Career of promoting community, business
By Robert Cloud
After three decades on the job, Terri Schulz plans to step down as president of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce in May 2024.
Schulz was serving on the chamber’s board of directors in 1993 when the executive director resigned.
“We decided we needed somebody full time,” she said. “I flippantly said maybe I’ll apply. Here I am 30 years later.”
Prior to taking the helm at the chamber, Schulz was manager and buyer for a clothing store called The Junction. It was located in the Waupaca Woods Mall and owned by her parents.
Noting that her parents were active in the local chamber of commerce, Schulz said, “At one time, my dad was chair of the board of directors. I kind of followed in his footsteps.”
Schulz said the chamber has evolved significantly since she first became president.
“We had one computer we would share in a room,” Schulz said.
She said the chamber has expanded its services beyond organizing events such as Strawberry Fest to include assisting the city with economic development and assisting businesses.
“We started a Convention and Visitors Bureau, which does everything on the tourism side of things,” Schulz said.
The bureau has a visitors center, promotes the city and the Chain for business conventions and tourism, and helps organize events that draw visitors to the area.
“We also started a chamber foundation, which supports the programs that the chamber does.”
Formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2019, the Waupaca Area Chamber Foundation seeks to act as the educational, workforce development and economic development arm of the chamber.
The organization has total assets of nearly $550,000 according to its 2022 tax exempt filing with the IRS.
The chamber has also partnered with the city and school district in the employment of a grant writer.
Greg Grohman has brought more than $4 million in funding since becoming the grant writer for the Waupaca area in 2020.
Schulz noted that the chamber has also moved into new offices, relocating less than a block away, from 221 S. Main St. to 315 S. Main St.
“We had outgrown the space,” Schulz said. “Moving to this location has been fabulous. It gives us more space and we have everything under one roof.”
The chamber made the move the day after Labor Day in 2019.
When asked what her biggest challenges have been as chamber president, Schulz replied, “You can’t please everybody. As much as you’d like to, it just doesn’t work that way.”
She noted that one of her favorite parts of the job has been making contacts, both with businesses here locally and withy people across the state and country.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a great board of directors and a fabulous staff over the years,”
Schulz said. “It’s not what I’ve done alone, it’s what we have all done. It takes a community to make a community.”