New president leads NH Chamber
By Mark Sherry
Honoring New Holstein’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year (above) and presenting a scholarship to a New Holstein High School graduate (below) are just some of the annual activities of the New Holstein Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jim Straw has a good vantage point from which to serve as president of the New Holstein Area Chamber of Commerce.

Not only is Straw the owner of a small local business, but his JB Signs is a business which largely relies on other businesses to survive and thrive. In other words, Straw has a stake in trying to foster a healthy business environment for other businesses in the area. They are his customers.

Such is the case for most of the business people who belong to and are active in the New Holstein Chamber. While they are busy operating their own businesses, they also know that a vibrant New Holstein business climate is good for everyone.

“I think the Chamber is a prime example of where the businesses should meet and network and promote businesses within the city,” Straw said. He has a simple viewpoint regarding New Holstein businesses and the New Holstein Chamber—all should belong. “The community benefits,” he said. “It all builds.”

Survey provides insights

To get a better handle on how existing businesses view the local business climate, the Chamber and the New Holstein Economic Development Corporation worked together last year on a survey of many of those businesses. Through personal visits or the return of mailed surveys, 48 businesses provided information on their businesses and input on their views of the community.

The majority of respondents said they located their business in New Holstein because of available property and proximity to their customers. New Holsteiners have long viewed the fact that they are located right in the middle between Kiel and Chilton as an advantage.

Questions which asked businesses if they own enough land to allow for expansion and whether or not they had expansion plans identified several businesses which the Chamber hopes to help eventually expand in New Holstein.

Five respondents said a shortage of skilled workers could force them to look to expand elsewhere, so Chamber officials plan to work with New Holstein School District personnel to make sure everything is being done to provide the right direction for students looking to enter the local work world.

Can always get better

Satisfaction levels in working with city, county and state government as well as the Chamber and the NHEDC were also gauged. While strong majorities of respondents said they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with all those organizations, it was not unanimous. Straw said he could only

Turn to CHAMBER/page 12 B