City of Portage community spotlight: Mayor Sue Lynch & Executive Director Amy Parker

City of Portage community spotlight: Mayor Sue Lynch &  Executive Director Amy Parker

Each Sunday we will feature a project going on within the city, happenings within a department, or someone who works hard to provide services to the community.

This Sunday, we talk to Mayor Sue Lynch, Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and Portage Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Amy Parker about a recently formed partnership between the three groups and their efforts to assist businesses located in Portage and attract new businesses to the city.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges to local businesses and the effort to bring additional business and jobs to the city.

The city, Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce, and Portage Economic Development Corp. recently formed a partnership to tackle the issues facing the business community in the city.

"My job is to help you guys. You can't do your job if we don't work together. We are very focused on pulling ourselves out of this," Mayor Sue Lynch told Chamber director Nancy Simpson and Portage EDC director Amy Parker during a recent partnership meeting.

Parker said it has been challenging because many of the conferences, such as the National Retail Conference, have been canceled because of COVID. Attending such conferences, she said, has led to successfully bringing new retailers to the city.

Parker said she continues to work with site selection groups to promote Portage, but the pandemic has made in-person meetings difficult. The pandemic has also forced some companies to take a wait-and-see tact before deciding to move forward with projects.

Simpson said local businesses, especially restaurants, have been suffering during the pandemic.

During the meeting, Lynch, Simpson, and Parker discussed ideas to help promote and retain local businesses as well as attract new businesses to the city, from the need to promote Portage to possible programs to support local businesses.

The partnership between the three groups, they said, is essential to not only get through these difficult times but to position the city as a place for business when the economy improves.

"If you don't have a partnership, you can't accomplish anything and you would be setting yourself up for failure," said Parker.

"We are in the very early stages of setting ourselves up for success," she said of the groups working together.

"This is a collective thinking process. We have to have that connectivity. We are not going to get out of this by ourselves," said Lynch.

The newly formed partnership intends to meet monthly to discuss issues facing the city and businesses.