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Volume 6, Issue 48, Apr 15, 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
Chamber Business Hours: Mon-Thu 7:30a-4:30p, Friday 8a-Noon, Lobby open by appointment


In this issue:
 • Altoona announces River Prairie development is complete
 • Evers vetoes PFAS bill, calls for JFC meeting on PFAS, healthcare funds
 • Local councils, boards to hold organizational meetings
 • Fall election season is underway, candidates circulating petitions
 • "Bravo to Business" Award nominations open
 • External review raises alarms about UW school finances
 • US Chamber urges passage of bipartisan tax relief measure
 • 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 "+"


Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast
The Chippewa Valley is a strong, interconnected and dynamic region where community partners work together to address needs and trends.  Join us for breakfast to hear from Chancellor Jim Schmidt and Deans Lisa Jepsen and Carmen Manning about ways in which our partners are working to address workforce needs for employees and businesses.
 Tuesday, Apr 30, 7:00-9:00 a.m., UWEC Davies Center
   Click here for details and to register

Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll tackle the outlook for commercial, industrial and housing development in the Chippewa Valley. We'll hear from local leaders of economic development efforts about their current projects, challenges and opportunities. Plus, we'll look at how the economic development world is being affected by - and responding to - the current healthcare crisis.
 • THURSDAY, May 9, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Chamber Royale
Thursday, May 16, Eau Claire Event District, Click here for details


Eggs & Issues: Altoona announces River Prairie is complete
TIF extension will provide $6 million for affordable housing
   During Friday's "State of the City" presentation at the Chamber's Eggs & Issues breakfast, Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt announced that the River Prairie development is now complete with the sale of the final parcel of land in the development.
   Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat talked about the planning the city has undertaken to encourage and handle the significant growth it has experienced over the past few years. Its population grew 23.7% between the 2000 and 2020 census counts, and experienced another 12.3% estimated increase since 2020. Golat said the city's equalized value has now reached $1.2 billion.
   Completion of River Prairie will also allow closure of the related Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. The City Council has decided to exercise its option to extend the TIF one more year, which is allowed under state law to be used exclusively for affordable housing. That extension is estimated to generate $6 million.
Downtown container park
   Golat also announced that plans are moving forward for the downtown container park, which he expects to be open by late summer.  The city is hosting an open house on Thursday evening to provide an update on the project and introduce participating vendors.
City of Altoona Container Park Open House
 • Thursday, April 18, 6-8 p.m., River Prairie Center
More information:
PowerPoint Visuals from Altoona's Eggs & Issues presentation
City of Altoona website
Altoona announces completion of River Prairie (Leader-Telegram)
Our View: Congratulations, Altoona (Leader-Telegram editorial $)

Evers calls special meeting of the Joint Finance Committee
After vetoing PFAS bill, wants JFC to release budgeted funds; also seeks release of $15 million for Chippewa Valley healthcare
JFC co-chairs say Evers should have signed bills providing the funding
EPA proposes national PFAS standards
   Last Tuesday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued a call to the legislature's Joint Finance Committee (JFC) to convene at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16, to release to the DNR $125 million appropriated in the state budget for PFAS remediation, and to DHS $15 million for hospital services in the Chippewa Valley.

    “That’s $140 million in already-approved and agreed-upon investments to address urgent, pressing issues facing our state, but these funds are sitting unspent in Madison because the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee has refused to release even one cent—and that’s just wrong,” Evers said in a news release. “PFAS are affecting communities across our state, and Western Wisconsin is facing serious challenges due to recently announced hospital closures—there is no reason Wisconsinites should have to wait any longer than they already have for these funds to be released."
   The bill Evers vetoed on Tuesday would have provided grants to assist with PFAS clean up. The Governor said it would have left polluters off the hook and limit DNR authority, but Republicans said it was important not to penalize "innocent landowners" with PFAS contamination through no fault of their own.
   “If Governor Evers were serious about addressing PFAS contamination and supporting healthcare in the Chippewa Valley, he would have signed the bills the Legislature sent him to alleviate these issues,” said JFC Co-Chairs Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam). "The Governor has no authority to call the committee into a meeting. According the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, ‘The governor may call a meeting of JCF but may not require the JCF cochairpersons to convene any meeting, require JCF to consider any matter, or compel any member to attend that meeting.’"
   Evers is asking JFC is release the $15 million Chippewa Valley healthcare funding to DHS for the grant program it proposed after Evers vetoed the bill specifying the use of the funds for emergency services. To date, no specific proposals have been released from providers for the potential use of the funds. Republican JFC members and local Republican legislators have said they want to see how the funds would be used before supporting release of the money to DHS.
More information:
Gov. Evers Calls Joint Finance Committee into Special Meeting to Release Critical Funds to Fight PFAS Statewide, Stabilize Healthcare Access in Western Wisconsin (Office of the Governor, news release)

Joint Finance Committee: Co-Chairs respond to Evers’ phony call for special meeting (News release)
Evers vetoes PFAS bill; JFC co-chairs reject his call to meet (WisPolitics.com)
Evers vetoes Republican PFAS bill as stalemate continues (WPR)
Evers vetoes 'forever chemical' bill, calls Joint Finance in for special session to release PFAS 'trust fund' (Journal-Sentinel +)
Evers vetoes a Republican-backed bill targeting PFAS chemicals (AP)
City of Eau Claire says 3M PFAS settlement has local implications (Leader-Telegram $)
PFAS-affected water systems to receive $750M in settlement with Tyco Fire Products  (WPR)
EPA issues first-ever drinking water standards for ‘forever chemicals’ (Route Fifty)
Here's what comes next after release of landmark PFAS water standards (Journal-Sentinel +)

More healthcare stories...

Organizations continue to help after hospital closures
(Leader-Telegram $)

How do the HSHS/Prevea closures impact local nursing, medical student programs?
(Leader-Telegram $)

'That was quite a shock:' A volunteer's perspective on the HSHS closures
(Leader-Telegram $)

Evers vetoes bill to allow mental health services from out-of-state providers

Gov. Tony Evers again vetoes bill to allow advance practice nurses to work independently in Wisconsin
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Hospital funding is ‘Byzantine Jenga,’ Froedtert ThedaCare CEO says
(The Cap Times)

Emergency alert: States confront EMS shortages
(Route Fifty)

The HSHS/Prevea Task Force continues to work on addressing the ramifications of recent facility closures.

Click here: Task Force website to stay informed and sign up for updates


EC City Council approves foundation grant for police utility vehicle, donations to fund free bus rides for Earth Week
   The Eau Claire City Council last Tuesday accepted a grant of $33,238 from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to purchase a Utility Task Vehicle that "will allow officers to engage with members of the community with less physical and perceived barriers than a conventional squad car. It will also allow for a
quicker response to areas that are inaccessible to vehicular traffic." (See pages 97-100 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below.)
   To promote Earth Week and transit ridership, Eau Claire Transit rides will be free the week of April 22-27. The City Council last Tuesday accepted donations from the Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance, Local ATU 1310, and JONAH to cover what would normally be collected in fares that week (see pages 93-94). 
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Apr 8, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (4 pages)
 • Tuesday, Apr 9, Legislative Session Agenda Packet (118 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 of Eau Claire News Updates (including weekly City Manager's Update)
Three organizations to fund free bus rides for a week, city may accept (Leader-Telegram $)
Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation gives city grant (Leader-Telegram $)

Local governments to hold organizational meetings
following Spring Election
Following the April 2 Spring Election, local municipal councils and boards, county boards, and school boards will hold organizational meetings to elect officers, make committee appointments, and other organizational details as newly-elected members are seated.
More information:   
2024 Spring Election results (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Meeting this week...

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, Apr 15, 7 p.m. Meeting and agenda info.
Eau Claire City Council
 Tuesday, April 16, 4 p.m. Meeting information
Altoona City Council
 • Tuesday, April 16, 6 p.m. Links to agenda and info
Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

Fall General Election...

General Election season kicks off as candidates begin
circulate petitions
  Many candidate decisions are occurring across the state as new legislative maps are about to come into play after the Legislature enacted and the Governor signed legislation creating new Assembly and State Senate districts. Voters will first see ballots with new districts for the August 12 Primary, then vote for all 99 Assembly seats and even-numbered Senate districts at the November 5 election. To get on the ballot, candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions on April 15 and must file by June 1. It takes 200-400 voter signatures for Assembly candidates and 400-800 signatures for Senate Candidates.
More information:
Link to 2024 legislative maps (Wisconsin Legislature)

Interactive map: Check the boxes at the upper left to select Assembly, Senate, and/or Congressional Districts. Zoom in to find you location and who your representatives are.
Status of 2024 Wisconsin Assembly races (WisPolitics.com, with maps)
Status of 2024 Wisconsin Senate races (WisPolitics.com, with maps)
Want to run for public office in Wisconsin? Here are 5 things to consider (WPR)

New episode...
"Talking Po!nt" podcast
Episode 5: What legislative redistricting means to you
Creative Director Chelsea Seckora introduces the Chamber's President & CEO, Dave Minor, and Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs. After a brief update on the status of the HSHS Prevea Task Force, we focus on what you should know about engaging with elected officials. And with the fall election coming up, we talk about how new Wisconsin legislative districts will impact what you'll see in your voting booth this fall.

Listen: Talking Po!nt Episode 5 (40 mins.)

More election stories...

Former Chippewa County Board member, former legislator both seeking state Assembly seat
(Leader-Telegram $)

Democrats’ plan for recruiting candidates and making gains in Wisconsin Legislature
(Wisconsin Examiner)

Business consultant Jamie Wall announces run for Green Bay-area 30th Senate District (Green Bay Press-Gazette +)

Elections Commission rejects first Vos recall petition

'UPFRONT' recap: Reid Ribble, Rep. Gwen Moore on 8th congressional, speaker fight

Ribble on ‘UpFront’ says 8th CD could be competitive, Moore says Dems may vote to keep Speaker Johnson in face of Greene ouster vote (WisPolitics.com)

De Pere businessman launches 8th CD bid, touts Trump endorsement

Biden touts student debt relief plan during Madison stop

Wisconsin primary vote suggests signs of close Biden-Trump race in November
(Fox 11 News)

Marquette Law pollster Franklin says Wisconsin spring election results show dissent in both parties

Gilbert: For Donald Trump, Wisconsin in 2024 looks a lot like Wisconsin in 2016
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Trump's grip on Republican Party 'temporary': ex-U.S. Speaker Ryan
(Nikkei Asia)

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley won’t seek reelection in ‘25, when liberal majority will be on the line


Chamber "Bravo to Business" Award nominations open
   Get ready to clap your hands and cheer because it's time for the Bravo to Business Awards! We're on the lookout for the shining stars of our community – those amazing businesses that are lighting up Eau Claire with their innovation, excellence, and community spirit.
   Do you know a business that's setting the bar sky-high with their awesomeness? We want to hear about them! Whether they're a small but mighty team, a big player in the business world, a fresh newcomer, or a resilient force, we want to celebrate their brilliance.
   Small Business of the Year - open to Chamber member businesses with under 50 full-time employees AND in business for 3 or more years
   Business of the Year - open to Chamber member businesses with 50 or more full-time employees AND in business for 3 or more years
   Emerging Business of the Year - open to any Chamber member OR non-member business with 25 or fewer full-time employees AND in business for less than 3 years
   Resilient Business of the Year - open to any Chamber member business
   Young Professionals Best Place to Work - open to any Chamber member business with 5 or more full-time employees
  Nominations are now open until Friday, May 10, with the Awards event on Thursday, October 17.
Click here to nominate a business

"Business Matters" podcast with Airport Director Charity Zich
  In the newly-released episode of the Chamber's Business Matters Podcast,  Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Director Charity Zich talks with Scott Rogers, the Chamber's Vice President Governmental Affairs, about the challenges and successes of commercial air service for EAU. Learn how the Sun Country jet service to seasonal destinations is doing and what's next for the airport's future.
More information:
Listen: Business Matters Podcast Episode 5: What's up at the airport? (Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, 30 mins)
Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (website)
Flight information (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)
Chippewa Valley Regional Airport receives $2 million for new hangar (Leader-Telegram $)

State and regional stories...

External review raises alarms about financial future at multiple UW campuses

Evers asks for largest increase in state support for UW System in over 20 years (In Business)

Gov. Evers Appoints David Casey to Serve as DOR Secretary
(Office of the Governor)

Evers signs bill that expands alert system to include missing children
(Leader-Telegram $)

Homeless Population Edges Back Up
(Wisconsin Policy Forum)

Wisconsin's homeless rate edges upward, after nearly a decade of a downward trend (Journal-Sentinel +)

Update on the Tax Relief for American Families
and Workers Act of 2024

   More than two months ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (357–70) to pass H.R. 7024, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024. The U.S. Chamber vocally supported the bill’s passage in the House, after which we immediately pivoted to supporting its advancement in the Senate.

‌   This legislation would restore and temporarily extend three critical business tax incentives: The deduction for domestic R&D expenses; The EBITDA standard for deducting business interest expenses; and 100% bonus depreciation.
   Despite receiving overwhelming, bipartisan support in the House, the bill has stalled in the Senate, where some key Republicans—most notably Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)—continue to weigh their options.
US Chamber urges action
   We continue to apply pressure on Senate Republicans to either vote for the House-passed bill or reach an agreement with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Or.) so that the bill can be put up for a vote as soon as possible. Click here to view our new one-pager that focuses on the need to act urgently to retroactively restore R&D expensing.‌

   What You Can Do to Help: If you have not already done so, now is the time to weigh in directly with your Senators and urge them to support this important legislation. Our message is simple: Senators cannot allow perfect to be the enemy of good and must act quickly to restore these important business tax provisions.

More national and economic stories...

Consumer prices rose 3.5% from a year ago in March, more than expected (CNBC)

House approves contentious FISA bill in bipartisan vote
(The Hill)

Vote 273-147. Yes: Gallagher (R), Grothman (R), Steil (R); No: Van Orden (R), Fitzgerald (R), Moore (D), Pocan (D), Tiffany (R)

Trump arrives at Manhattan courthouse for start of historic criminal trial

Israel weighs response after Iran fires missile barrage

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

Food for thought...

SCOTUS Is Set To Make a Watershed Ruling on Homelessness. But Real Solutions Already Exist.
(Next City)

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

Mark your calendar:

Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast
• Tuesday, Apr 30

Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
• Thursday, May 9

Chamber Royale
 • Thursday, May 16

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5

"Bravo to Business" Awards
 • Thursday, Oct 17

31st Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
• Wednesday, Mar 5, 2025

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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