SCEPI celebrates another year of business growth

Annual summit focuses on area quality of life

Quality of Life was the overarching theme Thursday as Shawano County Economic Progress, Inc. highlighted a year’s worth of economic success stories at its annual summit.

The event at The Gathering, 2600 E. Richmond St. in Shawano drew 125 attendees this year, “up a little bit” from previous years, according to Dennis Heling, SCEPI’s chief economic development officer.

“It went very well,” he said.

Now in its 13th year, SCEPI’s annual event allows business and community leaders the opportunity to network and learn about economic issues and progress throughout Shawano County.

Heling said it has been a stellar year for the organization in terms of new business growth.

“The list of business start-ups and expansions for the past year is very impressive. In the city of Shawano alone, over 20 new businesses have opened or will open soon and at least a dozen major expansions have been completed the last couple of years,” Heling said.

The event gave SCEPI, as well as city and county officials, an opportunity to “enlighten the attendees” about the growth and development occurring around the county.

Some of the business expansions highlighted at the summit included Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meat in Wittenberg, Little Rapids Corp. in Shawano, the Wittenberg Corner Laundromat, Stockbridge Elder Care, the renovation at Pine Hills Golf Course in Gresham, Mike’s Country Meats in Tigerton, and the new Ho-Chunk Casino and hotel in Wittenberg.

Shawano City Administrator Brian Knapp ran through projects in the city that included the relocation of Total Fitness, the expansion of Mid County Cooperative, the opening of the Prevea Shawano Health Center and a host of smaller projects, as well as giving updates on incoming projects like Belmark Inc., the medical residency training center and Stubborn Brothers Brewery.

The addition coming later this year of Culver’s Frozen Custard Restaurant was also featured with its own presentation and a history of the franchise.

The city also gave an update on rehabilitation efforts underway by the Shawano Redevelopment Authority and the downtown master plan in progress.

Park and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks gave a presentation of the role of the park system in enhancing quality of life in light of local park improvements that are underway.

Shawano County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Smith talked about the chamber’s efforts to create a branding and marketing plan emphasizing the area as a destination for tourism and businesses.

Heling said the area relies on having a diverse mix of businesses.

“Having diverse businesses impacts the quality of life,” he said, “providing employment opportunities and different skill sets employers rely on. We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket.”