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Volume 6, Issue 19, Sep 25, 2023
 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 Business Issues Agenda
"Talking Point" Podcast
Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs


Last chance to register...
Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
   Even though the 2023-25 state budget has been enacted, many key state issues are still pending. We've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to join us for an update and to answer questions submitted by participants. We'll get a recap and perspective on how key regional economic priorities fared in the budget, and discuss still-pending issues like childcare, potential tax cuts, redistricting, etc.  
 • Friday, Sep 29, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Local Candidate Training Workshop
   If you've ever considered running for a local elected office, want to help a friend or colleague with a campaign, or just wondered what's involved, make plans now to attend this workshop. You'll learn which offices will be on the ballot in the Spring 2024 election and the basic details of filing and running for office. You'll also have a chance to hear what it's really like to run and to serve from a panel of current and former city council, school board, and county board members. This event is co-sponsored with the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association, the REALTORS® Association of Northwestern Wisconsin, and Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley.
 • Wednesday, Oct 11, 8:30-11:30 a.m., REALTORS® Assn of NW Wisconsin
    Click here for details and to register

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-5p, Friday 8a-2p
Lobby Hours: Mon-Thu 9a-3p, Friday 9a-Noon

In this issue:
 • Chamber "Bravo to Business" Award winners announced
 • Eau Claire County leads the state in net new construction
 • EC City Council: UWEC Science Building site plan
 • Freshmen enrollment is up at area UW schools
 • Regional Housing Conference set for Nov 1 in Eau Claire
 • Debates heat up in Madison: Eggs & Issues here on Friday
 • Bracing for Impact: Potential Government Shutdown
 • 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 "+"


"Bravo to Business" Award winners announced
   The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its third annual "Bravo to Business" event at The Florian Gardens Conference Center on Thursday, September 21. Nearly 250 Chamber investors were in attendance to honor fifteen outstanding area businesses that were nominated in five categories for the significant role they play in driving the community’s business and economic growth.  
   To be considered for one of these five awards, the organization must be setting standards for excellence and innovation with their business practices and community involvement. The following awards, were presented at the event:
Emerging Business of the Year
Winner: Wisconsin Makers Market; Finalists: Green Fleet, Natural Health and Allergy 
Resilient Business of the Year
Winner: Eau Claire Energy Cooperative; Finalist: REACH – Regional Enterprises for Adults & Children
Young Professionals Best Place to Work
Winner: Ayres Associates; Finalists: Bauman Associates Ltd., Chippewa Valley Technical College
Small Business of the Year
Winner: Ferguson’s Orchards; Finalists: Atmosphere Commercial Interiors, Bauman Associates Ltd., Cowboy Jack’s, Natural Health & Allergy
Business of the Year
Winner: Royal Credit Union, Finalist: Minnesota Wire & Cable

More information:
Bravo to Business Awards winners list (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce announces “Bravo to Business” winners (WEAU 13 News)
Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce announces winners of 2023 Bravo to Business Awards (WQOW News 18)
Awards program book with finalists' stories (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Videos: Award finalists' stories for all 5 categories (Eau Claire Chamber YouTube playlist)

EC County, Altoona #1 in state construction net growth rates
City of Eau Claire #2 among the 20 largest cities
   Newly-released figures from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue show that Eau Claire County experienced the highest net new construction growth rate among all 72 counties in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The county's growth rate was 3.16%, while Altoona's rate of 10.1% was the highest of any municipality in the state, and the City of Eau Claire's growth rate of 3.03% was the second highest among the state's 20 largest cities.
   "Eau Claire, known for its vibrant arts culture and scenic beauty, is now making headlines for its remarkable growth rate of economic transformation," notes a news release from the Eau Claire County Economic Development Corporation. "With new construction growth rate elevated to unprecedented levels, the city is emerging as an epicenter for development, investment, and opportunity."
   The Net New Construction Report is published by the WI Department of Revenue. It reports net construction numbers that include new construction reduced by any demolition or destruction of buildings, and may include corrections to the prior year. According to the Wisconsin Counties Association, “One way for a county to move from a position of relative disadvantage to one of prosperity is through economic expansion. Employment growth is one indicator. New construction is another measure of economic activity. This is especially important for local governments because new construction determines allowable increases in the property tax levy.” Increasing the property tax levy allows the municipality to increase budget spending without raising current taxes.
More information:
Net new construction reports (Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue)
E.C. County Construction Growth Was No. 1 in State (Volume One)
Report: Eau Claire County leads state in construction growth rate (WQOW News 18)

City of Eau Claire news

EC City Council: Site plan for UWEC Science Building
   The Eau Claire City Council meets this week with two items on its Public Hearing Agenda on Monday evening: The site plan for UW-Eau Claire's Science and Health Sciences Building (see pages 13-43 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below) and a rezoning to allow twin homes to be built on property at 2337 W. Vine St. (pages 5-12).
   The Tuesday Legislative Session agenda includes action on the two items from Monday evening. The Business Agenda also includes a Municipal Animal Control Agreement with the Eau Claire County Humane Association (See pages 67-77 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below), a development agreement with JCAP for roadway and utilities for The Fountains at Otter Creek at US 53 and Scully Drive (pages 120-139), and single-property annexations of homes at 4808 E Hamilton Ave. and 3131 Orange St., both currently in the Town of Washington (pages 148-161). The Council also plans a Work Session after Tuesday's meeting to review a study from the Advisory Committee on Appointments regarding the composition, format, and purpose of the City's Boards, Commissions, and Committees.  
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Sep 25, 7 p.m. Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (43 pages)
 • Tuesday, Sep 26, 4 p.m. Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (166 pages)
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 set to put accessible parking on Main Street (Leader-Telegram $)

Regional Housing Conference set for Nov 1 in Eau Claire
Organized by the Eau Claire Housing Opportunities Commission
   The City of Eau Claire Housing Opportunities Commission has opened registration for its second annual Regional Housing Conference on Wednesday, November 1. The Conference will include an update on the regional economy and its impact on housing; funding of low-income and workforce housing, including an update on recently-passed state legislation; regional zoning updates; and more.
   The Housing Opportunities Commission was established by the City Council in 2020 to address and encourage housing affordability in the City. 
More information:
Housing Opportunities Commission (City of Eau Claire)
Regional Housing Conference
• Wednesday, Nov 1, 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., UWEC Davies Center
   Click here for information and registration

UWEC touts top undergraduate research ranking
Stout, River Falls, and UWEC all see increased freshmen enrollment
   UW-Eau Claire has been ranked nationally among the top institutions for undergraduate research in the latest US News & World Report rankings. As the only regional public comprehensive institution on the list, UWEC joins major research universities like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and MIT in the rankings. UWEC ranked 35th, up 18 spots from last year.

   This fall, all three area UW System schools are reporting increases in their freshmen class enrollment, including 1.3% at UWEC, and 5.1% at UW-River Falls.
More information:
Freshmen enrollment rises at UWEC, Stout, RF (Leader-Telegram $)
UW schools see an increase in enrollment for Fall 2023 (WEAU 13 News)
Increases in first-year, international students highlight year of success (UW-Stout)
Enrollment up, and steady, across the UW System (UW System)
UW-Eau Claire among top undergraduate research universities in U.S. News ranking (UWEC)

Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects rankings (US News & World Report)
UW-Stout students bring home competition wins for sustainable packaging research (Leader-Telegram $)
Here's how Wisconsin universities ranked in the 2024 Best Colleges list (Journal-Sentinel +)
UW-Eau Claire hosts 2nd Business of Sports Symposium (WEAU 13 News)

Menomonie Chamber Podcast
Update on Passenger Rail for West Central Wisconsin
   What's happening with potential passenger rail service to Menomonie, Eau Claire, and other West Central Wisconsin communities? In its latest "Chamber Chatter" podcast, Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Ashley DeMuth interviewed two members of the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, Menomonie City Council Member Gretchen Yonko and Eau Claire Chamber VP Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers.
Click below to listen:
Audio: Chamber Chatter (Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce, 36:58)

More local stories:

Nationwide substitute teacher shortage reaches Chippewa Valley
(WEAU 13 News)

School board meeting addresses grades, additional district governing (Leader-Telegram $)

County Board updated on regional planning commission
(Leader-Telegram $)

Miron Construction new Lake Hallie campus coming together
(Leader-Telegram $)

Hundreds give back to community during 'Day of Caring' event in the Chippewa Valley
(WQOW News 18)

Volunteers cross Chippewa Valley on Friday for 'Day of Caring'
(Leader-Telegram $)

5th annual River Prairie Ginormous Pumpkin Festival held in Altoona
(WEAU 13 News)

EC County Emergency Management Coordinator concerned after US disaster record
(Leader-Telegram $)

After Hiatus, Senior-Focused Continuing Ed Event Will Return in 2024
(Volume One)

Chippewa County Sherriff
Hakes, County face off amid investigation
(Leader-Telegram $)
Report on Sheriff Hakes investigation may be released in early October (WEAU 13 News)
Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes retains lawyer amid talk of removal (WQOW News 18)
Hakes' report likely to be released Oct. 2 (Leader-Telegram $)
Hakes releases new letter, challenging county board (Leader-Telegram $)

Area communities, businesses received federal USDA grants
(Leader-Telegram $)

Chippewa County board seat vacant in Bloomer area
(Leader-Telegram $)

Momentum West Event
DEI: A Workforce Perspective & Insight in West Central Wisconsin
 • Wednesday, Oct 4, 7:30 a.m.-12:00 noon, UW-Stout, Menomonie
    Click here for details and registration

New Chamber Advocacy podcast: "Talking Point"
   Take a few moments now to listen to the Chamber's newest podcast, "Talking Point," created to discuss community and state topics that have a significant impact on businesses and our economy. Episode 1, "Why we advocate," features Chamber President & CEO Dave Minor and Vice President Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers, interviewed by Creative Director Chelsea Seckora. Recorded in the WIN Technology Studio. Media sponsor Royal Credit Union.
Click to listen: Talking Point Podcast, "Why we advocate" (16:18)


Wisconsin Policy Forum Report
Statewide water use falls to lowest level per person in a generation
   As western states struggle with empty reservoirs and limits on growth imposed by water shortages, Wisconsin seemingly swims in an abundance of fresh water with municipal water supplies facing little threat even during summer droughts.
   According to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, "One reason in addition to our environment is that over the past generation, the state’s water utility customers have been steadily purchasing fewer gallons, which has helped to conserve this vital resource but also put pressure on utilities to raise their rates."
   The report concludes, "Water sales by public utilities have fallen substantially, the result of a changing manufacturing landscape and ongoing efforts to conserve water. Curbing water use has a positive impact, as each gallon we pump and treat increases energy use and puts pressure on our groundwater, lakes, and rivers. Reductions can also save money for businesses and families.
   As water sales fall, however, the cost of producing each gallon goes up, along with the rates charged to businesses and residential customers. This trend will likely drive new efficiencies and further reduce usage, even as the state’s population grows. Going forward, the shift could offer Wisconsin an opportunity both to conserve this key resource and add to the state’s manufacturing base.
More information:
As Other States Go Dry, Wisconsin’s Water Use Plummets (Wisconsin Policy Forum)

Full Report (Wisconsin Policy Forum)

Childcare, tax cuts, redistricting highlight state legislative news
Join us for Eggs & Issues on September 29 to get a local perspective
   This fall has brought with it a significant number of controversial issues with debates among legislative leaders and Governor Evers on childcare, tax cuts, elections, redistricting, and even the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to join us for our next Eggs & Issues breakfast for an update and to answer questions submitted by participants.
Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, Sep 29, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Latest state legislative news:

Legislature, Evers disagree on child care funding while costs remain high (Fox 11)
Wisconsin parents scramble for child care as politicians at impasse (The Cap Times)
Wisconsin lawmakers ignore Evers special session call (The Center Square)
Assembly approves bills aiming to boost child care availability, reduce costs (WisPolitics.com)
Governor’s child care funding proposal might get a second life as Senate quietly moves special session legislation forward (Wisconsin Examiner)
DCF secretary visits Chippewa Valley, touts Child Care Counts Program (Leader-Telegram $)
New study shows Wisconsin childcare costing more than tuition at UW-Madison (WSAW)
Forward Analytics: childcare more expensive than college, no end in sight (WisPolitics.com)
Report: Priced out - the steep cost of childcare in Wisconsin (Forward Analytics)
Assembly approves bills aiming to boost child care availability, reduce costs (WisPolitics.com)

Are Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium upgrades a good or 'terrible' deal? (The Cap Times)

Republicans' redistricting plan is nearly identical to Democrats' bill from 4 past sessions
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Video: WisOpinion - The Insiders discuss Vos’ push for an Iowa-style redistricting process
(10:05, WisPolitics.com)

Redistricting bill amendments are an improvement, some maps experts say

Groups clash over Janet Protasiewicz recusal despite commission ruling
(The Cap Times)

Bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers propose ranked-choice voting and top-five primaries

Two Republican lawmakers propose adding voter ID laws to the state constitution
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Divisive power competition bill revived in Wisconsin Legislature
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Republican proposals would preserve voter ID law, remove Wisconsin from election database
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin election officials gear up for shifting laws, misinformation heading into 2024 election
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Amid Wisconsin elections conflict, hope for compromise remains
(The Cap Times)

State Supt Underly stresses importance of DEI, hope for schools
(The Cap Times)

Why Polarization in Wisconsin Is 'Uniquely Severe'

More state and regional news:

Eric Hovde sells $4.3 million in stock while eyeing a potential GOP bid against Tammy Baldwin
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Madison alder leads new push to increase south campus area building height limits for housing
(Channel 3000)

UW-Superior poised to welcome new developments to campus
(UW Superior)

Milwaukee Wins $3 Million To Fight Youth Homelessness
(Urban Milwaukee)

Milwaukee Mayor Announces Reelection Bid, Kicks Off Spring 2024 Races
(Urban Milwaukee)

Sparta union vote has right to work back in focus in Wisconsin
(The Center Square)

Wisconsin's Kwik Trip is expanding into South Dakota as Kwik Star
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

WMC Business Day Event - Oct 19
Geopolitics, Supply Chain & the Global Economy with KT McFarland
   Former Deputy National Security Advisor and geopolitics expert KT McFarland is one of the featured speakers at the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) Business Day on Thursday, October 19, in Madison. The event will also include the announcement of the winner of the "Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin." The earlybird registration fee is available through Sep 30.

More information:
Business Day
 • Thursday, Oct 19, Monona Terrace, Madison
    Click here for details and to register


Bracing for Impact: Potential Government Shutdown
Perspective from the US Chamber
   There’s a growing consensus that a government shutdown may occur when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2023. In a memo to U.S. Chamber members, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley details the implications for the business community and the economy. 
Sound familiar? This impending government shutdown would mark the fourth in a decade, with policymakers from both sides of the aisle using the threat of a shutdown to advance their own policies—a strategy that has consistently proven ineffective.
    Throughout history, these shutdowns have concluded only when the party responsible for instigating the shutdown yielded to public pressure.
How long can we expect? The potential duration of this shutdown is uncertain, and reopening the government appears challenging due to the tight margins in the U.S. House of Representatives and threats of legislative chaos. While external pressures and the need for disaster aid funding might hasten its resolution, the overall conditions are unlikely to change significantly from the outset. In the current environment, as hard as it may be to avoid a shutdown, it would be even harder to get out of it.
   What’s at stake: Government shutdowns have significant microeconomic repercussions, impacting sectors such as clinical research, law enforcement, national parks, visa and passport processing, services for American veterans, and federal contractors. These shutdowns can often result in mass employee layoffs, disrupt national security operations, and inflict substantial and often unrecoverable financial losses on businesses.
   Dive deeper. Click this link to read the memo sent to U.S. Chamber members:
Memo to Chamber Members on a Potential Extended Government Shutdown (Neil Bradley, US Chamber of Commerce)

Small businesses fret over the looming government shutdown

Schumer in talks with McConnell as shutdown fears grow: ‘We may now have to go first’ (CNN)
Bipartisan "Problem Solvers" House group unveils alternate short-term spending plan amid GOP turmoil (The Hill)

More national and economic stories:

Fed declines to hike, but points to rates staying higher for longer

UAW expands strike against GM and Stellantis

GM and Stellantis just laid off more than 2,000 additional workers because of the UAW’s strike

Writers Guild and studios reach tentative deal, potentially ending a monthslong strike that ground Hollywood to a halt
(CNN Business)

Wisconsin farmer groups disappointed, unsurprised by lack of action on farm bill

US employers expect to see biggest jump in healthcare costs in a decade next year
(Fox Business)

Ukraine Keeps Fighting While Its Allies Ponder More Support
(The Dispatch)

Biden tells Zelenskyy that U.S. will send Ukraine ATACMS long-range missiles
(NBC News)

Second Republican presidential nomination debate potential ‘cage fight' where 'the rubber meets the road'
(Fox News)

Third Republican presidential debate to be held in Miami on Nov. 8
(CBS News)

The Flip Side: Collection of Right and Left viewpoints on national issues

Food for thought:

Ending Minimum Parking Requirements Was a Policy Win for the Twin Cities
(Strong Towns)

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

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, Sep 29

Local Candidate Training Workshop
• Wednesday, Oct 11

Eggs & Issues
 • Friday, Oct 20

Workforce Solutions Summit
 • Wednesday, Nov 15

Eggs & Issues
 • Friday, Nov 17

Eau What A Night: The Chamber's 109th Annual Meeting
 • Wednesday, January 24, 2024

30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5, 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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