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Volume 4 , Issue 50, May 2, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

Advocacy Blog


May 20 Eggs & Issues: Tackling our Child Care Challenges

Child care has been increasingly cited as one of the most difficult workforce challenges for parents and employers in today's economy. At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll learn more about the local Chippewa Valley Child Care Task Force as it works to understand the scope of the problem, define the core issues, and identify potential innovations and policy changes needed to move towards solutions.

 • Friday May 20, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
    Click here for details and to register


Sunset Welcome Reception

Honoring newly-elected city council and school board members

A special welcome reception to honor newly-elected local officials. We're inviting those elected for the first time on April 5 to the Altoona and Eau Claire City Councils, and Altoona and Eau Claire School Boards to join us for this informal opportunity to meet and interact with Chamber investors. (This event immediately follows the Chamber's Business at the Gardens that evening.)

 • Tuesday, May 17, 7:00-8:30 p.m., The Florian Gardens

    Click here for details and to register

    Business at the Gardens (preceding event: click here for details)


In this issue:

 • Sonnentag Center breaks ground

 • Plan Commission: County Jam seeks annexation

 • EC City Council approves TDS fiber easements

 • "Empower Eau Claire" participatory budgeting voting open through May 13

 • Eau Claire County health ranking 18th in state

 • Eau Claire School Board organizing meeting this week

 • Five local recipients of UWEC Alumni Awards

 • Evers announces $20 million for affordable housing 

 • Marquette Law School Poll shows tightening US Senate primary

 • May 5 event at UWEC: "Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse"

 • COVID-19 updates 

 • Mark your calendar
 • Public meetings
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


Sonnentag Center breaks ground for 2024 completion

   A long cast of partners, including $70 million donors John and Carolyn Sonnentag, participated in last Monday's ground breaking event along Menomonie Street, future site of the $100.6 million County Materials Complex. That means construction has now begun for a spring 2024 completion that will include the John and Carolyn Sonnentag Fieldhouse and Event Center, a Mayo Clinic Health System Diagnostic Imaging and Sports Medicine Clinic, and a new SpringHill Suites by Marriott to be developed by the Pablo Group.  Those participating in the ground breaking included representatives of the Blugold Real Estate Foundation, the Eau Claire City Council, the Pablo Group, the Pablo Foundation, Mayo Clinic, the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, UW-Eau Claire, and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. 

More information:

Construction to begin on County Materials Complex (UWEC)

Groundbreaking for John and Carolyn Sonnentag Fieldhouse and Event Center (WEAU 13 News)

Construction of new complex begins after a decade of planning, donations and challenges (Leader-Telegram $)

Ground ceremoniously broken on $107M Sonnentag Event Center, County Materials Complex (WQOW News 18)

DIG IN: Ground Broken for Huge New UWEC Event Facility (Volume One)


Plan Commission: Country Jam seeks annexation

   The Eau Claire Plan Commission's agenda Monday evening includes a request from Country Jam USA to annex 160 acres along Highway T, south of 20th Avenue, slated to be the future site of its annual festival beginning in 2023. The property is currently in the Chippewa County Town of Wheaton. Annexation will allow city utilities to be extended to the site. The Plan Commission's role is to make a recommendation to the City Council, for which there will be be a public hearing on May 9 and Council action on May 10 (see pages 40-41 of the Agenda Packet linked below).

   The Plan Commission agenda also includes an amendment to expand the boundary of Tax Increment Financing District #9 to include a planned expansion of the Gateway Industrial Park (pages 4-29), a preliminary plat and street vacation for Statz Real Estate Partnership LLC for 12 single family lots for the Pine Park East Second Addition (pages 30-39), a site plan for a building addition at Eau Claire Ford Lincoln & Quick Lane, a site plan for a new building for GLP Services LLC at 5845 Venture Drive, and site approval for the Eau Claire House Authority for a single-family home purchase at 3228 Mercury Ave.

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission

 • Monday, May 2, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (74 pages)

Future Country JAM site annexing to Eau Claire (Leader-Telegram $)


City Council approves TDS easements for fiber network  

   At its Tuesday Legislative Session last week, the Eau Claire City Council approved 11 of 12 proposed utility easements for TDS Telecom as it installs its planned fiber optic network in the city (see pages 49-125 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). The easements are for the utility cabinets that will house equipment for the network. The Council postponed approval for one site, at Wilson Park, asking TDS to further consider downtown locations. That specific easement will likely come back to the Council in June.

   The Council also authorized the City Manager to enter into a Community Development Investment Grant Agreement with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in order to receive a $250,000 grant award on behalf of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire new site project (see pages 141-163),  approved a $5.6 million bid package related to completion of the transit portion of the Transit Center currently under construction (pages 22-27), and plans for the annual July 4th fireworks display to move back to Carson Park this year.

More information:   

Eau Claire City Council

• Monday, Apr 25, Public Hearing (canceled)

• Tuesday, Apr 26, 4 p.m. Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (171 pages)

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

Eau Claire clearing way for TDS Telecom arrival (Leader-Telegram $)


"Empower Eau Claire" participatory budgeting voting open

   City of Eau Claire residents will have the chance to vote between now and May 13 to decide which of 14 nominated projects will share in $300,000 the City Council allocated in its capital budget for its participatory budgeting project known as "Empower Eau Claire."

   "Empower Eau Claire is a democratic process in which residents provide project ideas and vote on the best projects that serve the community," according to the City's project website. "Program goals are to increase civic empowerment, equity, diversity, inclusion, sustainability, and transparency."

   The 14 finalist projects were selected from those proposed through meetings with city residents late last year, then underwent a process to evaluate them for practicality and impact. Voting will be open to all City residents 6th grade on up.

More information:

Empower Eau Claire ballot access and projects preview (City of Eau Claire)

THE VOTE IS ON: E.C. Residents Can Pick Public Projects in Unique Vote (Volume One)


Eau Claire County ranks 18th in state for health outcomes

   An annual health ranking of Wisconsin's 72 counties by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has ranked Eau Claire as 18th for health outcomes and 16th in factors that impact residents' health. That's an improvement from 21st last year in outcomes but lower than its 8th place in 2021 for health factors. In outcomes this year, Chippewa County was 20th and Dunn County 21st.

   A statement from the local Healthy Communities noted, "The COVID-19 pandemic both revealed and worsened barriers to health and well-being for members of our community, especially for those who are already facing many barriers. This year’s data shows some of these inequities in our community... A new data measure also shows that Eau Claire County residents (and families in every state in the US) face a childcare cost burden. In our county, childcare accounts for 25% of the median household income (ranges from 12%-46% throughout Wisconsin, federal benchmark says childcare is no longer affordable if it exceeds 7% of median household income)."

   Highlighted as areas of strength for the county were the low rate of physical inactivity for adults; a high ratio of healthcare, mental health and dental providers per person; and positive screening rates for breast cancer and flu vaccinations.  

More information: 

Full report: County Health Rankings

Wisconsin State Report

Eau Claire County Health Communities

Eau Claire County ranks highly for health (Leader-Telegram $)


Talley, O’Meara, Rindo, Fausts among local

UWEC Alumni Award recipients

   Five local leaders have been announced as winners of prestigious awards to be given by the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association at a special event on May 20. 

   Among those receiving the President’s Award recognizing outstanding professional or personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire is Laura Talley, former market President of BMO Harris Bank. Receiving a Lifetime Excellence Award, presented to alumni who have demonstrated longtime and successful commitment to their careers and communities, are Mike O'Meara, a founder of Holiday Vacations, owner of Peoples Bank Midwest, and board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Mike Rindo, recently retired UWEC Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations who also had a nearly 25-year career in broadcast journalism and newsroom management. Receiving the Honorary Alumnus Award to non-alumni or non-degreed alumni who have demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire or the greater community are Dr. Brady Foust and Jeanne Foust. Dr. Brady Foust spent 38 years at UW-Eau Claire and was the longtime chair of the geography department, and both of them are know of their expertise in the technology and business of geographic information systems (GIS).

   Talley and O'Meara have both previously served as Board Chairs for the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce.

More information:

Nine to receive UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association awards (UWEC)


EC School Board to hold organizational meeting

   At its meeting on Monday, the Eau Claire Board of Education will meet to conduct its post-election organizational activities, including the election of a Board President, Vice President, Clerk, and Treasurer. 

   For the past year, those officers included Tim Nordin as President, Lori Bica as Vice President, Marquell Johnson as Clerk, and Aaron Harder as Treasurer. Nordin and Johnson were reelected in April. Harder resigned from the Board earlier this year and did not seek reelection. This will be the first meeting for newly-elected member Stephanie Farrar.

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, May 2, Agenda packet

Eau Claire Board of Education

EC school board to nominate, elect 2022-2023 leadership (Leader-Telegram $)


Reduced tax rate in proposed CVTC budget

   The Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Board will vote on May 26 on a proposed 2022-23 budget that would lower the district's tax rate from the current $81.09 per $100,000 in equalized property value to $75.72. 

   The rate reduction comes as CVTC projects a lower overall budget for the next school year, following larger expenditures this year for its capital projects across the district, and a 6% overall increase in property values within the district. The total tax levy collected by the district would be down about 1% at $24 million.

More information: 

District Board information (CVTC)

CVTC proposes smaller budget, lower taxes (Leader-Telegram $)


More local news:


City of Eau Claire 2022 construction projects (City of Eau Claire)


Resurfacing planned for U.S. 12 in Eau Claire County (Leader-Telegram $)


A Look Inside: Rump’s Butcher Shoppe (WEAU 13 News)


E.C.’s Mayo Hospital on Newsweek’s ‘Best in the U.S.’ List (Volume One)


Northwestern Bank gives $225,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs (Leader-Telegram $)


Evers announces $20 million for multi-family housing

   Governor Tony Evers last week announced the allocation of $20 million in federal ARPA funds to help fill financing gaps for affordable multifamily developments that received 2020 and 2021 federal or state housing tax credits.

  The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) will work directly with its developer partners on a project-by-project basis to allocate the grant funds. The investment is projected to move forward approximately 1,800 affordable rental units throughout the state. Because of increased materials and labor costs, many approved projects have run into cost roadblocks in being able to complete financing needed to begin construction.

More information:

Gov. Evers Announces $20 Million Investment for Multifamily Housing Tax Credit Developments (Office of the Governor)

Details: New funding resource for 2020 and 2021 housing tax credit projects (WHEDA)

A new $20 million fund has been created to provide grants for affordable apartment developments throughout Wisconsin. (Journal-Sentinel +)


Marquette Poll: Race tightens for Democratic

US Senate nomination

Sen Kooyenga won't run for reelection, Michels enters Gov race

   A new Marquette Law School Poll survey released last week finds a tighter Democratic primary for U.S. Senate than in February. It also shows approval of how Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is handling his job as governor at 49% in April, with 43% disapproval. Favorability of other key figures was lower. 36% of respondents had a favorable view of Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, with 46% unfavorable; for President Joe Biden, 43% approved of the job he was doing, while 53% disapproved.

   In the US Senate Primary, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is supported by 19% of Democrats (including independents who lean Democratic) and independents who say they will vote in the Democratic primary, while Alex Lasry is supported by 16%. Sarah Godlewski is the choice of 7%, and Tom Nelson holds 5%. The other seven candidates received 1% or less support. However, 48% of primary voters remain undecided.

Another State Senate retirement, Michels announces for Governor

   State Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) announced Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election, becoming the seventh of 17 Senators whose seats are up in 2022 to retire from that body. 

   “It was my intent until recently to run for a second term in the State Senate,” Kooyenga wrote in a post on Facebook. “However, the politically tumultuous events of the past couple of months gave my family and me some time to reflect on the next four years.”

   Also last week, businessman Tim Michels made it official that he is running for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2022. He joins former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman Kevin Nicholson and State Rep. Timothy Ramthun in the race for the August 9 Primary.

More Marquette Poll and election information:

Marquette Poll analysis and data (Marquette University)

Video: Interview with poll director Charles Franklin (Wisconsin Eye)

Video: What polls reveal 6 months from the 2022 vote (PBS Wisconsin)

Poll shows growing pessimism among Wisconsin voters (AP)

Democratic US Senate primary tightens in latest Marquette poll (WPR)

Marquette Poll: Democratic Senate primary tightening as voters fret about inflation (Wisconsin State Journal +)

Marquette Poll shows Mandela Barnes, Alex Lasry in tight Democratic U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin (Journal-Sentinel +)

Republican Michels launches campaign for Wisconsin governor (AP)

Tim Michels says he'll refuse PAC money, casts himself as an outsider candidate in Republican field for Wisconsin governor (Journal-Sentinel $)

Kooyenga announces he won’t run again for state Senate seat (Waukesha Freeman +)

Wisconsin legislators call it quits at near-record pace (AP)

What’s Driving the Great Resignation Among Legislators? (Governing)


May 5: "Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse"

Drs. Cornel West and Robert George at UWEC presented by Menard Center for Constitutional Studies

   Two well known national political figures with very different views will be featured in a free May 5 event at UW-Eau Claire. The "Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse with Cornel West and Robert George" event will begin at 7 p.m. May 5 in the Ojibwe Grand Ballroom of Davies Center.

   UW-EC's Menard Center for Constitutional Studies will host the event, which will be a moderated conversation with a time for questions and answers. Dr. Eric Kasper, professor of political science and director of the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies, will moderate the conversation.

   "We are proud to host Drs. West and George on UW-Eau Claire's campus," Kasper says. "Despite their differences, both are champions of the freedom of expression and open inquiry. Through shared public events such as the one on our campus, these two longtime friends remind us that people with divergent views can have honest, thoughtful and respectful conversations about critical political and cultural issues."

More information:

Event registration link (Free, but advance registration required)

'Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse' topic of May 5 event at UW-Eau Claire (UWEC)

SPEAKING FREELY: Colleagues from Right, Left to Promote Civil Dialog at UWEC May 5 event (Volume One)

UW-EC event to focus on freedom of expression, civil discourse (Leader-Telegram $)


More state and regional news:


Gov. Evers’ plan to invest $282.9 million in Wisconsin’s infrastructure approved (WKOW)


Wisconsin manufacturers express cautious optimism about the future, survey shows (WPR)


PSC Expected To Award $100 Million For Broadband Expansion By Summer 2022 (Drydenwire)


La Crosse Schools eyes one of the largest referendums in state history to consolidate high schools (La Crosse Tribune +)


Wisconsin refugee agencies reflect on challenges, growth from intense effort to resettle Afghan evacuees (WPR)


Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Law Changes – 2022 (M3 Insurance)


National news:


The Fed’s favorite inflation gauge rose 5.2% in March as worker pay fell further behind (CNBC)


Jobless Claims Fell to 180,000 Amid Tight Labor Market (Wall Street Journal $)


Real GDP decreases 1.4% in first quarter (ABA Banking Journal)


Why the U.S. Leads the Developed World on Traffic Deaths (StreetsBlogUSA)


All Hat, No Cattle: House Hearing on Rising Meat Prices Lacks Substance (US Chamber of Commerce)

Rather than blaming American business for rising food prices, policymakers should remember that monetary policy remains the best tool for fighting inflation


COVID-19 Updates 

Fauci: US in ‘a different moment’ but pandemic not over (AP)

Why Dr. Fauci is saying the US is 'out of the pandemic phase' of COVID-19 (Journal-Sentinel +)

Chippewa County reports COVID-19 death (Leader-Telegram $)


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:


Working Mothers Luncheon

• Thursday, May 12, The Florian Gardens


Business at the Gardens

• Tuesday, May 17, The Florian Gardens


Sunset Reception

Honoring newly-elected public officials

• Tuesday, May 17, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Tackling Our Child Care Challenges

• Friday, May 20, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


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 (Tammy Baldwin 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


City of Altoona City calendar (with links to agendas)
Meeting and video links
Mayor and City Council Members

• Tuesday, May 10, 1 p.m. Altoona Housing Authority

• Tuesday, May 10, 5:30 p.m. Plan Commission

• Thursday, May 12, 6 p.m. City Council Meeting

• Thursday, May 12, 6:05 p.m. Public Hearing | Rezoning


City of Eau Claire Full calendar  
City Council Members (City of Eau Claire)
Link to video recordings of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)

 • Monday, May 2, 4:30 p.m. Landmarks Commission-Canceled

 • Monday, May 2, 7 p.m. Plan Commission

 • Monday, May 9, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, May 10, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Session

 • Tuesday, May 10, 7 p.m. Zoning Board of Appeals

 • Wednesday, May 11, 5 p.m. Housing Opportunities Commission


City of Augusta

City website
Village of Fall Creek
Village Board


Town of Washington
Town website
Altoona School District
Altoona School Board

• Monday, May 16, 6:30 p.m.

Eau Claire Area School District
Board of Education

• Monday, May 2, 6:30 p.m.


Augusta School District 
Augusta School Board


Fall Creek School District 
School Board


Chippewa Valley Technical College
District Board


Eau Claire County Full calendar

County Board District Maps
County Board District Representative 

Link to recordings of past meetings 

 • Monday, May 2, 5 p.m. Human Services Monthly Board Meeting

 • Tuesday, May 3, 7 p.m. County Board of Supervisors

 • Wednesday, May 4, 2 p.m. Highway Building Committee

 • Wednesday, May 4, 4 p.m. Committee on Judiciary & Law Enforcement

 • Monday, May 9, 3 p.m. ADRC Board Meeting

 • Thursday, May 5, 4 p.m. Groundwater Advisory Committee

 • Monday, May 9, 5 p.m. Committee on Park & Forest

 • Tuesday, May 10, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning & Development


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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