New London Area Chamber of Commerce
A Winning Formula for Local Prosperity
Community vision charters a path toward economic growth and civic transformation
A Chamber of Commerce serves as a vital catalyst for community development. Beyond administration, this role requires a commitment to creating a vibrant community with a strong sense of residential pride and can be one of the driving driving forces behind the local economy. This means championing the dreams and aspirations of local businesses by offering them guidance, support, and a platform to flourish.
New London, a gem of a community located in the beautiful state of Wisconsin understands that a truly effective chamber also understands the significance of building a strong, interconnected culture. It facilitates relationships, encourages collaboration,and adopts strategies that reflect the unique needs and characteristics of the community it represents.
This results in an environment where locals feel a sense of belonging, and New London, a Wisconsin city with a vision, has managed to cultivate such an environment. Collaboration is the key, with the Chamber, local businesses and valued residents. Under the careful stewardship of the mayor, this picturesque community is welcoming continued growth
“Due to the great collaboration we have between the New London Area Chamber of Commerce, the New London School District, our business community, all of our non-profits, and the City, together we are creating a destination and showing that “New London is the Address” that our current and future residents can be proud to call home.”
The city is certainly “open for business” and has undergone significant changes that continue to make it a dynamic, welcoming, and prosperous place to live, work, and grow.
A City of Expanding Infrastructure
At the heart of New London’s thriving culture are drastic improvements to key sections of the city’s infrastructure. These changes aim to create more synergy between the city’s residential, commercial, and manufacturing sectors.
The most prevalent of these improvements is a major renovation project on Highway 15, a major corridor roadway between New London and Fox Valley–the nearby metropolitan area.
By Fall 2024, the highway will be expanded into a two-lane highway to reduce traffic and drive times between the two areas, which City Administrator Chad Hoerth believes will make New London more attractive to residents as an area to live in.
“We think that people are going to be looking at New London as a great location because of our great house, school district, and cost of living compared to the metro area,” Hoerth says.
Going further inward, the city is spearheading work for ‘main street’, named North Water Street, which is the central core of New London’s downtown. This two-year reconstruction will also happen in tandem with scheduled sanitary sewer replacements so that the changes will occur both above and below ground.
“Making sure our downtown is thriving is very important, so we’ve taken steps to improve the public side of it,” Hoerth says, commenting on the minute yet impactful changes that are being made.
A prime example of this would be the extension of the city’s current parking lot and the widening of North Water Street’s sidewalk by a foot and a half to promote pedestrian traffic and outside dining for local restaurants.
Residents, as well as the city’s businesses, are the primary beneficiaries of this reconstruction. So, to ensure that these changes resonate as greatly as possible, the chamber leadership has made sure to conduct significant public outreach to collect feedback on the types of changes people want to see.
“We’ve had some open houses to collect feedback to see: what’s the vision [people] want to see the downtown turn into? A modern downtown… do you want to see more of a historic, vintage-type downtown?” Hoerth comments, confirming that the feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of a traditional, small-town aesthetic.
With so many changes scheduled to happen, one has to consider the costs, but fortunately, these improvements are all being supported by a $2.9 million STP Urban Grant.
For Executive Director April Kopitzke, this was a massive sign to double down on that public outreach to ensure things moved along as efficiently as possible. “We were downtown, talking with businesses, face-to-face… asking questions and informing businesses of the upcoming construction so that they could prepare,” Kopitzke says.
By doing this, the Chamber of Commerce leadership sought to ensure that both businesses and residents felt supported throughout the process.
A Rise in Quality Education and Housing
While the New London Chamber of Commerce does a lot to stimulate economic growth, it also makes sure to improve the individual lives of residents themselves.
The city is a fantastic place to settle down for two very big reasons: its impeccable school districts and housing efforts.
“We just rolled out a program called Inspire, which works throughout Waupaca County… that ties our schools in different counties and our employers together,” Kopitzke explains.
Program Director Beth Nash works with school administrators and the city to help expose students in the county to the different opportunities available to them in New London. “If they do go off to college, we hope that they come back one day and support our workforce,” Kopitzke says.
This retention mindset lies at the foundation of New London’s housing strategy as well. The city plans its housing projects to both accommodate incoming residents and give returning or long-time residents more optionality in their living arrangements.
The city currently has four different housing developments, either under construction or scheduled for construction. Near its high school, there are about 30 single and two-family residential units, as well as a new 48-unit apartment being built.
Closer to downtown, there is also a premier 98-unit apartment complex being built.
“You need diversity in [the] community; these types of housing developments will also allow people to upgrade into a nicer apartment,” Hoerth says, explaining that having residents upgrade to newer homes opens the door for newer residents to occupy older housing stock.
Additionally, the city is also prioritizing infill development of vacant lots as well as vacant properties that have yet to see development after being purchased.
In the background of all of this, there will be an ongoing push in the next six months to twelve months to have municipalities work with developers and scrutinize zoning codes to see what can be done to make housing more affordable.
Currently, the most effective method revolves around Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a public financing method used to fund community development. The city accepts financial loss on behalf of the projects in the form of foregone tax revenue.
“That’s what’s helping drive that new 98-unit apartment complex. Without that TIF funding, that apartment complex probably would never come to fruition,” Hoerth says, expressing immense gratitude over the collaborative efforts that have made development in New London possible.
A Thriving Center of Eventful Culture
With all of this development underway, it goes without saying that it’s all for the sake of enriching the lives of the people who live and work in New London. Regarding this, the Chamber of Commerce also ensures that the city has an ample dose of cultural vitality to go with its rapid growth.
The Chamber of Commerce hosts nine major community events a year to bring the community together. This year, the city maxed out at 220 vendors to accommodate the fall festivities.
Some of these events include the Fall Festival, similar to the Fox Valley Oktoberfest, as well as the massive pre-festival car show that has routinely attracted thousands of people from all over the state.
There is also the Winter Wonderland Parade, a beautiful Christmas event that also draws in significant tourism, as well as the annual Irish Fest and Parade, organized by The Shamrock Club of New Dublin, which brings anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 people into the New London area during March.
However, even when there isn’t a big celebratory event, New London still manages to teem with color and vibrancy.
“New London has some great partners enhancing the quality of life in our community. One organization I’d like to highlight is the New London ATV Club. This partner provides services within and around our region to promote safety and responsible operations to highlight New London as a great location for ATV/UTV adventures, directly creating economic growth in our community,” says Mayor Herter.
On the more artistic side, the city also partners with the Wolf River Art League, which “in about four years, [has] created 70 murals all over the city… [and] done a wonderful job of colorizing New London,” Hoerth says.
Ultimately, New London’s vision for the near future revolves around a thriving downtown, a welcoming community, and a growing economy. With commitment, collaboration and continued collaboration with key partners, their endeavors have and will continue to ripple out and transform New London into a tapestry of peace, prosperity, and progress.
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AT A GLANCE
The New London Area Chamber of Commerce
What: A city Chamber of Commerce committed to fostering economic opportunities, cultivating community relationships, and promoting growth.
Where: New London, Wisconsin