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Volume 6, Issue 37, Jan 29, 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


Community responding to HSHS Prevea closures
   The announcement last week that HSHS hospitals and Prevea clinics in our region will be closing is devastating news for our community. It creates a healthcare crisis for affected patients, an employment crisis for healthcare professionals and their families, and an economic crisis for the broader community.
   Facing this reality, it’s critical for all sectors of our community to come together to identify and understand the numerous complex issues that will have to be addressed. It will take a robust, collaborative effort on the part of community leaders, elected officials, economic development professionals, and the healthcare sector to develop a plan and take prompt action to solve this crisis.
Jerry Jacobson, Bill Rupp to lead task force
   A region-wide task force is being assembled to tackle these issues. It will be co-chaired by retired healthcare executive Bill Rupp - whose experience includes leading Mayo facilities in Eau Claire, Mankato, MN, and Jacksonville, FL - and Jerry Jacobson, President of Northwestern Bank in Chippewa Falls. The first meeting of the task force's steering committee will be on Tuesday. It's anticipated that the task force will establish subcommittees to address specific issues such as patient needs and concerns, healthcare gaps, HSHS and Prevea employees, effects on employees of other businesses, business redevelopment, potential governmental action, communications, and more.
Website to submit questions and input
   In the meantime, the Chamber has established a special web page to provide ongoing information and receive input. You can also sign up to receive updates:
Click here to stay informed and submit questions and input

More information:
Task force created to focus on closures of hospitals, Prevea (Leader-Telegram $)
Community Prepares Task Force to Address Shock of Medical Closings (Volume One)
A task force is being created to help communities with hospital closings (WEAU 13 News)
Regional task force formed in response to hospital closures (WQOW News 18)
Recovery task force created in wake of HSHS hospitals closing (WKBT News 8000)
Health care closures rock northwestern Wisconsin, raise questions about rural care (Leader-Telegram $)
HSHS, Prevea to permanently close Chippewa Valley facilities (WEAU 13 News)
'Complete exit from western Wisconsin': HSHS, Prevea closing area hospitals permanently (WQOW News 18)
Filings offer layoff details (Leader-Telegram $)

Also in this issue:
 • Chamber holds 109th Annual Meeting, Police Chief Rokus named Public
    Employee of the Year
 • EC City Council approves refugees resolution
 • Passenger rail updates at Jan 30 Rail Coalition meeting
 • Governor Evers delivers State of the State Address, GOP proposes tax cuts
 • 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 "+"


Last chance to register...
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 the 2024 Chippewa Valley Rally Issues
Click here for an update on the status of 2023 Rally Issues
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, Madison
    Click here for details and to register

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


Eau Claire Chamber holds 109th Annual Meeting
Police Chief Matt Rokus named Public Employee of the Year
   The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce conducted its 109th Annual Meeting, "Eau What A Night," this past Wednesday evening at the Pablo Center at the Confluence. In addition to recapping the Chamber year and looking ahead to the rest of 2024, several individual awards where presented:
 - Public Employee of the Year: Matt Rokus, Eau Claire Police Chief
 - Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Jennifer McHugh, Royal Credit Union, and Heather Costley, Mayo Clinic Health System
 - Glassbrenner–Klinkhammer Spirit Award (Ambassador of the Year): Josh Zeug, Huebsch Services
 - Outstanding Young Professional: Travis Ida, Trust Point
More information:
Chamber responds to hospital closures and hosts annual event (Leader-Telegram $)
Chamber of Commerce hosts Eau What a Night (WEAU 13 News)
Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce hosts 109th Annual Meeting: 'Eau What a Night' (WQOW News 18)
Our View: A night to celebrate (Leader-Telegram)

Eau Claire City Council: 4th of July Fireworks recommendation, grants for affordable housing, refugee resolution, 8% water utility rate increase
   A resolution welcoming refugees to the community was passed unanimously last Tuesday by the Eau Claire City Council. The resolution was a among a very full agenda for the Council last. week.
   Among the items on its Public Hearing agenda on Monday evening were 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 included action on each of the items from Monday's Public Hearing. It also included 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, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (121 pages)
 • Tuesday, Jan 23, 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)
City approves support of World Relief (Leader-Telegram $)
CORBA trail plan approved by city (Leader-Telegram $)
Warm Welcome Planned for Refugees in Coming Weeks (Volume One)

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 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 on 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)

More local stories...

ECASD students meet for welding youth apprenticeship opportunities through Lippert, CVTC
(Leader-Telegram $)

Chilson sells dealerships, Morrie's Auto Group expanding to Chippewa Valley
(WQOW News 18)

The Metro to Re-Open, Them Coulee Boys Slated For First Show
(Volume One)

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


State and regional stories...

Evers moves to make access to contraception easier, vows to protect abortion access in State of the State

Text of State of the State address
Video: State of the State Address (Wisconsin Eye)

Governor Evers tours Wisconsin following State of the State Address, stops at UW-Eau Claire (News 8000)
Evers says Medicaid expansion could help save rural, struggling hospitals (Leader-Telegram $)

Wisconsin Republicans push new tax cut package

Republicans announce $2.1 billion tax cut package aimed at low and middle earners (Journal-Sentinel +)
Wisconsin Republicans bring back tax cut legislation for third time (AP)

Wisconsin’s budget surplus is shrinking but still large

Tuition reciprocity changes, workforce plan would add millions to UW system's coffers
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Remote work in Wisconsin declines, but office vacancies remain high

Wisconsin union membership up nearly 10% in 2023

Local health leaders say fentanyl continues to drive overdose deaths in Wisconsin

Fentanyl Test Strips Are an Easy Way to Save Lives (Governing)

UW-L, WTC sign credit transfer agreement
(WXOW News 19)

Janesville City Council approves JP Cullen Woodman's Center bid
(Janesville Gazette +)


National and economic stories...

Trump wins New Hampshire primary as rematch with Biden appears increasingly likely

Trump wins 2024 New Hampshire primary as Haley vows to continue fight (CBS News)

Biden delays consideration of new natural gas export terminals, citing climate risk

Biden's LNG quagmire (Axios)

Key border deal negotiator says bipartisan agreement has been reached, could be ready in the coming days (CNN)
Top border negotiators stump for their deal ahead of possible vote next week (Politico)
Nikki Haley slams Trump for trying to torpedo congressional border deal (CNBC)

Rep. Van Orden visits Eau Claire, talks border security, budget
(Leader-Telegram $)

Congressman Derrick Van Orden announces he is running for re-election
(WEAU 13 News)

Three U.S. troops killed, up to 34 injured in Jordan drone strike linked to Iran

US Chamber Small Business Update
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)

Debunking Myths about Free Enterprise (US Chamber of Commerce)
Data shows free markets and free enterprise improve economic mobility, equality, safety, production, life expectancy, and overall happiness across the globe.

Dems May Regret Not Taking Redistricting Deal
(Dave Cieslewicz, Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos)

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, 2024

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, 2024

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5, 2024

"Bravo to Business" Awards
 • Thursday, Oct 17, 2024

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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