Port Milwaukee and the Milwaukee County Zoo will each get $3.5 million in federal funds for improvement projects, Gov. Tony Evers announced today.
The grants are two of 27 awarded to local governments and organizations in the state, totaling $21.9 million, through Evers’ Tourism Capital Investment Grant Program. The funds come from the federal government as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Joe Biden in 2021.
Port Milwaukee will receive $3.5 million to help it expand maritime infrastructure to accommodate larger cruise ships. Currently, the port does not have the infrastructure to accommodate larger cruise ships, which are expected to return to Milwaukee this year, including the arrival of Viking Cruises ships. Port Milwaukee estimates they will see between 9,000 and 15,000 cruise ship passengers in 2022, according to Evers.
The Milwaukee County Zoo will receive a $3.5 million grant to revitalize and upgrade the entrance at the zoo, which includes the Humboldt Penguin exhibit. The penguin exhibit expansion will allow the Zoo to add interactive features while providing improved habitat for the penguins.
In addition to those grants, VISIT Milwaukee will receive a $112,050 grant for its new custom-designed mobile welcome center. The mobile welcome center is intended to help visitors find events, accommodations, and experiences to enjoy while in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, it will be used as a marketing tool to promote major meetings, conventions, and sporting events.
The Port Washington Historical Society will receive a $38,820 grant to help construct a picnic-like shelter to display a lifeboat from the shipwreck of the car ferry the SS Milwaukee, which sank in 1929 and was located in 1972. The lifeboat was recently refurbished after it had been sitting outside for many years. The shelter will allow the Port Washington Historical Society to display the lifeboat while protecting it from the elements.
The Ozaukee County Agricultural Society will receive a $29,640 grant to install a permanent chain link fence around the grandstand area of the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds to improve the safety and well-being of fairgoers.