Community Update – National Small Business Week



National Small Business Week

The American success story has been fueled by pioneers who think big, take risks and work hard. From storefront shops to high-tech startups, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our nation’s promise. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 8.08.52 AMAcknowledging that fact, the President of the United States has, every year since 1963, issued a proclamation on behalf of National Small Business Week.  This year, the event takes place from May 1 to May 7. Its aim is to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners to our economy.

More than half of all U.S. citizens either own or work for a small business. Such businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in our nation each year. Every day, small businesses create 21st century jobs, drive innovation and increase prosperity in communities throughout the country.

IMG_0551In our hometown of Wisconsin Rapids, we directly benefit from the businesses that employ 20 or fewer employees. While many of these businesses are startups and young companies, others are long-established firms. Small businesses help to drive the economic growth of Wisconsin Rapids across a variety of industry sectors, playing an important role in diversifying our economy. 

That’s why the City of Wisconsin Rapids has been working since 2013 with Google to help local business owners – particularly our small-business owners – to increase their visibility and help to ensure business growth and competitiveness with resources such as online listings and website creation services – all, available at no cost. To get started, business owners just need to create an online listing and verify their business with Google – for free – by visiting

Grow Rapids logoWe also have invested time in helping existing or prospective business ventures with an economic portal called GROW Rapids. Grow Rapids is here to serve as an informational hub with business resources.   We have a clear mission: Grow businesses, grow jobs, and Grow Rapids. 

WisconsinRapidsAnd as a special local activity springing from National Small Business Week, I will be stopping by one small business every week during the month of May.  My intention is to bring attention to local business – new and established alike,  to acknowledge individual entrepreneurial excellence with mentions on our City website, and in my Community Update.

Also during National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration website will offer owners of small businesses a daily calendar of free webinars and other information aids.

National Small Business Week enables local businesses and customers to better support one another. When we support small business, jobs are created and our local community can build upon its unique culture. In short, it is virtually impossible to truly commit to creating jobs and spurring economic growth without addressing ways to embrace the vision and effort of our entrepreneurs.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update – YPWeek- Celebrate Aspiration & Opportunity; Last Call for Tree Sale



Celebrate Aspiration, Opportunity and Partnership during Young Professionals Week

A major motivator of the City’s push forward with Downtown District redevelopment and Riverbank investments is the need to retain and attract the next generation of workers and families. Achieving this goal requires that we convince current and prospective students, employees, employers and entrepreneurs that they have the opportunity to help shape a vibrant and thriving community. Once people see that they can make an impact, and do make an impact, they are more apt to be ‘attached’ to the community and easier to make the choice to stay. Further, our employers consistently state that attracting and retaining talent and young professionals remains a top challenge- here and statewide!

In keeping with that philosophy, Current, the recently formed Young Professionals group in Wisconsin Rapids, invites the young in age, the young at heart and the young in spirit to celebrate a variety of local festivities as part of Young Professionals Week, April 23-30. YPWeek, as it is commonly known, is designed to engage and excite younger members of our community about the range of opportunities that are possible in our area and how they can play a role in making that potential a reality.

12419347_1147396831978140_4708070537292985098_oWisconsin Rapids is one of 15 Wisconsin communities that will participate in YPWeek. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has backed the initiative, and YPWeek is expected to involve more than 100 events statewide.

Current is urging Wisconsin Rapids residents to take part in a Kickoff Tour & Social on Monday, April 25, at Aspirus Riverview Hospital beginning at 5:15 p.m. with a tour.

Starting inside the main entrance of Aspirus Riverview Hospital, CEO Todd Birch will highlight facilities and future plans. The tour will wrap up on the third floor, where guests can enjoy appetizers, beverages and door prizes.

A panel discussion, Why Do You Believe in Wisconsin Rapids? will take place on Wednesday, April 27, at Great Expectations beginning at 5:30 p.m.

I am honored to moderate this discussion among five distinguished area residents. They will focus on why they believe in and stayed in the community; offer advice for young professionals; and identify the obstacles and opportunities our community faces. The panel consists of: Phil Brown, president of South Wood County Historical Society, vice president of Glacial Lake Cranberry; and chairperson of the Town of Cranmoor; Dr. Sue Budjac, President of Mid-State Technical College; Wayne Christie, MD, FAAOS, of Wisconsin Rapids Orthopedics Center; Robin Koeshall, owner of Paul Gross Jewelers; and Gus Mancuso of Incourage Community Foundation, and former principal at Lincoln and John Edwards high schools. Appetizers, a cash bar, and social networking are on tap from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m.

A Toast to Great Futures  will take place Friday, April 29, at Nekoosa Community Center beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 7.54.26 AMCurrent urges fellow professionals to support the annual Wisconsin Rapids Area Boys & Girls Club beer and wine tasting gala. This affair benefits some 1,600 youth in our community who attend the Club each year. Attendees can sample from among more than 40 premium wines and over 35 craft beers – many from the state of Wisconsin – along with appetizers from Great Expectations. Current is also seeking individuals to “give back” by serving as set-up and/or cleanup volunteers.

Of course, ambitious undertakings such as these are mightily helped through the contributions and good graces of local sponsors. Current has received an outpouring of support from these generous community partners: Affordable Maytag, Aspirus Riverview Hospital and Clinics, DNL Recreation, Great Expectations, Incourage Community Foundation and Ruesch Companies.

As the adage goes, “It takes a village.” And with the ongoing inspiration and collaboration evidenced by events such as YPWeek, Wisconsin Rapids can look forward to a very bright tomorrow. Do your share, by stepping out next week and helping Current lay a foundation for sustained civic engagement.

Community Tree Sale

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 12.04.34 PM

FINAL Call- The Mayor’s Beautification Council is nearing the end of its Community Tree Sale. Flowering Crabapple trees are available to purchase for use on your own property or donated to the City for just $55 each, with pick-up in early May. You can also order a tree in remembrance of a special loved one – memorial plaques are available for an additional $35. For more information and to order, please contact Sue Winch at 715-213-1747, or email

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – Public Pool/Recreation Options Update, Candidates Wanted for Mayoral Appointments



Public Pool Survey/Recreation Options Update, Candidates Wanted for Mayoral Appointments

Public Pool/Recreation Options Update

For nearly a century, recreational aquatics has been woven into the fabric of Wisconsin Rapids life. From the East Side Pool, built in the early 1900s, to Mead Pool, constructed during the 1970s, the City has provided residents and visitors with a form of safe and healthy fun.

snorkel daze searchDuring the first three months of this year, the City conducted a survey about potential aquatic options in Wisconsin Rapids. The survey consisted of questions developed as a result of focus groups discussions with citizens throughout the community regarding a variety of aquatics options, along with the costs residents would be willing to undertake. We have been gratified by your willingness to provide feedback, because such collaboration is vital to making quality aquatics a reality.

The City and its consultants will soon share the results of the aquatics survey during a public forum, where we encourage resident participation in providing additional input.

In the meantime, we’ve also considered other recreational alternatives as a short-term option and those long-range options, including:

  • For 2016- Utilizing already-budgeted resources to fund an Urban day-camp for youngsters ages 6 to 12, in collaboration with South Wood County YMCA and Mead Charter Elementary School. Without a pool this summer, some youth are left with few or no alternatives for the time that would be spent at the pool.
  • Beyond 2016- Considering potential sites, features and amenities of an outdoor aquatics facility and/or Partnering with the YMCA on a project that would allow public access to a proposed indoor facility.

Finance and Property  4-6-16

In addition, at last week’s April 6 meeting, the Wisconsin Rapids City Council’s Finance & Property Committee granted the City approval to solicit proposals for conceptual design services related to an outdoor aquatics facility. This would allow us to put together budget figures & conceptual design on various alternatives, estimated at between $5,000 and $15,000. The time frame for receiving preliminary plans would be tight, in the hope of getting these concepts out for consideration within six to eight weeks.

Recognizing the importance of community input, we would also want to have these alternatives available for residents to review and express their preferences, most likely at a community forum to be held in early May.  The Mayor’s Youth Council will also be surveying middle and high-school students regarding their opinions on aquatics.

Our community is at a crossroads in terms of deciding how much we wish to invest in a solution that is economically feasible; makes our community an attractive and welcoming environment for new residents and businesses; and contributes to the health and well being of our citizens, both now and in the future. Coming together to invest in our quality of life is an integral part of our economic development.

Armed with public support, the Wisconsin Rapids City Council and I continue our commitment to pursue a sustainable solution to our aquatics needs.

 Candidates Wanted for Mayoral Appointments

I extend a warm and personal “Thank You” to all the Wisconsin Rapids-area citizens who turned out in such large numbers on April 5 to exercise their right to vote. This precious privilege is a hallmark of citizen participation in local government.

Serving as part of a governmental board or commission offers another avenue for displaying your active role in helping to shape a better community.

As your mayor, I truly appreciate residents who apply for and accept appointment to boards, commissions and committees. The deliberations and decisions of these bodies impact the City to a significant extent. By serving in such a capacity, you can make a mark, both now and for generations to come.Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 9.37.41 AMAt our City website, you can find a complete list of boards and commissions that offer opportunities for you to have an influence.

Take a look, send me a note with a resume or information about yourself with your interests … and get involved!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink