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Volume 5, Issue 36, Jan 23, 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...

"Eau What A Night" - The Chamber's 108th Annual Meeting

 • Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023, Pablo Center at the Confluence

    Video: 5 things to know about "Eau What A Night" (1:17)

    Click here for details and to register


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

Organized by the Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance - the Chippewa Falls, Menomonie and Eau Claire Chambers of Commerce. Bringing the collective voice of Chippewa Valley business and community leaders to Madison.

  Critical budget year

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023, Madison

   Click here for details and to register


Eggs & Issues: "State of the City - Eau Claire" 

 • Friday, Feb 17, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center at the Confluence

    Click here for more details and to register


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Mar 31, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center

    Click here for more details and to register

In this issue: 

 • Eau Claire County officials highlight accomplishments, challenges

 • Nestle to invest $43 million in Eau Claire plant

 • EC City Council agenda includes housing, street projects

 • Momentum West Housing Forum Jan 25

 • Passenger rail update meeting Jan 26

 • Governor holds budget listening session in Eau Claire

 • Rep Emerson, Sen James propose bipartisan safe harbor bill

 • US Rep Van Orden gets three committee assignments

 • COVID-19 updates 

 • 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 "+"


EC County officials highlight accomplishments, challenges

Eggs & Issues: "State of the County" presentation

   Eau Claire County officials took a look at accomplishments from 2022 and priorities for 2023 at the Chamber's annual 'State of the County' address this past Friday, January 20. The event included conversations with Eau Claire County Board Chair Nick Smiar, County Administrator Kathryn Schauf, and Planning & Development Director Rod Eslinger. Topics included covered include where the county has committed its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, how it expects to deploy its opioid settlement funds, the new multi-county Rural Partners Network, and what's happening with rural broadband. Participants also had the opportunity to meet the new County Sheriff Riewestahl, District Attorney Peter Rindal, and Judge Beverly Wickstrom.  Click here to continue reading...


Nestle announces $43 million Eau Claire plant expansion

   Through a $43 million investment, Nestlé Health Science has announced an expansion of its facility in Eau Claire, adding two new production lines to increase manufacturing of high-demand ready-to-drink consumer products. The facility produces an array of medical nutrition products, such as tube feeding formulas, and nutritional drinks.

   “With this investment, Nestlé Health Science will expand and enhance our manufacturing facilities to better meet the needs of patients and consumers,” said Gaëtan Sion, Vice President of Manufacturing, Nestlé Health Science U.S. “Also, as a member of the Eau Claire community since 1987, we’re proud to help strengthen the local economy by generating more job opportunities that offer competitive pay and benefits.” 

More information:

Expanding Eau Claire, Wis. Factory Through $43 Million Investment (News release, Nestle Health Science)

Nestle announces $43 million investment in EC facility (Leader-Telegram $)

Nestlé Health Science expanding Eau Claire manufacturing facility through investment (WEAU 13 News)


EC City Council: Town homes zoning, ARPA funds for veterans housing, street projects, zoning code study session

   The Eau Claire City Council's meets this week, with several agenda items related to housing and street repairs.

   At its Monday evening Public Hearing, the Council will receive public input on a proposal by Habitat for Humanity to use federal funds to provide affordable housing to veterans utilizing space at Grace Lutheran Church, several street and alley projects (see pages 8-41 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below), an ordinance to allow for an optional "no mow May" for homeowners (pages 62-65), and a proposed rezoning and general development agreement for a multi-family project proposed by Haselwander Properties at 3421 Cypress St. at its intersection with Hamilton Ave. Currently vacant, the 2.8 acre property would be developed into 36 town homes over five buildings (pages 42-61).  

   Those items will be acted upon at the Tuesday Legislative Session, where the Council will also consider the annual work plans for the Sustainability Advisory Committee and Housing Opportunities Commission (see pages 40-51 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). Following Tuesday's meeting, the Council will hold a 20-minute study session about the City's plan to rewrite its Zoning Code (see pages 97-104 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet).

More information:

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Jan 23, 7 p.m., Public Hearing Agenda Packet (72 pages)

 • Tuesday, Jan 24, 4 p.m. Legislative Session Agenda Packet (104 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)

Local Habitat for Humanity proposes affordable veterans housing (Leader-Telegram $)


EC School Board: Audit report

ECASD announces that tax bill effect of referendum will be reduced

   The Eau Claire Area School District Board of Education meets on Monday evening and will hear its annual financial audit report. Other business includes filling two vacancies on the Demographic Trends & Facility Planning Committee, and determining which programs to close to open enrollment based upon capacity. 

   The District also announced last week that the tax bill impact of the capital referendum approved by voters last fall will be less than originally anticipated because of lower-than-budgeted interest costs. According to an District news release:

   "At the time of the approved referendum, the proposed bond rate was 4.75% and the proposed number of years to pay off the debt was 20 years. By working closely with our financial advisors at Baird, the ECASD took advantage of a lower
rate of 3.67% financing and was also able to cut a full year off the debt, dropping it to 19 years. The estimated tax impact at the time of the approved referendum was $0.40 per $1000 or $40 property taxes per $100,000 in property value. However, we are delighted to share that the actual cost to taxpayers will drop to $0.35 or $35 in property taxes per $100,000 in property value. This equates to a total savings of $8,461,436 for our community for the total cost of the referendum."

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

• Monday, Jan 23, 5:30 p.m. closed session, 7 p.m. open session Agenda Packet

Board of Education members and information

EC school board to hear 2020-21 audit review (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire taxpayers to pay less than originally thought for ECASD facilities upgrades (WQOW News 18)

Eau Claire schools referendum's tax impact shrinks, shortens (Leader-Telegram $)


Fall Creek Supt Joe Sanfelippo to resign

   After 12 years at head of the Fall Creek School District, Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo has announced his resignation at the end of this school year. "It's just someone else's turn," he wrote in a letter to the District's families.

More information:

Fall Creek schools superintendent Sanfelippo stepping down this year (Leader-Telegram $)

Fall Creek superintendent to resign at end of school year (WEAU 13 News)


Momentum West Housing Solutions Forum

Wednesday morning, Jan 25

    Regional economic development organization Momentum West is conducting a Housing Solutions Forum on January 25. The program features presentations on a regional higher education housing/workforce collaborative, creative community-based efforts in the region, a lifestyle tiny-house development, unique multi-family workforce development, and a cooperative foundation revitalizing mobile home developments.

More information:

Momentum West Housing Solutions Forum

 • Wednesday, Jan 25, 8:30 am-12:00 noon

    UW Stout Memorial Student Center

    Click here for details and registration


Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission to apply for federal corridor program to bring passenger trains to area

Jan 26 Annual Meeting includes speakers from WisDOT, Amtrak

   "Our long-time efforts to secure passenger rail service are coming closer than ever to reality," notes Scott Rogers, Chair of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition. "With the implementation of the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced its program to designate corridors to become eligible for federal planning and development funding."

   The Coalition has been working the the recently-created Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission to pursue two serious proposals that would bring passenger trains to our communities, including: 1. The development of a regional intercity corridor between Eau Claire and the Twin Cities through Menomonie, Baldwin, and Hudson/River Falls, and 2. Plans for through Amtrak service from Chicago and Milwaukee to the Twin Cities that would be routed via Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Hudson. The Commission was formed by Dunn, Eau Claire, and St. Croix Counties and the municipalities of Altoona, Baldwin, Eau Claire, Hudson, Menomonie, and New Richmond, to serve the public interest by pursuing passenger rail service to the area.

Jan 26 meeting to detail next steps

    The Rail Coalition is an advocacy group formed several years ago by the Chamber and other area business, education, and community leaders. It will hold its annual meeting this Thursday, January 26, to share details on the process underway to get area routes designated as corridors by the FRA. Speakers include Lisa Stern, Chief of Railroads and Harbors, Wisconsin Department of Transportation; Arun Rao, Director, Network Development, Amtrak; Ray Chambers, Executive Director, Association for Innovative Passenger Rail Operations (AIPRO), and Rick Harnish, Executive Director, High Speed Rail Alliance.

Meeting details:

Annual Meeting - West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition
 • Thursday, January 26, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
    CVTC Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave, Eau Claire 
    No charge to attend, with both in-person and remote attendance options
    Register for in-person attendance
    Register for Zoom remote attendance


CVTC seeks board applicants

   Applications are being accepted for five positions on the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Board of Trustees. Successful candidates will serve either a three-year or a one-year term beginning July 1, 2023.

   The three-year term open positions include one member who is an elected official and two additional members. The one-year term positions include one member who is an employer and one member who is a school district administrator. Applications are due by 4 p.m. Thursday, February 23. 

   All candidates must meet a number of requirements in order to be eligible for Wisconsin Technical College System district board membership. Candidates must be residents of the technical college district, must submit an application/affidavit with a completed questionnaire and at least two written references, and must attend a district board appointment committee public hearing in person to be interviewed. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, at 9 a.m. at the CVTC Transportation Education Center.

   For more information or to request an application, contact Sullivan at 715-833-6500, lsullivan9@cvtc.edu, or go to www.cvtc.edu/boardappointment


More local stories:


Eau Claire Co. Board votes to add advisory abortion referendum to April ballot (WEAU 13 News)


Eau Claire Mayo Clinic named among America’s Best Hospitals by Healthgrades (WEAU 13 News)


Construction company receives WisDOT award for Eau Claire Co. bridge project (WEAU 13 News)

Bridge near Dells Mill in Eau Claire Co. wins construction award (WQOW News 18)


Voting now open through Feb 10 for EC Downtown Awards (DECI)


Chris Kroeze discusses his music career and calling Northwest Wisconsin home (Leader-Telegram $)



Eau Claire Chamber Business Matters podcast

 Episode 12: Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch (31:26)


Evers holds Budget Listening Session Eau Claire

"State of the State" address is Tuesday, Jan 24

   About 75 people attended a budget listening session with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers at UW-Eau Claire last Wednesday evening. 

   "Gov. Evers has hosted listening sessions for two consecutive biennia to provide an opportunity for folks to share their ideas, discuss and give feedback on the state’s biennial budget, hear about pressing issues affecting Wisconsinites and their families, and how the state can best support local communities," according to a news release from the Governor's office.

   The 2023-25 budget will take effect July 1. In its final form, it must be passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor. Budget deliberations will be the most prominent activity of the Legislature in its session now underway. 

   The Governor will deliver his annual "State of the State" address on Tuesday evening, January 24, at the State Capitol.

More information:

Gov Evers Public Listening Sessions website (Office of the Governor)

"Doing the Right Thing" Priorities List (Office of the Governor)

Evers holds listening session in Eau Claire (Leader-Telegram $)

Hear the 2023 State of the State Address on Jan. 24 (WPR)


Rep Emerson, Sen James propose bipartisan safe harbor bill

   Area Legislators Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire, Dist. 91) and Senator Jesse James (R-Altoona, Dist. 23) are in the process of seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would designate youth under 18 who involved in prostitution be viewed as victims and survivors of sexual and human trafficking rather than as criminals. Proponents argue that the change will enhance investigation and prosecution of trafficking based upon the experience in other states that already have similar laws.

More information:

Emerson, James push bipartisan safe harbor bill (Leader-Telegram $)

Safe Harbor Bill circulating in Wis. Legislature (WEAU 13 News)

Anti-trafficking 'safe harbor' bill in Legislature makes it clear minors cannot legally consent to sex (Journal-Sentinel +)


More state and regional stories:


Wisconsin voters to weigh in on job search requirements for public assistance (The Cap Times)


SURVEY: Workforce Shortage Remains with Recession Likely in 2023 (WMC)


Wisconsin's unemployment rate dipped in December (WQOW News 18)


Central Wisconsin resettlement agency places 160 refugees in its first year (WPR)


Corey King named UW-Whitewater's 18th chancellor (WPR)


Cigarette sales falling in Wisconsin (WEAU 13 News)


Wausau water treatment plant removes PFAS from city water (WPR)


'No one wants to build condos': Milwaukeeans want condos but can't find many. Here's why condominium construction dried up. (Journal-Sentinel $)


Why Michigan is trying to shut down Canada's Enbridge Line 5 pipeline (BBC)


Milwaukee-based movie theater corporation continues post-pandemic recovery (WPR)


Wisconsin State Patrol partners with commercial truck drivers to combat human trafficking (WTMJ)


US Rep Van Orden gets committee assignments, introduces bills

   New US Congressman Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien, 3rd Dist.) has been assigned to three committees in the new session of Congress: Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation & Infrastructure. 

   Van Orden also announced his sponsorship of three pieces of legislation: A Balanced Budget Amendment, Term Limits for Congress, and a bill to prohibit representatives or senators from ever serving as lobbyists once their terms are complete.

More information:

Bills introduced by Rep. Van Orden (Congress.gov)

Derrick Van Orden named to 3 House of Representatives Committees (WEAU 13 News)

Rep. Van Orden assigned to Agriculture, Veterans' Affairs committees (WQOW News 18)

Rep. Derrick Van Orden on his first two weeks in Congress (News8000.com)

Van Orden meets with farmers to discuss top issues to tackle on Agriculture Committee (La Crosse Tribune +)

Van Orden lands agriculture committee assignment (Leader-Telegram $)

Van Orden: Measures take aim at fixing Congress (Op-Ed, Leader-Telegram $)


Rep Ron Kind completes 26th year in Congress

Leader Ethics plans Jan 24 online exit interview with Kind

   Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse, 3rd Dist.) ended his 26th year in Congress on Jan 2, retiring after deciding not to run for reelection in 2022. 

   Leader Ethics has announced an online interview with Kind at noon on Tuesday, Jan 24, to reflect upon his years of service. See registration information below.

More information:

Online event: A Candid Conversation with Ron Kind

 • Tuesday, January 24, 12-1 p.m., facilitated by Leader Ethics

    Click here for information and registration


More national and economic stories:


Paul Ryan says he ‘had too much power’ as House speaker (CNN)


US job openings are historically high and there’s no ‘quick fix,’ expert warns (Fox Business)


U.S. Existing-Home Sales Slid Last Year as Interest Rates Surged (Wall Street Journal $)


Existing home sales fell for the 11th consecutive month in December, hitting the slowest pace since November 2010 (CNBC)


The median existing-home sales price climbed 2.3% from the previous year to $366,900 (December home sales report, National Assn of Realtors)


A Bleak Outlook on Immigration Reform (The Dispatch)


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


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


COVID-19 Updates 


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:


A Candid Conversation with Ron Kind

Online event by Leader Ethics

 • Tuesday, January 24, 12-1 p.m.


State of the State Address - Gov Tony Evers

 •  Tuesday, Jan 24, 7 p.m., State Capitol


Momentum West Housing Solutions Forum

 • Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 8:30 a.m. -12:00 noon, UW-Stout


"Eau What A Night:" The Chamber's 108th Annual Meeting

 • Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 4:30-10 p.m., Pablo Center


Rail Coalition Meeting - in person

Rail Coalition Meeting - Zoom

 • Thursday, January 26, 2023, 8:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m., CVTC


Governor's Budget Address - Gov Tony Evers

 • Wednesday, February 15, 7 p.m., State Capitol


Eggs & Issues: State of the City -Eau Claire

 • Friday, Feb 17, Pablo Center at the Confluence


Spring Primary Election

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

• Tuesday, Feb 21


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Madison


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Feb 17, Pablo Center at the Confluence


Spring Non-Partisan Election

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

• Tuesday, April 4 


Business Salutes Eau Claire 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