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Volume 6, Issue 1, May 22, 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


Welcome to the sixth year of the Business Advocate
   This week's newsletter is Volume 6, Issue 1, marking the beginning of the sixth year of the Chamber's Business Advocate weekly e-newsletter. Our goal is to cover the Chamber's advocacy activities, as well as to keep you informed of government policy issues that impact the economy and business environment. For more information about the Chamber's Advocacy Initiative, click here to see our Advocacy Principles and click here for our 2023 Business Issues Agenda.
omments, questions, and suggestions regarding the Business Advocate are always welcome. Email Scott Rogers, Vice President Governmental Affairs, at: rogers@eauclairechamber.org

Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce
Eau Claire Office Grand Opening
 Wednesday, May 24, 3:00-6:00 p.m., 101 N. Farwell St., Eau Claire
    Click here for details

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
   With the legislative session in full swing and biennial state budget deliberations nearing their deadline, we've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to give us an update and answer questions.
 • Friday, June 16, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

City Council President Reception
   The Chamber will host a reception in June for new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. 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

In this issue:
 • Eau Claire City Council to fill vacant District 1 seat
 • EC County committee reviewing updated zoning provisions
 • 2023-24 Chamber Governmental Affairs interns selected
 • Wisconsin state budget surplus revised slightly downward
 • Shared revenue debate continues
 • JFC includes Lake Altoona funding
 • National and economic stories
 • 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 to fill vacant District 1 seat this week
   At its Public Hearing session on Monday night, the Eau Claire City Council will hear presentations from the four candidates to fill the vacant City Council District 1 seat. It will then vote at its Tuesday Legislative Session on the appointment to fill the rest of the three-year term until April 2024. The seat became vacant when former District 1 Council Member Emily Berge was elected this past April to the City Council President position. The new Council Member will take office on June 12.
   The four candidates are Joshua Zeug, Jessica Schoen, Randall DeMars, and Nicholas Webber. The Council also conducted 15-minute interviews with each candidate, which are now posted on the City's website.
   Click here to see the City's Council Vacancy website, which includes information about the candidates and links to the video interviews.
   Monday's Public Hearing agenda also includes public discussion on parking changes at certain locations on Harris Street near Nestle, on Wisconsin Street between Dewey and Farwell, and on Dewey next to the public library.
Study session on ending homelessness
   Following Monday's meeting, the Council will have a 20-minute study session to discuss issues around ending homelessness in the community, to be led by Carrie Poser, Director of the Wisconsin Balance of State Continuum of Care. (See pages 20-36 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below.)
Purchase and Development Agreement for Barstow Street Liner Site
   In addition to voting on the District 1 Council appointment, Tuesday's Legislative Agenda includes authorization for the City Manager to amend the Purchase and Development Agreement with Merge Urban Development to update the closing date for its project at 126 N. Barstow St. to September 2023.
   The change was discussed and recommended by the Redevelopment Authority (RDA) at its meeting last Wednesday. The site is next to the North Barstow Parking Ramp at Barstow and Riverfront Terrace, next to the Eau Claire Children's Museum and across the street from Andante, the apartment building Merge opened last September. Merge also has a development agreement with the City to build workforce housing above the nearly-completed Transit Center on Farwell Street. That project is expected to begin construction this year. The Liner Site activity was delayed while Merge and the City negotiated the Transit Center agreement.
Tuesday Work Session on parking policies, technology, and staffing
   After its Tuesday Legislative Session, the Council will hold a Work Session to review the findings of its 2019 parking study, and consider implementation of new parking technology, paid parking downtown, permit parking in certain neighborhoods, and parking enforcement staffing. (See page 125 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below. Also: 2019 Parking Study Update [City of Eau Claire])
RDA to pursue two sites on southwest side
   Also at its meeting last Wednesday, the RDA decided to consider two sites on Eau Claire's southwest side for potential future redevelopment activities. They include the strip mall just west of the former Shopko site, considered a short-term project, and industrial land along the Chippewa River south of I-94 along the Chippewa River State Trail.
Jaggar named new Eau Claire Fire Chief
    The City’s Police and Fire Commission last Thursday named Matt Jaggar as Eau Claire’s new fire chief. Jaggar has been with the department for over 24 years. He replaces Chris Bell, who retired.

More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, May 22, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (36 pages)
 • Tuesday, May 23, Legislative Session Agenda Packet (125 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)
PFAS work drives up city's plan for '24 capital projects (Leader-Telegram $)
Causes championed by Eau Claire leaders see funding fall as city faces financial constraints (Leader-Telegram $)
RDA sets sights on Eau Claire's southwest side (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire names new fire chief (Leader-Telegram $)
New Fire Chief of Eau Claire Fire Department appointed (WEAU 13 News)
Deputy announced as next Eau Claire Fire Chief (WQOW News 18)

Chamber reception for new City Council President
   The Chamber will host a reception in June for new City Council President Emily Berge, who was elected in April. We also expect to invite the new District 1 City Council member, who takes office the week before. 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
Additional information:
Madame President: Emily Berge Takes Helm as E.C. City Council President (Volume One)

EC County Planning & Development Committee meets again this week on zoning code updates
   The Eau Claire County Planning & Development Committee meets on Tuesday evening this week. Its agenda includes a continuation of the Public Hearing from its May 9 meeting regarding a comprehensive update of the county zoning code that is currently underway.
Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) had expressed concerns about a provision included in the proposed Eau Claire County zoning code update that would require subdivisions to have shared drinking water systems and/or shared wastewater treatment systems if they have lots smaller than 1.5 acres. CVHBA Executive Officer Christina Thrun says her organization supports encouraging developers to use these types of systems whenever possible, but mandating them in all circumstances could be a deterrent to homeowners and may create an adverse impact on creating new housing supply in the County. CVHBA says among its concerns are added costs and developer risk, the necessity of setting up Homeowner Association (HOAs) that may be undesirable to buyers, that such systems are not right for all topography, and may discourage conservation-oriented designs with set asides and small home lots. Thrun spoke at the May 9 hearing, along with CVHBA President Pat Smith, and builders Neil Haselwander and Paul Holzinger. Chamber VP Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers also spoke and provided a letter supporting CVHBA's concerns.
   During the hearing and discussion, the comments were well received by the committee and County Director of Planning & Development Rod Eslinger. He said staff members are in discussions with the Health Department and Board of Health regarding the best ways to ensure environmental requirement for new housing in the county. The committee voted to continue the public hearing to its next meeting on May 23.
More information:
Eau Claire County Committee on Planning & Development
 • Tuesday, May 23, Agenda Packet (
23 pages)
Summary of proposed zoning code changes (Eau Claire County)
View the Comprehensive Zoning Code Update (Eau Claire County)
Chamber letter (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Chamber Governmental Affairs Interns named for 2023-24
   Mallory Williams and Leah Brawdy have been selected by the Chamber for its 2023-24 Governmental Affairs Internships.
   Williams, from Elk River, MN, will be a Junior at UW-Eau Claire, and is continuing for a second year as a Chamber Intern. Joining her will be Leah Brawdy, also a Junior, who is from Chippewa Falls.
   If you've attended an Eggs & Issues breakfast, participated in the Chippewa Valley Rally, or simply read this newsletter each week, you've benefited from the work of the Chamber's two Governmental Affairs Interns. The other 2022-23 intern, Emily Johnston, graduated this past Saturday with a degree in Political Science and Psychology.
   The Chamber began the Governmental Affairs internship with UW-Eau Claire in the 1997-98 school year and has now had a total of 30 interns fill this position. In recent weeks, Emily and Mallory were in touch with past interns, and created a compilation showing what many of them are doing now and the value they received by working with the Chamber:
Where are they Now? Former interns reflect on their time at the Chamber (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

More local stories:

Billy Felz named UWEC vice chancellor for enrollment management (UWEC)

Small Business Development Center schedules Small Business Clinics

Local developers' lawsuit against Blugold Real Estate pushes on
(Leader-Telegram $)

2023 Music Festival Season: Here’s What to Look For
(Volume One)

Summer Means Music in the Park(s) (Volume One)

Eau Claire library shows off its outdoor spaces
(Leader-Telegram $)

Festival Foods, Menard Inc. fight over parking lot
(Leader-Telegram $)

Farmers Union Plans Food Hall, Event Space in New Chippewa Falls HQ
(Volume One)

UK company planning to open battery facility in former EOG Resources sand plant
(Leader-Telegram $)

Chippewa Economic Development Corp. works with British firm to bring investment, jobs to Chippewa Falls
(Volume One)

Leadership Eau Claire applications open through June 2
   The Eau Claire Chamber Educational Foundation is accepting applications for our Leadership Eau Claire™ Class of 2024.
   The goal of the program is to enhance participants’ community knowledge and leadership qualities through skill-building exercises, activities, and educational days. During the nine-month program, participants discuss the issues facing the community, develop the leadership skills necessary to assume leadership roles & are provided with opportunities to be further involved in our community.
   Click here for full information. Application deadline is June 2.


Wisconsin surplus forecast dips slightly, still nearly $7 billion
   The Legislative Fiscal Bureau last week released its latest projection of state tax collections through mid-2025. Despite a lower projection, lower expected expenditures resulted in a revised estimated surplus of $6.9 billion vs. the previous estimate of $7.1 billion.
More information:
LFB Fiscal estimates (Legislative Fiscal Bureau)
Wisconsin’s budget forecast dips slightly, still projected to be near $7 billion surplus (AP)

Debate continues over shared revenue changes
Assembly passes revised legislation
   Despite wide agreement among state leaders that changes need to be made to fix shared revenue from the state to local governments, both houses of the Legislature and the Governor are still debating the details. The State Assembly passed a bill last week, while the State Senate leadership is not completely on board, and the Governor says it is too small and too restrictive. The two articles below provide a good synopsis of where the debate stands and the details of the current proposals.
More information:
Here's where things stand on an effort to boost local government funding in Wisconsin (WPR)
The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a shared revenue bill. Where does the money go? (The Recombobulation Area)
There's a lot of talk of Milwaukee going 'bankrupt.' It's more complicated than that. (Journal-Sentinel $)

Joint Finance Committee passes funds for Lake Altoona
Meeting twice weekly to work through budget
   The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) continues meeting this week, with sessions scheduled on Tuesday covering Workforce Development, Insurance, Veterans Affairs, Higher Educational Aids Board, Wisconsin Technical College System; and on Thursday covering Revenue, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Employee Trust Funds, Military Affairs and Miscellaneous Appropriations.
   During its session last Tuesday covering 
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Environmental Improvement Fund and Natural Resources, JFC accepted a budget motion authored by Rep. Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek) to designate $500,000 for a bedload sediment collector project for Lake Altoona. According the Lake Altoona District Board Chair Michele Skinner, the bedload collector will reduce and/or eliminate the need for expensive sand trap maintenance that cost the district $225,000 or more each of the past two years. The proposed budget appropriation still leaves a funding gap, which the district will continue to pursue through federal or other sources.
   Budget motions passed by JFC, like the Altoona funding, will next go to both houses of the Legislature as part of JFC's proposed budget. Once passed, the budget must also be signed by Governor Evers. The next state fiscal year begins on July 1, which is the goal for having the budget completed.
More information:
Background: Lake Altoona getting new tech to remove sand, but first must find funding for start-up costs (Leader-Telegram $)
Tuesday, May 23, Hearing Notice (JFC)
Thursday, May 25, Hearing Notice (JFC)
State Sen. Smith hosting budget talks in district (Leader-Telegram $)
JFC approves $125 million to fight PFAS (WisPolitics.com)
GOP proposes $125 million to address 'forever chemicals' in Wisconsin, spending of funds unclear (Wisconsin State Journal +)
Wisconsin Republicans propose raises for public defenders, prosecutors (AP)
Dunn Co. asks Legislature for Heritage Hall renovation funding (Leader-Telegram $)

Innovation Coalition pushes for expanded R&D credit
   Last Wednesday, members of the Innovation Coalition, a group of businesses, industry stakeholders, and chambers of commerce led by Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce (WMC), met with legislators to discuss the importance of research & development (R&D) in Wisconsin and to advocate for the budget proposal to make Wisconsin’s research credit 50% refundable. The credit is currently 15% refundable. Wisconsin has 45,000 R&D jobs and in 2019 the private sector invested $5.68 billion in R&D in Wisconsin. Making Wisconsin’s refundable credit more competitive is important to retain and attract high-skill, high-wage jobs and help boost further R&D investment, of which 69% of R&D costs in the United States are attributed to labor.
   As the state continues its work on the biennial budget, WMC will continue its efforts to advocate for increased R&D credit refundability and promote this wise investment in Wisconsin-based R&D and the multiplier effect it has for the state.
  If you have questions or are interested in joining the 30+ members of the coalition, contact Evan Umpir, Director of Tax, Transportation, and Legal affairs at eumpir@wmc.org.

More state and regional stories:

Republicans: Address affordable housing delays citing ‘not in my backyard’ movement (The Daily Reporter)

Bipartisan housing bills aim to close Wisconsin’s massive affordable housing gap
(Wisconsin Examiner)

GOP bill would raise penalties for not stopping for school buses in Wisconsin
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin unemployment rate reaches another new low

Wisconsin rail plan calls for expanding service to eleven communities

State projects passenger rail expansion could draw 250,000 new riders within a decade
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wauwatosa may start charging property owners based on road use. Here's what we know so far.
(Journal-Sentinel $)

Republican lawmakers to let weakened PFAS regulations take effect for Wisconsin
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Marsy’s Law was valid ballot question, law stands

Milwaukee 2024 GOP Convention Host Committee: Ted Kellner Tapped as New CEO

Report: 3 Wisconsinites involved in fundraising effort that deceived donors
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Judge not inclined to shut down pipeline, pleads with Wisconsin tribe to work with oil company

Wisconsin's Kwik Trip voted #1 gas station in the country

Green Bay named best place to live by U.S. News & World Report

Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2023-2024
(Top 150 metros in pop, US News & World Report)

The Trade hotel opens in downtown Milwaukee’s Deer District

Downtown Milwaukee Kohl's expected to open by fall

Report: Manufacturers continue to be one of metro Milwaukee’s largest employers

Drone manufacturer Menet Aero moves HQ from Illinois to Oak Creek

Duluth-Twin Cities passenger rail funded in Minnesota transportation budget deal
(Superior Telegram +)

Minnesota Legislature OKs bill to boost transportation funding with gas tax hike, new package delivery fee
(TwinCities.com +)

Mississippi River shipping infrastructure is aging. Who should pay for the repairs?
(Wisconsin Watch)


National and economic stories:

Biden, McCarthy to speak on debt limit; talks stalled as Republicans seek deep spending cuts

Discontent Grows on the Fringes Over Potential Debt Deal
(The Dispatch)

Sen. Tim Scott makes it official: He’s a Republican candidate for president

US weekly jobless claims fall; labor market defying recession fears

Minneapolis Fed chief Kashkari open to pause in interest-rate hikes amid inflation fight
(Fox Business)

Existing-Home Sales Faded 3.4% in April
(National Assn of Realtors)

Home sales fell in April as buyers contended with high prices, fluctuating mortgage rates

G7 ends with Ukraine in focus as Zelenskyy meets world leaders and Russia claims disputed gains

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

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

COVID-19 Updates 

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

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, June 16, CVTC Business Education Center

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

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

Chamber & CVTC Business Community Breakfast

 • Tuesday, Sep 12

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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