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Volume 5, Issue 46, April 3, 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

Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs



Tuesday, April 4, Election Day

Polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To find your polling place and what's on your ballot: myvote.wi.gov

   Tuesday's election includes contested school board elections in Altoona and Eau Claire, plus a contest for a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. There are also municipal and other area school board elections, two state Constitutional Amendments, a state advisory referendum, an Eau Claire County advisory referendum, and a tax levy referendum in the Altoona School District. Uncontested local races include Eau Claire City Council President, for which the only candidate is current District 1 Council Member Emily Berge, and three district seats on the Altoona City Council, in which the incumbents are the only ones on the ballot.  
Click here for the Chamber's Guide to the Spring Election 


Altoona and Eau Claire School Boards

The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but gives them an opportunity to assert their qualifications and answer questions about issues. In Altoona, there are three candidates for two positions, and in Eau Claire, there are four candidates for two positions. 

Chamber Good Government Council Questionnaires:
Altoona School Board Questionnaire (Good Government Council)

Eau Claire School Board Questionnaire (Good Government Council)

More local election information:

Referendum details and information (School District of Altoona)

Three vie for two open seats on Altoona School Board (Leader-Telegram $)

Two EC school board seats up for grabs (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire Transit to offer free rides to the polls on spring election day (WEAU 13 News)


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

Learn about creative ways in which the University, businesses and area organizations are collaborating to make a difference for our future. Chancellor Jim Schmidt and Dean Brewer Doran will be your guides as we make connections at the Annual Business Community Breakfast. The program also includes remarks by Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, David Minor and Chamber Board Chair, Scott Hoffmann, WIN Technology.

Wednesday, Apr 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., UWEC Davies Center

   Click here for details and to register


Eggs & Issues: "State of the City - Altoona" 

Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat lead a presentation highlighting the accomplishments of the City during the past year, and its priorities for the rest of this 2023.

 • Friday, Apr 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center

    Click here for more details and to register

In this issue: 

 • Chippewa Valley Rally asserts regional economic issues in Madison
 • Joint Finance Committee hearing April 11 in Eau Claire
 • EC City Council: Orchard Hills annexation passes, Vehicle Registration Fee fails

 • Plan Commission agenda: Apartment projects

 • Supreme Court race tops state election ballot

 • National and economic stories

 • 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 "+"


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally asserts

regional economic priorities

   Nearly 100 area business and community leaders from Chippewa, Dunn, and Eau Claire Counties traveled to Madison last Wednesday to meet with policymakers for the 29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally.

   With 2023 being a budget year, delegates discussed a series of issues including capital projects for regional UW System campuses, workforce development, economic development and tax reform, and infrastructure. 

   Completion funding for the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building is being sought after the 2019-21 budget included the first phase of funding. The building includes partnerships with Mayo Clinic Health System and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and was included in the UW Board of Regents budget request and the proposed capital budget from Governor Tony Evers. Delegates also discussed UW-Stout's proposed Heritage Hall renovation. Decisions on these projects now move to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), which plans four hearings around the state, including one on April 11 in Eau Claire. Budget deliberations continue as the Legislature and Governor work to achieve a final budget by the beginning of the state's fiscal year on July 1. 

   Other key issues brought by the Rally included talent attraction and development, childcare, housing, tax reform, and infrastructure. The Rally also communicated "thank yous" for the sale of excess state land in Chippewa Falls for economic development, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's (WEDC) matching grant program for local communities to undertake recruiting of out of state talent. The issues were discussed in over 100 meetings at offices of individual state legislators.

   The event included addresses by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, UW System President Jay Rothman, and meetings with cabinet officials from WisDOT, the Dept. of Administration, Dept. of Revenue, and WEDC.

More information:

2023 Chippewa Valley Rally Issues Statements (Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance)

Video: 29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally in Madison (WEAU 13 News)

Video: Chippewa Valley Rally returns to Madison (WQOW News 18)


Eggs & Issues: Local legislators discuss

UWEC Science Building, other priorities

   The Chamber's March 31 Eggs & Issues breakfast at CVTC's Business Education Center featured a dialogue with six local legislators representing the area, including Senators Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), and Representatives Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek), Warren Petryk (R-Town of Washington), and Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer).

   The bipartisan group emphasized their agreement on the need to achieve final state funding to complete UWEC's Science and Health Sciences Building. Other priorities discussed included mental health, housing, shared revenue for local governments, and workforce development.

More information:

Local legislators continue to push for new UW-Eau Claire science building (Leader-Telegram $)

Eggs & Issues discusses Chippewa Valley Rally and funding for new university buildings (WEAU 13 News)


Eau Claire picked for one of four State Budget Hearings

UWEC will host event on Tuesday, Apr 11; Local advocates

encouraged to speak for UWEC Science Building

   The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) has announced that one of its four public hearings for the forthcoming biennial state budget will be held on Tuesday, April 11, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The other hearings will be April 5 in Waukesha, April 12 in Wisconsin Dells, and April 26 in Minocqua. 

   The public hearings will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. Attendees will be asked to fill out a form upon arrival to be added to the queue to testify.

   The JFC has also created an online portal for constituents to provide input. All entries will be circulated to the full committee: Budget comment portal 

JFC is next step for UWEC Science Building

   Local business and community leaders are encouraged to attend the hearing to show support for continued inclusion of completion funding for the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building. The JFC is the next step in completion of the 2023-25 State Budget, working towards making a recommendation to both houses of the Legislature. 

More information:

JFC Co-Chairs Announce Dates, Locations of State Budget Public Hearings (Joint Committee on Finance)

Joint Finance Committee hearing scheduled at UW-Eau Claire on April 11 (UWEC)

Project site - Science & Health Sciences Building (UWEC)

News release - Chamber, legislators applaud Science Building in capital budget (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


EC City Council: Orchard Hills annexation passes, Local Vehicle Registration Fee fails on tie vote

   At its Legislative Session last Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council approved the annexation of property from the Town of Washington for the proposed Orchard Hills development, and failed to enact a $30 Local Vehicle Registration Fee on a tie vote.

   The annexation was originally approved by the City Council last year under procedures for a unanimous annexation. An Eau Claire County Judge vacated the annexation in response to a suit from the Town of Washington, which argued that park land included in the annexation belonging to Eau Claire County would have required the County to be part of the unanimous group. The new petition is under a provision that provides a process for annexation if a majority of owners request it. City staff recommended approval of the annexation. At its meeting on March 20, the Plan Commission deadlocked 4-4 on whether to recommend the annexation. (See pages 54-105 of the Monday Agenda Packet listed below, and the Plan Commission draft minutes on pages 217-221 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below.) The annexation vote was 9-1, with Larry Mboga the only "no" vote, and Emily Berge absent, attending the National League of Cities meeting in Washington, DC.

    The Chamber supported the annexation because of its potential to help address the housing shortage, and as the most responsible way to add housing as the city expands, providing more compact development with city services and less rural sprawl.  

Local Vehicle Registration Fee

   On a 5-5 tie, the Council failed to enact a Local Vehicle Registration Fee of $30. City officials said the proceeds would have been used for transportation projects to reduce reliance on debt and potentially lower property assessments. (See pages 106-107 of he Monday Agenda Packet linked below.) 

More information:

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Mar 27, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (108 pages)

 • Tuesday, Mar 28, Legislative Session Agenda Packet (221 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)

Eau Claire City Council's tie vote on wheel tax halts proposal (Leader-Telegram $)


Plan Commission: Rezoning for Peter Park apartments on

London Road, 6-plexes on Chippewa Street

   The Eau Claire Plan Commission meets on Monday evening. Its agenda includes a recommendation to the City Council for rezoning 3.81 acres on vacant property at 4600 London Road for four apartment buildings proposed by Rocket Construction. The builder proposes two 12-unit buildings and two 26 unit buildings, with a total of 94 bedrooms across 76 total units. (See pages 6-21 of the Agenda Packet linked below.)

   It will also consider approval of a site plan by Investment Realty for two 6-plex apartment buildings on the 400 block of Chippewa Street. The buildings would cover five current lots with 24 bedrooms in each building for a total of 48. (See pages 33-52 of the Agenda Packet.)

   The Commission is also being asked to approve a site plan for a Jimmy John's restaurant at 2780 Damon Street, between Highway 93 and London Road. (See pages 53-70).

Zoning Code Rewrite

   The Commission will conclude with a discussion of the City's planned zoning code rewrite. According to a memo from City Planning Manager Ned Noel, the City has selected the urban planning firm Houseal Lavigne of Chicago, which has done work in other Wisconsin cities. (See page 71.)

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission

Plan Commission 2023 Work Program

 • Monday, April 3, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet (74 pages)

Eau Claire landlord plans to replace aging rental homes with new apartments (Leader-Telegram $)


EC School Board approves Montessori contract, mental

health coverage changes

   At its meeting last Monday, the Eau Claire Board of Education approved renewal of its contract with the Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School, and expanding mental health coverage for employees.

   The Montessori contract renewal includes a requirement to develop an action plan to address its diversity. The 4k through 5th grade Montessori School currently serves 302 students, with a largest ever waiting list of 170. A lottery system is used to determine how enrollment slots are allocated. 11.6% of the students are non-white, an increase over the previous year. 

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

• Monday, Mar 27, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

Board of Education members and information

EC school board OKs health insurance changes (Leader-Telegram $)


More local stories:


No criminal charges will be filed in investigation into $1.1 million budget error from Eau Claire Co. DHS (WEAU 13 News)

Criminal probe into Eau Claire Co. department ends without charges (Leader-Telegram $)


Menomonie Market Food Co-op gives first look of new Eau Claire location under construction (WEAU 13 News)


Altoona Thinks ‘Inside the Box’ for Container Park (Volume One)


Report: Commercial Real Estate Vacancy Shrank in E.C. (Volume One)


Dewey Street Bridge to reopen with restrictions (WEAU 13 News)


Eau Claire alternate side parking restrictions lifted (WEAU 13 News)


Junior Achievement Seeks More Volunteers to Support Area Youth (Volume One)


Supreme Court race tops statewide election interest

Tuesday, April 4, Election Day - Polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To find your polling place and what's on your ballot: myvote.wi.gov

More information:   

The Chamber's Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates make final push in hotly-contested campaign (WPR)

Video: Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Debate (WISN, 55 mins.)

The Flip Side Comparisons: Wisconsin Supreme Court (The Flip Side)

How cash bail laws are at stake on Wisconsin’s April ballot (AP)

Former Gov Tommy Thompson supports Workforce Referendum (Spectrum 1 News)

Special election in Wisconsin's 8th Senate District will decide fate of Senate's two-thirds majority (WPR)


More state and regional stories:


Godlewski rebuffs special election calls (WISN)


UW System in-state students to see tuition increase next academic year (The Cap Times)


Farm Lobbyists Propose Major Roads Bill on Agricultural Day (Wisconsin Ag Connection)


Village of Mount Pleasant gives approval to $1 billion Microsoft, proposal to Racine County next (The Daily Reporter)


State audit highlights deficiencies in Wisconsin's use of some federal COVID relief funds (Wisconsin State Journal +)


National and economic news:


Consumer Spending Growth Slowed and Core Inflation Eased in February (Wall Street Journal $)


Key Fed inflation gauge rose 0.3% in February, less than expected (CNBC)


Trump confirms he will appear in court in New York City on Tuesday following his indictment (Fox News)


Donald Trump has been indicted: What happens now? (Reuters)


Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announces 2024 Republican presidential bid (CNBC)


Economic Viewpoints - current key indicators (US Chamber of Commerce)


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


COVID-19 Updates 


Chippewa County Public health director applauds coming end of COVID emergency (Leader-Telegram $)


COVID-19 Resources: 

COVID-19 Symptoms & Testing (EC City-County Health Department)
Local COVID-19 Testing Sites (EC City-County Health Department)
Interactive COVID Data Tracker (CDC)
COVID-19: Staying Safe in Your Community (EC City-County Health Dept.)
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub 
Eau Claire weekly COVID Situation Report 
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Vaccination Page 
Metrics Dashboard
Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force


Mark your calendar:


Spring Non-Partisan Election

Election 2023: Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

 • Tuesday, April 4 


2023 Human Resource Conference

 • Thursday, April 6, The Florian Gardens 


Joint Finance Committee Budget Hearing

 • Tuesday, April 11, UWEC


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

• Wednesday, Apr 19, UWEC Davies Center


Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona

 • Friday, April 21, River Prairie Center


Chamber Royale

 • Thursday, May 18, Eau Claire Golf & Country Club


Eggs & Issues: Washington Update

 • Friday, May 19, CVTC Business Education Center


The Chamber's Annual Golf Outing

 • Monday, August 7, 2023


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 Governmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org 

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