Area chambers of commerce reflect their communities
September is Chamber of Commerce Month

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Staff

Sept. 26, 2017

 Jennifer Andreas, executive director of the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce, said the group’s activities benefit the entire community.
Photo by Mark Justesen

OZAUKEE COUNTY — The engine that keeps any community’s business efforts humming is its local chamber of commerce.

In Wisconsin, 267 communities are fortunate to have a chamber of commerce. Gov. Scott Walker has proclaimed September as Chamber of Commerce Month in Wisconsin.

In southern Ozaukee County, all communities have their own Chamber of Commerce. Each one, however, reflects its distinct community and businesses.

In Cedarburg, the chamber of commerce is often thought of for the many events and tourism efforts within the city, but the core focus truly remains on promoting businesses.

“Our mission statement says that we promote, protect and preserve Cedarburg business, and that’s something that we really stay true to in all we do,” said Jennifer Andreas, executive director of the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve really been a state of renewal this past year and we’ve incorporated more activities to engage and educate our businesses.”

Andreas said that the Cedarburg chamber is quite busy throughout the year.

“There’s never a dull moment,” she said with a laugh. “The interesting thing about chambers is that while all of our activities are focused on businesses, they also benefit our residents, and the citizens are our greatest advocates and allies in supporting our businesses and keeping our communities healthy.”

Pam King, executive director of the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce, agrees.

“Part of our role in the community is to make that connection between businesses and people,” she said. “We want to give our businesses great exposure to the community as a whole.”

She said that chambers also have to keep that balance in mind in all they do.

“We’re always keeping it in the back of our mind as to how our efforts do that,” she said. “For example, we work with Celebrate Grafton in providing ancillary services for their events because we know those events bring people into the community.”

The Grafton chamber’s annual Ladies Night Out is an example of that. This year, more than 500 women registered for the event, which is held in downtown Grafton.

“We know that this event shows them that Grafton is a great place to live, work and play, but it also introduces them to many of the chamber business members,” she said. “They often leave the event knowing a little more about our members.”

The Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce has much the same mindset, according to Executive Director Tina Schwantes.

“The main focus of the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce is to offer businesses and community organizations opportunities to connect and grow,” she said. “We provide an extensive number of marketing programs and quality networking events that foster positive relationships and strengthen the business community.”

Like the other two chambers in southeastern Ozaukee County, the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce provides services to residents and visitors on behalf of its business members.

“Attracting and maintaining a vibrant business community has a positive quality of life and economic impact on all community members,” said Schwantes, who added that chamber benefits, such as the community gift certificates, are well used and appreciated by the community.

“Chambers are central to Wisconsin’s local economies,” said Philip Fritsche, president of the Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives Advisory Board Chair. “In most places, the chamber is involved in all major local decision making either as a facilitator or advocate for its members.”