Community Update – March 4

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Central Wisconsin Days

Last week, Central Wisconsin Days 2014 convened for a day and a half in Madison. There, I joined Heart of Wisconsin Chamber leaders, regional business leaders, state officials- elected and appointed, and my local counterpart representatives to bring our economic development interests and challenges in Central Wisconsin to Madison.  Central Wisconsin’s economic vitality and its ability to remain competitive with other areas- regional and beyond- depends on the engagement and interaction of local representatives in the idea-sharing of issues having regional significance. As local representatives, we are closest to our people’s challenges and opportunities, therefore, it is important to speak with our state lawmakers and administration officials.

CentergyCentral Wisconsin Days is held annually in Madison and organized by Centergy.  For those unfamiliar with Centergy, it is the Central Wisconsin Alliance for Economic Development- a non-profit organization consisting of businesses, chambers, convention and visitors bureaus, educational institutions, cities and individuals- working together to improve the region’s business climate and civic infrastructure.  Centergy’s mission is to align resources, encourage cooperation among all sectors of our regional economy, and promote the value of doing business in Wisconsin-to stimulate measurable economic development.

It is no question that thriving communities are key to Wisconsin’s long-term success and sustainability and that strong community and municipal partnerships are crucial to having successful communities. The Central Wisconsin Days event included valuable sessions on:

        1. Legislative Visits- Our large group divided into smaller groups to, in effect, ‘swarm the Capitol’. We visited with our state representatives and those serving on committees important to our legislative agenda. The groups advocated for the enumeration of the Highway 54 bypass, important to the redevelopment of the former Domtar site in Port Edwards. Other topics included, spanning from fostering small business growth, enhancing tourism and economic development, to housing and real estate, energy & utilities and state & local finance. These conversations allowed participants to get pressing and relevant issues in front of legislators. Their session is coming to a close but consideration for the next state budget remains.
        2. In addition to the legislative visits, our group heard several presentations by Cabinet Secretarys or their representatives from the Department of Transportation, Department of Administration and the Department of Workforce Development, to name a few.

The topics discussed at Central Wisconsin Days, all very important to our City, reminded me that our City is not alone in many of our challenges- economic and others.  Meetings such as this with representatives and businesses of neighboring municipalities and state legislators affords us the opportunity to have discussion and advocate for action steps supporting economic development in cities.

Chamber Annual Awards Dinner – Recognition

Last week, I acknowledged the recipients of the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards and recognition.  In doing so, I unintentionally omitted an important recipient of recognition at the meeting.  I want to congratulate the Wisconsin Rapids Kiwanis Club, who brought home the night’s Shining Star Award.  The Kiwanis Club  was a truly deserving recipient of the award for all of the involvement they have in supporting youth in our community.  I thank the group for all the work they do in our community!

ARTi Gras 2014

A celebration of the Arts will take place Thursday March 6th-9th and is a collaborative effort by the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre and the Central Wisconsin Cultural Center. The days  and evenings are packed with events, some one-of-a-kind! Guest comedians will return to their roots of Wisconsin Rapids on Friday, and a Masquerade Ball is planned Saturday night. I commend the two organizations for joining forces to make this event possible. I hope to see you at one or more of the events! View event details here.

Coffee with the Mayor

Last week, I held a discussion session at Perkins 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!

This Wednesday, March 5th, I will be at The Olympic II Family Restaurant, 2520 8th Street South,  from 8:30AM-9:30AM. Spread the word to friends and neighbors.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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