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Volume 6, Issue 5, June 19, 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


Join us on Tuesday...
City Council President Reception
   The Chamber is hosting this reception for members of the business community with new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. The event will also honor newly-appointed District 1 City Council Member Jessica Schoen, who took office on June 12. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is appreciated.
  • Tuesday, June 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Chamber offices
     Click here for details and to register

Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
   With cranes 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. 
 • Friday, June 16, 7:00-9:00 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

In this issue:
 • EC City Council makes parking enforcement changes
 • Zoning code rewrite begins
 • Groundbreaking for Prairie Heights affordable housing project
 • Aaron White named EC Community Development Director
 • Ty Fadness new Transit Manager
 • CVTC raises alarm about Assembly amendment to end its taxing authority
 • Eggs & Issue: Legislators discuss budget, UW projects, shared revenue
 • Pablo Center's Anderson goes to the White House
 • 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 "+"


EC City Council hears input on budget, passes parking enforcement changes, approves Senior Center parking lot
   The Eau Claire City Council held the first of two public discussions on its proposed 2024-28 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) at last Monday evening's City Council Public Hearing session. Several speakers asked the City to reinstate a $500,000 contribution to the Eau Claire County Humane Society's $6.5 million construction project currently underway. The funding had appeared as a planned out-year contribution in previous CIPs.
   The multi-year CIP envisions spending of $207 million over the next five years, with $55 million coming in 2024. The largest portion of the latter is $20 million for upgrades to the City's water system to completely eliminate PFAS contaminants. (See the full 2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan linked below.) The Council will have another hearing on July 10 and vote on the plan at its July 11 Legislative Session.
   The Council approved, 7-3, a rezoning and general development plan for the expansion of the LE Phillips Senior Center parking lot (see pages 5-26 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below). Some Council members were concerned about the increasing amount of surface parking in the area.
   New parking regulations were approved that take into account the City's new license plate recognition technology for downtown parking enforcement (see pages 36-37). The two hour time limit for street parking will now apply to zones, making it harder for individuals to continually move cars every two hours to avoid a ticket. The new regulations will take effect once the ordinance is published and signs are erected. 
  The Council postponed a planned Work Session for Tuesday that had been scheduled to review draft results of the Regional Housing Study being completed by czb for the City of Eau Claire, City of Altoona, and Eau Claire County. 
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, June 12, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (39 pages)
 • Tuesday, June 13, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (237 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)
Eau Claire's plan for 2024-28 projects set for public hearing (Leader-Telegram $)
2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan (City of Eau Claire, 202 pages)
Animal lovers ask city to reinstate $500K for new shelter (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire prohibits 're-parking' in city's business districts (Leader-Telegram $)

Chamber reception for new City Council President
   The Chamber is hosting this reception for members of the business community with new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. The event will also honor newly-appointed District 1 City Council Member Jessica Schoen, who took office on June 12. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is appreciated.
 • Tuesday, June 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m. Chamber offices
    Click here for details and to register

Eau Claire Zoning Code Update process begins
Public open house Tuesday, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
   The City of Eau Claire this week begins a process to update its zoning code with a project it has dubbed, "Century Code Update," since it's been about 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."
   The process starts on Monday, when the the Zoning Policy Advisory Committee (ZPAC), made up of members of the City Council and Plan Commission, meets at 4:00 p.m. in the Riverview Room at the LE Phillips Memorial Public Library, to get a project overview and talk about the process.
   The first opportunity for the public to engage in the process in person will be at the Century Code Update Project Kick Off Open House on Tuesday afternoon.
   "This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the project purpose and process and provide your input on key topics such as the design of new development, the types of housing that are appropriate in the community, parking availability, sustainability and resiliency, and more," says the announcement for the open house.
   The City of Altoona is also planning a zoning code update, and expects to begin its process soon.
More information: 
Century Code Update project website (City of Eau Claire)
Public input sought for Eau Claire's Zoning Code Update (Leader-Telegram $)
Our View: Take part in zoning discussions (Leader-Telegram Editorial $)

Century Code Update Project Kick Off Open House
• Tuesday, June 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m., LE Phillips Public Library, 3rd Floor
   Click here for more information

Prairie Heights affordable housing project breaks ground
   Developers broke ground last Thursday for the Prairie Heights affordable housing project at the corner of Birch, Galloway, and River Prairie overlooking the Eau Claire River. 
   The property includes sixty total units for households earning between 30%
and 80% of the county median income. The building will be fully accessible and contain one, two, and three-bedroom apartments, each with a full kitchen, in-unit laundry, and spacious living areas.
   The project came together through a complex combination of partners and funding sources. It was awarded $800,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), received $2 million in state funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and $307,000 in gap financing from the City of Eau Claire's Affordable Housing Fund, recommended by the City's Housing Opportunities Commission, and financial support from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.
   Project partners at the ground breaking included primary developers Gerrard Companies and West CAP community action agency, along with Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council, which will be providing permanent supportive housing services, Merchants Bank, which is both a lender and investor in the project, and GRIP Companies, which helped originate the project. 
   "The new development will be providing more than affordable, green living with high-quality, modern amenities," says a West CAP news release. "Sensitive to the unique needs of the community in which they are building, the developers included on-site, long-term program services to support residents and homeless individuals and families. Twelve units will be set aside for permanent supportive housing, disabled veterans, or others who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Western Dairyland... will be overseeing these specific units by staffing an office on-site to connect these vulnerable residents to community resources in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment, while helping them maintain stable housing."
   The apartments are expected to be move in ready by July 2024.
More information:
Prairie Heights: Breaking New Ground in Affordable Housing (West CAP)
Groundbreaking is June 15 for Eau Claire housing project
(The Business News)

New affordable housing project breaks ground in Eau Claire (WQOW News 18)
Groundbreaking held for new affordable housing development (WEAU 13 News)

Aaron White named EC Community Development Director
   The City of Eau Claire's Economic Development Manager, Aaron White, has been promoted to Community Development Director. He replaces Scott Allen, who left recently to become Executive Director of the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. 
    Before he joined the City of Eau Claire in 2018, White worked for 10 years in economic development and housing roles in Kansas. He also previously worked for Cargill and is a Marine veteran. 
   "The interview teams were impressed with Aaron’s ideas on how to continue to build up the many different and related aspects of community development, including inspections, code enforcement, affordable housing, economic development, and planning/zoning," said Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch.
   “I’m really looking forward to new challenges as Community Development Director," said White. "There is so much potential in this community, and we have a great team in place to help guide our future success.”

Tyler Fadness named new Transit Manager
   The City of Eau Claire has appointed Tyler Fadness to the role of Transit Manager with an official start date of June 26th.  He has been with the City of Eau Claire in a permanent role for eight years, serving mostly as Utilities Chemist. While in college, he was a seasonal employee in Wastewater Collection.
   "Ty is known for his intelligence, creative thinking, great attitude and stellar moral compass," said City Community Services Director Lane Berg. "During his tenure as Utilities Chemist, the City has been faced with many challenges such as PFAS, a new Wastewater Treatment Plant start-up, corrosion control requirements and many others to which Ty has embraced the challenges and has found creative solutions.  We look forward to seeing Ty lead Transit and using his creativity to make our system more efficient and to better serve our valued riders!"

Meeting this week: 

Eau Claire Plan Commission
Plan Commission 2023 Work Program
 • Monday, June 19, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet (71 pages)

2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan (City of Eau Claire, 202 pages)

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Tuesday, June 20, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet
County Board district maps and Supervisors

Altoona City Council
 • Tuesday, June 22, 6 p.m., Agenda

More local stories:

Eau Claire school district gives update on projects funded by November referendum
(Leader-Telegram $)

Jason Verdugo named new athletic director at UW-Eau Claire
(WEAU 13 News)

UW-Eau Claire hires Jason Verdugo as new Athletic Director (WQOW News 18)

Altoona Police chief prohibits smoking at River Prairie concerts (Leader-Telegram $)

Vending machine with tools to fight opioid overdose available in Eau Claire (WEAU 13 News)

Eau Claire Co. installs free vending machine for Narcan sprays, fentanyl tests
(Leader-Telegram $)

Panel advises businesses on ways to weather supply chain problems (Leader-Telegram $)

Hmongfest draws thousands to Eau Claire (Leader-Telegram $)

Altoona Police chief prohibits smoking at River Prairie concerts (Leader-Telegram $)

Pablo Center announces Season 6 line up (Leader-Telegram $)

Pablo Center Announces Stacked Season 6 Lineup (Volume One)


CVTC, Tech College System raise alarms about Assembly amendment to end their taxing authority
   Chippewa Valley Technical Colleges (CVTC) has joined the other 15 technical college districts and the state Technical College System in opposing an amendment passed by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee late last week that would replace its local tax levy with state aid. The colleges say the local investment maintains local control keeps them accountable and responsive to the needs of workers, employers, and communities. 
   Beginning with the 2023-24, the institutions would get state aid equal to the amount they received the previous year through the tax levy. They would retain taxing authority for building projects, but would not be able to go to referendum for operating costs. Currently, technical colleges are funded through a mix of state aid, student tuition and fees, and local property tax revenue. 
   “We believe there is a great benefit to keeping our technical colleges locally accountable and responsible to the stakeholders of west central Wisconsin as allowed through the current funding structure and oppose the AB 2,” said Sunem Beaton-Garcia, President of CVTC. “The impact and success of this localized approach have been proven over many years, with 86 percent of CVTC graduates employed in Wisconsin and nearly 70 percent within the CVTC district.”  
   With the state controlling the purse strings, college supporters point to the past history of declining state support for the UW System and local governments as creating potential for fiscal problems in the future. 

   The amendment in question was passed without a hearing. A vote on Assembly Bill 2 is expected this Wednesday, June 21. 
More information:
Amendment to Assembly Bill 2 (Wisconsin Legislature)
Republicans propose funding overhaul for technical colleges, stripping away taxing authority (Journal-Sentinel +)
Statement from Technical System President Foy on Amendment to
Assembly Bill 2 (News release)
CVTC highlights local impact of proposed assembly bill amendment (News release)

Eggs & Issues Legislative Breakfast
Area legislators discuss shared revenue, UW projects, housing, pending state budget issues
    In the midst of a busy budget and legislative season in Madison, four Chippewa Valley area Legislators joined local business and community leaders this past Friday, June 16, for the Chamber's Eggs & Issues Legislative Breakfast at CVTC. Those participating were Senators Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), and Representatives Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire) and Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer).
   Issues discussed included those which seem to be heading into the budget or law - including UW projects at Eau Claire and Stout, Housing legislation, and shared revenue funding - as well as those that are still pending such as childcare.
   There was agreement that the Joint Finance Committee's (JFC) inclusion of both the UWEC Science Building and UW-Stout's Heritage Hall is good news for the region and the result of strong, persistent bi-partisan efforts on the part of the area delegation. The legislators also praised the passage of several housing bills that are headed to Governor Evers' desk. Although all of the legislators supported increased shared revenue to local governments, the Democrats argued that the percentage increase for cities should have been larger, while the Republicans argued that the dollar amounts to cities are significant. Democrats were critical that the JFC the evening before did not include the Governor's proposed funding for the Child Care Counts program, while Republicans noted that a package of legislation is still being drafted to address the issues.
   James and Emerson also noted that they are continuing to advocate for their bipartisan Safe Harbor legislation to fight human trafficking.
   See the link below for the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's (LFB) estimates of additional shared revenue amounts for municipalities and counties based upon the recently-passed compromise legislation. As examples, the City of Eau Claire would receive an additional $1.216 million (20% above the existing $6.08 million), Altoona $302,845 (26.7%), Augusta $102,517 (20%), the Village of Fall Creek $53,988 (23.5%), and Eau Claire County $1.04 million (47.3%). 
More information:
How to reach your legislators (Wisconsin Legislature website)
Proposed revenue sharing to municipalities
(Legislative Fiscal Bureau)
Proposed revenue sharing to counties (Legislative Fiscal Bureau)
Area politicians divided on fairness of anticipated shared revenue increase (Leader-Telegram $)
Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance recommends completion funding for UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Building (UWEC)
Joint Finance Committee approves UW-Stout’s Heritage Hall renovation project (WEAU 13 News)
Proposals aimed at addressing Wisconsin's housing shortage pass out of state Legislature (WPR)
Wisconsin Legislature passes lower-cost housing package (Wisconsin State Journal +)
Wisconsin needs housing. Activists, legislators say it should be easier to build. (WPR)
‘We have to get back to compromise’: Wisconsin lawmakers pass shared revenue bill on bipartisan votes (Spectrum News)
Wisconsin lawmakers send sweeping shared revenue overhaul to Gov. Tony Evers (WPR)
Budget committee approves $1 billion K-12 education spending increase in Wisconsin (Wisconsin State Journal +)
GOP rejects Gov. Tony Evers' call for $340 million to fund child care assistance program (Wisconsin State Journal +)
GOP lawmakers reject funding for continuation of child care subsidy program (WPR)
2023 Business Issues Agenda (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
2023 Chippewa Valley Rally Issues (Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance)

More legislative stories:

Vos, LeMahieu to seek at least $3 billion in tax cuts (WisPolitics.com)

Speaker Robin Vos says he's 'embarrassed' to be a UW System alumnus because of campus diversity programs (Journal-Sentinel +)

Republicans delay vote on plan to cut UW System budget by $32 million over DEI programming (Wisconsin State Journal +)

With two-thirds council vote likely needed for Milwaukee sales tax, seven members slam state legislation (Journal-Sentinel +)

Milwaukee alders denounce provisions within shared revenue bill (WPR)

Wisconsin Ag Coalition Applauds Senate Passage of Agricultural Road Improvement Program (Wisconsin Ag Connection)

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says reading overhaul bill needs work

Wisconsin bill to regulate wedding barns and overhaul state liquor laws wins bipartisan support (AP)

Wisconsin’s alcohol industry gets behind update, greater enforcement of laws (AP)

A sweeping new bill would overhaul Wisconsin's alcohol industry, touching everything from breweries to wineries to wedding barns (Journal-Sentinel +)

Government funding plan includes largest expansion to private school choice in program's history (WPR)

Assembly bills will help remediate lead paint, internal plumbing for aging properties (The Daily Reporter)

Wisconsin Ag Coalition Celebrates Legislative Action on Ag Roads Investment (Wisconsin Ag Connection)

Superior exposition district bill heads to Wisconsin Legislature (Superior Telegram +)

More state and regional stories: 

Wisconsin Republicans focus on turnout, state's position as battleground for 2024 during state convention in La Crosse (La Crosse Tribune +)

Wisconsin Republicans discuss unity, abortion at state convention (WPR)

VISIT Milwaukee launches rebrand effort ahead of 2024 RNC (BizTimes)

Gallagher won't challenge Baldwin, but there are other GOP candidates, says pollster Franklin (Spectrum News)

Wisconsin’s top elections official for 2024 uncertain as incumbent’s term nears end (AP)

Wisconsin has seen record-low unemployment for over a year. What does that mean for workers? (WPR)

Wisconsin lost 7,000 private sector jobs, but labor force grew in May (BizTimes)

Wisconsin tourism's 2022 economic impact breaks pre-pandemic record, sets new overnight visit record (WPR)

Litigation arm of WMC sues DNR over cleanup requirements under the state's Spills Law (WPR)

Updated standards for short-term rental permits considered in La Crosse County (La Crosse Tribune +)

Judge orders Enbridge to shut down part of Wisconsin oil pipeline in 3 years (WPR)

WPR names Sarah Ashworth as new director (The Cap Times)


Pablo Center director participates in White House
roundtable on ticketing
   Pablo Center Executive Director Jason Jon Anderson on June 15 participated with President Joe Biden in a roundtable meeting of private sector companies who have committed to end surprise fees by fully disclosing fees to consumers upfront.
   Junk fees — hidden, surprise fees that companies sneak onto customer bills — are a pervasive problem in industries across the economy. The President has been calling on federal agencies, Congress, and private companies to take action to address these fees and provide consumers with honest, transparent pricing. 
   Anderson discussed the all-in pricing they started implementing in April and have been transitioning shows to this ticket pricing format. This includes the 90,000 tickets it sells each year for events. Since implementing this policy, Pablo Center reports that it has experienced a 15% uptick in ticket sales, illustrating how venues can provide consumers with a transparent purchasing experience without hurting their business.
   “All-inclusive pricing is the best starting point," said Anderson, "but we still need comprehensive reforms that will ensure buying tickets is easier and cheaper for consumers. It started with patron surveys/interviews over the last year and a half, which ultimately lead us to change our ticketing partner to AXS ticketing. We are excited to continue to again enhance our guest experience for our 6th season.
More information:
President Biden Recognizes Actions by Private Sector Ticketing and Travel Companies to Eliminate Hidden Junk Fees (The White House)

Pablo Center executive participates in ticket fee discussion with Biden (Leader-Telegram $)
Pablo Center Rep. joins Biden to discuss ticket junk fees (WEAU 13 News)

More national and economic stories:

Federal Reserve holds interest rates steady, signals more hikes could be ahead

Inflation rose at a 4% annual rate in May, the lowest in 2 years (CNBC)

Inflation Came Down in May But Was Still High (US Chamber of Commerce)

UW-Eau Claire is finalist for global award for entrepreneurship, engagement (UWEC)

McCarthy marks six months as House speaker with key debt deal win, but looming far-right rebellion (Spectrum News)

The Difference Between Earmark and Pork Barrel Spending & Why You Should Care
(Fiscal Note)

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:

EC City Council President Reception
 • Tuesday, June 20, Chamber office

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

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

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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