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Volume 6, Issue 36, Jan 22, 2024
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Eau Claire, Wis.
Published the first business day of each week
Business Advocate Past Issues
Public Meetings Calendar
Chamber Events Calendar
The Chamber's Advocacy Principles
The Chamber's 2024 Business Issues Agenda
"Talking Po!nt" Podcast
Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs


Making a Difference: State and Federal Government
This informative event will concentrate on the state and federal government. Find out what decisions get made in Madison and Washington, and what they mean to you. A "Pints & Politics" program presented by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association, REALTORS® Association of Northwest Wisconsin, and Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley.
 • Tuesday, Jan 30, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Chamber Offices
    Click here for details and to register

Eggs & Issues: The State of the City - Eau Claire
The Chamber's annual "State of the City" address. City Council President Emily Berge and City Manager Stephanie Hirsch will recap highlights from 2023 and take a look at the City's challenges and plans for 2024.
 • THURSDAY, Feb 15, 7:00-8:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
Bringing the Chippewa Valley's voice to Madison. Organized by the Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and Menomonie Chambers of Commerce. After a very productive 2023, we'll be back in Madison to thank policymakers for key wins, remind them of unresolved issues, and build relationships.
Click here for an update on the status of 2023 Rally Issues
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, Madison
    Click here for details and to register

National Civics Bee: Middle school essay deadline Feb 19

Area 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students are eligible to participate in Wisconsin's first-ever competition for the National Civics Bee, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce foundation. The first step is to submit an essay by Feb 19 (new extended deadline). Click the link below for details:
National Civics Bee information (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Chamber Business Hours: Mon-Thu 7:30a-5p, Friday 8a-2p  Lobby Hours: Mon-Fri 10a-2p

In this issue:
 • EC City Council: Fireworks, affordable housing, refugee resolution
 • Passenger rail updates at Jan 30 Rail Coalition meeting
 • State and regional stories
• National and economic stories
 • Food for thought
 • Mark your calendar
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


Eau Claire City Council: 4th of July Fireworks recommendation, grants for affordable housing, refugee resolution, 8% water utility rate increase
   The Eau Claire City Council meets this week. Among the items on its Public Hearing agenda on Monday evening are a rezoning for a manufactured homes development at 3536 W. Folsom by Tenable Homes (see pages 6-16 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below), a Shawtown Neighborhood Plan (pages 17-58), several alley improvement projects (see pages 59-84) street improvements on Oakwood Hills Parkway between Cypress and Golf Road (pages 85-91), a public discussion of a proposed 8% increase in water utility rates (pages 92-97), a proposed trails plan for the City Wells site (pages 98-99), expansion of the ban on smoking in outdoor locations (pages 100-101), and acceptance of the recommendation of the July Fourth Celebration Committee to conduct the 2024 fireworks from the High Bridge (pages 102-121).
   The Tenable Homes project encompasses 14.67 acres on the City's west side to provide an affordable price point for a new concept in single family homes, ranging from $150,000 to $200,000. The proposal received a unanimous recommendation from the Plan Commission, and a letter of support from the Housing Opportunities Commission.
   Tuesday's Business Agenda includes action on each of the items from Monday's Public Hearing. It also includes approval of an intergovernmental agreement with the Town of Washington that is part of the settlement of the Orchard Hills annexation (see page 70 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below), two grants from the City's Affordable Housing Fund recommended by the Housing Opportunities Commission (pages 124-185), and a resolution affirming support for the resettlement of refugees in Eau Claire (pages 316-317).
   The two projects recommended for the Affordable Housing Fund include $200,000 to Home for Good for a project with Habitat for Humanity to develop 12 homes that could be purchased by individuals making 30-50% of County Median Income, and $75,000 to the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association for repairs and improvements to existing affordable housing units.
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Jan 22, 7 p.m. Public Hearing Agenda Packet (121 pages)
 • Tuesday, Jan 23, 4 p.m. Legislative Session Agenda Packet (335 pages)
    2024 Budget website (City of Eau Claire)
    Link to videos of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)
    City Council Online Comment Form (City of Eau Claire)
    Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)

Also meeting this week...

Eau Claire
Board of Education
 • Monday, Jan 22, 6 p.m. Meeting and agenda info.

Altoona City Council
 • Thursday, Jan 25, 6 p.m. Links to agenda and info

Updates on passenger rail grants for the Chippewa Valley
Jan 30 West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition annual meeting
   Updates on the prospects for the institution of passenger train service to the Chippewa Valley with be provided at the Annual Meeting of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition on Tuesday, January 30.

   In December, the US DOT's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced seven planning grants for Wisconsin-related corridors, two of which specifically would institute passenger train service to the route between Eau Claire, Menomonie, Hudson, and the Twin Cities. One was to the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, which seeks to implement a regional train service between those communities, and one to WisDOT for planning of a through Chicago-Milwaukee-Twin Cities route via Madison and/or Eau Claire. Each grant provides $500,000 in federal planning money, and puts each route in the pipeline for federal passenger rail development under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021. Overall, 69 corridors across the country were awarded grants for the FRA Corridor Identification and Development Program.
   The West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition is a regional non-profit advocacy organization established in 1999 by area business and education leaders, including the Chamber. Its annual meeting on Tuesday, January 30, will include updates from the Coalition leadership, members of the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, as well as WisDOT, Amtrak, and Ramsey County, Minn., owner of St. Paul Union Depot. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is requested. It will be a hybrid meeting, with attendance offered in person or via Zoom.
More information:
West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition Annual Meeting
 Tuesday, Jan 30, 8:30-11:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center, EC
    In person: Click here for details and registration
    Online: Click here for Zoom registration (required for online participation)
Federal Railroad Administration approves grant money for Wisconsin rail projects (West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition)
Wisconsin business groups applaud federal grants for passenger rail projects (West Central Wis Rail Coalition)
More steps are taken to make passenger rail service possible in Eau Claire (WEAU 13 News)
Rail Commission discusses next steps (Leader-Telegram $)
Two Wisconsin passenger rail ideas back on the study track (WisBusiness.com)

Explainer: How the Corridor ID Program works (High Speed Rail Alliance)

CVTC seeks board applicants 
   Applications are being accepted for three positions on the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Board of Trustees. Successful candidates will serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2024. The three-year term open positions include one member who is an employer, one member who is an employee, and one member who is a school district administrator. All candidates must meet a number of requirements in order to be eligible for Wisconsin Technical College System district board membership. Applications are due by 4 p.m. Monday, February 12. For more information or to request an application, contact Lauren Sullivan at 715-833-6500, lsullivan9@cvtc.edu, or go to

More local stories...

State of the County: Deflecting people from the justice system
(Leader-Telegram $)

UWEC Foundation board recognized with national award for exemplary leadership (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire transit sees strong year with ridership on the rise
(WQOW News 18)

EC County vending machine gives hundreds of life saving tools in six months
(Leader-Telegram $)
Health Department: Harm reduction vending machine dispenses 503 boxes of Narcan in first 6 months (WEAU 13 News)

C.V. Pickleball Club Breaks Ground on 12 New Courts
(Volume One)

Six Locally Focused Business Boosters
(Volume One)

Chippewa Co. resolution calling for “pause” in refugee resettlement efforts advances
(WEAU 13 News)

Refugee resolution moves to Chippewa County Board (WQOW News 18)

Ryan Douglas offered Chippewa Falls Police Chief position
(WEAU 13 News)

Spring 2024 Election
Tuesday, April 2
Local candidates on the Spring election ballot (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


State and regional stories...

Bipartisan effort to unlock federal funds for EV charging stations moves forward

Wisconsin income tax cut targets lower earners under latest GOP plan
(The Cap Times)

Most map proposals before Wisconsin Supreme Court would dilute GOP legislative majorities
Analysis of Proposed Legislative Redistricting Plans submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court (Marquette Law School)
New maps for the Wisconsin Legislature are in. What happens now? (The Cap Times)
Democratic law firm files challenge to Wisconsin’s congressional maps (WPR)
A Democratic group now seeks new congressional maps, too (The Cap Times)

Effort to force vote on impeaching elections chief goes nowhere in Wisconsin Assembly
Republican rift over impeaching elections chief Meagan Wolfe boils over in Assembly (Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin lawmakers want study into reviving income tax deal with Minnesota

Republicans reject another Evers appointee, a utility commissioner
(The Cap Times)
Vote to oust utility regulator tied to low-income program, solar financing tool (WPR)

Evers talks redistricting, medical marijuana in EC stop
(Leader-Telegram $)
Gov. Evers visits Eau Claire businesses benefiting from state grants (WEAU 13 News)
Gov. Tony Evers visits 'Bounceback Grant' and 'Child Care Counts Funding' recipients (WQOW News 18)

Will Wisconsin Catch Up to Neighbors’ Marijuana Laws?
(Volume One)

New Wisconsin Realtors CEO aims to help address housing shortage, improve local coordination

UWL Interim Chancellor discusses Joe Gow, education, and more at Spring Address
(WEAU 13 News)

Madison to review plans for transitional home, 553 new apartments
(The Cap Times)


National and economic stories...

Biden signs stopgap funding bill to keep government open into March
(The Hill)
House clears stopgap funding extension into March (Roll Call)
Wisconsin Republicans vote no but Congress passes short-term fix to avert partial shutdown (Journal-Sentinel +)
US Senate vote 77-18 (Yes: Baldwin; No: Johnson)
US House vote 314-108 (Yes: Moore, Pocan; No: Van Orden, Fitzgerald, Gallagher, Grothman, Steil, Tiffany)

Congress unveils bipartisan tax deal on child care, R&D
Bipartisan tax deal could boost child tax credit for 2023. What it means for families this tax season (CNBC)
U.S. Chamber Supports Bipartisan Tax Deal, Calls on Congress to Swiftly Enact It (US Chamber of Commerce)

DeSantis drops out of presidential race, leaving Trump and Haley to face off in New Hampshire

Nikki Haley Is Doing New Hampshire Her Way
(The Dispatch)

Tara Johnson drops out of 3rd District Congressional race
(Leader-Telegram $)

US Chamber of Commerce says business is "fed up" with Washington
"State of American Business" address by Suzanne Clark (23:55 video and transcript, US Chamber of Commerce)

US Chamber Small Business Update
Register to attend online January 31
   Join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a Small Business Update with Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley. Lean about the state of small business in 2024 and topics and issues every small business owner should be aware of including regulatory issues impacting small businesses, 2024 economic outlook and trends, updates on on-going challenges and issues impacting small businesses, and the thriving startup boom and how entrepreneurs can leverage resources available to help start, run, and grow their businesses.
More information:
Small Business Update - US Chamber of Commerce
  • Wednesday, Jan 31, 11 a.m. Click here for information and to register

Food for thought...

The Flip Side: Both sides of important issues
(The Flip Side, daily digest)

Scott Klug: Ticket splitters shake up, improve American politics
(Wisconsin State Journal)

COVID-19 Resources:
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub (Eau Claire City-County Health Department)

Mark your calendar:

Making a Difference: State and Federal Government
 • Tuesday, Jan 30

Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Eau Claire
• Thursday, Feb 15

30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
 • Wednesday, Feb 28

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
• Friday, Mar 15

Spring 2024 Election
 • Tuesday, April 2
Local candidates on the Spring election ballot

Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona
 • Friday, Apr 12

Chamber Royale
 • Thursday, May 16

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5

"Bravo to Business" Awards
 • Thursday, Oct 17

Public Meetings Calendar
Click the link above for the our regularly updated schedule of public meetings.

Thanks for reading this issue of Business Advocate.
If you have comments or questions, contact Scott Rogers, Vice President G
overnmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org

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