Many businesses have moved, flourished in Shawano

By: 

Lorna Marquardt, Special to the Leader

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” — Author Unknown

During the recent mayoral forum, a concern was expressed about the lack of businesses coming to Shawano. I do agree empty buildings need to be filled; however, most of the vacant buildings downtown are not currently available for lease or purchase, according to people who have expressed an interest in them.

However, that does not mean businesses are not coming here.

During my time serving as your mayor, Green Bay Street has welcomed many new businesses to include El Tequila’s, Papa Murphy’s, Jill’s Pet Shoppe, Pure Essence Salon and Day Spa, Little Caesar’s, Emporer’s Buffet, Tower Clock Eye Center, Tractor Supply Company, Fantastic Sam’s Hair Salon, Lebakkens Rent to Own, Aurora BayCare Health Center, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Verizon Wireless, Vapor Shoppe, Sherwin Williams Paint, Salon 2140, Beans & Books, Snap Fitness, Game Stop, Senzig’s Fine Home Furnishings, Executive Auto, Fox Valley Oncology and Capital Credit Union.

CRI also moved their business office to Green Bay Street. Shawano Cinema added a Moonlight Outdoor Theater. McDonalds, Burger King and El Tequila’s recently completed major facelifts. Buss Chevrolet also did a major remodel. United Co-op is in the process of completing their new development and Anello’s will be opening their new restaurant this month.

Although our community was sad to see JCPenney’s, Fashion Bug and K-Mart store closing, we are happy to have new businesses in the mall to include Shoe Sensations, JMerchants and Dunham Sports. The Four Seasons has been renovated and is under new ownership.

Many new businesses have located downtown/main street. Some of those businesses include Glas Coffeehouse and Cellcom, Anew Emporium, Bubba’s BBQ Co., C-Us-4-Wireless, Fannita’s Bakery, Badger’s Best Furniture, Charlie’s County Market, CoVantage Credit Union,’Til the Cows Come Home, Midwest Dental, Wholalistic Yoga Center LLC, Full House Realty, Ignite Dance and Fitness Studio, Off the Wall Art Studio and Gallery, Family Dollar, The Consign Store, Mountain Bay Outfitters and Smokey Joe’s.

The former Qualheims/Wards building located at 153 S. Main St. is being renovated and available for lease. The former Wright building on South Main Street was purchased by Dan Hartwig and there are plans for renovation.

In 2013, CRI opened a new distribution center on Elizabeth Street. In 2014, the Lincoln School Apartments held a grand opening.

In 2015, ThedaCare opened its new medical center. First Impressions S.C. is also located on County Road B.

We are pleased to have a new candy store, Old Glory Candy. We are also happy Christensen Printing and Publishing LLC located their business here.

The new Sun Drop Museum on Washington Street is a wonderful attraction and their store offers a variety of unique products.

Several of our local industries have undergone major expansion projects to include Reinhart Food Services, Stone Creations, Wisconsin Film and Bag, Woodport Doors and Mod Tech. Little Rapids is also planning an expansion.

While it is certainly desirable to attract new industries to come here, business retention and expansion of existing businesses is critical. We hear the term “grow your own” and supporting what we have should be a priority! U Store has added additional units and Hydraulic Repair put on an addition. Konop Company moved into the Industrial Park.

We are very excited about the new industry that is planning to locate here. They are currently doing their due diligence. The city was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, but once their preliminary work is completed, the new company will allow the city to announce the business name. I expect that will occur in May.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that some businesses have left our city. I am assuming reasons could involve product pricing, lack of demand for product, Internet shopping and lack of customer traffic. Obviously, local support of our businesses is needed.

Although I have done my best, no doubt I have neglected to mention some of the businesses that located in Shawano during my time as mayor. Please let me know and I will acknowledge them in my next column.

As your outgoing mayor, I am very proud of our thriving business community and our industrial retention and growth. I am confident Shawano will continue to flourish and progress and as a resident, I will cheer from the sidelines!

The answer to last week’s question -- What was the name of Shawano’s first newspaper started in 1859 and where was its first location? -- is The Shawano County Journal, first located on the second floor of the Upham store located at the present corner of Hill and Main streets.

Today’s question is: How many aldermen served on the council in 1972?

Lorna Marquardt is mayor of Shawano.