Community Update – February 24

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Google Capital Invests $40M in Renaissance Learning

The big news of last week came Tuesday, when it was announced that Google Capital became a minority shareholder in locally founded and headquartered Renaissance Learning with a $40 million investment in the education and learning solutions provider. Google is not the first large-name to invest in Renaissance. Other well known partners include Apple, Inc. and Sylvan Learning Systems. The investment also allows for a Google representative to join Renaissance’s board of directors. This individual will be the second recent board member representing major tech players in recent months. Last December, Bruce Chizen, a board member for Oracle and former CEO of Adobe, joined Renaissance Learning’s board. Renlearn2Google Capital, the equity fund’s stated mission is to invest in companies that use technology to change the way people experience the world. If Google’s track record is any indication of changing people’s experience, there is much to come.

Google’s investment is a testament to the significant role Renaissance Learning plays in educational technology. Google’s investment strategy of targeting companies leading in their field affirms the dominance that Renaissance Learning has in their market. Further, it reaffirms the opportunity for us to make our community a place where young workers want to live and work. I continue to make this a priority of mine. Wisconsin Rapids is proud to have Renaissance Learning as part of our community. I am hopeful that this is only the beginning of further growth for the company locally!  In March, I will again meet with Renaissance executives to learn how we may be of assistance in attracting workers and training our local workforce to make Wisconsin Rapids their place of choice to continue to do business.

Technology will continue to be a critical facet of growing our local economy and Google’s investment in a local company is a demonstration of that. We must continue to embrace it and explore ways for other tech firms to start with an idea and grow here. Infrastructure assets like Solarus’ multi-million dollar fiber investment make us a community that is as wired as Silicon Valley and New York City. Now, it’s up to us to make it known to entrepreneurs and employers not yet here and for us to rival those more desirable areas as a place where people want to live, work and raise a family.

Article links: Wall Street Journal  New York Times

Chamber Annual Awards Dinner

Last Thursday was the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting at The Ridges. Members of the community braved the inclement weather to gather and celebrate the Chamber’s success in 2013 and recognize outstanding citizen and businesses contributions over the past year. I want to congratulate Mike and Bonita Wolosek as well as Kathy Rash for their efforts in 2013 earning them Community Spirit awards for their outstanding volunteer efforts making a significant impact in our community. Further, Heather Gygi was awarded for Ambassador of the Year, and Phil Brown was recognized as the Citizen of the Year as someone whose work, community service and involvement has positively impacted our community.

Finally, I’d like to extend my congratulations to area businesses who brought home awards and recognition last Thursday for their investment in the Central Wisconsin area: Jacoby Custom Cues – Innovative Business of the Year, Rubi Reds – Entrepreneurs of the year, and ERCO Worldwide – Business of the Year. Thank you for your continued investment in our community.

Coffee with the Mayor

Last week, I held a session at Cravings Coffee Shop, and next week I look forward to meeting with residents on Wednesday, March 5 at the Olympic II Family Restaurant. I am glad residents are attending to ask questions and provide me feedback. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet and have conversation!

Spread the word to friends and neighbors to join!

Regards,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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