2017 Year in Review at the Monona East Side Business Alliance by Kristie Schilling

2017 was another awesome year for the Monona East Side Business Alliance! I’m excited to announce that we ended the year with 85 new members, topping our record number of 84 in 2016. It was a busy year and it’s clearly evident that the word on the streets is that MESBA is the place to be when it comes to business networking! Both Amber Iverson and I strive to provide all of our members with an exemplary experience and we hope we’re meeting your expectations.

As they say, timing is everything, and we’re thrilled to see the pendulum swinging eastward in the Madison area. The mission of this business collective is to promote and foster an environment that attracts, supports and retains private-sector jobs, and spurs economic vitality while always promoting and encouraging engagement with our members. MESBA is committed to improving the economic future of our community. We’re committed to continue creating innovative programs to help our members grow.

At the end of each year, I review all of the numbers of our event attendance, communication statistics, membership levels, and more to compile the annual review. In 2017’s annual review, some highlights include our three new programs launched—Restaurant Month in May, Curatorial Connection, and the kayak outing—85 new members joining the Alliance, and record setting event attendance at many of our events. You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll keep saying it—we cannot do this without our awesome members!

Year after year, you prove that you are highly engaged, dedicated to improving the economic vitality of our community and supporting your fellow members in astounding ways.

You’ll see in the annual review our other major achievements for 2017—our new endeavor serving as the destination marketing organization for the City of Monona through regional tourism marketing and relocating to our beautiful new office in Water Tower Place.

MESBA Kayak Outing by Tadsen Photography

One of the surprises in the annual review was with our top five member industries. While many communities are struggling with maintaining brick and mortar retail locations, the retail community in the Monona East Side community is thriving! We applaud our retail members for providing a unique experience for shoppers and for providing unique offerings to keep them coming back.

Food establishments in our area have been robust for decades and the presence of 29 eateries on Monona Drive alone is evidence of that. I worked in restaurants on the east side all through college and it’s an incredibly tough business. It’s obvious that our members love showing their appreciation to the restaurateurs by patronizing them daily. The success of our first ever Restaurant Month in May was hard proof of that! Almost $15,000 in economic impact was calculated by the number of completed Bite Cards that were returned (47 in all). We know most people go to restaurants with others so the $15,000 that we could measure is likely a much higher number. We look forward to seeing even more participation in May 2018.

We now have 12 artists enrolled in the Curatorial Connection program who are ready and willing to provide local art for your workplace. The creation of this program was a large undertaking. I’ve always been an artist and had been troubled by the divide that exists between the business and arts community. I was dedicated to finding a way to provide a linkage that works for both groups and think we may be on to something.

Many artists are working full time jobs to support their art and research shows that art provides numerous benefits for workplaces including improved productivity, an increase in creativity, stress reduction and more customers in many cases. It’s not too late to start an art rental program for your workplace! I’d be happy to talk you through the program and help you enhance your brand through local art. You can find a directory of artists on our website. I’m beyond excited to watch this program evolve and to see local art displayed in some of your businesses!

I hope you’re all starting 2018 with renewed zest for your business and are energized by what’s to come! While my schedule may be busy, I always prioritize our members and look forward to connecting with each and every one of you in 2018.

-Kristie Schilling, Executive Director
(608) 222-8565