March Business Luncheon with Steve Sobiek

The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce held the March business luncheon at the B & B Hitching Post on Tuesday, March 3, welcoming City of Portage Business Specialist Steve Sobiek to address about 30 Chamber members who gathered for the informative session.

Sobiek, who just marked one year in his position, centered his remarks around his belief that the city is heading in a positive direction, specifically noting the 22 ribbon cuttings the Chamber held last year for new or expanding businesses and stating that the city’s business incubator, the Portage Enterprise Center, was near full capacity.

Despite the recent closings of Staples and Kmart, he expressed optimism for the future, noting many reasons for hope. According to Sobiek, there has been interest shown in the former Kmart and south side Pick N’ Save buildings. Other good news: Sobiek said a business inside the Portage Enterprise Center was readying to leave and start in a new facility.

The county building project is moving ahead as agreements with current property owners near completion. Sobiek said the county’s project, located along both sides of the canal between DeWitt St. and Adams St., will eliminate blight while pushing the Portage canal refurbishment further along.

Sobiek said the city PATHS program is moving forward, linking the city through a system of designated trails and routes for walking and biking, and Divine Savior Healthcare’s expansion, La Vita at the Wellness Center, is underway and expected to be completed late this year. Both projects aim to promote and facilitate the well-being of residents while serving as great lures to those looking to relocate.

The proposed horse park development on the city’s north side and the economic potential that would spur was on the minds of many attending the luncheon. Sobiek, a fan of horses and mindful of the “big money” that surrounds the industry, told those in attendance to watch for progress in talks on the development.

As the summer tourism season looms, Sobiek said the two of the city’s historical treasures, Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters and Historic Indian Agency House, are high on the city’s radar. Representatives from both locations recently met with city officials and are looking forward to working together in 2015. Each site hopes to welcome new directors for their locations in time for the start of visitor tours in May.

We as a Chamber look forward to all the possibilities the items that Steve touched on bring to our community. We will continue to inform our members of topical subjects that can positively impact their businesses. Our business luncheons give our members an opportunity to grow and connect with important contacts in person. Reserve time to attend our business luncheons.

Josh C
josh.ciolkosz@gmail.com