March News Break Newsletter
Positive Portage items on menu at Chamber luncheon
Steve Sobiek, Director of Business Development and Planning for the City of Portage was the featured speaker at the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon on Tuesday, March 1.

Speaking to Chamber members gathered at the B & B Hitching Post, Sobiek enthusiastically opened his remarks by noting the city's collaboration with many organizations and service groups, claiming, "Every day is a great day to be living in Portage!" 

Sobiek mentioned many positive developments going on in our city beginning with the Columbia County Gateway Building Project, which is redeveloping and cleaning up both sides of the canal. This could bring 50,000 new people to downtown Portage and serve as an economic catalyst sparking interest in new business as people are drawn to the focal point of county government, Sobiek said.

Manufacturing plays a big role in the landscape of Portage and is an area where the city has an advantage over other communities. Sobiek cited the growing manufacturing base and the expansions of AMPI, St. Gobain, Encapsys and at Dawn Food's, an expansion due partly to a new contract with United Airlines.  "Potato salad made right here in Portage could be served on a flight to Shanghai, China," Sobiek proclaimed, illustrating the point of how local manufacturing can have global applications. 

One growing business that Sobiek is particularly proud of started the business in their home, moved into the Portage Enterprise Center, and continued to grow and is now taking ownership of the former Sharp Shooters location, creating 12 new jobs along the way. The Portage Enterprise Center helped that business expand, and in the last three years the PEC and Madison College Advanced Training Center have created or retained close to 400 jobs. 

Sobiek described a couple other positives that bode well for Portage: A former Chicago-area company, Loggerhead Deco looked at 13 communities and decided upon Portage. A company from Illinois is considering the former PolyOne building.

In addition to manufacturing, Sobiek is looking forward to the construction of new homes, too. The Portage High students in the building trades program, under the guidance of trade professionals, are constructing 3-bedroom homes on School Road. Sobiek also mentioned a new program, Build Portage, will start helping low income families who need home renovations.  

This year will bring many more developments to Portage. Sobiek mentioned the Skate Park moving forward and bringing a new demographic to Portage. People will also come to Portage for wellness, now that Divine Savior Healthcare has recently opened LaVita. The Portage Area Community Fund is a new endowment that will soon assemble an advisory board to contribute toward projects. 

Sobiek is anticipating Walmart to makeover its store, while awaiting an "opportunity" near the old Kmart location. The Culver's parcel is also being redeveloped, he said, mentioning a possible annexation of the adjacent Schultz farm now that Divine Savior Healthcare has purchased the property. The Portage Airport is also going to start removing encroaching nearby trees and structures as part of a federal grant.     

Looking further out, Sobiek noted a number of highway projects the city has on the radar. He said the city is working with the Department of Transportation on construction of the southern gateway, the 16-51 intersection, which is five to seven years away from being redeveloped. A potential roundabout has been discussed for the intersection of Highway 127 and 16 and there is a study underway looking at the Highway 33 corridor from Pacific Township to Baraboo. 

Sobiek touched on many other positive developments that will be coming in the year ahead and we will continue to keep you informed of all the great things happening in Portage.
Business After 5 at Hamilton Park Place on Tuesday March 8
Gene Dalhoff and Adrian Crabb visited Portage to discuss Inspire with Chamber members.
Looking for businesses to Inspire 
It is no secret that employers have been having a tough time finding workers. Looking to put a stop to that trend, Adrian Crabb, Director of Community Engagement-Inspire Madison Region, addressed a group of Chamber members at Rayovac. 

Crabb, who was joined by Gene Dalhoff, Director of Talent and Education for MadRep, planted the seed to get more local businesses involved in schools. The potential is to mold students to a business' needs with a greater chance goal of keeping a region's best and brightest students around.
Crabb explained how Inspire, a software program, works with existing schools' career exploration opportunities. The result is a better connection with education and business. Currently about 77 businesses are part of Inspire. Dalhoff expressed a goal of doubling that number in the next few months and sees Portage as part of that growth, issuing a challenge to get 30 local businesses on board. One positive incentive, there is no cost to schools or business to be a part of the software.  
Inspire helps guide students toward a career path by making students aware of vocations, employers, the required education and skills, even financial aid. Inspire is interactive as well. A message board portal on the website allows students to pose questions to a career coach--a representative from an organization who fields questions pertaining to all facets of their respective business and available jobs. Students can see if they are suited to a particular job while meeting a valuable contact person. Students can also schedule job shadowing and internship appointments through the website.
Dalhoff said that Inspire comes at a time when it will soon be mandated that all students have a career plan; schools are now contacting Inspire to help fulfill that mandate. If you are interested in becoming an Inspire business,check out this website to begin the registration process: www.inspiremadisonregion.org/employers 

Erickson elected to Chamber board 

The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors welcomes Eric Erickson of Pierce's Marketplace as a newly elected member of the board. 
Portage High School Career Fair
Portage High School (PHS) and the Columbia County Area Manufacturer's Council would like to invite you to participate in the 3rd PHS Career Fair highlighting local manufacturing, businesses and other industries on October 26, 2016 from 8:30am to 2:30pm inside the PHS gymnasium.

The career fair highlights the variety of career opportunities in your business and informs the students (high schoolers from Portage, Poynette, Pardeeville, Montello and Westfield) of the skills and education needed for positions with in your company. 

Booth size will be 8' wide with a few larger booths available upon request. Set up will be from 7:30am to 8:20am with PHS SKILLS USA and FFA members available to help load and unload.
There is NO COST to have a booth and appear at the event. This is a win-win for your company and for the students.

Please contact Marianne Hanson at 608-742-6242 with any questions or to sign up your business. Thank you for your support of the future leaders in business and manufacturing. Please sign up by September 1, 2016. 
Ribbon Cuttings
A ribbon cutting was held at Design 1 Apparel, 1207 Wauona Trail, to welcome new owners Mike and Joan O'Brion. 

Your home for Portage Warrior apparel, they are open Monday through Friday 8am-5pm.

For more information, call 608-742-5642.
american_flag.jpg Mayoral Forum
The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce and the Portage Daily Register will be hosting a Mayoral Forum featuring candidates Alderperson Rick Dodd and Mayor Bill Tierney on 
Tuesday, March 22, from 6:30pm to 8pm at City Hall Council Chambers.
This forum will also be aired on the local cable access channel that evening. For more information, call the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce at 608-742-6242.
Business Profile - 
Columbia County Humane Society

The Columbia County Humane Society (CCHS) was incorporated in 1925 in response to growing community need to care for unwanted and abandoned animals. It was recognized as a charitable tax-exempt corporation in 1975. In 1978, the first shelter was constructed. Twenty years later, a new shelter, our current location, was built at Highway 16 West and Industrial Rd. 

Each year, the Humane Society provides care and shelter to approximately 1200 animals. A number of these animals are strays brought in by local officials or the public. We also take animals in that are surrendered by their owners who can no longer care for them.  Each year, CCHS takes hundreds of animals from other shelters that are full and need help. This is a new and growing trend in the shelter industry to help other shelters in need.  CCHS helps animals every year that might not get a chance at adoption. We are very proud of the fact that we can do this for them.

CCHS contracts with 33 of the 35 municipalities in the county as well as the Columbia County Sheriff's Department. We provide a service to the community to be the holding facility within the county for stray cats and dogs. Each animal we take in is held for seven days for its owner to have a chance to claim it. If the animal goes unclaimed, it becomes the property of CCHS. We are then able to ready the animal for adoption. An animal that comes into CCHS can stay as long as needed to find a home. 

CCHS is now a "go to" spot for animal adoption. We have evolved from an intake facility to an adoption hot spot. All of our animals are fully vetted before they leave. This includes: spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, deworming and heartworm testing.  We also provide dentals to animals that need it and many other medical procedures for animals in our care.  We raise extra funds to do this through our "Bibi Fund."  This fund allows us to go above and beyond to help the animals in our care. 

Over the years, we have saved the lives of countless animals through immediate care and treatment, and ultimately adoption. Because of the Society, otherwise unwanted animals have found loving homes. The new shelter opened in 1998 to accommodate the increasing number of animals needing care and to provide increased services to the community, allowing the Society to continue its humanitarian work well into the 21st century.

--Susan Bratcher, Executive Director of The Columbia County Humane Society
     N7768 Industrial Rd.      608-742-3666

Paint Your Pet for CCHS

Back by popular demand!  Reserve your spot to join us in a fun evening beginning at 6pm at 205 Vino on Thursday, March 24! Submit a photo to the Artist and he will create a unique portrait of your pet to paint.


Head to www.winecanvasyou.com to sign up and submit your photography. Appetizers and a complimentary glass of wine will be provided. For more information, contact the Columbia County Humane Society at 608-742-3666.

Bridal Pond fountain update 
The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the Portage High School (PHS) Interact Club (Rotary based high school club) for their donation to the efforts to purchase a new fountain for Pauquette Park. The club sold candy bars to raise funds for the project. Pictured with the students: Advisor Kim Biehl, PHS Principal Robin Kvalo, Rotary members Jenna Krenz, Amanda Weyh & Charlie Mantey and Brad Conrad of the Portage Chamber.
Look for upcoming Giggles for Kids
The Mercantile is having an End of Winter Sale on March 5 from 9am to 4pm. The merchants inside the Mercantile invite you to shop for big deals on a variety of unique, quality crafts & products. For example:

Take 30% off all toys and books to make room for new Spring merchandise at Giggles for Kids, where new Baptismal and First Communion items are now available!

Looking for a Hot Deal? See our list!   

Check out our Hot Deals webpage for deals our Chamber members are offering. Have a Hot Deal of your own you want others to know about? Post your deals on our webpage and join the Hot Deal brigade! There is no charge for posting a Hot Deal, so post away!  If you have questions, call the Chamber office at 608-742-6242 to get started.

Click here to see the specials that are currently running!
Portage Lions Radio Auction
This annual fundraiser for the Portage Lions Club will be held on Saturday, March 19 from 12:30 to 4pm. For a list of auction items, click here. Booklets listing auction items are also available at the Chamber office at 104 W. Cook St.

This event supports Lions' projects including pre-school vision screening, eye exams, glasses for the needy and transportation of eye tissue to and from the Eye Bank in Madison. Other projects include scholarships, annual Easter Egg Hunt, donations to the Safety Patrol Trip, the High School Athletic Fund, Santa's Workshop and many others.

madison college Open House at PEC
Madison College Portage Campus invites you to an open house featuring the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at the Portage Enterprise Center, 1800 Kutzke Road, on Tuesday, March 8 from 9am to 11am. 

RSVP to Sue Trimmer by March 4 at 608-745-3104.
portage center for the arts
Visual Arts Scholarship available
The Portage Center for the Arts wants to let you know there is a scholarship made possible by a generous gift from Eleanor Drury. The VA Scholarship is dedicated to a visual arts student pursuing an art degree or equivalent after high school. 

Currently enrolled college students and high school seniors from the greater Portage area are eligible and encouraged to apply for this scholarship. An application is required. The deadline is April 15, 2016.

Portage Center for the Arts is located at 301 E. Cook St. Call 608-742-5655 for more info. 
SBDC offering classes
If you are starting a business or just need help with business fundamentals, then check out the SBDC's March line up of start-up and business planning classes!
Lean Start - Business Model Canvas Creation  Before you spend an enormous amount of time and money on your business idea; apply lean tools to find out the feasibility of your business idea. You will learn and use the Business Model Canvas to pinpoint customer segments, test assumptions and obtain feedback from potential customers.  Monday Evenings; 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm; March 7 & 9; $85     CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Writing your Business Plan   In this course you'll create a plan for your new or existing business.You will go through each section of the business plan and complete a draft to use as a road map for your business and help you obtain financing.  Monday and Wednesday Evenings; 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm; March 14, 16, 21 & 23;$199    CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Is your Website the best kept secret in town? When your prospects do find your website - are they buying from you?
The Internet Marketing Series - will help you solve these problems and more!
(recommend-but not required-to bring a laptop or tablet so you can view your website or work on your social media sites during the class). 
Take all 4 Half days: March 15, 22, 29 and April 5 8:30am- noon;  and Save 10%
Website Basics  March 15; 8:30 am - Noon; $110
Learn the what you can use to develop your website, where to get your domain name and what names to buy, what your site should include, best practices for design and keyword basics for SEO. Instructor: Adrianne Machina, Tornado Marketing
Your Website as a Teaching Based Tool; March 22; 8:30 am - Noon; $110
Learn why you should use your website to teach your customers, the 3 kinds of visitors your website should help, how to create engaging website content and how Teaching-Based Marketing helps your SEO. Instructor: Spencer Smith, Spencer X Smith Consulting.
Build Trust and Get Results Using Email Marketing; March 29; 8:30 am - Noon; $110
Create an email marketing plan for your business. Learn about email marketing software options, how to create useful content and email best practices. Then learn how to measure results and get started immediately.
Instructor: Jessica Maes, Maes Consulting Group.    
Track, Measure and Analyze with Google Analytics; April 5; 8:30 am - Noon; $110
Learn how create and access and navigate Google Analytics. Learn how to create reports to help you measure and analyze your site traffic. Learn the basics of SEO and how to unlock keywords people use to find your site.  Learn how to create goals, track conversions and analyze your results so you can take action. Instructor: Candy Phelps, iCandy Graphics & Web Design

For any of the classes you may call 608-262-3909 to register.
For any business questions call 608-263-7680.   
CrossFit Games Open
Come participate with the Portage CrossFit Cooperative community during the CrossFit Games Open! "The Open" is designed to be accessible to all athletes while rigorous enough to challenge the world's fittest. Fourteen-year-old high school freshmen compete in the Open, as well as their 77-year-old grandparents and everyone in between. 

Whether you're a newcomer to the sport of fitness or a well seasoned nano-maniac, all are welcome to work out and sweat with us at the Coop! Participating is FREE for Saturdays through March 26 at 9:30am during Open competition. This is a fun family-friends-and-community event that is sure to be a blast! There will NOT be official judging, however athletes will be observed by a coach or fellow athlete to ensure proper completion of reps and movements. There will be prizes for separate divisions.

Portage CrossFit Cooperative, 608-345-7109, is located at 201 E. Albert St.
Portage Chamber March Meeting and Events
8     Business After 5 at Hamilton Park Place    5pm-7pm  
14-15   Governor's Conference on Tourism-WI Dells 
16   Ribbon Cutting at Freedom Carpeting   9am
22   Mayoral Forum at City Hall   6:30pm
29   Ribbon Cutting at Columbia County Humane Society    Noon 

violin-playing.jpg Music Boosters Spring Auction
The Music Boosters of Portage Community Schools are holding their second Spring Auction at the Portage High Commons on Saturday, April 9. This organization supplements the needs not covered under the Portage School District music departments' regular school budget. 

Local businesses are welcome to make a donation. Your donation will help raise much needed funds for the music students and staff of the Portage School District. For more information, contact Amy Anderson at 608-293-0998 or Tammy Wood at 608-354-1169.
Give Portage Green Gift Certificates
Portage Green Gift Certificates make an excellent gift. Used just like cash, the certificates can be purchased from the Portage Chamber in $5, $10 and $25 increments. Recipients of the Portage Green may redeem them at these participating Chamber member businesses. By buying Portage Green Gift Certificates, you are helping to boost local business by keeping thousands of dollars right here in Portage. For more information, call the Chamber at 608-742-6242.

Got News?

What is your business up to? Pass along information and corresponding photos to graphics@portagewi.com and let us help spread the word about the great things your business or organization is doing. The deadline is the 20th of each month. 

March Community Events
Spread the word about your events by posting them on our website!
3      Hand dyeing of wool yarn class at the Mercantile
5      End of Winter Sale at the Mercantile
5      Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets - Performing Arts Concert Series
5      Tracy Morgan at Ho-Chunk Gaming - Wisconsin Dells
5      Portage CrossFit Cooperative CrossFit Games Open
6      Bingo at VFW
7-14  Chick Days at Tractor Supply Company
8      Business After 5 at Hamilton Park Place
8     Madison College Advanced Manufacturing Training Center Open House at Portage Enterprise             Center
10    Handbuilt Pottery Class at the Mercantile
10    Ladies Night at Portage Lumber
10    Free Seminar from the Golf Tournament Association of America at Coldwater Canyon 
12    Portage CrossFit Cooperative CrossFit Games Open
12    Spring Has Sprung Vendor Fair at VFW
15    Adult Coloring at Portage Public Library
18    Bingo at Our House Senior Living
19    Girls Scouts Birthday Event
19    Portage CrossFit Cooperative CrossFit Games Open
19    Portage Lions Radio Auction
20    Bingo at VFW
22    Mayoral Forum at City Hall
24    Paint Your Pet for Columbia County Humane Society
24    Our House Senior Living Open House
26    Portage Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt
26    Portage CrossFit Cooperative CrossFit Games Open
28    Portage Sharing Supper at Wayne Bartels Middle School
29    Adult Coloring at Portage Public Library

For more information about these and other events, go to www.portagewi.com. 

Organizing an event or having a sale?

Submit your event or sale to us and have it appear on the Chamber website calendar of events.You may enter your event by clicking here. Please note: Your submission will take a while to appear as the Chamber office first reviews the submissions before approving them to appear on the web calendar. For more information, please call our office 608-742-6242.

The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce is providing leadership for
 building a healthy economy and a high quality of life in the Portage Area.
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NEWS BREAK is a monthly publication of the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce.  Please contact the Chamber if you have news about your business that you would like to include in the next issue. 
 Our deadline is the 20th of the month.  Email your news to graphics@portagewi.com.