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Business of the Month:
At some point in our lives, we have all experienced a power outage. Suddenly, we’re without the conveniences we’re so accustomed to, a well-lit room, watching television or using the stove, to name just a few.
As another storm season approaches, one company, Eagle River Light & Water (ERL&W) stands out, for the logical reasons, and beyond.
Founded more than 120 years ago in 1898, ERL&W concentrates its efforts on providing reliable electric, water, and waste water treatment services to the residents and businesses of Eagle River and parts of the Town of Lincoln.
ERL&W was originally powered off of the Otter Rapids Dam located west of the City of Eagle River. Today, ERL&W obtains its power from WPPI Energy in Sun Prairie, WI, a member-owned, non-profit servicing 51 locally-owned electric utilities. ERL&W’s largest customers are the grocery stores, hospital, schools, and Eagle Waste & Recycling.
ERL&W Utility Manager Mike Sanborn, who celebrates his 30th anniversary with the company this month, says the company’s longevity is a result of “always being focused on the customer and being community minded,” through philanthropic support or even when it comes to helping out at events by hanging flags, banners or flower pots on light poles.
Currently, ERL&W services electricity to 1,500 customers and water to 1,100 customers. It is overseen by the City of Eagle River Light & Water Commission and the City Council.
“We have nine full-time employees and one part-time employee,” said Sanborn. “With employees based right here in the community we can get any service taken care of right away and the customer up and running quickly.”
Sanborn’s colleague, Jeff Forbes, Senior Energy Services Manager, WPPI Energy says there are differences when comparing locally owned municipal utilities to investor owned utilities. “At Eagle River Light and Water, it’s about helping the customer cut their energy use and save money,” said Forbes. “We live this culture so local businesses can grow, hire more people, and thrive.”
He added, “Because the people who work for ERL&W live here, there is a connection between the employees and the company that you may not get with a larger utility.”
According to Sanborn, that philosophy remains true even for new construction.
“When the customer is ready for service, we supply it as quickly as we can, mostly the same day or shortly thereafter, so as not to slow down any business or projects,” he said.
In terms of growth and innovation, utilities change with the times and keep up to date with new technology, from new meters in homes to checking daily power usage on the internet or paying a bill on an iPhone.
All in all, if you’re a resident or business in the Eagle River area, next time you turn on your lights, power up your computer or whether you’re an out-of-town guest visiting at a Fourth of July parade and appreciate the flags waving down Wall Street, join us in recognizing ERL&W for their high-quality service and philanthropic commitment to the community.
“We live in a great community,” said Sanborn. “There are a lot of businesses that are willing to give. It’s great to be part of that giving and part of a community that’s like that.”
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Congratulations to Land O' Lakes Arts, a cultural establishment that offers people of all ages that sense of wonder and purpose.
Steve and Lisa Coon have turned their passion for the outdoors into a successful business and yet, feel their true success comes from being integrated into the community, a community they feel is like family.
Among being a stellar lodge, restaurant, and destination of choice for tourists and area residents, we congratulate Debby and Dan Johns and all of their staff for their generosity and commitment to Vilas County to ensure our history and culture live on for future generations.
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In 2016, April graduated from a business startup course, now called Nicolet Entrepreneur Training (NET) program, offered through a partnership with the VCEDC and Nicolet College. "With ongoing support from the VCEDC, including rental space within the Eagle River Business Incubator, I was able to develop and implement my business plan, founding Starlight in 2016," said April.
We can email you a PDF highlighting many of the wonderful aspects of our area.