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Opera house

The restored facade of Darlington's Driver Opera House, which opened in 1883, is shown. The city is receiving a federal grant to upgrade its industrial park.

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $1 million grant to the city of Darlington to expand its industrial park in the hope of creating 250 jobs.

The funding, from the department’s Economic Development Administration, will be used to engineer, design and construct infrastructure in the expanded portion of the industrial park.

“This investment in Darlington’s Industrial Park will support the expansion of existing and future industries, paving the way for job growth in the region,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The city had purchased about 37 acres adjacent to the industrial park for the expansion with an option to purchase another 37 acres if desired in the future, Lafayette County economic development director Abby Haas said.

Haas said the current industrial park is almost at capacity with current tenants.

The majority of businesses in the industrial park are focused on agriculture and manufacturing. Representatives with Lafayette County and the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission would not name companies committed to or considering a move to the industrial park.

“We know there’s growing demand for business and manufacturing in our region,” said Troy Maggied, the commission’s executive director.

The city is matching the $1 million with local funds, also to be used to build up infrastructure in the industrial park.

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.