Chamber Chat

nwtc pic      The Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce held its February monthly meeting at Wayne’s Family Restaurant. The guest speaker was Tom Duffy of NWTC. He is the Small Business Developmental Director. Some of the services that this division offers include workshops for small businesses such as an entrepreneurial profile assessment of employees, a one page business plan class, marketing on facebook and a CEO roundtable. They also provide business coaching to help create a strategic plan for a business, outreach programs and special events. On April 7, 2016, NWTC will sponsor an event called “Taste of Entrepreneurship” at the NWTC Campus from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. You will be able to taste delicious food from businesses in NE Wisconsin. Also there will be a “Business Success Summit” at Lambeau Field on November 9, 2016.

      Don’t forget to sign up if you are a business or organization for the 9th Annual Spring Business Expo at the Bond Community Center on March 19th from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Admission is $1.00 (children under 6 free) which goes to Farnsworth Public Library.

      If you are a business or organization, please drop off any new flyers, promotions, giveaways for the new resident “Welcome Bags” at Image Apparel.

      The Chamber will host an “After 5” event at the new carriage house behind the Beyer Home along with the Oconto County Historical Society on Thursday, May 19th. Further details will follow.

       The Oconto Chamber’s Membership & Public Relations Committee met to discuss new ideas to incorporate into the 2016 calendar. One new idea that is in the works is “May Fest” to be held on a Saturday in May at the Harbor. We would like to ask local restaurants and bars who are interested to set up a booth to sell their food products. We are also asking local organizations to sponsor an activity that would be family oriented such as a bike decorating contest, a jump rope contest, a corn hole tournament, etc.  The Chamber will sponsor a band or DJ for this event and also sponsor a Smelt King & Queen Contest.

The Chamber will also be sponsoring a Fall Decorating Contest and a Christmas Decorating Contest for local businesses and residences. There will be various categories and nominations will be accepted with prizes awarded by the Chamber.

We would also like to see more involvement for Harvest Fest, so we are asking if any group is interested in organizing a scarecrow decorating contest, a pumpkin decorating contest or a pet contest or a recipe contest. Harvest Fest is September 24, 2016.

We are also investigating to see if any bars or restaurants are interested in an Oconto Market on Main St. similar but on a smaller scale that surrounding communities such as Green Bay do where food booths set up shop on maybe a Tuesday night along with some craft vendors. Further inquiries will be made for this event.

The Chamber will host a Mayoral Forum at Crivello’s on Thursday, March 31 at 6:00 p.m. which will last about one hour. The two candidates who are running for Mayor of the City of Oconto (Victoria Bostedt & Lloyd Heier) will answer pre-determined questions that they will receive about two weeks in advance before the Forum. There will be no questions allowed during the Forum. But you may meet informally with each candidate after the debate to discuss any issues.

      The Oconto Hospital Foundation is sponsoring a Beer & Wine Tasting Event on April 9, 2016 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Tickets at $30 each can be purchased ahead of time. Watch for more details.

      The Oconto Lions Club is once again selling red, yellow, or rainbow roses or a spring bouquet at $15 each until April 8th. See any Lions Club member to order.

      The Discover Wisconsin’s first broadcast to highlight Oconto County will air on Saturday, March 26th. The Chamber will sponsor a viewing of this at the Oconto Legion Golf Club. The show will air at 6:30 p.m.  Snacks will be provided.

      OCEDC has undertaken a Destination Assessment Process to determine opportunities for expanding the area’s appeal to visitors. Tourism to this County is estimated to already add $78.8 million in visitor spending to the region’s economy, powering 853 full-time jobs. This process will help determine if these economic impacts can grow even larger. If you would like to fill out answers to 6 brief questions, contact Kathy at or stop in at Image Apparel.

      The next Chamber meeting will be at the Oconto Legion Golf Club on March 15, 2016.

Picture attached: left to right: Ron Hayes, Chamber President; Tom Duffy, NWTC; Bob Schwartz, Chamber Board Director and Chairman of Tourism Committee; and Don Nerenhausen, Chamber Treasurer.

This column is written by Kathy Hayes, Chamber Board Director