Minocqua’s town board took quick action Tuesday night when it approved creation of a new Broadband and Business Development Committee and then approved five members to the new committee.
Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim worked to create the new committee saying it was time for the town to work harder on business development and to help provide better tools to complete that task.
According to Hartzheim, the town had a business development committee in the past, but it fell to the wayside and slowly reached a point where it was no longer functioning.
Hartzheim said the new committee’s name also gives a better idea on where he would like the panel to focus.
“We’re not necessarily an area that looks for industrial or manufacturing development, but if we can first concentrate on improving broadband and other modern forms of communication technology, we might be able to have people stay here longer and more often,” Hartzheim said.
“That means additional money in our local economy. They need to be able to access their business and continue doing business from here.”
With that in mind, Hartzheim said the five members he was recommending to be on the new committee had expressed interest in working on the committee and moving ahead with ideas to business development in the town.
The new committee members and the dates on which their terms will expire are:
• Phil Albert, a Minocqua resident and a member of the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation and Grow North, March 31, 2014.
• Joe Fahrenbach, Minocqua resident, Weston-Fahrenbach Insurance Group, March 31, 2013.
• Joe Hegge, Minocqua resident, Grow North Director; March 31, 2014.
• Pete Otis, Minocqua resident, Oneida County Economic Development Corporation, Minocqua Library Board, March 31, 2014.
• Kim Baltus, Minocqua resident, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce Director, March 31, 2013.
Hartzheim said the purpose of the committee is to:
• Identify broadband and business development opportunities that are consistent with the quality of life in the Minocqua area and make recommendations to the town board;
• Coordinate efforts with Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation with respect to improvement and expansion of broadband options available to area residents and visitors.
• Develop and recommend strategy that aligns with county and regional organizations with respect to methods and resources necessary to attract non-polluting light manufacturing and high-tech business to the Minocqua area.
• Coordinate efforts with private sector interests, such as assisting individuals or organizations interested in locating or expanding in Minocqua and identifying opportunities to provide incentives for businesses to locate or expand in Minocqua; and
• Recommend ways to promote Minocqua as a welcoming business environment, increase length and frequency of stays of visitors and attract additional year-round residents.
Hartzheim said he expected the first order of business for the new committee would be to meet with officials of SonicNet – the company with which the town already has an agreement – for broadband service using towers paid for by the town.
The service using the town towers has far fewer subscribers than both the town and SonicNet had projected.
“We want the committee to gather information, identify issues with the service and hopefully come up with possible solutions,” Hartzheim said. “We don’t just want the committee to focus on broadband but ways of improving service or better using the most modern forms of technology in the area of communication.”
The board also took action on two other items.
Supervisors approved the tent permit application from Minocqua Brewing Company so it can be put up for the upcoming Beef-A-Rama weekend.
Supervisors also approved a picnic license for the Lakeland Rotary Club for the Beef-A-Rama weekend. They also approved the club’s request to allow the closing of a portion of West Chicago Avenue for a set period of time, also during Beef-A-Rama.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.