What started as a grass roots group of people concerned with the closing of some stores in downtown Manawa has now grown into a serious organization.
The Manawa Revitalization Committee was developed with input from Waupaca County University of Wisconcin-Extension’s Community Development Educator Mike Koles and David Thiel of the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation.
The Manawa Revitalization Committee has worked toward finding new and collaborative ways to attract new businesses and boost the image of the downtown.
One of the first tasks the organization completed was creating a list of all available business buildings and land available and add it to the business real estate website at www.locatewisconsin.com.
Manawa realtor Dale Ferg and City Clerk Cheryl Hass, who are committee members, quickly gathered all the information needed for the website, including square footage, features of the building, location and price.
The site integrates the area’s demographics with the building’s specifications, providing comprehensive information for buyers and investors.
Jumping off from where the city had started last year with the Downtown Flower Project, the committee looked into adding more color and comfort to Manawa’s main street.
High school teacher and committee member Mary Eck brought up the possibility of the high school students making wood benches with flower boxes and placing them around town. Businesses could sponsor them and maintain the flowers.
Tech Ed teacher Dan Koehler was invited to a meeting and within one month, a proto-type was built and approved.
Without funds to supply the school with wood, screws and stain, the committee looked into a fund raiser.
Generously member John Smith, mayor of Manawa and owner of Manawa Steak House, offered all the proceeds from an annual food event he holds in the spring. The “Taste of Wisconsin” is a Wisconsin wine, cheese, fudge, honey and local distilled products tasting event.
“My wife Robyne and I want to do all we can to keep Manawa growing,” said Smith. “We have helped other worthy causes in the past and can’t think of a more local cause than preserving and improving our downtown.”
The Taste of Wisconsin is set for April 8 at Smith’s Manawa Steak House, 960 Depot St., Manawa.
The cost will be $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Anyone who buys a ticket will be eligible to win a door prize basket with other baskets and gifts to be raffled.
Other projects in the works are painting an empty downtown building, painting a mural of the city’s history on another building, and creating a consumer survey and possibly a community foundation.
Other committee members include: Amy Starr, Blair Olsen, Police Chief Dave Walker, Rev. Jeff Smiles, Judy and Tim Trull, Lori Ferg, Malessa Miller, Matt Beyer, Rhonda Wilz, Ronda Mollica, Sandie Wilz, Steve Levezow and Tom Squires.