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Volume 5 , Issue 8, July 11, 2022
 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

Advocacy Blog


Last chance to register...

Eggs & Issues: Planes, Trains, Automobiles & More...

Friday, Jul 15, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
Click here for details and to register

Registration deadline 12:00 noon on Thursday, Jul 14

  What's the future of transportation in Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley? At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll take a look at what's happening with transportation trends in our current economy and the policy issues surrounding it, including implementation of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). We'll get a statewide perspective from Debby Jackson, Executive Director, Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin; an update on efforts to establish passenger rail service to Eau Claire from Scott Rogers, Chair, West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition; get details on progress on the new transit center under construction and planned route changes from Tom Wagener, Eau Claire Transit Manager; and hear the latest about Essential Air Service (EAS) decisions and local airline changes from Charity Zich, Airport Manager, Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.

In this issue: 

 • City Council agenda: ARPA funds, Sonnentag agreement, potential referendum

 • SkyWest cuts EAU flights to one a day

 • Altoona comprehensive plan hearing on Thursday

 • Republican Gubernatorial Primary heats up as Nicholson drops out

 • WMC survey shows employer concerns about potential recession

 • Strong June jobs report exceeds expectations

 • 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 "+"


Eau Claire City Council agenda: ARPA funds appropriation, Sonnentag agreement, potential referendum

   At its meetings this week, the Eau Claire City Council's agenda includes designation for spending its federal ARPA funding, an MOU for the City's participation in the UWEC Sonnentag project, and taking steps towards a potential fall referendum.

   During Monday night's Public Hearing agenda, the Council will have public discussions on the proposed creation of a mixed-use Tax Increment Financing District 15 in the area of Gateway Northwest (see pages 4-6 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below), and the proposed appropriation of $9.479 million of the $13.529 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding the City is receiving (pages 7-14 of the Monday Agenda Packet).

   The ARPA proposal follows recommendations made by City Manager Stephanie Hirsch and previous Council work sessions to discuss priorities based upon community feedback and identified City needs. Some of the key components of the proposed appropriation include addressing existing needs, such as $1 million for PFAS remediation for the City's water supply, $5 million to fill financing gap for completion of the transit center currently under construction, and costs for an additional building inspector and for a network engineer. Among funding devoted to community support initiatives is $518,000 warming/cooling shelters and bus passes for individuals experiencing homelessness, $60,000 for a joint housing needs assessment with the City of Altoona and Eau Claire County, $500,000 to accomplish an overhaul of the City's zoning code, and funding for positions including ARPA Coordinator/Analytics Manager; EDI Coordinator, and Housing Project Manager.

   The narrative accompanying the appropriation proposal also anticipates a Phase 2 process for the remaining $4.059 million. The City will seek more public input and develop a plan to allocate funds for initiatives related to children and families, homelessness, neighborhoods, business development, and affordable housing.

Sonnentag agreement, referendum 

   Tuesday's Legislative Session includes action on the above agenda items, plus a resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a development agreement for the Sonnentag Event Center (see pages 37-145 of the Tuesday agenda packet linked below), and advance planning for a fall referendum to allow the City to exceed levy limits (pages 157-159 of the Tuesday agenda packet). The Council will also vote on the proposed sale of lot 21, four acres in the Sky Park Industrial Center, to LARSCO, LLC, to construct a 40,000 square foot facility for plumbing/HVAC distribution (pages 23-36 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet).

More information:

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Jul 11, 7 p.m., Public Hearing (Agenda Packet, 14 pages)

 • Tuesday, Jul 12, 4 p.m., Legislative Session (Agenda Packet, 172 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)

City revises proposal for using $13.5 million in ARPA funds (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire's water spending to rise due to PFAS (Leader-Telegram $)


SkyWest reducing Eau Claire flights to one per day

Airport awaits US DOT decision on new carrier 

   Beginning this week, SkyWest Airlines, which operates as a United Express carrier, is reducing its daily flight schedule from the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport to one flight per day.

   Because of pilot shortages, SkyWest gave notice in March of its plans to discontinue service to its 29 United Express Essential Air Service (EAS)-supported airports. The FAA ordered SkyWest to continue flights until a replacement carrier could be secured. It had been operating two flights on most days to Chicago O'Hare, but will now be operating one per day, with an early morning departure from Eau Claire and a late evening arrival.

   After SkyWest's notice, 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 Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Commission on May 20 voted unanimously to support the Sun Country Airlines proposal to provide airline service to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport for the next 2 years.

   The airport is awaiting a decision from the US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to accept the airport's recommendation. Sun Country has indicated it would like to begin service in November. 

   Chippewa Valley Airport Manager Charity Zich will have the latest when she is of the guests at the Chamber's July 15 Eggs & Issues Program, "Planes, Trains, Automobiles and More..." 

More information:

Airline Transition FAQs (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

EAU flight information (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

SkyWest reducing flights at CVRA (Leader-Telegram $)

Eggs & Issues: Planes, Trains, Automobiles and More...

Friday, Jul 15, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon

   Click here for details and to register


City of Altoona Comprehensive Plan public hearing  July 14

   The City of Altoona is nearing completion of a new Comprehensive Plan, the City’s primary policy document that guides growth and change by illustrating the desired type, location, and appearance of development. See the links below for more information about the draft plan, and the Public Hearing planned on July 14 prior to its adoption by the City Council.

More information: 

Public Hearing -2022 City of Altoona Comprehensive Plan
 • Thursday, July 14, 4 p.m., Fish House Recreation Building, 418 9th St W

City of Altoona Comprehensive Plan website (City of Altoona)

Draft Final Plan (City of Altoona, 10 chapters, 222 pages)

Video: Summary of new draft plan (7 mins.)


More local stories:


Durand community pooling its resources as they plan $3 million project to build a new pool (WQOW News 18)


Obituary for Lynn McDonough, long time owner of Connell's (Stokes, Prock & Mundt)


Podcast - Country JAM updates and expansion plans

Country JAM is one of several locally owned and operated festivals in the Chippewa Valley. Northwestern Bank's Jerry Kuehl talks with Country JAM General Manager Kathy Wright about what goes into staging a music festival, things that make the JAM experience unique, and the pending acquisition of property for a potential JAM relocation and expansion.

Listen: Banker with a Beer episode 109: Jerry Kuehl interviews Country JAM's Kathy Wright (29:28)


Eau Claire Chamber Business Matters podcasts

 Episode 7: Retiring State Senator Kathy Bernier (41:26)

 Episode 8: Valley Sports Academy General Manager Chase Hoople (21:10)


2022 Election:


Partisan Primary - Tuesday, August 9

What's on the ballot: US Senate (Ron Johnson seat), Congress, State Senate (odd # districts), Assembly, Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, County Sheriff, County Clerk of Court

General Election - Tuesday, November 8


Election 2022: The Chamber's Guide to the State and Federal Elections (Eau Claire Chamber)

MyVoteWI (to find your polling place and see what's on your ballot)

Early voting information: Jul 26-Aug 5 in Eau Claire County for the August 9 Primary 


Republican Primary for Governor heats up, now a 2-way race

Tommy Thompson endorses Michels, 58 legislators endorse Kleefisch, Nicholson drops out   

   With the August 9 Primary now just over four weeks away, the Republican Primary to take on incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers is becoming primarily a two-way race between former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and construction company owner Tim Michels. 

   Prominent Republican leaders have begun lining up behind those two candidates. Late last week, former Governor Tommy Thompson threw his support behind Michels, while Kleefisch released a list of 58 Republican legislators who have endorsed her candidacy. In addition to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, those include area Republican Reps. Dave Armstrong, Clint Moses, Treig Pronschinske, Donna Rozar, and Rob Summerfield. Michels earlier had announced his endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and Kleefisch has been endorsed by former Governor Scott Walker.

   Meanwhile, businessman Kevin Nicholson, who dropped out of the race last week, declined to endorse a candidate.

Marquette Poll showed close race

   The latest Marquette Poll released in June showed a tight race, with Michels at 27% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican, and Kleefisch at 26%. Taken before he dropped out, Nicholson was 10%, and Rep. Tim Ramthun at 3%. Notably, at that point a substantial 32% said they were undecided. The poll also showed a tight race anticipated vs. Governor Evers in the fall.

More information:

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson endorses Tim Michels, slew of state lawmakers back Rebecca Kleefisch as primary nears (Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin Republican legislators endorsing Rebecca Kleefisch (Rebecca for Governor)

Thompson, Trump endorsements for Tim Michels stir GOP primary race for governor (WPR)

The dominance of Milwaukee's suburbs in Republican primaries will be put to the test in August (Journal-Sentinel +)

Kevin Nicholson drops out of Republican race for Wisconsin governor (Journal-Sentinel +)

Latest Marquette Poll results (Marquette Law School)


More election-related stories:


Split state Supreme Court rules drop boxes are illegal, voters must mail or hand-deliver absentee ballots to clerk (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Eau Claire elections remain the same, despite WI court ruling (Leader-Telegram $)


Evers visits EC, denounces ruling on drop boxes (Leader-Telegram $)


Trump calls for Wisconsin 2020 election results to be decertified after ballot drop boxes deemed illegal (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Majority Leader Steineke to resign from Assembly July 27 (WEAU 13 News)


Democrats are against Ron Johnson. But who is the best candidate to beat him? (Isthmus)


New fight over abortion jolts Democratic battle to take on Johnson in Wisconsin (Politico)


UpFront: Nashville council could reject 2024 RNC agreement, potentially boosting Milwaukee’s bid (WisPolitics.com)


A year in, legal fight over Gableman election investigation keeps growing (WPR)


How partisanship is making polling Americans more complicated (CNN)


Employer survey reveals increased fears of a recession

   A new survey of Wisconsin businesses found that economic optimism is quickly waning, driving fears of an upcoming recession. According to the Wisconsin Employer Survey, 71 percent of businesses believe that the state’s economy will enter a recession within the next 12 months. Four in 10 of those surveyed expect a recession before the end of the year.

   “Businesses continue to be hit hard by ever-increasing costs and perpetual supply chain challenges,” said WMC President & CEO Kurt R. Bauer. “These issues are driving Wisconsin employers to be deeply concerned about the prospect of a slowing economy.”

More information:

SURVEY: 71% of Wisconsin Businesses Expect a Recession in Next 12 Months (WMC News Release)

Wisconsin Employer Survey results - Summer 2022 (WMC)

WMC survey finds 71% of state’s employers expect recession in next 12 months (BizTimes)


More state and regional stories:


Wisconsin Supreme Court says local health officers can issue emergency orders (The Cap Times)


Wisconsin Supreme Court says parents suing school can’t be anonymous (AP)


'Dark store' tax opponents aim for decisive victory with case headed to Wisconsin's highest court (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Republican state lawmakers Bernier and Knodl threaten legal action against Secretary of State Doug La Follette (WPR)


Gov. Evers: Announces DSPS Secretary Crim leaving Evers administration (WisPolitics.com)


Virtual event: Pandemic Recovery in Wisconsin’s Arts and Cultural Sector (Wisconsin Policy Forum)

• Friday, July 29, 12:30-1:30 p.m.


Strong June jobs report shows 372,000 jobs added

US Chamber says solving worker shortage key to fighting inflation

   The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employers added 372,000 jobs in June, significantly ahead of expectations. The unemployment rate was steady at 3.6%, and the labor force participation rate declined slightly from 62.3% to 62.2%. 

   There continues to be more job openings than unemployed workers. The US Chamber of Commerce points out that according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US has 11.4 million open jobs, yet only 6 million unemployed people. That’s nearly double the number of open jobs than people available to fill them.

   "We can’t get inflation fully under control until we fix the worker shortage crisis," say the Chamber. It proposes several policy solutions, part of the America Works initiative, that will grow our workforce, including: Helping Americans acquire the skills they need to fill today’s open jobs; Improving educational and job training opportunities for the jobs of tomorrow; Removing barriers to entering the workforce like a lack of access to childcare or having a criminal record; and Expanding the workforce through immigration reform.

More information:

Job Openings Chart: Total Nonfarm (Federal Reserve)

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary

Employment Situation Summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

U.S. adds 372,000 jobs in June as labor market stays robust (Axios)

Analysis - 1 big thing: No job market landing in sight (Axios)

Jobless claims edge up to highest since January; planned layoffs soar; trade deficit hits 2022 low (CNBC)

How Fixing Our Worker Shortage Can Fight Inflation (US Chamber of Commerce)

The America Works Agenda: Policy Solutions to Address the Nation's Worker Shortage (US Chamber of Commerce)

Opinion: Small businesses like mine are struggling to deal with rising prices for almost everything (Mike Zaffaroni, CNN Business)

Opinion: US Labor Market Shows No Signs of an Imminent Recession (Conor Sen, Bloomberg)


More national and economic stories:


Fed officials worried about inflation becoming 'entrenched' (Axios)


Mortgage rates drop for second straight week as recession fears grow (Fox Business)


Air travel hits pandemic record despite airline chaos (Axios)


Oil tumbles as much as 10%, breaks below $100 as recession fears mount (CNBC)


With US dollar nearly equal to euro, impact is being felt (AP)


Senate Intelligence Committee Calls On FTC To Investigate TikTok For ‘Deception’ (Forbes)


Pat Cipollone meets for over 8 hours with Jan. 6 committee (Politico)


America Is in Denial: Too many Americans are blithely dismissing threats that could prove cataclysmic (Mitt Romney, The Atlantic)


COVID-19 Updates 

COVID was third leading cause of death in 2020 and 2021 (Axios)


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:


Eggs & Issues: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, & More...

• Friday, Jul 15, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Eggs & Issues: The Economic Imperative of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

• Friday, Aug 19, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Bravo to Business Awards

• Wednesday, Sep 14, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Fall Election Outlook with Bill McCoshen

• Thursday, Sep 22, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Business Day in Madison

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

 • 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 - Tuesday, August 9

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


General Election - Tuesday, November 8


Congressional & Legislative Maps

Wisconsin Congressional Maps (Dave's Redistricting)

Wisconsin Legislative District Maps (Wisconsin Legislature)


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 

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