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Jammin' gets funding one more year

Oct. 29, 2012

Muskego - Even aldermen with reservations eventually went along with the city of Muskego providing one more year of partial funding of the popular Jammin' on Janesville, a huge outdoor block party that spans about four miles and brings thousands to Janesville Road to hear bands and participate in activities.

Jammin' on Janesville has been held the first Friday evenings of June, July and August along Janesville Road to bring people to businesses along that stretch and thereby help them survive the two-year Janesville Road widening project. The first Jammin' was held the year before the street was torn up and the last series of three Jams is planned for next year, the last year of construction.

The $19,000 city support that is 44 percent of Jammin' s budget was called into question by some aldermen on the basis that it was giving money for private benefit, that it was a lot of money and that they aren't sure it's helping businesses survive.

Feedback Alderman Dan Soltysiak said he is getting from constituents is that government shouldn't give money to private organizations. Similarly, Alderman Rob Glazier said his neighbors enjoyed Jammin' but were astonished by the level of support the city gives.

The $19,000 is spread over the three events to cover much of the advertising cost. The businesses themselves and the chamber have funded the balance.

The city is already doing its part to help businesses by spending a considerable amount of money to beautify Janesville Road, Alderman Kert Harenda said. It also will hire someone next year to work on economic development.

"We're doing our part," Harenda said.

But officials of the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce that holds Jammin' on Janesville and several member businesses argued at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting that the Jams are saving businesses.

Jammin' on Janesville has put his Domino's Pizza on the map at the national Domino's headquarters, owner Andrew McKee said.

The average loss in sales for Domino's restaurants facing construction in front of their stores is 38 percent, he said. His sales went up 31 percent, he said.

"(That's) the only increase in the entire history of Domino's Pizza," he said. In fact, Domino's has seized on Jammin' on Janesville as a model of how stores should deal with potential losses from road construction, McKee said.

His business experienced a solid three-week bump after each Jam, he said, and he had record sales at one of them.

But he acknowledged that some businesses have experienced even 50 percent losses in sales.

Even though it hasn't shored up businesses across the board, "It probably saved businesses," said Dan Koehler, chamber vice president who is with BMO Harris Bank. Feedback he has received from member business owners indicated that the Jams attracted business.

Soltysiak said he was concerned that the city has no control over the money it provides.

Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti suggested naming an alderman to act as a liaison as it does for the Muskego Festival parade which the city funds entirely.

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