Embracing Green Bay's live-work-play spirit
GREEN BAY - Tiona Petrouske thought she was moving back to the Green Bay area she remembered from her studies at St. Norbert College.
The Peshtigo area native returned to Northeastern Wisconsin in 2011 after nine years away — most of them spent in Chicago — to find a very different city taking shape.
“Green Bay was the big city growing up where I did. Then I went to St. Norbert and it became a small city with a lot of familiar faces,” Petrouske said. “Before I made the move (back), I was preparing to be less wowed. But there are plenty of places for good food, good options for living downtown and the opportunity to start my own business.”
In fact, Petrouske found it all in downtown Green Bay.
Petrouske and her husband, Randy, live in a cool, modern townhouse near Whitney Park, where they walk their two dogs. They walk to events on the CityDeck or performances at the Meyer Theatre. Dinner is often a short stroll away, as well. And when Tiona decided to start her own business, she convinced State Farm to let her open her insurance agency in Main Street Commons in the Olde Main district. The office opened Jan. 1.
“I told them I thought downtown’s the right place to be,” she said. “It’s a harder sell to explain the growth, but we did a lot of driving around downtown and (State Farm representatives) had no idea all of this existed. They ended up agreeing that it’s a great place for me to help State Farm grow.”
Petrouske is just the type of person Downtown Green Bay, On Broadway, city leaders and community organizations hope can change outside perceptions about the Green Bay area. She values living near downtown and started her business in the central city. She supports local artists and businesses whether it's for shopping at home or decorating her office on Main Street, and she wants to spread that message to others.
That means getting more involved in Green Bay by contributing to some of the same organizations and events that helped make her feel at home and are spreading the word about the opportunities being created by downtown Green Bay's ongoing revitalization. She mentioned her neighborhood association, the Olde Main business district and Current, the Greater Green Bay Chamber’s young professionals organization, as a few examples of the organizations that play a crucial role in promoting and supporting the city.
“It's a different city than it was (a decade ago.) I'm glad to be here. The city’s doing a lot,” Petrouske said. “It’s up to us to spread the word of what we’re doing.”
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