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Volume 6, Issue 9, July 17, 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


Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
   With cranes often in the skyline, significant construction projects underway, and new records for tourism impact, what's the continuing future for commercial, industrial and housing development in the Chippewa Valley? At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll hear from local leaders of economic development activities about their current projects, challenges and opportunities.
   Our guests will include Aaron White, Community Development Director for the City of Eau Claire; Mike Golat, Altoona City Administrator; Luke Hanson, Executive Director, Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation; and Benny Anderson, Executive Director of Visit Eau Claire.
 • Friday, July 28, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Also for your summer calendar:
 • 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

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-4:30p (Closed Fridays in July)
Lobby Hours: Mon-Thu 9a-3p (Closed Fridays in July)

In this issue:
 • County Board removes Smiar as Chair, zoning code on Tuesday agenda
 • EC City Council adds affordable housing, humane society, participatory budgeting, back to capital budget; passes water resolution
 • EC Plan Commission agenda: Apartment projects totaling 116 units
 • State and regional stories
 • National and economic news
 • 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 "+"


County Board removes Smiar as Chair
New Chair to be elected Tuesday, vote scheduled on zoning update
  At a special meeting last Wednesday, the Eau Claire County Board voted 17-9 to remove Nick Smiar as County Board Chair. The move came following a series of closed sessions - including that evening and earlier meetings on June 20 and 16 - to discuss legal and personnel issues related to the County Department of Human Services and county leadership. The Board has also been scheduled to discuss the future of County Administrator Kathryn Schauf in closed session, which was postponed and has not yet been rescheduled.
   The motion to remove Smiar was made by Supervisor Dane Zook (District 6) and seconded by Supervisor Robin Leary (District 23). Supervisors voting in favor were Todd Meyer (1), Stella Pagonis (4), Larry Hoekstra (5), Dane Zook (6), Steve Chilson (7), Cory Sisk (8), Allen Myren (9), Nathan Otto (11), Brett Geboy (12), Thomas Vue (17), Gerald Wilkie (19), John Folstad (20), Mark Beckfield (21), Katherine Schneider (22), Robin Leary (23), Heather DeLuka (24), and Kyle Johnson (27). Voting no were Supervisors Amanda Babb (2), Connie Russell (13), Judy Gatlin (14), Nick Smiar (15), David Hirsch (16), Jim Dunning (18), Tami Schraufnagel (26), Kimberly Cronk (28), and Missy Christopherson (29). Absent were Supervisors Joe Knight (3), Nancy Coffey (10), and Jodi Lepsch (25).
   The County Board Chair is elected from among its members by the full County Board. Smiar has been Board Chair since 2018 and a member of the Board since 2010. He will continue as District 15 Representative. With the Chair vacant, 1st Vice Chair Nancy Coffey would serve as interim Chair. Item #4 included on Tuesday's regular meeting agenda of the County Board is "Election of Board Officers: County Board Chair." (See page 1 of the Agenda Packet linked below.)
Tuesday agenda includes updated zoning code
   Tuesday's County Board agenda includes approval of a comprehensive zoning code update for the county. The revisions are primarily aimed at simplifying the code and making it easier to understand and use, rather than significant changes in permitted uses, etc. The new "Land Use Development Ordinance" will replace the previous code adopted in 1982 and will be in effect in those towns who adopt County Zoning, including Brunswick, Clear Creek, Drammen, Lincoln, Otter Creek, Pleasant Valley, Seymour, Union, and Washington. After adoption by the County Board, each Town Board will also need to adopt the revised code within one year to continue with county zoning. The revision process began in 2018, managed by the Planning and Development Department, and the revision has been endorsed by the City-County Board of Health, the Groundwater Advisory Committee, and the Committee on Planning and Development. (See pages 70-81 of the agenda packet linked below.)
   An earlier version of the update raised concerns in May from the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) about a provision that would have required subdivisions to have shared drinking water systems and/or shared wastewater treatment systems if they have lots smaller than 1.5 acres. The Chamber joined CVHBA at the May 9 public hearing held by the Committee on Planning & Development to express concerns and request changes. Subsequently, the Committee worked with the Health Department to draft revisions that address groundwater protection needs without applying arbitrary standards. CVHBA has provided a letter of support to the County Board for the final version of the ordinance.
More information:
Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Tuesday, July 18, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (84 pages)
County Board district maps and Supervisors
Link to County Board agendas and past meeting videos
Eau Claire County Board ousts chairman (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire County Board ousts Board Chair Nick Smiar (WQOW News 18)
Eau Claire County Board votes to remove Nick Smiar as Board Chair (WEAU 13 News)
Our View: Accumulated grievances led to county board's change (Leader-Telegram editorial $)

EC City Council approves 2024 Capital Plan with Humane Society, affordable housing restored to budget
Water stewardship plan resolution passed
   The Eau Claire City Council approved its 2024-28 Capital Improvement Plan at last Tuesday's Legislative session, including amendments proposed by Council Members Kate Felton and Andrew Werthmann to reallocate $1.345 million over the five years to provide funding for additional investments in affordable housing, continuation of the participatory budgeting initiative, $250,000 for the Humane Association's building project, and funding in 2024 and 2025 for the Energy Efficiency Navigator program (see pages 5-7 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below, and the full proposed 2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan linked separately below).
   The Council also approved a resolution proposed by Felton and Werthmann "to conduct a comprehensive water and treatment system plan update in 2025 to identify needs for concern in order to provide water safety and sustainability both now and for future generations" (see pages 8-11 of the Monday Agenda Packet).
Revised Vehicle Registration Fee gets first reading,
will be on next agenda
   The Council had a first reading of an ordinance proposed by Council Members Emily Anderson and Andrew Werthmann for adoption of a Local Vehicle Registration Fee (LVRF) that would impose an annual fee of $24 per vehicle for a specific set of ten street projects. It is a revised proposal from the proposed $30 fee that failed on a tie vote at the Council's March 14 meeting. Following the first reading, the resolution is likely to be on the agenda for the Council's next meetings on July 24 and 25. (See page 65 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet.)
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, July 10, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (11 pages)
 • Tuesday, July 11, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (78 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)
2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan (City of Eau Claire, 202 pages)
Eau Claire City Council to vote on water stewardship initiative (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire City Council adds money for affordable housing, animal shelter back into plan (Leader-Telegram $)
$250K donation approved for ECCHA at City Council meeting (WEAU 13 News)
Schoen Settles Into Eau Claire City Council Post (Volume One)
Eau Claire considering wheel tax month after state shared revenue deal was signed (WPR)
Our View: City learned the right lessons from March wheel tax debate (Leader-Telegram editorial $)

Online survey: Eau Claire Zoning Code Update
   The City of Eau Claire is looking for public input on its new zoning code update process with an online survey now available.
  The City has begun a process to update the zoning code with a project the City has dubbed "Century Code Update," since it's been 100 years since the City adopted its first zoning ordinance. During that time, the code has grown from six pages to over 300. Among the goals of the project are to revise the code to ensure clarity and that regulations provide flexibility and opportunities for the kind of growth and development the community needs.
   "The Century Code Update process provides an opportunity for residents and businesses to communicate the issues they’ve experienced utilizing the current Code and share their thoughts on how it can be improved," says the project's website. "The Update process is designed to promote community involvement and encourage citizen participation."
More information:
Century Code Update project website (City of Eau Claire)
 Click this link to take the survey:
 Public survey - Zoning Code Rewrite - deadline Aug 5 (City of Eau Claire)

EC Plan Commission: Three multi-family projects with 116 total units on Monday agenda
   The Eau Claire Plan Commission's agenda for Monday evening includes three multi-family projects that would provide a total of 116 additional apartments. 
   Included are two zoning requests for recommendation to the City Council: Cannery West Apartments at 2125 3rd Street by Valley Investment Partners. The infill project would include two multi-family buildings, a 17-unit building facing 2nd Street and a 19-unit building along 3rd Street. The project would provide a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. The site currently includes a parking lot and vacant land. (See pages 4-26 of the Agenda Packet linked below.) The other rezoning is for a proposed four-unit building at 618 E Grand Ave, across from University Park, by Holzinger Homes. Each unit of the two-story building would be one-bedroom with 864 square feet. (Pages 27-38.)
   The agenda also includes approval of a final site plan for the Peter Park Development at 4600 London Road by Rocket Construction. The project includes two 12-unit and two 26-unit apartment buildings, with a mix of efficiency, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units. (See pages 68-87.)
   The Culver's on Brackett Ave is seeking approval to reduce its required landscaping bed to allow for addition drive-through space because of market demand (Pages 39-58). The agenda also includes a site plan approval for Zens Real Outdoors at 1570 International Drive (pages 88-104), a Certified Survey Map for a three-lot subdivision in the Town of Washington at Lowes Creek Road and County II (pages 105-109), a conditional use permit for a garage expansion at 3006 Midway St (pages 59-67), and a discussion about the regulation of short term rentals (pages 110-111).
More information:
Eau Claire Plan Commission
Plan Commission 2023 Work Program
 • Monday, July 17, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet (111 pages)
Apartments planned near Cannery District (Leader-Telegram $)

More local stories:

United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley names Ryan Ludy new Executive Director (WEAU 13 News)

Local United Way chapter names new executive director (Leader-Telegram $)

Wisconsin Farmers Union shows off new headquarters (Leader-Telegram $)

Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Market on River holds open house (WEAU 13 News)

U.S National Kubb Championship returns to Eau Claire (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire team wins wins National Kubb Championship (WQOW News 18)

U.S. National Kubb Championship draws 450 worldwide participants (WEAU 13 News)

Records are broken with the Northern Wisconsin State Fair’s 2023 turnout
(WEAU 13 News)

Northern Wisconsin State Fair wraps up 125th year (WQOW News 18)

Business Leader Paul Ayres Wants Others to Achieve Their Best Lives (Volume One)

Wage Survey deadline extended to July 31
   The Eau Claire Chamber is extending the deadline for the Western & Central Wisconsin Wage Survey to July 31.
   The survey covers employers from nine Chambers of Commerce, including Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Marshfield, Menomonie, Portage County, Rice Lake, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids, in cooperation with the local chapters of Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) in the Chippewa Valley, La Crosse, Wausau, and Winona.
   The objective for this survey is to be the definitive resource of base compensation information for commonly recognized jobs in our geographic area.
More information:
Click here for full details about the survey and how to participate


State Budget enacted:
Final state budget as enacted - Wisconsin Act 19 (Wisconsin Legislature)
Governor's Budget Veto Message (Office of the Governor)
Summary: 2023-25 State Budget: Signed Into Law With 51 Partial Vetoes (Hamilton Consulting)
Evers' budget vetoes leave state with projected $4B surplus (WPR)
UWEC Science & Health Sciences Building in budget (UWEC project info)
UW-Stout officials and leaders discuss importance of renovation project after state budget passes (WQOW News 18)
Milwaukee Mayor Johnson signs 2% city sales tax legislation following lengthy negotiations (Journal-Sentinel +)
Wisconsin's licensing agency is getting a budget boost, but much less than the governor asked for (WPR)
Tony Evers’s veto shows the growing power of Midwestern Democrats (The Economist +)

More state and regional stories: 

WMC survey finds fewer employers expect to hire in coming months

Survey: Just under half of Wisconsin businesses plan to hire additional employees over the next six months

Wisconsin dairy groups sue DNR over wastewater discharge permit requirement for CAFOs

The 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee is 1 year away. It's like staging '4 Super Bowls in a row'
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Assembly special election on Tuesday in northern Milwaukee suburbs
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Residents of PFAS-polluted island file $42.4 million in claims against City of La Crosse

Despite billions of dollars in federal education aid, students are behind in reading and math

Construction of affordable workforce housing units in Middleton begins
(The Cap Times)

Milwaukee County looks to prod landlords to accept renters using housing vouchers
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Greenville board OKs rezoning for contentious subdivision after failing to find reason for denial
(Appleton Post-Crescent +)

Beloit city officials, Realtors face down a shortfall in affordable housing
(Beloit Daily News)

One year after launch, 988 crisis line has handled more than 91K calls (WPR)

World Dairy Expo to stay in Madison through at least 2028
(Greater Madison In Business)

June Tonnage Totals Remain Strong for Port of Green Bay

Green Bay settles election observer lawsuit, not required to admit wrongdoing
(Appleton Post-Crescent +)

With 'Silver Tsunami' on the horizon, condition complaints at senior living facilities surge
(Journal-Sentinel +)

TSA intercepts 18 firearms at Wisconsin airports in 2023, increase compared to last year
(WQOW News 18)

'Top Chef' will shoot Season 21 in Madison, Milwaukee, Door County
(The Cap Times)

Summerfest attendance up 40% this year, but still below pre-pandemic levels


National and economic stories:

Inflation rose just 0.2% in June, less than expected as consumers get a break from price increases

US Producer Prices Approach Deflation With 0.1% Annual Rise
(Bloomberg +)

China reports second-quarter GDP miss, another record high in youth unemployment (CNBC)

House Republicans push through defense bill limiting abortion access and halting diversity efforts

A hectic Hill week ahead: What to expect on aviation, spending and defense

Biden administration forgives $39 billion in student loan debt to more than 800,000 borrowers
(Fox Business)

NATO chief says no timetable set for Ukraine’s membership; Zelenskyy calls that ‘absurd’

U.S. Sens. Baldwin, Capito: Introduce bill to strengthen palliative and hospice care workforce

Democrat challenges Rep. Van Orden in Wisconsin battleground as her party seeks to flip House

Field of Democrats considering challenge to Derrick Van Orden in purple congressional district expands
(Journal-Sentinel +)

As Downtowns Struggle, Businesses Learn to Love Bike Lanes
(Bloomberg +)

How Siemens and Alstom are preparing for a passenger rail boom in the U.S.

Cities Seek Solutions as Intercity Bus Terminals Close, Pushing Riders to the Curb

Why pedestrian deaths in the US are at a 40-year high

A Grassroots Movement to Depolarize the U.S.?
(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 Resources: 
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub (Eau Claire City-County Health Department)

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
 • Friday, July 28, CVTC Business Education Center

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

Eggs & Issues
• Friday, Aug 18

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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