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Volume 6, Issue 52, May 13, 2024
 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 2024 Business Issues Agenda
"Talking Po!nt" Podcast
Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs
Chamber Business Hours: Mon-Thu 7:30a-4:30p, Friday 8a-Noon, Lobby open by appointment


In this issue:
 • Plan Commission recommends against Main & Farwell location for
    Day Resource Center, City Council meets Monday & Tuesday
 • City of EC seeks applicants for Redevelopment Authority
 • Economic Development issues highlighted at Eggs & Issues
 • Next Zoning Policy Advisory Committee meeting is May 20
 • EC Judge Schumacher to retire, Evers seeks applicants
 • Healthcare updates
 • 2nd Amtrak train via La Crosse begins next week
 • All Wis GOP House members vote to block Speaker's ouster
• Food for thought
 • 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 "+"


Join us Wednesday for...
Business Community Reception for new
local Council and Board members
Please join us for a business community welcome reception to meet and recognize newly-elected members of the Eau Claire City Council and Eau Claire County Board. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is requested. This is an informal, open house-type event with no formal program. Light refreshments will be available. Newly elected officials who have RSVP'd so far include: Eau Claire City Council - Aaron Brewster, Clara Serrano; Eau Claire County Board - Dierdre Jenkins, Christy Tomczak, and Bob Swanson.

 • Wednesday, May 15, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Chamber offices
    Click here for details and to RSVP

Last chance to register...
Chamber Royale
No business. Just a night of fun. Chamber Royale will offer Vegas-style casino games including poker, blackjack, roulette and craps, as well as live DJ entertainment, fantastic food, and time to schmooze in a festive party atmosphere.
 Thursday, May 16, Eau Claire Event District
    Click here for details and registration


EC Plan Commission recommends against
Main & Farwell site for Day Resource Center
City Council meets this week, work session on issue planned Tuesday
   At its May 6 meeting, the Eau Claire Plan Commission voted unanimously to recommend against declaring the city parking lot at Main and Farwell streets as excess land to make way for locating a Day Resource Center for individuals experiencing homelessness.

   Twenty five individuals spoke about the proposal, including a number of downtown business people, most arguing that the specific site is not appropriate for that use. Several also questioned declaring a parking lot location as excess when a downtown parking study is just getting underway. The draft minutes from the Plan Commission meeting on are pages 262-267 of the Tuesday City Council Legislative Session Agenda Packet linked below.
   As a result of the Plan Commission's recommendation, city staff decided not to bring the question to this week's scheduled City Council meeting. Instead, the Council will hold a work session after Tuesday's Legislative Session. According to City Manager Stephanie Hirsch's City Manager's Weekly Update (5/10/24), that move came at the request of City Council President Emily Berge, and will cover the following items: "Criteria for siting; Locations assessed in the past year; A number of options that meet the criteria, including the parking lot at Main and Farwell; Partners involved; Contingent initiatives, such as the Street Ambassadors Program; and Timeline and deadlines related to ARPA and other funding for operation and acquisition of a Day Resource Center."
   The Council holds its regular Public Hearing on Monday evening and its Legislative Session on Tuesday. See the links below for details on the agenda.
More information:
Eau Claire Plan Commission
 • Monday, May 6, Agenda Packet
Eau Claire City Council
 Monday, May 13, 7 p.m. Public Hearing Agenda Packet (27 pages)
 • Tuesday, May 14, 4 p.m. Legislative Session
Agenda Packet (267 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 of Eau Claire News Updates (including weekly City Manager's Update)
Housing and Homelessness in Eau Claire (City of Eau Claire)

Downtown E.C. Site Eyed for Resource Center for Homeless (Volume One)
Proposed Day Resource Center makes progress; draws ire from local business (WQOW News 18)
Day Resource Center Update (City of Eau Claire)
Homeless Population Edges Back Up (Wisconsin Policy Forum)
Wisconsin's homeless rate edges upward, after nearly a decade of a downward trend (Journal-Sentinel +)

Applicants sought for EC Redevelopment Authority

   The City of Eau Claire is seeking applicants for its Redevelopment Authority (RDA), which is responsible for redevelopment efforts such as have taken place in the North Barstow area and currently underway in the Cannery District. State statute indicates "Appointees shall have sufficient ability and experience in related fields, especially in the fields of finance and management, to assure efficiency in the redevelopment program, its planning and direction."
   Applicants must live in the City of Eau Claire. The deadline to apply is June 7. Click on the Citizen Resource Bank link below and specify your interest in the RDA.
  The City regularly has openings on various boards, committees, and commissions. See that link below if you have interest in learning what entities may have appointments available in the future. You are always welcome to express your interest by completing the Citizen Resource Bank form.
More information:
Redevelopment Authority (City of Eau Claire)

Citizen Resource Bank form (City of Eau Claire)
Cannery District redevelopment (City of Eau Claire)
Boards, Commissions & Committees (City of Eau Claire)

Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
   The Chamber's May 9 Eggs & Issues breakfast focused on the successes and challenges for economic development in the Eau Claire area. Our guests representing key local organizations provided an updated outlook for commercial, industrial and housing development in the Chippewa Valley. Participants included Ray French, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; Mike Golat, City of Altoona; Luke Hanson, Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation; Julie Thoney, Xcel Energy; and Aaron White, City of Eau Claire.
   Golat discussed Altoona's rapid growth and the benefits that dense developments provide economically and for the environment. White noted the new "The Sevens" development that included a record-setting $120 million development agreement with the City of Eau Claire. Hanson highlighted Eau Claire County's achieving the highest net new construction percentage in the state in 2023. French detailed WEDC's new talent attraction initiative that provides direct leads of potential new residents to local ambassador organizations. The Eau Claire Chamber is one of those, part of an effort to address the workforce shortage faced by many local employers.
More information:
Website to help with area workforce presented to chamber (Leader-Telegram $)

Altoona’s Container Park Expected to Open in Late Summer (Volume One)
Develop, Attract, Retain: The Chamber's Workforce Initiatives (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Explore Eau Claire

Next Zoning Policy Advisory Committee meeting is May 20
   The City of Eau Claire continues its comprehensive overhaul of the City's zoning code with the next meeting of its Zoning Policy Advisory Committee (ZPAC) next Monday. The ZPAC is made up of the members of the Eau Claire City Council and Eau Claire Plan Commission, and is guiding the work of the City's planning staff and its consultant as the process moves forward. The content of next week's meeting will focus on natural resources. There is a public comment period on issues related to the ZPAC agenda at the end of its meeting, and there will be a Zoning Update presentation and public forum at 6:30 p.m.
More information:
Zoning Policy Advisory Committee
  • Monday, May 20, 4:00-6:00 p.m. Library, 3rd floor, Agenda
Zoning Update presentation and public forum
  • Monday, May 20, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
May 20 meeting information (City of Eau Claire)
Century Code Update website (City of Eau Claire)

What is the century code? Getting the public's opinion on new zoning regulations (WQOW News 18)
How local governments can respond to the housing crisis (Route Fifty)

EC School Board will decide fall referendum question on June 3
   At its Monday evening meeting last week, the Eau Claire Board of Education reviewed the results of a community survey conducted by the Morris Leatherman Company as it considers plans for an operational referendum at the November 5 General Election. The survey examined public knowledge and attitudes about the district and its receptiveness for various levels of property tax increases that might be successful for the district. School Board members expect to make a decision at their June 3 meeting regarding the size and scope of a fall referendum.
More information:
ECASD Referendum Committee information (ECASD)

ECASD looks at results of operational referendum survey (Leader-Telegram $)

More local stories...

EC Judge Schumacher to retire in August
(Leader-Telegram $)

Gov. Evers Seeks Applicants for Eau Claire County Circuit Court (Office of the Governor)
Gov. Evers Seeks Applicants for Eau Claire County Circuit Court (WEAU 13 News)

After backlash, refugee resettlement efforts continue in Eau Claire

World Relief updates elected officials (Leader-Telegram $)

Diversity, equity and inclusion conference in Eau Claire explores issue at a time of polarization
(Wisconsin Examiner)

Eau Claire Library "Outdoor Open House" is May 15
(LE Phillips Memorial Public Library)

Eleva-Strum HS holds Open House for their student-run business, 'Cardinal Manufacturing'
(Leader-Telegram $)

Remaining EC County broadband dollars determined
(Leader-Telegram $)

Market On River Slated to Open in Downtown C.F. in September
(Volume One)

Chippewa Falls looking to replace all lead pipes in the city
(WEAU 13 News)

Venue owners wonder what liquor law will do
(Leader-Telegram $)

Wedding barn owners sue Wisconsin over sweeping new alcohol law (Journal-Sentinel +)
Wedding barn owners sue over liquor law rewrite (The Center Square)

NO GPS, NO PROBLEM: New Interactive Chippewa Valley Bike Route Map Launches
(Volume One)

Leadership Eau Claire applications now open
   Are you ready to enhance your leadership skills and community knowledge? Look no further than Leadership Eau Claire (LEC). Applications are now open for this transformative program that offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant community while honing your leadership skills and making meaningful connections. The deadline to apply is May 31.
Click here for details and to apply


Healthcare stories...

OakLeaf Clinics announces return of cancer services
(Leader-Telegram $)

OakLeaf Clinics announce oncology services, hires HSHS cancer team (WQOW News 18)
OakLeaf Clinics opens Oncology Services at Eau Claire Medical Clinic (WEAU 13 News)

Marshfield Clinic offers same-day appointments to reduce emergency and urgent care demand
(Leader-Telegram $)

Marshfield expands same-day access (WEAU 13 News)
Eau Claire's Marshfield Clinic now offering more same-day appointments (WQOW News 18)

Van Orden meets with hospital leaders, legislators about health care concerns
(Leader-Telegram $)

Congressman Derrick Van Orden hosts healthcare roundtable (WEAU 13 News)
Roundtable held to discuss missing health care services (WQOW News 18)

Technical colleges plan upgrades, expansions in dental training thanks to new state grants

CVTC's new dental sim lab increases capacity, offers learning apart from clinic (CVTC)

Governor Evers’ Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce meets in La Crosse
(WEAU 13 News)

Mayo recognizes nurses
(Leader-Telegram $)

Ascension hospitals hit by cyberattack seeing widespread disruptions in patient care
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Medicare fund’s outlook improves on stronger economy, but long-term challenges persist
(The Hill)

The HSHS/Prevea Task Force continues to work on addressing the ramifications of recent facility closures.
Click here: Task Force website to stay informed and sign up for updates


Fall election updates
   The fall 2024 election will focus a lot of attention on Wisconsin, with the ballot to include the races for US President and US Senator. All eight Wisconsin Congressional districts will be on the ballot. There is also a lot of attention being play to legislative races as those candidates, with new districts in place, have begun to circulate nominating petitions. All 99 Assembly districts and the even-numbered State Senate districts will be elected this year. The Partisan Primary is August 13, and the General Election is November 5. Wispolitics.com has been tracking the new districts and candidate announcements. See the links below.
More information:
Link to 2024 legislative maps (Wisconsin Legislature)
Interactive map: Check the boxes at the upper left to select Assembly, Senate, and/or Congressional Districts. Zoom in to find you location and who your representatives are.
Status of 2024 Wisconsin Assembly races (WisPolitics.com, with maps)
Status of 2024 Wisconsin Senate races (WisPolitics.com, with maps)

Community Engagement and Education on Wisconsin’s Electoral Process
   With the November 2024 election just a half year away, Keep Our Republic, a nonpartisan/nonprofit organization, is actively working to get accurate information out about the Wisconsin elections process. It's planning a May 14 community conversation aimed to provide education on Wisconsin's electoral process. Speakers include Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, Keep Our Republic Wisconsin State Director Kathy Bernier, Milwaukee County Election Commission Director Michelle R. Hawley, Waukesha County Clerk Meg Wartman, Waukesha City Clerk Sara Spencer, and Mukwonago City Clerk Diana Dykstra. The program will be live streamed and recorded on Wisconsin Eye.

More information:
Trust in Our Elections: A community conversation
 • Tuesday, May 14, 6 p.m. Click here to watch on Wisconsin Eye

More election-related stories...

Democrats commit $7 million to TV ads in 5 key state Senate races

Democrats target Republicans on budget committee, aim for control of Legislature
(Wisconsin Examiner)

Democratic ad campaign tries to chip away at Trump support among rural swing voters in 3 key states

Wisconsin Supreme Court considers expanding use of absentee ballot drop boxes

Federal judge tosses Democrats’ lawsuit challenging Wisconsin absentee voting requirements

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson replaces elections chief Claire Woodall
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Second Amtrak train via La Crosse & Tomah starts next week
Planning underway for service to Eau Claire, Menomonie
   Amtrak and the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois are slated to begin the new "Borealis," daily train between Chicago, Milwaukee, La Crosse, and St. Paul on May 21. The train supplements the current long-distance "Empire Builder" on the same route that runs to and from Seattle and Portland.

  The service expansion is part of continuing long-term effort by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to add frequencies and cities to passenger rail service in the state.
    “This route includes eight stations in Wisconsin, and doubling the frequency of the service will better connect the many businesses, universities and tourist attractions along this corridor,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “This expansion is thanks to the work WisDOT was able to do together with Minnesota, Illinois and Amtrak, as well as the opportunities provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We will continue to work with federal and state partners to explore more passenger rail options in Wisconsin.”
   Federal studies are currently in progress under the US Department of Transportation's Corridor Identification and Development Program that takes the first step to add service to communities such as Eau Claire, Menomonie, Hudson, Madison, Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac. Potential Eau Claire and Menomonie service may come through a WisDOT-sponsored study of a through Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-Twin Cities route and a study sponsored by the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission for a regional Eau Claire-Twin Cities service.
   The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce is among the organizations who support passenger rail expansion. For more information or to sign up you organization, contact Scott Rogers at rogers@eauclairechamber.org
More information:
Introducing Amtrak Borealis trains with Expanded Service between St. Paul and Chicago via Milwaukee (Amtrak)

Train reservations (Amtrak.com)
New "Borealis" train to be added to Amtrak La Crosse route (WXOW)
Amtrak to launch new Twin Cities-Chicago round trip (Progressive Railroading)
Borealis & Empire Builder schedules, St. Paul-La Crosse-Tomah-Milwaukee- Chicago (Rail Passengers Association)
Federal Railroad Administration approves grant money for Wisconsin rail projects (West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition)
Wisconsin business groups applaud federal grants for passenger rail projects (West Central Wis Rail Coalition)
More steps are taken to make passenger rail service possible in Eau Claire (WEAU 13 News)
Rail Commission discusses next steps (Leader-Telegram $)

Two Wisconsin passenger rail ideas back on the study track (WisBusiness.com)
Explainer: How the Corridor ID Program works (High Speed Rail Alliance)

State and national stories...

Does Wisconsin have any Ivy League schools? It does now, according to Forbes
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Utilities complete contentious land swap to clear way for power line in Mississippi River refuge

New La Crosse affordable apartment complex officially breaks ground
(News 8 Now)

“Collective on Fourth” housing development project breaks ground In La Crosse (WEAU 13 News)

S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry’s maiden voyage set for May 17

Should the I-794 Lake Interchange be torn down? Four voices weigh in

Superior utility’s proposed rate hike prompts calls to cut costs

'I never stopped running': What happened inside Mount Horeb Middle School when a student showed up with a gun
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin Public Radio Set To Change the Dial, Reorganize Networks on May 20
 (Volume One)

Welcome to the new WPR! (WPR)

UW-Madison negotiates removal of pro-Palestinian protest encampment

Biden announces $3.3B investment from Microsoft for AI data center in Mount Pleasant

Wisconsin's House Republicans unite in blocking ouster of Speaker Mike Johnson
(Journal-Sentinel +)

WI Roll Call on vote to table (Yes vote to retain Speaker Johnson): Yes - Van Orden (R), Fitzgerald (R), Grothman (R), Moore (D), Steil (R), Tiffany (R); Voting Present - Pocan (D); No - none; Tabled 359-43

US Senate passes five-year FAA bill

TikTok sued the U.S. government to block a ban. Here’s what happens now

Consumer sentiment tumbles as inflation fears surge

Food for thought...

Higher education isn’t daycare. Here are the rules we follow on free speech and public protests.
(Ben Sasse, President, University of Florida, Wall Street Journal)

I lost 31 relatives to Israeli attacks in Gaza. But I blame Hamas too
(The Times of London +)

COVID-19 Resources:
Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub (Eau Claire City-County Health Department)

Mark your calendar:

Business Community Reception
New Local Council and Board members
 • Wednesday, May 15

Chamber Royale
 • Thursday, May 16

Eggs & Issues
 • Friday, June 21

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5

"Bravo to Business" Awards
 • Thursday, Oct 17

31st Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
• Wednesday, Mar 5, 2025

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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