Event aimed at reviving dormant Port Chamber

Volunteers hope function will attract members to business group that has not been active for years
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Chamber of Commerce is holding a “Chamber After Hours” networking event from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Lincoln Village.

While that announcement would be typical in many communities, but in Port Washington, where the Chamber of Commerce has been dormant for the past couple of years, it’s news.

A core group of volunteers is now working to reinvigorate the organization, setting its emphasis — at least initially — on hosting monthly business networking events, something that business representatives have been looking for, said Maureen McCourt Boylan, the newly elected Chamber vice president.

“There are a few of us who are passionate about getting the Chamber going again,” Boylan said. “We want to bring back the reputable and functioning organization it used to be.

“We’re focusing on what business owners want, which is networking, finding opportunities for partnerships and ways to work together. And as we are able to recruit more people, we can add other activities. We will be whatever the business owners want.”

Boylan noted that the Chamber has been offering free memberships to businesses for the past year, something the new board plans to continue this year.

“Our hope is we will recruit other people and take baby steps from there,” she said.

Thursday’s event is open to past, present and future Chamber members, Boylan said, adding organizers want to not just bring businesses together but also to draw active members to the Chamber.

“We’re looking for people who want to network and grow their businesses, yes, but we’re also trying to get people in place in leadership roles (with the Chamber) who are passionate about Port,” she said.

The Chamber has been struggling for some time, Boylan acknowledged, but she said she’s not sure why. 

Some people have questioned the need for a Chamber in a community that has an active Business Improvement District, Main Street program and Tourism Council, she said, but there’s still a need for a Chamber.

The BID and Main Street programs only represent the downtown, while a Chamber represents businesses throughout the community, Boylan said. Tourism’s focus is on promoting the city as a destination for visitors, while the Chamber works for all types of business in the city.

“They are different entities,” Boylan said. “But they all should work together.”

Some of the recent Chamber leaders have also moved or been transferred outside the city, making it difficult to maintain the organization, she said.

“It dwindled down to a few people who were active,” Boylan said.

The new Chamber president is Joe Lamb of BMO Harris Bank and its secretary is Kaitlyn Malek of Lincoln Village, Boylan said. Although they have not designated a treasurer, the board has someone in mind to fill that spot, she said.

Port Washington needs a Chamber of Commerce, she said, noting it helps promote the community and bring in business that benefits everyone in the city.

“I am passionate about Port Washington,” she said. “My passion for the Chamber comes out of that. I feel the Chamber is a well-loved organization that can do so much for a community.”

Thursday’s event will include hors d’oeuvres prepared by Lincoln Village’s corporate executive chef, a cocktail bar staffed by Rodrigo Santamaria of Tello’s, chocolate from Chocolate Chisel and music by a jazz quartet that includes Mark Crawford, owner of Crawford Asset Management and an arboretum in the city.

There will be signup sheets for people interested in serving on the Chamber committees and those who may be interested in hosting the monthly networking events. Next month’s event will be held at Inventors Brewpub. 


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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