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Volume 5 , Issue 1, May 23, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

Advocacy Blog


Orchard Hills annexation goes to City Council

Public hearing Monday night, decision on Tuesday

   At its meetings this week, the Eau Claire Council will be taking up the proposed annexation of 438 acres south of the City to be developed into housing with city services. This includes the anticipated Orchard Hills development proposed by local developers. This is only the first step: Any development will still require rezoning, a development plan, platting, and other approvals. The proposal includes annexing part of the current Lowes Creek County Park, which would remain in that current use. According the the narrative with the application, the purpose of the annexation is "to allow a future residential development to have sanitary sewer and water main services when the City makes the services available."

  The City Council will hold a public discussion about the proposal on Monday evening at 7 p.m., and vote during its 4 p.m. Legislative Session on Tuesday. Annexation requires a 2/3 majority, which means it must be approved by 8 of the 11 Council Members.

Chamber supports annexation, encourages input to Council

   The Eau Claire Chamber is supporting the annexation as an important move to help address the community's critical housing shortage. At its meeting last Monday, the Eau Claire Plan Commission recommended the annexation to the City Council in a narrow 5-4 vote. As is often the case with new developments, a number of neighbors spoke at the meeting opposing it. 

  The Chamber has provided a letter to the City Council which notes: "Among the most significant current challenges for our local economy are workforce development and housing supply. These issues are closely tied together because housing supply impacts the ability to meet the needs of a growing population, as well as affordability for all individuals and families. This annexation is a first step towards the development of additional housing supply in our community. This will help address the housing shortage while providing benefits for everyone towards attainability and affordability. It also has the advantage of providing for the availability of city utilities and other services to appropriately support its development." Click here to read the Chamber's letter.


The Chamber is encouraging its investors to provide comments to the City Council, which need to be made ASAP. An easy online City comment option is available. Click the link below:


  Agenda Item Online Comment Form

  The annexation is Agenda Item #1. You do not have to be a City

  resident to comment.

  Other ways to comment: You can contact individual Council Members

  directly at this link. Or you can appear in person at the hearing at 

  7 p.m. Monday evening at City Hall.


City provides FAQs about the annexation process and impact

Click here to read the City staff FAQs

   In its report about the annexation, the City's staff recommends approval. In answer to one of the FAQs in its document, "If we annex, does the City have resources to support the large annexation?," City staff wrote:

  “Eau Claire is a growing community, and we have a recognized need for additional housing, and this new development allows for this growth to occur with sufficient municipal services. This type of growth provides additional tax revenue to allow the city to adjust services to meet the new growth. Without an annexation, growth in large rural lots requires more expensive municipal service delivery." The FAQs estimate a full build out of the development could provide $600 to $700 million in additional tax base for the City.

   The property owner and developers had previously sought rezoning through the property's current Town of Washington jurisdiction and the Eau Claire County Board. Although approved unanimously by the Town of Washington Board, it has drawn neighbor opposition. The County Planning & Development Committee deadlocked on a recommendation to the full County Board. 

   The residential development is being planned by CDPG Developers, which includes Craig Wurzer, owner of C&E Wurzer Builders, Paul Holzinger of Holzinger Holmes, Damian Prince of Chippewa Valley Excavating.     

Also in this issue:

 • Airport Commission recommends Sun Country Airlines proposal

 • City lands $100 million Niagara Waters facility

 • Empower Eau Claire names project winners

 • City Council to act on liquor license for The Plus

 • Menomonie Market Co-op to build in downtown Eau Claire

 • June 17 Eggs & Issues: Our Energy Future

 • Business Matters Podcast: Retiring State Sen. Kathy Bernier 

 • State and regional news

 • National and economic news

 • 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 "+"


Airport Commission recommends Sun Country Airlines proposal

   The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Commission last Friday voted unanimously to support the Sun Country Airlines proposal to provide airline service to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport for the next 2 years.

   Service to Eau Claire is currently provided by United Express carrier SkyWest, which has been operating daily flights to Chicago O'Hare supported by the federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program. Because of pilot shortages, SkyWest gave notice in March of its plans to discontinue service to its 29 United Express EAS-supported airports. The FAA ordered SkyWest to continue flights until a replacement carrier could be secured. 

   The airport subsequently received three proposals for replacement service, two by airlines that would provide service with single engine, 9-passenger turboprops, and one by Minneapolis-based Sun Country that would use 737's to provide service to MSP each week and seasonal direct service to Ft Myers, FL, Orlando, and Las Vegas.

   The final decision on a new carrier will be made by the FAA. Airport officials are maintaining an updated FAQ site, where they note the transition is not likely to occur until at least November. According to the FAQs: 

   "Sun Country Airlines provides an exciting opportunity to work with an Ultra Low Cost Carrier with a brand that is already known in our region. It is important to note that despite their unanimous support for Sun Country’s proposal, the Airport Commission is deeply disappointed in the discontinuation of twice daily, scheduled United Express service by SkyWest Airlines. The Airport team has worked hard to grow the United Airlines brand in the community over the last 12 years through our partnership with SkyWest Airlines. We are saddened the national pilot shortage will no longer allow SkyWest Airlines to continue to provide the airline service we currently enjoy in our community. In considering the options available, the Airport Commission looked for the opportunity to serve the most passengers over the next two years. Sun Country’s proposal for twice weekly flights to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will provide connections to their network of destination airports and non-stop weekly flights to seasonal destinations will capture passengers during periods of peak demand. Sun Country’s proposal provides the best opportunity to grow and expand passenger traffic utilizing the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport from those proposals received."  

More information:

Airline Transition Frequently Asked Questions (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

Commission recommending Sun Country Airlines to serve Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (WEAU 13 News)

Chippewa Valley Airport Commission asking DOT to bring Sun Country Airlines to Eau Claire (WQOW News 18)

Airport commission recommends Sun Country proposal for serving local passengers (Leader-Telegram $)


City Council to act on liquor license for The Plus

City lands $100 million Niagara Waters facility, Empower Eau Claire names project winners

   In addition to the annexation issue described above, the Eau Claire City Council has a busy agenda at its meetings this week. Included are a proposed development agreement for a Niagara Waters bottling facility in the Gateway Industrial Park, estimated to provide a local investment of $100 million; a resolution accepting the winning projects for the Empower Eau Claire participatory budgeting process; and renewal of the liquor licenses used by downtown businesses The Plus, the Rev, and The Metro. According to the staff report provided with the agenda for the latter item, City staff reached agreement with the owners regarding reopening terms, and now recommends renewal of the licenses. 

More information:   

Eau Claire City Council

• Monday, May 9, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (7 pages)

• Tuesday, May 10, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (192 pages)

Link to videos of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)
Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)

Empower Eau Claire names 5 winners (Leader-Telegram $)

List of winning Empower Eau Claire projects (City of Eau Claire)


Menomonie Market Co-op to build in downtown Eau Claire

   The Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority last Wednesday approved a purchase agreement with the Menomonie Market Co-op to build its new grocery store downtown at the corner of Barstow and Galloway Streets. 

   The 13,900 square foot store is expected to open in the fall of 2023, including a deli, classes, and other features. Employment in the store is expected to grow from 12 at its current location at Farwell and Washington Streets to 50 at the new location.

More information:

Expansion information (Menomonie Market Co-op)

Co-op signs deal to build downtown Eau Claire grocery store (Leader-Telegram $)

[UPDATE] Co-op Buys Land from City for Downtown E.C. Grocery (Volume One)


June 17 Eggs & Issues: Our Energy Future

  Join us at our next edition of Eggs & Issues as we look at the questions that drive our future energy generation and use. How realistic are long term carbon neutral goals of utilities, governments, and businesses? What's the future of renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, and the infrastructure needed to support them? What policy issues will impact the business community, energy use, and conservation? You'll hear from Mark Stoering, President, Xcel Energy - Michigan, Wisconsin; John Carr, Vice President, Strategic Growth, Dairyland Power Cooperative; Ned Noel, Senior Planner, City of Eau Claire; and others to be confirmed.

 • Friday Jun 17, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
  Click here for details and to register


More local news:


Eggs & Issues: Leaders address childcare issues (WEAU 13 News)

Chippewa Valley leaders seek solutions for child care 'crisis' (Leader-Telegram $)


EC school board meeting focuses on communication (Leader-Telegram $)


Demolition to begin on UW-Eau Claire campus to make way for new Science and Health Sciences Building (UWEC)


"We're thriving " New sculptures being added to Sculpture Tour (WQOW News 18)


Pablo Center Opens New Intimate Performance Space (Volume One)


Eau Claire animal shelter plans bigger building (Leader-Telegram $)


Downtown Eau Claire co-working space moving next month (Leader-Telegram $)


A NEW FAMILY BREW: Tony Bugher to Continue Leinenkugel’s Legacy as New President (Volume One)


Business Matters Podcast: State Senator Kathy Bernier

   The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has released the seventh edition of its monthly "Business Matters" podcast. This month's program features an interview with retiring State Senator Kathy Bernier, who reflects on her time in public service. Click here to listen


State and regional news:


Redistricting 101: How Legislative Maps in the Valley Have Been Redrawn (Volume One)


Republican mounts challenge in 91st Assembly District (Leader-Telegram $)


Hudson attorney running in 30th Assembly District (Leader-Telegram $)


Small-business owner launches bid in 7th Congressional District (Leader-Telegram $)


Family Business: Democrat McGrath Seeks Father’s Former Congressional Seat (Volume One)


How Are School Districts Spending Their Federal Relief Funds? (Wisconsin Policy Forum)


Milwaukee Mayor, business leaders exploring solutions following violent weekend (BizTimes)

Milwaukee’s New Mayor Seeks to Rebuild City Plagued by Shootings (Governing)


Soccer stadium would anchor mixed-use sports and entertainment district planned in downtown Milwaukee (BizTimes)


Supply chain issues: Harley-Davidson stops motorcycle manufacturing for 2 weeks (WPR)


Popular Elroy-Sparta State Trail reopened following years of repairs (AP)


A Wisconsin utility is considering using a new type of nuclear power plant to generate electricity of hundreds of thousands of homes (Journal-Sentinel +)


National and economic news:


Restaurant Revitalization Fund refill bill fails to pass Senate in major blow to restaurant industry (Restaurant Dive)

Restaurants ‘frustrated as hell’ after GOP filibusters Covid aid (Politico)


US jobless claims inch upward (News Nation)


Nearly 43,000 people died on US roads last year, agency says (AP)


COVID-19 Updates

U.S. COVID death toll officially surpasses 1 million (Axios)

Masks recommended indoors in 7 Wisconsin counties with high COVID-19 levels, including Barron, Rusk (Wisconsin State Journal +)


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:


Leadercast - The One Thing

• Thursday, June 2, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Our Energy Future

• Friday, June 17, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Business Day in Madison

 • Wednesday, October 19, Monona Terrace


Workforce Solutions Summit

 • Wednesday, November 16, Pablo Center


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

 • Wednesday, January 25, 2023, Pablo Center


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Madison


Next up on the public calendar


Wisconsin Political Calendar (WisPolitics.com)


Partisan Primary
US Senate (Ron Johnson seat), Congress, State Senate (odd # districts) Assembly, Governor , Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, County Sherriff, County Clerk of Court

 • Wed, Jun 1, Filing deadline for primary (Wisconsin Elections Commission)

 • Tuesday, Aug 9, Primary Election


Congressional & Legislative Maps

Wisconsin Congressional Maps (Dave's Redistricting)

Wisconsin Legislative District Maps (Wisconsin Legislature)


General Election
 • Tuesday, November 8


Public Meetings Calendar

Our Public Meetings Calendar has moved to our website. 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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