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Volume 5, Issue 37, Jan 30, 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



29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

Organized by the Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance - the Chippewa Falls, Menomonie and Eau Claire Chambers of Commerce. Bringing the collective voice of Chippewa Valley business and community leaders to Madison. With the state budget on the line, it's an especially important year to talk about workforce issues, tax reform, infrastructure, and critical UW-System capital projects at UWEC and UW-Stout.  

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023, Madison

   Click here for details and to register

   Chippewa Valley Rally Will be a Capitol Time (Volume One)


Eggs & Issues: "State of the City - Eau Claire" 

The Chamber's annual 'State of the City' address. City Council President Terry Weld and City Manager Stephanie Hirsch will recap highlights from 2022 and take a look ahead at the City's challenges and plans for 2023.

 • Friday, Feb 17, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center at the Confluence

    Click here for more details and to register


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Mar 31, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center

    Click here for more details and to register

In this issue: 

 • Weld named Chamber's Public Employee of the Year

 • City Council approves town homes zoning, "no mow May"

 • Federal corridor program eyed for area passenger rail

 • Evers delivers "State of the State" Address

 • Chippewa Valley Rally issue statements confirmed

 • 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 "+"


Terry Weld named Chamber "Public Employee of the Year"

   Current Eau Claire City Council President Terry Weld was named "Public Employee of the Year" by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce at its 108th Annual Meeting last Wednesday at the Pablo Center.

   The award is given annually to recognize an individual who combines their professional public service with a demonstrated dedication and positive impact for the community. Weld, who has chosen not to seek reelection this Spring, became City Council President in a Special Election in 2019 and was reelected to a full three-year term in 2020. He previously served two years as an At-Large City Council Member, as was on the Plan Commission for six years.

   Other Chamber Annual Meeting award winners were: Aaron Libner, Coulee Tech, Volunteer of the Year; Hannah Connor, CVTC, Outstanding Young Professional; and Ryan Ludy, Prevail Bank, Glassbrenner-Klinkhammer Spirit Award for Ambassador of the Year.


EC City Council: Approves town homes zoning, "no mow May"

   At its meetings last week, the Eau Claire City Council approved an ordinance to allow for an optional "no mow May" for homeowners (see pages 62-65 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below), and a proposed rezoning and general development agreement for a multi-family project proposed by Haselwander Properties at 3421 Cypress St. at its intersection with Hamilton Ave. Currently vacant, the 2.8 acre property would be developed into 36 town homes over five buildings (pages 42-61). It also approved road construction projects for Fairfax Street, the South Hastings Way Frontage Road, and North Hastings Place (see pages 25-41 of the Monday Agenda Packet).

   Following Tuesday's meeting, the Council held a study session about the City's plan to rewrite its Zoning Code (see pages 97-104 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet).

More information:

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Jan 23, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (72 pages)

 • Tuesday, Jan 24, Legislative Session Agenda Packet (104 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 alleys almost all up to snuff (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire relaxing ordinance for No Mow May (Leader-Telegram $)

City of Eau Claire updates progress toward clean energy goal (Leader-Telegram $)


Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission, WisDOT expected to apply for federal corridor program to bring passenger trains to area

   At the Annual Meeting of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition last Thursday in Eau Claire speakers from WisDOT, Amtrak, contract passenger train operators, and the High Speed Rail Alliance expressed optimism about our area's eligibility for a new federal corridor program that could bring passenger trains to the Chippewa Valley.

   "Our long-time efforts to secure passenger rail service are coming closer than ever to reality," notes Scott Rogers, Chair of the Rail Coalition. "With the implementation of the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced its program to designate corridors to become eligible for federal planning and development funding."

   The Coalition has been working the the recently-created Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission and WisDOT to pursue two serious proposals that would bring passenger trains to our communities, including: 1. The development of a regional intercity corridor between Eau Claire and the Twin Cities through Menomonie, Baldwin, and Hudson/River Falls, and 2. Plans for through Amtrak service from Chicago and Milwaukee to the Twin Cities that would be routed via Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Hudson. The Commission was formed by Dunn, Eau Claire, and St. Croix Counties and the municipalities of Altoona, Baldwin, Eau Claire, Hudson, Menomonie, and New Richmond, to serve the public interest by pursuing passenger rail service to the area.

March 20 deadline for applications

    At last week's meeting, details were shared about anticipated applications to the FRA corridor program that would include not only the Chippewa-St. Croix corridor, but also services to the Fox Cities, Green Bay, and Madison. Speakers included Lisa Stern, Chief of Railroads and Harbors, Wisconsin Department of Transportation; Arun Rao, Director, Network Development, Amtrak; Ray Chambers, Executive Director, Association for Innovative Passenger Rail Operations (AIPRO), and Rick Harnish, Executive Director, High Speed Rail Alliance.

   Acceptance into the FRA corridor program would bring with it $500,000 in federal planning grants for each corridor to determine the feasibility and economic benefits that train service would provide and to determine next steps.

Business supporters sought for sign-on statement

   To strengthen Wisconsin's case for passenger rail expansion, the Business Coalition for Passenger Rail is seeking businesses and business organizations to sign on to a statement supporting further planning and study. Organizers of the Business Coalition include the Greater Green Bay Chamber, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Area Chamber, the Madison Region Economic Partnership, and the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce. Some of the initial signers have included Ayres Associates, Royal Credit Union, the Green Bay Packers, Bellin Health, Schneider National, Festival Foods, Findorff construction, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison, SupraNet Communications, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, Momentum West, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Association, the Oshkosh Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Visit Eau Claire. 
More information:

Business Sign-On Statement: Wisconsin Passenger Rail Support

Plans for passenger rail service in Eau Claire moving forward (WQOW New 18)

West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition gathers for annual meeting (WEAU 13 News)


EC School Board: Audit report, 2023-24 calendar

   At its meeting last Monday, the Eau Claire Area School District Board of Education received its annual audit report from Clifton Larson Allen, which reported that the District is considered to be in “strong financial standing.” The District's top revenue sources were $60.8 million from property taxes, $75.8 million from state and federal aid, and $36.3 million from services, grants and contributions. For 2020-2021 expenditures, 47.7% were for instruction, 22.6% for administration and central services, 9.6% for pupil and instructional services, and 20% for other expenses.

   The Board also adopted its academic calendar for 2023-24. Classes will begin Sep 1 and end on June 5, with Thanksgiving break the week of Nov. 20, Winter Break will fall the week of Dec 25 through Jan 2, and 2024 Spring Break the week of Mar 25. 

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

• Monday, Jan 23, Agenda Packet

Board of Education members and information

ECASD Academic Calendar 2022-23 (ECASD)

ECASD Academic Calendar 2023-24 (ECASD)

EC school spending neared $144.4M in 2020-21 (Leader-Telegram $)


More local stories:


Lake Altoona getting new tech to remove sand, but first must find funding for start-up costs (Leader-Telegram $)


Visit Eau Claire announces grants for Tourism and Cultural Arts organizations (WEAU 13 News)


Chippewa Fresh Start unveils new Fall Creek house built by at-risk youth program (Leader-Telegram $)

'I feel pretty proud': At-risk young adults build new house (WQOW News 18)


Valley Sports Academy announces 3,500 seat arena including ice for hockey (Valley Sports Academy)


Gov Tony Evers delivers 2023 "State of the State" Address

   Newly reelected Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers delivered his annual "State of the State" address last Tuesday evening to a joint session of the Wisconsin Legislature. Evers emphasized new state commitments to mental health, shared revenue, workforce development, childcare and remediation of PFAS chemicals.

   In his remarks, Evers suggested earmarking 20% of state sales taxes to go to local governments, and devoting $340 million to support childcare and and additional $30 million to expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. 

   The Democratic Governor's proposals are part of deliberations now underway towards enactment of a 2023-25 state budget that must pass a Republican Legislature before being signed into law. The Governor is scheduled to deliver his budget address on Feb 15. Policymakers go into the budget cycle with a projected $7.1 billion state surplus.

More information:

Text: Gov. Evers Delivers 2023 State of the State Address (Office of the Governor)

Video: State of the State Address (C-SPAN, 42:17)

Gov. Tony Evers calls for $500M to promote mental health during annual State of the State address (WPR)

Evers promises a tax cut, compromise to increase funding (AP)

Area legislators respond to Evers' State of State address (Leader-Telegram $)

EXPLAINER: Where Wisconsin governor and Republicans agree (AP)

Wisconsin's projected budget surplus hits $7.1B (WPR)

Tax cuts, education reform and marijuana. What to expect in the upcoming Wisconsin state budget debate. (Journal-Sentinel $)


Chippewa Valley Rally issue statements confirmed

29th annual event is Feb 22 in Madison

   The issue statements for the 29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally in Madison have now been confirmed. Topics for this year will focus especially on workforce challenges: housing supply and affordability; talent attraction and retention; child care availability, and professional licensing backlogs; infrastructure investments including broadband, the electric vehicle charging network, and passenger rail expansion; and critical UW System capital projects, including UWEC's Science & Health Sciences Building and UW-Stout's Heritage Hall. Rally participants will follow up on past issues, including the sale of excess public land in Chippewa Falls for economic development. And the Rally will encourage lawmakers to consider tax reforms - opportunities to reduce or eliminate the state income and personal property taxes, but also to address the financial squeeze on local governments and school districts. See the link below to read the full statements for each topic area. 

   This annual event is organized by the Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance, representing the Chippewa Falls, Menomonie and Eau Claire Chambers of Commerce. It's a unique opportunity to bring the collective voice of Chippewa Valley business and community leaders like you to Madison all at one time.

More information:

Chippewa Valley Rally Will be a Capitol Time (Volume One)

29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023, Madison

    Click here for details and to register

    Click here to read the full 2023 Issues Statements


More state and regional stories:


Candidate Q&A: Wisconsin Supreme Court (Wisconsin State Journal +)


DNR Board now controlled by Evers appointees (AP)


UW System decision to end in-person classes at UW-Platteville Richland faces pushback (WisBusiness.com)

Community members brainstorm how to save UW-Richland at town hall meeting (WPR)


Briggs & Stratton laying off 160 workers at Wauwatosa plant as production lines are relocated (BizTimes)


Wisconsin no longer leads the nation in farm bankruptcies (WPR)


Gov. Tim Walz says Minnesota needs $3.3 billion worth of projects and repairs (Pioneer Press +)


National and economic stories:


US Chamber: FTC exceeds authority for proposed non-compete ban (US Chamber of Commerce)


Video: A Candid Conversation with Ron Kind (Leader Ethics, YouTube, 1 hr)

Ron Kind discusses the future direction of democracy (WXOW News 19)


McDaniel wins reelection as RNC chair in contentious election (The Hill)


Key Fed inflation measure eased in December while consumer spending also declined (CNBC)


Key Inflation Gauge Cools Further, Paving Way for Smaller Fed Rate Hike (Bloomberg +)


Schumer plots debt ceiling course against McCarthy: ‘We’ll win’ (Politico)


McCarthy says he wants "reasonable" debt ceiling deal, will meet with Biden on Wednesday (CBS News)


Yellen warns of debt ceiling "catastrophe" for U.S. and beyond (Axios)


Economic Viewpoints - current key indicators (US Chamber of Commerce)


The Flip Side: Collection of Right and Left viewpoints on national issues


COVID-19 Updates 


WHO says Covid remains a global emergency but pandemic could near its end in 2023 (CNBC)


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:


Governor's Budget Address - Gov Tony Evers

 • Wednesday, February 15, 7 p.m., State Capitol


Eggs & Issues: State of the City -Eau Claire

 • Friday, Feb 17, Pablo Center at the Confluence


Spring Primary Election

Election 2023: Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

• Tuesday, Feb 21


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Madison


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Feb 17, Pablo Center at the Confluence


Spring Non-Partisan Election

Election 2023: Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

• Tuesday, April 4 


Business Salutes Eau Claire Annual Golf Outing

• Monday, August 7, 2023


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