Monticello Receives AARP Community Challenge Grant

Monticello Selected as a 2024 AARP Community Challenge Grantee!

The village of Monticello, along with the Monticello Chamber of Commerce, Green County Development Corporation (GCDC), and the Green County Leaders are thrilled to announce that Monticello has been selected to receive a 2024 AARP Community Challenge grant. Monticello was one of only 343 grantees selected (out of 3,300+ applications!) from across all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

At the request of the village, a 2023/2024 Green County Leaders group provided a first impressions report along with detailed recommendations for community improvements to enhance downtown foot traffic. This report provided support for the application to AARP for the Community Challenge Grant which was awarded $13,700 to Monticello.

With this quick-action grant and additional funding support provided by Toyota Motor North America, Monticello will be able to increase pedestrian safety by improving walkable areas, creating vibrant pedestrian infrastructure and engaging community members. The grant award will provide funding for benches, signage and landscaping that will be installed along key areas of the community and recreational trails to direct people through downtown Monticello.

“We are incredibly proud that AARP selected us for this investment to make Monticello more livable for residents of all ages,” stated GCDC executive director Olivia Otte. “AARP is a nationwide leader in making communities more livable and we are honored that they see the tangible value this project will bring to our area.”

This is all part of AARP’s nationwide work on livable communities, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties across the country to become great places for all. AARP believes that communities should provide safe, walkable streets, affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.

To learn more about the projects being funded by the AARP Community Challenge across the nation, including all 343 granted projects this year, visit An interactive map of current and past AARP Community Challenge projects and AARP’s Livable Communities work can be viewed at

For questions or comments regarding the project, please contact GCDC at 608-328-9452, the Monticello Chamber at, or the Village of Monticello at 608-938-4383 or

The Creative Economy as a Catalyst for Growth

Embracing Innovation: The Creative Economy as a Catalyst for Growth

[Monroe, June 19, 2024] – Creativity plays a significant role in economic transformation. Rural communities have unique challenges that benefit from shared ideas, networking, and learning from one another. The recent Creative Economy Summit held in Monroe connected a diverse group from southwest Wisconsin to address economic development from a different perspective.

Hosted at the Monroe Arts Center, Create Wisconsin, Green County Development Corporation (GCDC), Lafayette County Economic Development Corporation, and Prosperity Southwest teamed up to sponsor a the summit aimed at generating ideas and conversation for economic development strategies in our communities.

Anne Katz, Executive Director of Create Wisconsin shared that Wisconsin’s creative sector, comprised of over 35 key arts and culture industries, contributed $11.9 billion to the Wisconsin economy, and employed over 89,000 workers. She pointed out the social impact that innovation and creativity have on our economy and how it builds a climate for businesses to succeed.

“A creative economy is not just about art and culture; it encompasses a wide array of sectors from technology and design to entertainment and beyond,” said Olivia Otte, GCDC Executive Director. “Partnering with others to share and create new ideas and solutions can be transformative for rural economies.”

Local leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, elected officials, community groups,  educators and others interested in discussing creative solutions and opportunities to help our region thrive came together for a morning of creative discussion and action planning. The consensus of the group was that collaboration and sharing of ideas to support one another in growing southwest Wisconsin in unique and diverse ways makes all our communities better.

“The summit aimed to establish a platform fostering bold ideas, experimentation, and empowerment for entrepreneurs, creators, and innovators. By cultivating an environment where creativity flourishes, we ultimately cultivate thriving communities.” Lafayette County Economic Development and Tourism Director, Allison Taylor said.

Understanding the expansive nature of the Creative Economy helps us all recognize that the impact of the creative economy extends far beyond economic metrics; it enriches societies, empowers individuals, and inspires progress.

GCDC Celebrates First Year of Home Construction Cooperative


Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) opened the doors to the first project house of the Home Construction Cooperative to celebrate and give recognition to the hard work and support of all involved. In addition to the donation of the home by SSM Health Monroe, GCDC received grant funds and additional donations from local banks, businesses and private donors to provide over $140,000 in support of the program.

The program, which began with the 2023/2024 school year brought Monroe High School, Skilled Building Trades LAUNCH students together to gain in-demand, home renovation and construction skills. With only one hour per day several days per week, students, teachers, and specialty contractors updated and transformed a home donated by SSM Health Monroe.

Students completed bathroom and kitchen demolition and worked alongside local contractors and instructors to learn HVAC, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, masonry and landscaping. The home features new, energy efficient windows and exterior doors, updated plumbing and electric service, new central air unit, and a fully renovated bathroom.

The newly renovated kitchen was designed by students, and includes a small pantry, island, and new appliances. A new patio door and deck were added to open the kitchen space to the outdoors. New vinyl flooring, refinished hardwoods, light fixtures, and accents, along with fresh paint throughout complete the inside.

Additional work included drywall in the garage, freshly poured sidewalk and driveway, new shutters, and exterior lighting, along with landscape clean up and fresh planting. Local contractors provided instruction to teach the students other trades like electrical, plumbing, landscaping, and HVAC.

As students gave tours, attendees noted the “pride in the voices of the students as they explained what they did throughout the school year to transform the home.” GCDC’s Olivia Otte reflected on the community effort that made this project possible, and thanked the donors, attendees, teachers, and students for making the Home Construction Cooperative a huge success.

The home, located on 5th Street in Monroe, will be listed for sale in the coming weeks. All proceeds from the sale will be put back into the program to support next year’s new build planned on a vacant parcel donated by the City of Monroe. Program goals include expansion throughout Green County. Inquiries and interest in donating or being a part of the Home Construction Cooperative can be directed to GCDC.

Many thanks go out to the many donors and supporters of the program: SSM Health Monroe, School District of Monroe, Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Inc, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Alliant Energy, The Bank of New Glarus, Woodford State Bank, First Community Credit Union, Green Bay Packer Foundation, Monona Plumbing And Fire Protection Inc, First National Bank and Trust (Monroe, WI), CGSchmidt, Schlect Family Foundation, Builders FirstSource, Prosperity Southwest, Duxstad McDaniel Law Group, SC, Summit Credit Union, Greenwoods State Bank, Buehler Interiors, Kundert Construction , Monroe Morning Optimists, Marine Credit Union, Veridian Homes, Maz Electric, First Weber Realtors- Jeff Twitty Conway, Monroe Lions Club, Father Campions Champions, Monroe Kiwanis, WI, Monson Septic Pumping & Portable Restrooms LLC, Monroe Excellence in Education, Santos Concrete, Josh D Landscaping & Design, The Garden Spot, Green County Master Gardeners Association, Dane’s Lemonade Stand!

GCDC, a nonprofit Public/Private Partnership organization exists to encourage economic development while maintaining the quality of life that makes Green County a great place to live and work. Contact information can be found at

Monroe to Host Creative Economy Summit

Monroe to host Southwest Wisconsin Creative Economy Summit

Bringing creativity together with economics fosters innovation and prosperity that are vital to sustainable economic growth. A creative economy includes arts and culture, and extends beyond to entertainment, architecture, advertising, technology and more.

On June 19th, Create Wisconsin will team-up with Prosperity Southwest, Lafayette County Economic Development Corporation and Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) to host the Southwest Wisconsin Creative Economy Summit.

The event will be held at the Monroe Arts Center, 1315 11th Street in Monroe from 9:00AM-12:30PM. Local leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, elected officials, non-profit and community groups, service clubs, educators and others interested in discussing creative solutions and opportunities to help our region thrive are invited to attend.

The purpose of the event is to bring together people in southwest Wisconsin who are involved in placemaking, community engagement, and economic and workforce development, to discuss the role of arts and creativity in economic vitality. By identifying current assets our communities can create economic action steps to grow opportunities for all in our communities.

To take part in this free event, please register at

Questions? Please call GCDC at 608-328-9452, or email


Plan to create safer, people-friendly spaces in downtown Albany wins AARP’s Small Dollar, Big Impact grant

VILLAGE OF ALBANY, WI – A proposal submitted by the Green County Development Corp. (GCDC) to beautify and create safer people-friendly spaces in downtown Albany has been selected to receive this month’s AARP Wisconsin “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant.

AARP Wisconsin is awarding $1,000 grants each month throughout 2024 to projects across the state that are designed to make communities better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age. Judges selected this project after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted from all over the state.

Olivia Otte, Executive Director of GCDC, said the goal of the project – called the “Advance Albany Initiative” – is to ‘create a spark that allows us to build excitement and growth in the community.”

The grant will be used to buy reflective crosswalk signs, high-visibility crosswalk paint, and solar-powered LED cross walk lights. The funds will also enable the group to install new flowerpots with native plants in crosswalk islands and put small trees in sidewalk planters. Brochures and flyers about pedestrian safety will also be created and made available in the downtown library.

“By doing this, we will help to enhance the identity of the community and create a space that people want to go to,” Otte said. “This simple addition will serve as a catalyst for community engagement and social cohesion.”

The GCDC was created to serve small communities like Albany. This project, Otte explained, holds a distinctive character as it unfolds within a community characterized by its rural setting and aging population. The village, with a population of approximately 1,200 residents, exudes a sense of tight-knit community spirit.

One year ago, GCDC collaborated with community leaders to conduct first-impression tours of Albany. Key initiatives were identified, and a primary focus emerged: to enhance the downtown area by creating a more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing environment. Because of this community involvement, GCDC has collaborated with the Albany Chamber of Commerce to pursue grants and local donations to turn this vision into reality.

The group used the AARP Walk Audit Toolkit and the AARP Creating Community Gardens resource to help in their planning. “These invaluable tools played a crucial role in helping us refine our focus and identify the top priorities within our community improvement project. By leveraging these toolkits, we gained a clear understanding of the specific areas that required immediate attention and improvements,” Otte said.

Furthermore, she said, “both toolkits facilitated the development of a sustainability plan for our project. Collaborating with community groups and organizations not only diversified our resources but also fostered a sense of shared responsibility and collective ownership for the project’s ongoing success.”

Otte said the AARP grant money will help contribute to the creation of excitement and energy throughout the village.

“We deeply appreciate the AARP grant that GCDC has received, which will contribute significantly to enhancing Albany’s downtown area through beautification and safety initiatives,” she said. “This support not only aligns with Albany’s goals but also generates positive momentum, benefiting both local residents and visitors alike.”

Darrin Wasniewski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach for AARP Wisconsin, said, “We are pleased to see how Green County Development Corp. and the Village of Albany utilized AARP’s Walk Audit Toolkit and Creating Community Gardens in planning this pedestrian safety improvement.

“Older adults are disproportionately affected in traffic crashes involving pedestrians leading to serious injuries or death. We applaud all those involved for focusing on the safety of people walking as they work to create a Livable Community for all ages and all abilities,” Wasniewski said.

AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020 and is now in its fifth year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural and urban parts of the state. For more information, visit


AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning. We advocate for consumers in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP VIVA, a bilingual news source.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at