The Osceola Chamber and Main Street said goodbye to Executive Director Germaine Ross at the end of December. Her vision, passion for Osceola, and her commitment to excellence in everything she did will be sorely missed.
In 2011-2013, Timm Johnson, President, the board of directors, and Director Courtney Sprechner had been working on rebuilding the Chamber/Main Street after both organizations were dormant for over two years. Osceola looked very different at the time: economic times were tough; the downtown had lots of empty storefronts, was in a downturn, and significant leadership changes had happened in many areas in the community. There was much work to be done.
Germaine stepped in as the Osceola Chamber/Main Street Director in 2014 and began rebuilding with us. Thanks to her past job and business experiences, commitment, and drive, she has moved the organization forward in so many important areas. The entire community has benefited.
Germaine is the first one to give credit to everyone around her for the increased vibrancy in our community: she didn’t do it by herself. Even though it’s impossible to list all the projects that Germaine has contributed to, here are just a few examples of what she has worked on during her tenure:
• Founded the Chamber Ambassador Program which acts as a liaison between our members and the board. Customer Service Recognition Program, Social Mixers, and Ribbon Cuttings fall under this program.
• Instrumental in recharging an Economic Vitality Team that includes representatives from the village, the chamber, banking institutions, and other stakeholders from the community.
• Instrumental in growing attendance to all our chamber events by two to tenfold.
• Founded the Osceola Trails Coalition, started the Valley Brew Fest event and Osceola Doc Walks.
• Led the design and publishing of the new Osceola Activity Guide.
• Started the Music on Main Street Series.
• Instrumental in designing and placing the wayfinding signs and business directory maps around town.
• Instrumental in designing and promoting the new seasonal street banners.
• Facilitated the lighting of the downtown building rooftops and trees.
• Launched the Grow Osceola Group (for the flower beds and continuing Robyn Foster’s amazing work with the flowerpots around town).
• Led many successful fundraising campaigns and obtained grants.
• Implemented our successful social media programs
• Designed and built both our chamber website and tourism website and greatly increased the Chamber and Osceola's online presence.
• Instrumental in growing the volunteer program, resulting in Osceola having the highest volunteer hours logged in the state of Wisconsin for all Main Street communities.
• Instrumental in activating seven chamber committees.
• Instrumental in decreasing the number of empty storefronts.
• Implemented E-Newsletters -growing connections, communications and promotions.
• Instrumental in guiding local businesses throughout the COVID pandemic and various “bounce back” relief funding opportunities.
We also must send a huge thank you to Germaine’s partner, Scott Lindahl for all the volunteer technical assistance and behind-the-scenes work. We can’t even count the hours the two of them have spent hauling various “stuff” around town! Tables, chairs, straw bales, signs, lights, tents, grills – you name it, they’ve hauled it. They are the magic elves that come in and make sure everything is working and gets done. Thank you.