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Volume 6, Issue 11, July 31, 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


Eggs & Issues: What's next - The impact of the UWEC’s Science & Health Sciences Building and community partnerships
   Now that the state budget has approved full funding of the long-sought UWEC Science & Health Sciences Building, learn about next steps and the opportunities this creates for the future of the university’s partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System. We'll also discuss the broader impact of UWEC's community partnerships for the public good, with updates on its WEDC Workforce Innovation Grant; the County Materials Complex; and collaborations with area businesses.
 • Friday, Aug 18, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
Click here for details and to register

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
   With the 2023-25 state budget now enacted, but with some state issues still pending, we've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to join us for an update and to answer questions submitted by participants. We'll get a recap and perspective on how key regional economic priorities fared in the budget, and discuss still-pending issues like childcare, potential tax cuts, etc.  
 • Friday, Sep 29, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Also for your calendar:
 • Monday, Aug 7, Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 14, Business After Hours
 • Tuesday, Sep 12, Chamber & CVTC Business Community Breakfast
 • Thursday Sep 21, Bravo to Business Awards

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-4:30p, Friday 8a-Noon
Lobby Hours: Mon-Thu 9a-3p, Friday 9a-Noon

In this issue:
 • EC City Council enacts $24 Vehicle Registration Fee
 • Eggs & Issues: Local economic development leaders provide project updates
 • Plan Commission: Trubilt expansion, Hope Gospel school
 • Marshfield Clinic, Essentia announce merger
 • Wisconsin Policy Forum: More high school students earning college credit
 • National and economic stories
 • Mark your calendar
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


EC City Council adopts $24 annual vehicle registration fee
   The Eau Claire City Council last Tuesday voted 7-2 to adopt a $24 annual Local Vehicle Registration Fee, with the revenue raised to fund a specific set of ten street projects. This was a revised proposal from the proposed $30 fee that failed on a tie vote at the Council's March 14 meeting. The new measure was proposed by Council Members Emily Anderson and Andrew Werthmann, who voted against the March proposal. In addition to Anderson and Werthmann, those voting for the fee were Council Members Emily Anderson, Emily Berge, Kate Felton, Jeremy Gragert, Charlie Johnson, and Jessica Schoen. Voting no were Council Members Jill Christopherson and Larry Mboga. Council Members Roderick Jones and Joshua Miller were absent. Before the final vote, a motion to set a December 31, 2026, sunset date failed 4-5.
   The fee is expected to generate $1.2 million per year from over 53,000 registered vehicles in the City.  Some vehicles are exempt from the fee, including commercial vehicles over 8,000 pounds. It will become effective in a few weeks.(See pages 67-68 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below, which includes the list of proposed street projects.)
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, July 24, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (69 pages)
 • Tuesday, July 25, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (135 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 considering wheel tax month after state shared revenue deal was signed (WPR)
Council hears input on wheel tax (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire City Council adopts $24 wheel tax (Leader-Telegram $)
Retailers again sue Eau Claire to lower tax bills (Leader-Telegram $)
Marshfield Clinic sues city for property tax exemption of Eau Claire Campus (Leader-Telegram $)

Eggs & Issues: Local economic development leaders provide project updates
   The Chamber's July 28 Eggs & Issues breakfast featured updates from four local leaders of economic development activities about their current projects, challenges and opportunities.

   Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat noted that his city's River Prairie development is now full, with much of his development priorities focused on recent annexations to the east and northeast of the city for housing expansion. He also touted the "The Yard," the ARPA funded shipping container development bringing additional life to the traditional downtown.
   Aaron White, Community Development Director for the City of Eau Claire, provided a long list of commercial and housing projects underway or about to break ground throughout the city. Highlights included housing projects not only downtown, but also major developments to the west, southeast, northwest, northeast, and the former ShopKo Plaza area. Downtown infill includes projects underway on the large "Block 7" at Barstow and Galloway, with the Menomonie Market Food Co-op building nearing completion and Goeff Moeding's 110-unit apartment building getting underway.
   Luke Hanson, Executive Director, Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation, focused on industrial development and growth, especially in the Gateway Industrial Park. He emphasized that "economic development is a slow play," often taking many years to take a project from its initial stages to fruition. He also noted new housing efforts underway in Augusta and Fall Creek, and bringing broadband connections to unserved rural areas of Eau Claire County.
   Benny Anderson, Executive Director of Visit Eau Claire, addressed ways that attracting visitors to the city positively impacts attracting talent to the area and providing quality of life attributes. Earlier this month, his organization brought over 300 travel media creators and writers to Eau Claire to show off the region. Many of the attendees of the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) have already posted positive stories about visiting the community.
More information:
Eggs & Issues: Presentation visuals (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Ongoing growth in Eau Claire, Altoona touted Friday morning by panel (Leader-Telegram $)
TBEX Conferences (TBEX)

TBEX follow up - From Kayaks to Conferences: A Memorable Sojourn in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Mike's Road Trip blog)
Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin, Eau Claire is a hidden gem that elegantly fuses the serenity of the Midwest with the pulsating rhythm of a cultural hotbed. I had the good fortune to explore this multifaceted city while attending a TBEX conference, a prominent gathering for the travel industry. As I delved deeper into the fabric of Eau Claire, I was continually charmed by its unique blend of business and leisure, nature and nightlife, and local flavors and global influences.

Click here to continue reading...

August 5 deadline...
Online survey: Eau Claire Zoning Code Update
   The City of Eau Claire is looking for public input on its new zoning code update process with an online survey now available.
  The City has begun a process to update the zoning code with a project the City 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."
More information:
Century Code Update project website (City of Eau Claire)
 Click this link to take the survey:
 Public survey - Zoning Code Rewrite - deadline Aug 5 (City of Eau Claire)

EC Plan Commission: Trubilt expansion, Hope Gospel School rezonings
   The Eau Claire Plan Commission meets Monday evening, with an agenda that includes recommendations to the City Council for rezonings to allow Trubilt Collision Center to undertake an expansion of its facilities along Harding Avenue (see pages 22-35 of the Agenda Packet linked below), and for Hope Gospel Mission to build a school building at 2712 Mercantile Drive, next to its other facilities in the area (see pages 4-21).
   The Commission's agenda also includes conditional use permits for bed and breakfasts at 3719 Rudolph Rd (pages 36-47) and 431 N Farwell (pages 48-55), as well as a conditional use permit for a vehicle sales and service business at 1037 Starr Ave (pages 56-63).
More information:
Eau Claire Plan Commission
Plan Commission 2023 Work Program
 • Monday, July 31, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet (63 pages)

Marshfield Clinic, Essentia announce merger
   Duluth-based Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic last Thursday announced plans for the two major health systems to merge.
   In addition to Marshfield's hospitals and clinics in Wisconsin and upper Michigan, Essential has 14 hospitals and 78 clinics in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Overall, the combined system would include 3,800 providers. Its total of 150 sites of care would include 25 hospitals. The merger must still navigate regulatory approval before becoming effective.
More information:
Chippewa Valley hospitals, clinics part of planned merger (Leader-Telegram $)
Essentia, Wisconsin-based Marshfield enter merger agreement (Duluth News-Tribune +)
Essentia Health Enters Merger Agreement with Marshfield Clinic Health System (Lakeland PBS)

Alleged Lake Altoona polluter appears in court as residents fill courtroom
   A Milwaukee area man who owns an inactive landfill in the Town of Washington appeared in court last Wednesday on charges of illegally pumping polluted water into Sixmile Creek, a tributary of the Eau Claire River and Lake Altoona. Daniel J. Burns III of Cedarburg is owner of the landfill that closed in 2007. 
   Several dozen residents of the Lake Altoona area filled the gallery of the Eau Claire County Courtroom at the urging of Lake Altoona District Board Chair Michelle Skinner. The next court date is August 29. 
More information: 
Lake Altoona worries about pollution from former landfill (Leader-Telegram $)
Inactive landfill owner facing polluting charges, accused of dumping in Sixmile Creek (WQOW News 18)
Lake Altoona residents say they are victims in pollution case (WQOW News 18)

More local stories:

Eau Claire County Seeks 2024 Budget Response From Community Via Survey
(Volume One)

University enrollment continues to grow in Eau Claire after pandemic
(WQOW News 18)

Parent, WILL sue Eau Claire school district over transgender document
(Leader-Telegram $)

National Night Out Events Planned Around Valley Aug. 1
(Volume One)

Aug 1 National Night Out connects law enforcement with community
(WQOW News 18)

The 15th annual Chalkfest held at UW-Eau Claire
(WEAU 13 News)

Chalkfest draws artists, admirers to UWEC
(Leader-Telegram $)

The ColorBlock Project continues to bring color to the Chippewa Valley
(WEAU 13 News)

Pablo Foundation Moves to New Grant Cycle Schedule, Opens Fall Cycle
(Volume One)

L. E. Phillips Career Development Center hires employees of all abilities
(WQOW News 18)

New hotel gains final approval in Chippewa Falls
(Leader-Telegram $)

Mondovi Business Association helps storefronts expand and thrive
(WEAU 13 News)

Gov. Evers Joins Chippewa County, WisDOT to Open Cobban Bridge Over the Chippewa River
(Office of the Governor)

Chippewa Falls: Hope Village getting ready for next phase of housing projects
(Leader-Telegram $)

Community Health Survey open:
Chippewa Valley Community Health Survey (Community Health Assessment Partnership)
Chippewa Valley residents encouraged to take ‘Chippewa Valley Community Health Survey’ (WEAU 13 News)
Public input sought in Chippewa Valley health survey (Leader-Telegram $)



Wisconsin Policy Forum: More high school students earning college credit 
   A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum has found that a quarter of Wisconsin’s high school students earned some college credit in a dual enrollment program during the 2021-22 school year. The two-fold increase in students over the past decade represents a substantial potential savings of time and money for students and families, but better data collection and analysis is needed to determine how these programs affect students’ readiness for the workforce or higher education.
  Locally, Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) has been actively growing its dual credit programs with high schools in its district, including its High School Academy program that makes it possible for high school students to graduate with an associate degree at the same time they receive their high school diploma.
More information:
Full Report - Earning Extra Credit (Wisconsin Policy Forum)
Earn College Credit in High School (CVTC)
Nearly 25 percent of Wisconsin high school students earn college credits through dual enrollment (WPR)
More high schoolers are earning college credit in Wisconsin (Journal-Sentinel +)

More state and regional stories: 

Wisconsin legislature budget highlights
(Hudson Star-Observer)

Moms of dyslexic children helped push passage of new reading reform law in Wisconsin

Republican bill would eliminate sales taxes on diapers and other child care products
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsinites can use new website to find free, discounted internet service

A year after its creation, Tony Evers' Office of Environmental Justice remains a mystery
(Journal-Sentinel +)

WEDC is providing $81,000 to the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for a broadband study

UW Health: Plans additions to University Hospital, East Madison Hospital

New flights, and an expansion project, boost Appleton Airport to another record busy year
(Appleton Post-Crescent +)

'This is our Super Bowl': Half a million visitors expected in Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture

Green Bay paper mill becomes first certified as net zero for water use

The Hop streetcar hits fourth highest ridership total ever during busy festival season

Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel to undergo extensive renovations with expected completion in Spring 2024

Foxconn manufacturing microinverters for California company at Mount Pleasant facility

Superior refinery still hasn't resumed full operations


National and economic stories:

GDP grew at a 2.4% pace in the second quarter, topping expectations despite recession calls

Fed staff drop US recession forecast, Powell says
(Reuters +)

Some renters may get relief from biggest apartment construction boom in decades, but not all

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

Trump charged with new crimes in classified documents case

Vice President Kamala Harris coming to Wisconsin to tout Biden administration's broadband efforts
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Who’s in, who’s out: A look at which candidates have qualified for the 1st GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel predicts Trump will 'keep us all guessing' on Milwaukee debate
(Journal-Sentinel +)

GOP congressman Van Orden defends rant at teens in Capitol

Why America Forgets—and China Remembers—the Korean War
(US Rep. Mike Gallagher and Aaron MacLean, Foreign Affairs +)

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

Food for thought:

Here's why we should choose compassion over callousness
(Richard Kyte, Wisconsin State Journal +)

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

Mark your calendar:

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

Eggs & Issues: What's next - The impact of the UWEC’s Science & Health Sciences Building and community partnerships
• Friday, Aug 18

Chamber & CVTC Business Community Breakfast

 • Tuesday, Sep 12

Bravo to Business

 • Thursday, Sep 21

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
 • Friday, Sep 29

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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