Port Main Street Inc. to become more Chamber-like

Organization created to benefit downtown will now offer associate memberships to businesses outside district
Ozaukee Press staff

Businesses in Port Washington haven’t had a Chamber of Commerce for years, but they will have the next best thing soon.

Mayor Ted Neitzke announced last week that Port Main Street Inc. will allow businesses outside the downtown to join the organization as associate members.

It’s being done, he said, because the city hasn’t had a Chamber of Commerce for many years.

Port Main Street Inc. Executive Director Kristina Tadeo said she has been fielding requests from businesses outside the downtown for years.

“There’s been a lot of interest, but I’ve had to sadly tell them no, we had nothing for them,” she said. “I felt really bad for them, but I had nothing to offer them.”

But now, Tadeo said, Main Street has decided to open up to associate members.

“We want to give these Port Washington businesses a chance to be part of a business network,” she said.

It’s a concept that took root in Main Street’s M&M breakfasts, quarterly events the group has organized with Neitzke and that were open to not just downtown businesses but all businesses, Tadeo said.

About 20 businesses came to these events, which featured speakers on topics of interest to the business community in general, she said.

Main Street’s associate membership program will be open to businesses throughout Port, Tadeo said.

They will be charged a fee or dues, although the amount hasn’t been determined. Port Main Street Inc. is funded primarily through the Port Washington Business Improvement District, which raises its money through a tax on properties in the downtown — something associate members don’t pay.

While associate members won’t receive all the benefits of the Main Street program, they will have many of them, Tadeo said.

For example, Main Street will have a separate directory for associate members on its downtownport.com website.

Other aspects of associate membership have yet to be determined, Tadeo said.

“We’re not ready to roll it out yet,” she said. “Some of these things are still being determined.”

Tadeo said one reason it has taken so long to establish an associate membership program is that she kept waiting to see if a Chamber of Commerce would get established.

“There are great, functioning Chambers in other communities,” she said. “I thought it was a little incredible when I came here (and there wasn’t an active Chamber).”

In 2019, a group of businesses tried to get a Chamber up and running in the city, but it didn’t take root.

At the time, organizers said some people questioned the need for a Chamber of Commerce when the city had an active Business Improvement District, Main Street program and Tourism Council.

But, they noted, the BID and Main Street programs represented downtown businesses while Tourism’s focus is bringing visitors to the community.

What the city needs, they said, was a group that would help businesses network and form partnerships with one another.

Tadeo said she hopes that a number of businesses throughout the city take advantage of the program, which is expected to get rolling in the next few months.

But she hesitated to provide a number of businesses she thought might join, noting the city doesn’t have a comprehensive list of businesses in the community.

Main Street has about 140 members in the downtown, she said.

“You wouldn’t know it by just looking along the street,” Tadeo said, noting many are located on upper floors of the downtown buildings or are offices without a big presence on the street.

“It makes me wonder how many there are in the entire city,” she said. “The number may be bigger than we realize.”


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login