support its staffing and programming.

Late last month, the council voted to cut its annual contribution to Envision from $62,000 to $32,500, prompting Envision’s pivot in funding sources.

Envision Greater Fond du Lac was formed in 2017 when the former Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce and former Fond du Lac County Economic Development merged.

Since then, the city has paid $10,000 to Envision for its membership, plus an additional $65,000 to support economic development.

City’s perspective
City Council President Patrick Mullen proposed slashing the additional funds in half and instead contribute it to Downton Fond du Lac Partnership – an organization focused on bringing people, activity and business to the heart of Fond du Lac.

Mullen said the move was best for the city and its taxpayers.

“Looking at the city’s budget for community development, I felt directing more of those funds to the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership was a more effective use of taxpayer dollars,” he said.


City Council President Patrick Mullen
Mullen said due to the fact Envision receives funding from the county as well, he didn’t feel comfortable asking city residents to, in essence, pay twice.

Council member Tiffany Brault agreed with Mullen’s thoughts, saying she’d also prefer decreasing the contribution.
“I think Mr. Mullen made a good point that if the county is already contributing a great deal of funds and we’re just basically taxing our residents twice because they happen to live in the city, I’d prefer to lessen that,” she said.

Brault also said if the city is going to invest more into Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, this is the year to do it.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth,” she said. “We’ve seen tremendous investment from the state with the grant funding that’s been available to open new businesses. We’ve had so many new businesses open downtown in the last year, that if we want to keep that momentum going, I think this might be the year to offer some more funding.”

Council member Jane Ricchio said as much as she is a supporter of Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, it just focuses on downtown businesses.

“There are other businesses throughout the city that are well served by Envision, including businesses downtown,” she said. “I believe Envision serves the entire community.”

Envision’s perspective
Sadie Vander Velde, president and CEO of Envision Greater Fond du Lac, said though the city’s decision was unexpected, it’s one the organization can’t dwell on.

“We have reached out to some of our members to make up the loss,” she said. “Our strategic plan does include flipping our public/private funding so that we take in more private investment to fund economic development. As we’ve learned, elections are frequent, councils change, and we cannot be too dependent on public funds.”

Vander Velde said the $32,500 loss represents 5% in Envision’s entire economic development.

In a letter in response to the city’s decision, she said, generally, the investment assists in funding full-time economic development team positions, with a full benefits package. 

Vander Velde said Envision serves the entire county, however, the City of Fond du Lac holds the majority of the county’s population at nearly 42%.


Envision Greater Fond du Lac President and CEO Sadie Vander Velde

“We do the majority of our programming and services in the city,” she said. “Most of our member businesses are also located in the city.”

At this time, Vander Velde said Envision does not plan on decreasing any service or programs.

Though a final decision hasn’t been made yet at the county level regarding Envision funding, she said the discussions have been positive.

“We have heard positive feedback from the county executive and finance committee, but nothing is confirmed yet,” Vander Velde said.

She said the city’s 2040 comprehensive plan recognizes that public-private partnerships are the key to successful redevelopment efforts and Envision fully agrees.

“Envision looks forward to conversations to build this relationship and work together for years to come,” she said.

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