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Volume 6, Issue 4, June 12, 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


Last chance to register...
Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
   Many important policy priorities for the business community are on the table during budget deliberations in Madison, including shared revenue for local governments, repeal of the personal property tax, housing supply and affordability, childcare, workforce attraction and retention, and more. We'll also hear about the remaining steps to secure completion funding for the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building, Stout's Heritage Hall, and other major projects in the capital budget.
   To bring us up to date, we've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to give us a timely look at how our regional priorities are faring in Madison. They will also answer questions submitted by participants.
 • Friday, June 16, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

City Council President Reception
   The Chamber is hosting this reception for members of the business community with new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. The event will also honor newly-appointed District 1 City Council Member Jessica Schoen, who takes office on June 12. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is appreciated.
  • Tuesday, June 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Chamber offices
     Click here for details and to register

Also for your summer calendar:
 • Monday, June 12, Business After Hours, Infinity Beverages 
 • Friday, July 29, Eggs & Issues, CVTC Business Education Center
 • Monday, Aug 7, Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 14, Business After Hours, Residence Inn by Marriott
 • Friday, Aug 18, Eggs & Issues, CVTC Business Education Center

In this issue:
 • Record-breaking local, state tourism revenue
 • EC City Council to hear capital plan, preliminary housing study results
 • Bravo to Business Award nominations now open
 • Governor, Legislative leaders reach shared revenue deal
 • Report: Wisconsin's Demographic Dilemma
 • Bernier to lead bipartisan election integrity group
 • National and economic stories
 • Apply for US Chamber $25,000 small business award
 • Mark your calendar
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


Eau Claire posts record-breaking $433 million in tourism impact
   Wisconsin Department of Tourism 2022 economic impact data released last week shows that Eau Claire County posted a record-breaking year with $433 million in total economic impact to Wisconsin's tourism industry. This is the 3rd year in a row that Eau Claire County has broken its own total economic impact record. The state of Wisconsin also broke their previous record, with the tourism industry generating $23.7 billion in total economic impact. 
   Eau Claire County supported 3,854 part-time and full-time jobs across various tourism industry sectors and generated $29.8 million in local tax revenue. Statewide, tourism generated $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue.
   “We can’t even begin to express how much it means to Visit Eau Claire and our community to break our previous 2019 total economic impact records,” said Visit Eau Claire Executive Director Benny Anderson. “Each one of our part-time and full-time workers in our area have worked so hard to accomplish this feat, and we are so proud to be a part of a community that values what tourism does for our cities.” 
More information:
Eau Claire County Tourism Posts Record-Breaking Year in 2022 (Visit Eau Claire)
Wisconsin, Eau Claire Broke Tourism Records in 2022 (Volume One)
Gov. Evers Announces Wisconsin Tourism Sees Record-Breaking Year (Office of the Governor)
Wisconsin generates record $23.7 billion in tourism for 2022 (Journal-Sentinel +)

EC City Council: Hearing on 2024 capital budget, work session on regional housing study 

   The Eau Claire City Council will hold the first of two public discussions on its proposed 2024-28 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) at Monday evening's Public Hearing session. It will also have a hearing on the proposed expansion of the LE Phillips Senior Center parking lot (see pages 5-26 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below), and public discussions on the City's employee benefits plan (pages 27-25), and adjustments to business district parking regulations related to new license plate recognition enforcement (pages 36-37).
   The multi-year CIP envisions spending of $207 million over the next five years, with $55 million coming in 2024. The largest portion of the latter is $20 million for upgrades to the City's water system to completely eliminate PFAS contaminants. (See the full 2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan linked below.) The Council will have another hearing on July 10 and vote on the plan at its July 11 Legislative Session.
   The Business Agenda at Tuesday's Legislative Session includes action on the Senior Center parking lot expansion, the business district parking changes, and a revisions to the City's licensing period for refuse haulers to six months to allow for more discussion and input on possible changes later this year (see pages 193-194 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). The Council will also be asked to approve an amendment to extend an Exclusivity Agreement with Cody Filipczak's CMJM Properties LLC until October 1 for continued negotiations related to the purchase of land in the vicinity of the Gateway Industrial Park for a future mixed housing development (see pages 139-152 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet), and a resolution to accept a $500,000 grant from the US EPA to fund environmental analysis of potential redevelopment sites in the City (see pages 153-154). 
New District 1 Council Member Jessica Schoen to take office
   Monday's Council meeting will be the first for newly-appointed District 1 City Council Member Jessica Schoen. She takes over the seat vacated when former District 1 Council Member Emily Berge was elected this past April to the City Council President position. She will serve until next April's election.
Tuesday Work Session on regional housing study
   After its Tuesday Legislative Session, the Council will hold a Work Session to review draft results of the Regional Housing Study being completed by czb for the City of Eau Claire, City of Altoona, and Eau Claire County (see page 231 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet). 
City wins US DOT Galloway St railroad overpass grant
   The City of Eau Claire learned last week that it has been awarded a $10 million grant from the US DOT's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a proposed overpass at Galloway Street. The grant will support project development, final design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction activities to replace two at-grade crossings (vehicle and pedestrian) with grade-separated overpasses over Union Pacific's rail line. The new overpasses will connect to the Chippewa River Regional Pedestrian Bike/Pedestrian Trail. The City of Eau Claire will contribute a 20 percent non-Federal match.
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, June 12, 7 p.m. Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (39 pages)
 • Tuesday, June 13, 4 p.m. Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (237 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's plan for 2024-28 projects set for public hearing (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire City Council to vote on trash service, parking changes and more Tuesday (WQOW News 18)
2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan (City of Eau Claire, 202 pages)
Galloway Street overpass comes closer to reality in Eau Claire with $10M grant (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire talking update to refuse collection policies for new technology, practices (Leader-Telegram $)

Chamber reception for new City Council President
   The Chamber is hosting this reception for members of the business community with new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. The event will also honor newly-appointed District 1 City Council Member Jessica Schoen, who takes office on June 12. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is appreciated.
 • Tuesday, June 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m. Chamber offices
    Click here for details and to register

More local stories:

Low housing inventory continues to make buying a home harder (WEAU 13 News)

New $32.7 million Eau Claire County Highway Dept. facility nearly done (Leader-Telegram $)

Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at UW-Eau Claire hosts Summer Series to support entrepreneurs

UW-Eau Claire to offer new master of public health online degree program beginning in fall 2024

Marshfield Clinic puts greater emphasis on occupations in patient records
(Leader-Telegram $)

Pablo Center at the Confluence reveals Season Six full lineup (WEAU 13 News)

Radio personality John Murphy wins local broadcast legend award (WQOW News 18)

Civic Media begins broadcasting in Chippewa Valley
(Leader-Telegram $)

Local Juneteenth Celebration Returns June 19 for 23rd Year
(Volume One)

Newbourne Village Renaissance Festival returns to Chippewa Falls starting June 10
(Chippewa Herald +)

Renaissance Festival returns to Chippewa Falls
(Leader-Telegram $)

Trails in and around the Chippewa Valley, recommended by Landmark Conservancy
(Volume One)

Bravo to Business Award nominations now open through June 30
   Bravo to Business is the Chamber's annual awards event that recognizes outstanding area organizations for the significant role they play in driving the community's business and economic growth. To be considered for one of these awards, the organization must be setting standards for excellence and innovation with their business practices and community involvement.  

   Any Chamber investor or non-investor can nominate a business for an award and a business may also nominate itself. Awards will be given based on the following categories:
   Small Business of the Year - Open to any Chamber investor business with less than 50 full-time employees
   Business of the Year - Open to any Chamber investor business more than 50 full-time employees
   Emerging Business of the Year - Open to any Chamber investor, OR non-investor business, that has been operating for 3 years or less
   Resilient Business of the Year (New category!) - Open to all Chamber investor businesses
   Young Professionals Best Place to Work - Open to all Chamber investor businesses with 5 or more full-time employees, that employ individuals that are members of Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley (YPCV).
   Award applicants are narrowed down to three finalists in each category. The winners will be announced at the Bravo to Business awards ceremony at The Florian Gardens Conference Center on Thursday, September 21.
More information:
Click here to for full details and to nominate a business


Evers, GOP legislative leaders, reach shared revenue deal
Provisions moving quickly in legislature, JFC vote expected Tuesday
   Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Republican Legislative Leaders, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), announced a tentative deal last Thursday to break the impasse on shared revenue for local governments and other provisions related to K-12 schools and education. 
   The deal includes tying shared revenue to 20% of the sales tax collected by the state, with municipalities receiving a minimum 20% increase in shared revenue funding, but with some restrictions on local uses of funds. It also provides a mechanism for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County for a local sales tax, includes more than $1 billion in funding for public schools, and additional investment in the state’s school choice program. 
   Like other parts of the 2023-25 state budget, the provisions must still be approved by the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), passed both houses of the legislature, and signed by the Governor. 
   WisPolitics.com reports that the deal is moving quickly through the legislature this week, with the Senate Education Committee holding a public hearing Monday on choice, charter and special needs scholarship programs, with the Assembly Education Committee planning a hearing on Tuesday.  
   The Senate Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection Committee on Monday will act on dedicating one cent of the state sales tax to local governments. 
    JFC is expected to act on both provisions at its meeting on Tuesday before it gets back to other sections of the budget. 
More information: 
Wisconsin Political Calendar (WisPolitics.com)
Gov. Evers Announces Tentative Agreement Reached with Republican Leaders on Shared Revenue (Office of the Governor)
Republicans, Evers reach compromise on shared revenue, school funding (The Cap Times)
GOP legislative leaders, Tony Evers reach 'tentative' agreement on local funding proposal (Wisconsin State Journal +)
If Milwaukee gets its own sales tax, it will get funding that cities across the nation have (Journal-Sentinel $)
Joint Finance Committee Budget Votes: May 23 and 25, June 1 (Hamilton Consulting)
Budget committee funds reentry programs, approves fewer licensing staff than Tony Evers requested (Wisconsin State Journal +)
Senate and Assembly Floor Sessions: June 7 (Hamilton Consulting)

More state legislative news: 

GOP proposes plan for PFAS
(Chippewa Herald +)

A sweeping new bill would overhaul Wisconsin's alcohol industry, touching everything from breweries to wineries to wedding barns
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Longer time before renewals, other changes eyed to speed up Wisconsin licensing delays

Assembly passes package of GOP bills aiming to streamline professional licensing (WisPolitics.com)

Senate sends bills protecting gas-powered cars, equipment to governor

Lawmakers hear 4 bipartisan bills to prevent poll closures, help with elections costs
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Bill to renegotiate reciprocity with Minnesota could keep more tuition dollars in UW System
(Journal-Sentinel +)

GOP bill would stress phonics in teaching reading in Wisconsin
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Expansion of the electric vehicle charging network delayed by arcane Wisconsin law
(Journal-Sentinel $)

Law may prevent Wisconsin from using $78M in federal funds to build publicly-available EV charging stations (WPR)

Demographic Dilemma: Wisconsin One of 14 States

with Median Age Over 40
  Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) is calling on lawmakers to make the state more economically competitive and attractive to workers following the release of data showing the well-known workforce shortage is likely to get worse.
  According to a new report, Wisconsin’s Demographic Dilemma, the state’s median age is 40.1 years. Wisconsin is one of only 14 states where the median age is over 40 – the national median is 38.8. The report was published by WMC Foundation, an affiliate of WMC.
  In addition to being one of the oldest states in the country, the situation is not improving. Wisconsin’s population under the age of five shrunk by 10.1 percent from 2010 to 2020, while the population of people ages 65-84 has expanded by 41.7 percent.
   The persistent workforce shortage is being driven by a population gap that has existed for many years. Simply, there are not enough people living in Wisconsin to fill all the available jobs now and in the future. As the report explains, Wisconsin must attract more people into its borders because the state is not naturally growing the population needed to match economic growth.
   “Without growing our population, we cannot grow our economy,” said WMC Senior Director of Workforce, Education & Employment Policy Rachel Ver Velde. “To do so, we must enact public policies that attract people to our state. That means we need to reform our tax code to be competitive with our neighbors, expand and invest in choice and charter schools that are popular with families, and commit to a talent attraction campaign that showcases why Wisconsin is a great place to live.”
More information: 
Wisconsin One of 14 States with Median Age Over 40 (WMC)
Report: Wisconsin's Demographic Dilemma (WMC, 12 pages)

Bernier to lead bipartisan election integrity group
Committee includes Thompson, Lawton, Wachs, Zien, McCoshen
   Former GOP State Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) has been named Wisconsin State Director for Keep Our Republic, an organization which describes itself as "a non-partisan civic action organization dedicated to protecting a republic of laws and strengthening the checks and balances of our democratic electoral system." The organization is currently active in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
   Bernier, who is a former Chippewa County Clerk and Chair of the State Senate Elections Committee, leads a State Advisory Council that includes such prominent names as former Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, former Congressman Reid Ribble, former Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, former UW System President Kevin Reilly, former Western Technical College President Lee Rasch, political consultant and former Commerce Secretary Bill McCoshen, and other former Chippewa Valley legislators Rep. Dana Wachs and Sen. Dave Zien. 
   "We want to identify and prevent extraordinary threats to our democracy," said Bernier, on WISN's "Up Front" program last weekend, where she said she has created a Wisconsin-specific plan working with local clerks, clergy and law enforcement officials to continue educating voters ahead of 2024, with a primary primary target of election deniers.
   Sen. Bernier was also a guest on the Chamber's Business Matters podcast in the spring of 2022, reflecting on her time at in the legislature and addressing elections concerns (see link below to listen).
More information: 
Keep Our Republic (Website)
Bernier picked to lead group restoring trust in elections (Leader-Telegram $)
Former Republican Sen. Kathy Bernier leading bipartisan group on election education (Journal-Sentinel +)
Kathy Bernier isn’t finished fighting election denialism in Wisconsin (The Cap Times)
Bipartisan election integrity group launched in battleground Wisconsin (AP)
Video: Up Front - Group targets election deniers (WISN)
Audio: Business Matters Podcast - State Senator Kathy Bernier (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

More state and regional stories: 

'Three-term Tony': Gov. Tony Evers hints at 2026 re-election run in speech at Wisconsin Democratic Party Convention
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin Democrats rally party faithful with an eye on new voting maps in 2024 (WPR)
Wisconsin Democrats name Alex Lasry to Democratic National Committee (WisPolitics.com)

UW System: Regents re-elect Karen Walsh as President, Amy Blumenfeld Bogost as Vice President

Wisconsin bank CEO recession fears are easing, but remain high

Fentanyl now the No. 1 killer for ages 25 to 54 in Wisconsin, according to study

Delta Air Lines leaves La Crosse Regional Airport (WKBT)


National and economic stories:

Trump Charged Over Willful Retention of Classified Information, Obstruction
(Wall Street Journal $)

DOJ unseals historic Trump indictment

Jobless claims increase more than expected to their highest since October 2021

Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher says he will not run for Senate in 2024, leaving an open GOP field
(Journal-Sentinel $)

GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher won’t run for Wisconsin Senate seat
(The Hill)

The IRS is cracking down on the Employee Retention Credit tax break that could lead to a costly audit

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

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

Van Orden praises Supreme Court WOTUS ruling
US Chamber calls it a "win for small business"
   3rd District Congressman Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien) has released a statement praising the recent US Supreme Court ruling that narrowed the definition of "Waters of the United States" that can be regulated by the US EPA, holding that the term includes basically only streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes, and the wetlands that are visually indistinguishable from them. The Supreme Court overturned, 9-0, a lower court's ruling against Chantell and Mike Sackett in Idaho related to a plan to build a home on property near a lake.

   “The unanimous ruling in Sackett v. EPA is a direct blow to President Biden’s war on our farmers who feed our nation and the world,” said Van Orden. “I will always stand with them. For months, President Biden sowed confusion with his Environmental Protection Agency’s flawed and burdensome WOTUS rule, which presented sweeping changes to the federal government’s authority to regulate what is considered a navigable water. This ruling will provide much-needed certainty to America’s farmers, manufacturers, small business owners, and private property owners."
   The US Chamber of Commerce called the ruling "a win for small business." The Chamber noted that the EPA's rule changed what types of activities and bodies of water fall under federal jurisdiction and required federal permits for farmers, home builders, and other landowners and businesses with plans to use their property. It maintained that the WOTUS rule used vague terms to define millions of acres of water and land features including ponds, farms, and backyards. Landowners, businesses, and farmers would likely have needed to hire consultants and experts to figure out whether they need permits to use their land—and may face severe penalties if they are wrong.
More information:
US Supreme Court rules against EPA in wetlands regulation challenge (Reuters)
Waters of the United States No Longer Frozen in Time — Supreme Court Decision Narrows Federal Jurisdiction Over Wetlands (National Law Review)
Stopping the WOTUS Rule Is a Win for Small Business (US Chamber of Commerce)

US Chamber: Apply for $25K as America's Top Small Business
   If you’re a small business owner hoping to take your business to the next level, "America’s Top Small Business" is the perfect opportunity for you. Here are three reasons to apply for the US Chamber of Commerce small business awards program before the deadline on Friday, July 7:
   1) Get rewarded for your hard work and dedication: We’re recognizing top businesses in seven regions across the U.S. — so no matter what corner of the country you call home, you’ll have a chance to be recognized! One grand prize winner will receive our Small Business of the Year Award and a cash prize of $25K.
   2) Connect with like-minded individuals: Regional finalists will join us in Washington, D.C. this fall for an in-person event and celebration. You’ll have the chance to network with other small business owners and get insights from our team of business experts. 
   3) Elevate your brand: Highlight your business’ accomplishments and share your story with a wider audience! Regional finalists will receive an article on CO—, a free U.S. Chamber of Commerce membership, as well as a digital toolkit to help spread the word about their ATSB status with customers, fans, and social followers.
More information:
Click here for full details and application (US Chamber of Commerce)

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

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, June 16, CVTC Business Education Center

EC City Council President Reception
 • Tuesday, June 20, Chamber office

The Chamber's Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, August 7

Chamber & CVTC Business Community Breakfast
 • Tuesday, Sep 12

Bravo to Business
 • Thursday, Sep 21

Workforce Solutions Summit
 • Wednesday, Nov 15

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