Photo courtesy Fox Cities Chamber

APPLETON — The Fox Cities Chamber today announced a free membership level for small businesses and stand-alone restaurants.

Called Connect Free, the new program was announced at a launch event held Monday, August 29, at the Chamber offices in downtown Appleton.

“Today was a huge day for the Fox Cities Chamber as we announced our new Connect Free membership level, reaffirming our commitment to small businesses and our local economy in an unprecedented way,” said Chamber President & CEO Becky Bartoszek in a news release.

“We have been a part of the Fox Cities for nearly 150 years, serving all employers in the area. But we understand the unique needs of small business, who make up 99.9% of all businesses in the country and are responsible for nearly half of our economic activity,” Bartoszek said. “The Chamber and Fox Cities Regional Partnership, our economic development arm, are proud to offer the tools, resources, and support to help them succeed.”

Bartoszek siad she feels this initiative will have a domino effect on the Fox Cities economy. “Connect Free promotes a welcoming environment for businesses; one where their employees want to live, work, and play. This helps ALL businesses succeed and our economy thrive.”

Small businesses who qualify for Connect Free are those with five or fewer full-time employees (or equivalent), nonprofits with 10 or fewer employees, and freestanding restaurants in the Fox Cities. Other membership levels are available starting at $400.

Connect Free membership offers small business owners several benefits, including opportunities to connect with other businesses in the Fox Cities, educational programs specifically targeted to small business, marketing opportunities through Grow with Google, a listing in the Chamber’s online directory, discounted business services from the US Chamber, a complimentary subscription to The Business News, and more.

Bartoszek encourages all businesses who qualify to sign up for Connect Free. “I would hope it’s an easy decision for a small business to join the Chamber for free and reap the many benefits and resources we offer to help your business grow.”

The application can be done online through the Chamber’s web site:  Questions on Connect Free can be sent to Jim Wickersham, Senior Director of Investor Relations,

Also at Monday’s event, the Chamber made two other major announcements:

Grow with Google

The Fox Cities Chamber has partnered with “Grow with Google” a national initiative that offers digital tools, resources, and training to help local small businesses adapt, grow, and better serve the community – many at no cost. “Working with Google we can help businesses work with and embrace digital technology to help them stand out online, reach more customers, and work more efficiently using Google tools and programs,” said Bartoszek. Training is a huge focus of the program, she added, including both in person and virtual events.

The Chamber is kicking off its Google learnings series on Tuesday, October 4 with two live small business workshops: “Reach your Customers Online with Google” and “Launch your Business with Customer Focused Marketing.” The sessions will be conducted by Dave Meyer, a certified Grow with Google trainer, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., location to be determined. After that a series of bi-weekly webinars will be launched on a variety of topics. Visit the Chamber’s online Events page for registration information.


The Chamber also unveiled a new logo and visual brand on the 29th. According to Bartoszek, “As we continue to launch new programs and initiatives to better serve our business community, we wanted a new visual identity to represent the energy and excitement of today’s Chamber.

“This new logo and brand identity capture the vibrancy of the Chamber and the Fox Cities, representing how we bring people, businesses, and communities together for the success and betterment of the area …  to connect, grow, and lead.”

A new website was launched on Monday to align with the new brand look, as well as provide a friendlier user experience and easier navigation. View it a



By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.