{{CFirstName}}, you are receiving this e-newsletter because you are on our list of Chamber investors that have shown interest in public policy issues.  If you don't want to receive these emails, click the following link:


Volume 4 , Issue 43, Mar 14, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Mar 18 Eggs & Issues: Tackling Housing Supply Challenges

What's being done to address the local housing shortage

   In 2019, the Chippewa Valley Housing Task Force found that housing supply in the community was insufficient for every income level and housing type. With the population continuing to grow and workforce issues mounting, we'll take a look at the current situation and potential solutions being pursued to address our regional housing shortage.

   Focusing primarily on supply challenges, we'll learn more about the recent report released by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities that addresses housing affordability, look at the current market situation in the community for real estate and multi-family housing, and get perspectives on the challenges of creating new housing inventory in the current environment. Among our panel will be Cody Filipczak, Owner, C&M Homes & Real Estate; Taylor Graybehl, Associate Planner, City of Eau Claire; Bruce King, Government Affairs Director, REALTORS® Association of Northwestern Wisconsin; Brendan Pratt, Mayor of Altoona; Pat Smith, President, Chippewa Valley Home Builders Assn.; and Dante Tomassoni, COO of Development, P&R Companies.

Eggs & Issues

Attendance options: In-person at the Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon
 • Friday, March 18, 7:00-8:30 a.m.

  Click here for details and registration (deadline noon March 17)


News in this issue: 

 • Employer child care grants available - short time to apply

 • EC County opens ARPA-funded assistance for non-profits, small businesses

 • SkyWest files notice to drop service to 29 cities

 • Eau Claire City Council approves City Manager hire
 • Plan Commission to consider Jeffers Road twin homes
 • EC School Board Referendum Listening Sessions Wednesday
 • Tommy Thompson to visit UWEC on Wednesday morning

 • Evers signs bills to aid restaurants in COVID recovery
 • Inflation rate increases again in February

 • Congress finally passes FY 22 appropriations bill
 • COVID-19 updates - Federal mask mandate for transportation extended

 • Mark your calendar
 • Public meetings
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


State grants for employer supported childcare now available

Application deadline Apr 4, priority if  received by Mar 14 (today!)

   The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) is offering a grant program to support partnerships with businesses who purchase slots at existing regulated child care providers. 

  Partner Up! is being offered via the Child Care Partnership at Western Dairyland, a private non-profit located in Eau Claire. If your business is willing to cover 25% of your individual employees’ child care costs, then Partner Up! is awarding grant funding to cover the remaining 75% of that cost. You can now tell your current or future employees that child care is one of the benefits you are offering through your business.

  "Whether you’ve struggled to retain employees, or you would like to offer child care as an attractive benefit to new talent you are seeking, this is a new solution for you to consider," noted Kaylynn Winegar, the Chamber's Vice President Workforce Development. Although the deadline to apply is tight, she said the application is relatively easy to complete.
   Winegar has been representing the Chamber on a regional Childcare Task Force to help bring solutions to area employees and employers surrounding our childcare crisis. 

  See the links below for more information, or contact Laura Lash at Western Dairyland:  Laura.Lash@wdeoc.org

More information:

Partner Up! Grant Program details (Wisconsin Dept of Children and Families)

State seeks to ease child care crisis (Leader-Telegram $)


EC County opens ARPA-funded assistance

for non-profits, small businesses

   Applications open today for Eau Claire County assistance, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), for small businesses and for non-profits affected by the pandemic. The program is being administered by the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC). Its two components include:

 - $5,000 grants to eligible businesses with 20 or fewer employees and 501c3 non-profits who suffered an economic loss because of COVID-19. Deadline for submitting an application for this Component #1 is April 26 at 5 p.m.

 - Grants of $10,000-100,000 for organizations or businesses meeting the same eligibility criteria, which can be used for implementing forward-thinking and innovative projects, programs, or efforts that will assist the greater community in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadline for submitting an application for Component #2 is May 16 at 5 p.m.

   The total amount Eau Claire County is allocated to these programs is $2 million of the $20 million in total ARPA funds the County is receiving, with $1 million each to components #1 and #2.

Click here for full details and to download the application

For questions, contact Jess Peterson at WCWRPC at (715) 836-2918, ext. 24.  


Citing pilot shortage, United Express carrier SkyWest

files to end service to 29 cities, including Eau Claire

No changes until replacement carrier selected

   SkyWest Airlines, which operates as the United Express carrier between Eau Claire's Chippewa Valley Regional Airport and Chicago O'Hare, has filed notice with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to end service to 29 cities across the country, including EAU. 

   There will be no immediate changes to flight schedules and SkyWest will continue serving the airport until a new carrier is selected. The filing triggers a lengthy process to find an alternative airline to serve the region. 

Local passenger usage growing in 2022

   Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Manager Charity Zich emphasizes that it's important right now for the community to continue to utilize the current service to help ensure Eau Claire remains attractive to a new carrier. Of the 29 cities in the filing, Eau Claire is among the top five in passenger usage. The airport has been seeing usage grow already this year, with 6,879 passengers in Jan-Feb 2022 vs 5,607 during the same period in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, a 23% increase.

   In its USDOT filing, the airline said, “Although SkyWest Airlines would prefer to continue providing scheduled air service to these cities, the pilot staffing challenges across the airline industry preclude us from doing so.” 

  In a letter this past Friday to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, US Congressman Ron Kind requested the USDOT's assistance in assuring continued air service.

  "Like many other EAS locations," wrote Kind, "the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport is essential to the region’s economic development efforts and connects rural communities to other regional hubs. The most recent economic impact study conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation found that the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport provided $72.1 million in economic output, supported 458 jobs, and contributed $15.3 million in wage income to the local and state economy."
  The cities in the filing are all among those that are supported by USDOT's Essential Air Service (EAS) program: Alamosa and Pueblo (Colorado), Fort Dodge, Mason City and Sioux City (Iowa), Dodge City, Hays, Liberal and Salina (Kansas), Paducah (Kentucky), Decatur (Illinois), Houghton and Muskegon (Michigan), Cape Girardeau, Fort Leonard Wood and Joplin (Missouri), Meridian and Hattiesburg (Mississippi), Devils Lake and Jamestown (North Dakota), Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff (Nebraska), Johnstown (Pennsylvania), Victoria (Texas), Shenandoah (Virginia), Eau Claire (Wisconsin), and Clarksburg and Lewisburg (West Virginia).
More information:

Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (website)
Airline Transition FAQs (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

Letter to USDOT (US Rep. Ron Kind)

SkyWest to end air service at Chippewa Valley airport; search begins for replacement (Leader-Telegram $)

SkyWest to end service to 29 cities due to pilot shortage (Flight Global)


City Council approves hiring of City Manager Stephanie Hirsch
   The Eau City Council last week voted to approve its contract to hire Stephanie Hirsch as the new City Manager. Hirsch will begin her duties on April 4.

   Hirsch grew up in Eau Claire and built her career in New England, earning an MBA from Harvard University and spending 15+ years serving in senior municipal government leadership roles in Somerville, Mass.

   Interim City Manager Dave Solberg, who was the other finalist, will continue his duties in the interim before returning to his previous role as the City Engineering Director.

  Tuesday's Legislative Session agenda included confirmation of the City Manager appointment (see pages 95-102 of the Tuesday Agenda packet linked below), renewal of the City's lease agreement at Carson Park with the Wisconsin Logging Museum (pages 48-55) and an attachment of a parcel on Sundet Rd. in the Village of Lake Hallie to the City of Eau Claire at the request of the property owner (pages 103-112). 

   At its Monday Public Hearing Session, the Council had a discussing including Finance Director Jay Winzenz related to the trade offs between hiring construction managers vs. general contractors for City Projects. 
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Mar 7, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (27 pages)
 • Tuesday, Mar 8, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (126 pages)
Link to video recordings of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)
Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)
Eau Claire City Manager Search webpage (City of Eau Claire)

E.C. Native Stephanie Hirsch Hired as City Manager (Volume One)

City debates project bidding (Leader-Telegram $)

City signs contract for new top staffer (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire City Council gets first peek at new library expansion (Leader-Telegram $)

Our View: Finally, a city manager (Editorial, Leader-Telegram $)


Plan Commission agenda includes 3rd Ward

bed & breakfast, Jeffers Park Twin Homes

   The Eau Claire Plan Commission's agenda on Monday evening includes a request from a 3rd Ward home owner to allow short-term rentals at 1413 Frederic St for a bed & breakfast (pages 26-34 of the Agenda Packet linked below), as well as a rezoning recommendation to the City Council for a proposal by C&M Homes to build 17 twin homes on 7.8 acres connecting to Jeffers Road (pages 15-25) near the City brush site.
   Also on the agenda: A street vacation and rezoning at La Salle St and Hillside Dr (pages 4-14), a conditional use permit for Investment Realty to build a duplex on a vacant lot at 901 Water St. (pages 41-48), and land transfers in the Cannery District between the City and its Redevelopment Authority to facilitate completion of development plans and creation of a park (pages 49-51).

   The short-term rental request comes at a time in which the Plan Commission, neighborhood associations, and City Council plan to consider an ordinance sometime this year to regulate short-term rental housing.

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission

• Monday, March 14, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (72 pages)

City to address short-term rentals this year (Leader-Telegram $)


EC School Board referendum listening sessions on Wednesday
   The Eau Claire Board of Education has scheduled listening sessions to hear from the public about a potential referendum. Two were held last week, with the final two this coming Wednesday evening. All sessions are online and will begin with a brief presentation. Advance registration is required by 4:30 p.m. the day before. Click the links below for registration information for each session:

  Wed., Mar 16, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

  Wed., Mar 16, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

School Board approves 2022-23 calendar, hears

public comment about equity training

   At last Monday's regular meeting, the School Board voted to approve the  2022-23 academic calendar. Classes will run Sep 1 to June 6, with spring break Mar 20-24, 2023. 

   It also heard from 26 people during the public comment period regarding district equity and diversity training that dealt with teacher and parent communications about student identities. 

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, Mar 7, Agenda Packet

EC school board votes on several policy changes (Leader-Telegram $)

Dozens speak about equity training materials at school board meeting (Leader-Telegram $)

ECASD student identities guideline sparks conflict (WQOW News 18)

Referendum listening sessions set for March (Leader-Telegram $)


Other local news:


City of Eau Claire 2022 construction projects (City of Eau Claire)


With county road improvements in recent years, committee sets new rating goal (Leader-Telegram $)




Tommy Thompson to visit UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday

   University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson will visit UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday as campus and community leaders join faculty, staff and students to celebrate the former governor’s leadership and service.
President Thompson will also help Blugolds take the first steps toward the planned Science and Health Sciences Building, a $256 million project that will one day replace the university’s Phillips Hall, which was opened in 1963. President Thompson, Chancellor James Schmidt and invited guests will get a chance to swing sledgehammers at the corner of Putnam Hall, one of two residence hall buildings that will be razed this summer to make way for the Science and Health Sciences Building.

   Details: Celebration with Tommy Thompson (swinging sledgehammers included). 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 16. Near Putnam and Katharine Thomas residence halls, UW-Eau Claire lower campus (Garfield Avenue).

   Participating: UW System President Tommy Thompson, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt, Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin Regional Vice President Dr. Richard Helmers, Eau Claire City Council President Terry Weld


Evers signs bills to aid restaurants in COVID recovery

   Governor Tony Evers last Monday signed two bills designed to help restaurants in their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

   AB 717, now Act 156, creates an exemption under the Wisconsin individual income tax for grants received from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and SB 339, now Act 157, makes changes to capital loss deductions. 

    “Wisconsin’s restaurants play critical roles our communities, bringing people together, bolstering tourism and travel, and providing unique experiences to residents and visitors each day,” said Evers. “They’ve shown amazing resilience, ingenuity, and flexibility over the last two years, but I know it hasn’t been easy and many are still struggling due to supply chain challenges, inflationary costs, and workforce challenges our state has faced for years. I am glad to sign these bills today to help relieve a little bit of stress and worry for business owners as they head into tax season.”

    The Wisconsin Restaurant Association expressed appreciation for the enactment of the legislation: "The Wisconsin Restaurant Association would like to thank Governor Evers for signing the bill into law and Representative Robert Wittke and Senator Roger Roth for sponsoring the bill. This law will be a great help to restaurants that received RRF grants."

More information:

AB 717 (State of Wisconsin)

SB 339 (State of Wisconsin)

Gov. Evers Signs Two Bills, Helps Wisconsin Restaurants Continue to Rebound and Recover (Office of the Governor)

RRF Tax Treatment Bill Signed Into Law (WI Restaurant Assn)


Other state news: 


'A grand lady of politics': Margaret Farrow, Wisconsin's first female lieutenant governor, dies at 87 (Journal-Sentinel +)


Legislature Adjourned After Final Senate Floor Session: March 8 (Hamilton Consulting)


See the new Wisconsin Congressional & Legislative Maps (Dave's Redistricting)


Responses due Friday in GOP redistricting appeal (WPR)


New $92M program set to help Wisconsin homeowners with financial hardships relating to pandemic (WQOW News 18)


Inflation rate increases again in February
   The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.8 percent in February, a 7.9 percent year-over-year rate, highest since January 1982.
More information:

Consumer Price Index Summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items in U.S. City Average (Federal Reserve)

Inflation rose 7.9% in February, as food and energy costs push prices to highest in more than 40 years (CNBC)

Inflation Reached 7.9% in February; Consumer Prices Are the Highest in 40 Years (Wall Street Journal $)

Wisconsin gas prices plateau after sharp rises in the past month (WEAU 13 News)


Congress finally passes FY 22 appropriations bill

  President Joe Biden on Friday signed the Federal Government's FY 2022 spending bill after the Senate approved it 68-31 on Thursday. The omnibus bill, which funds the government through September, is $1.5 trillion, 2,700-page package containing all 12 fiscal 2022 spending bills and $13.6 billion in supplemental appropriations to address the crisis in Ukraine.

More information:

Senate clears $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill (Roll Call)

Biden signs stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown (The Hill)


COVID-19 Updates - CDC issues new mask guidance

U.S. extends transportation mask mandate through April 18 (CNBC)


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:


"Eau What a Night" - The Chamber's 107th Annual Meeting
 • Thursday, Mar 31, 5:30 p.m., The Florian Gardens


Spring Non-Partisan General Election
Local City and Town Councils, School Boards, County Boards, Judges
 • Tuesday, April 5


Partisan Primary
State Assembly, State Senate (odd # dists), US Congress, US  Senate, Governor , Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State
 • Tuesday, Aug 9
General Election
 • Tuesday, November 8


Next up on the public calendar:


Wisconsin Political Calendar (WisPolitics.com)


City of Altoona City calendar (with links to agendas)
Meeting and video links
Mayor and City Council Members
 • Thursday, Mar 24, 6 p.m. City Council

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 1 p.m. Altoona Housing Authority

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 5:30 p.m. Plan Commission

 • Thursday, Apr 14, 6 p.m. City Council


City of Eau Claire Full calendar  
City Council Members (City of Eau Claire)
Link to video recordings of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)

 • Monday, Mar 14, 7 p.m. Plan Commission

 • Tuesday, Mar 15, 6 p.m. Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee
 • Wednesday, Mar 16, 7:30 a.m. Redevelopment Authority
 • Wednesday, Mar 16, 3:30 p.m. Sustainability Advisory Committee 

 • Thursday, Mar 17, 4 p.m. Police & Fire Commission

 • Monday, Mar 21, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, Mar 22, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Council

 • Monday, Apr 4, 4:30 p.m. Landmarks Commission

 • Monday, Apr 4, 7 p.m. Plan Commission 


City of Augusta
City website
Village of Fall Creek
Village Board


Town of Washington
Town website
Altoona School District
Altoona School Board
 • Monday, Mar 28, 6:30 p.m.
Eau Claire Area School District
Board of Education
 • Monday, Mar 21, 7 p.m.

 • Monday, Apr 4, 7 p.m.


Augusta School District 
Augusta School Board


Fall Creek School District 
School Board


Chippewa Valley Technical College
District Board


Eau Claire County Full calendar
Click here to find your County Board Representative (interactive map)
 • Monday, Mar 14, 11 a.m. Highway Building Committee

 • Monday, Mar 14, 3 p.m. ADRC Board 

 • Monday, Mar 14, 5 p.m. Committee on Parks & Forest

 • Monday, Mar 14, 5 p.m. Housing Authority Board

 • Tuesday, Mar 15, 6:30 p.m. Committee on Finance & Budget

 • Tuesday, Mar 15, 7 p.m. County Board of Supervisors

 • Thursday, Mar 17, 4 p.m. Groundwater Advisory Meeting
 • Friday, Mar 18 7:30 a.m. Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Commission

 • Monday, Mar 21, 1 p.m. Land Conservation Commission

 • Wednesday, Mar 23, 3 p.m. Committee on Judiciary & Law Enforcement

 • Tuesday, Mar 29, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning & Development

 • Wednesday, Apr 6, 2 p.m. Highway Building Committee

 • Wednesday, Apr 6, 7 p.m. County Board of Supervisors Meeting


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 

This email was sent on behalf of {{TCDisplayName}} located at {{TCADDRAddress1}}{{TCADDRAddress2}}{{TCADDRCity}}{{TCADDRStateProvince}} {{TCADDRPostalCode}}To unsubscribe click here. If you have questions or comments concerning this email contact {{TCDisplayName}} at {{TCEmailAddress}}.