Business owners meet in Minocqua to discuss employee shortageSubmitted: 10/30/2018
Story By Dakota Sherek

Business owners meet in Minocqua to discuss employee shortage
MINOCQUA - Tourism brings big business to the Northwoods, but some business owners in the area aren't able to find enough employees to keep up with demand.

After many business owners approached the Minocqua Chamber of Commerce about the employment shortage issue, the chamber decided it was time to get everyone brainstorming.

"The uniqueness of the small business community that we have here in the Northwoods is what makes this such a wonderful place," said Kurt Justice, who owns Kurt's Island Sports Shop.

But those small businesses, like Kurt's Island Sports Shop, are struggling in a very important area.

"We have the jobs, we just don't have the bodies to fill them," said Justice.

"It's been difficult," said Beacons of Minocqua Resort Director Mary Martin.

Martin has noticed the employment issue, too.

"Minocqua is a premier destination," said Martin. "And if we want to continue for that to be the case, we have to be able to provide the service that goes along with that."

The Minocqua Chamber of Commerce hoped to hear some potential solutions Tuesday at a roundtable discussion that included around 50 different business owners.

"This is really just the starting point. We're looking to really develop from here but at least get everyone around the table and really spitball those ideas," said Executive Director Krystal Westfahl.

One of those ideas is to potentially create a housing complex for students and others who want to come and work in the Northwoods.

"Here at the Beacons we've had foreign people come and work for us, and they're very, very hard workers," said Martin. "But you have to be able to provide the housing, and we're not in a position here to do that."

Regardless of what's discussed, both Martin and Justice are glad to be a part of the conversation.

"I like that better than just someone trying to move ahead with something without the public's input," said Justice.

"I think that we need to find solutions because there are some businesses that haven't survived," said Martin.

A conversation that's just getting started.

"There's just so many possibilities. We just don't know which way to go at this point," said Westfahl. "So we want to throw everything on the table and see what works for all of us.

Westfahl said the hope is that a task force can be created to work on some of the ideas discussed on Tuesday.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Rutting and cracking on Highway 86 in Tomahawk led to a construction project that got underway this month. 

The DOT is replacing pipes underground this week. You'll only have to look out for a one lane closure right now.

+ Read More

Play Video

WAUSAU - Wisconsin's attorney general knows people need to take responsibility for preventing opioid addictions, but he also believes drug manufacturers share in that responsibility.

Josh Kaul told Newswatch 12 during a stop in Wausau Tuesday that he believes one of the best ways to get those people help is through suing drug manufacturers.

Wisconsin sued Purdue Pharma and the company's former president in state court last month.  Kaul says the company misled people by "overstating" the benefits and downplaying the harm opioid prescriptions can produce.  

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - As the city of Rhinelander works its way through two major road construction projects this summer, it will do so without a public works director.

The City Council voted Monday night to fire Tim Kingman, effective immediately.

The decision came after a closed-door session which involved Council members and Kingman himself.

Mayor Chris Frederickson cast the tie-breaking vote in the 5-4 decision. Alderpersons Andrew Larson, David Holt, Ryan Rossing, and Steve Sauer voted in favor of dismissing Kingman. Alderpersons Lee Emmer, Dawn Rog, George Kirby, and Tom Kelly voted against the move.

+ Read More

Play Video

WAUSAU - The process of building families and patients a comforting place to stay during long-term hospital care got started in Wausau on Tuesday in an unconventional way.  Instead of a "groundbreaking," Aspirus held a "wall-breaking" ceremony.

The hospital invited staff to smash a hole in the drywall inside a building that will get converted into a "Family House."  Aspirus held a brief ceremony before the smashing at the facility on Westhill Drive.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Entrepreneurs in Vilas County found a place to call home.

The Eye on Entrepreneurs Network in Eagle River celebrated its grand opening at its main location on Pine Street.

All sorts of vendors showcase their businesses in the store including local NASCAR star Natalie Decker.

She always dreamed of becoming a NASCAR driver, opening an apparel store and being a role model for 
women in the sport. But she never expected it to happen this early in her career.

"I am happy I get to be home; I miss my home town," Decker said.

Natalie made her way home for the grand opening of her NEW apparel store at the Eye on Entrepreneurs Network.

"They have always been on my website but to have them in my hometown is pretty awesome," Decker said.

She spent the afternoon signing autographs and hanging out with her biggest fans.

"I am so thankful that this is the town I grew up in because it means a lot to me," Decker said.

Natalie also found a way to give back to one of her favorite places in Eagle River.

All sorts of merchandise, signs and car parts were raffled off to raise money for the Northwoods Children's Museum.

"The love is so true. I have been going to the children's museum a long time, I still go now and I am 22. I am so glad we are doing that," Decker said.

Natalie's new store is one of five different businesses at the network hub.

"Our mission is to bring good, solid thinking together under one roof," said Eyes on Entrepreneurs general manager Barry McLeane.

That became a reality on Tuesday.

"We want entrepreneurial spirits to talk to each other and be with each other and be able to converse and share ideas. It's a small community but we have so much intelligence and so much drive," McLeane said.

The EOE believes Natalie's career is the perfect example of that drive.

"Really believe in yourself and have a strong support system because that will help make your dreams come true," Decker said.

This year Natalie is racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and will also compete in the Trans Am series for Ave Motorsports.

Eye on Entrepreneurs Network has locations in Eagle River, Phelps, Land O' Lakes and Manitowish Waters.

+ Read More

Play Video

PICKEREL - A Tuesday-morning fire in rural Langlade County killed six people, including four children.

It happened near the community of Pickerel.

The children ranged in age from ten months to seven years, according to Langlade County Coroner Larry Shadick.

Two adults survived and were taken to Aspirus Langlade Hospital in Antigo.

The first emergency call came at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Langlade County Sheriff's Office.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - A teacher from Illinois who vacations in the Northwoods donated school supplies to the School District of Rhinelander.

Bob Blaus offered several boxes of supplies to Rhinelander students recently.  Blaus is a high school science teacher.

+ Read More
+ More General News