GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - A much anticipated project in downtown Green Bay is getting a boost at the state level. Governor Scott Walker is setting aside $2 million in his next budget to help fund the expansion of the KI Convention Center.
The $20 million project has been in the works for nearly two years. Now it looks like the city is finally getting the last of its funding to break ground.
"This is in the governor's wheelhouse," Mayor Jim Schmitt said. "It creates jobs, it's a great economic engine for the city of Green Bay and, really, for all of northeast Wisconsin."
As part of his two year budget, Governor Walker is pledging $2 million to help with the expansion. It's a commitment Mayor Schmitt said is crucial to its completion. Originally the city asked for $4 million, or 18% of the project's cost. However, Mayor Schmitt said $2 million is enough to get things going.
"We worked through the county to get the room tax money, some private money, operating funds," he explained. "As well as some money that we have been saving for this project because we're not using property tax dollars."
The expansion will nearly double the size of the current facility.
It was also announced the neighboring Clarion Hotel has been sold to an undisclosed buyer. It's something Mayor Schmitt said is another positive for the KI expansion plans.
"That property will be sold, it will be renovated, it will be upgraded and will be part of this overall package," Schmitt said of the Clarion Hotel.
Jeff Mirkes, Executive Director of Downtown Green Bay Inc., says the project will make the area even more attractive for businesses and tourists.
"The expansion of the KI is very significant to all the progress that's currently underway downtown," he said.
Mayor Schmitt said construction is slated to start in October.