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Column: Group responds to county’s proposed cut of PCBC funding

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Portage County Board of Supervisors received the proposed 2020 budget from Chris Holman, County Executive.

The budget calls for ending the support of economic development funding delivered by the Portage County Business Council (PCBC). That line item amounts to $80,000 annually, 14.2% of the PCBC annual budget (which is 0.073% of the County’s budget).

“First, I want to thank Chris for having the courtesy of calling me prior to the announcement to explain the County’s budget dilemma,” said Todd Kuckkahn, Executive Director of Portage County Business Council. “This will be a challenging issue for the Business Council, however, there is some time to let the supervisors know the critical economic development element that this funding cut will impact.”

The priorities stated in the mission of the Portage County Business Council is to support our members and the community for the retention and attraction of businesses and employees. The challenge of attracting employees to Portage County cannot be overstated and is a key focus of PCBC in our current economy.

It was approximately one year ago when the business council launched everythingpointshere.com, a website developed, implemented and maintained by the business council to support talent attraction efforts for our community.

Through the end of this year, there is a digital marketing campaign directed by NRG Media that is sending out impressions to communities in northern Illinois and southeastern Minnesota.

The data, when compared to national averages, shows the campaign is effective reaching talent in those communities. One piece of data is engagements where each of the two campaigns is at 5.29% and 7.57% with the national average at 0.03%.

Additionally, the business council is erecting everythingspointshere.com signs on I-39 and Highway 10 with one sign already up and attached to the Village of Plover welcome sign. The site, digital marketing campaign, and signs are all funded by the county’s support of economic development. Finally, businesses are including the site on job announcements to encourage applicants and their families’ to research Portage County’s housing, education, bragging rights, fun, jobs, and quality of life.

Another element of the business council’s economic development work and done with support from the County is advertising nationally and internationally for business and talent attraction. The focus on the ads has been talent attraction and mostly awareness through the talent attraction website. These are high-quality articles and photos that are available through their print efforts as well as digital marketing platforms.

Another item supported by the county funding is “Tools for Business Success”, which is a link on our website that takes individuals to an off-site website where there are national, state and local resources for people in business or looking to start a business. Among the many links, there is specific information included for veterans, minorities, women, and youth. The site is regularly updated as new information is found.

The Portage County Business Council led the effort to bring Future Regions, a Local Government Institute of Wisconsin program, to our community. The core team consists of the business council, Portage County Towns Association, Village of Plover, City of Stevens Point and Portage County government.

Through this effort, we launched Portage County Prosperity 2040, an initiative to tackle the tough issues facing our community over the next twenty years and beginning to address pathfinder projects to assist in shaping our future. Around eighty community members took part in the labs and work continues on pathfinder projects.

This list only represents four of the specific projects that come through county funding of economic development. Depending on the outcome of the budget, other services that the business council provides could be impacted by an $80,000 budget cut to economic development, such as our leadership programs, Ignite Young Professionals and Chamber of Commerce work.

The County of Board of Supervisors will formally begin taking public comment Tuesday, October 8, 2019, at the 5 p.m. county board meeting. The finance committee is meeting on Monday, October 21, 2019, from 5-6 p.m. The budget will be voted on at the Monday, November 4, 2019, county board meeting.

If you wish to make a public comment, you may complete this form ahead of time (https://www.co.portage.wi.us/government/county-board-public-comment-form-request) or at the meeting.

We encourage the business community and our partners to contact county representatives in writing.

Portage Co. Executive Chris Holman can be reached at (715) 346-1997 or holmanc@co.portage.wi.us 

A list of county board supervisors can be found here: https://www.co.portage.wi.us/government/election-information-and-results/supervisor-district-maps

Todd Kuckkahn is the executive director of the Portage County Business Council.