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Volume 4 , Issue 47, Apr 11, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Apr 21 Eggs & Issues: The Chamber's Annual "State of Altoona"

   "Start with yes!" is the theme of this year's annual update from the City of Altoona. Mayor Brendan Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat will highlight that theme as "an organizational value that energizes us as we address challenges and opportunities as a City, and leads us to more innovation, collaboration and connection resulting in a thriving community."

   Join us at this event to hear about the accomplishments of the City during the past year, and its priorities for the rest of 2022. Registration includes a hot buffet breakfast.

 • Thursday, April 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center
    Click here for details and to register


Also coming up:


Chamber/UWEC Community Breakfast

Creative initiatives and partnerships to tackle our region's workforce challenges.

Wednesday, April 20, 7:00-8:30 a.m., UWEC Davies Center

  Click here for details and to register


Welcome Reception: Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch

Join us for an informal opportunity to meet new Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch. You're invited to stop by the Chamber office any time between 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., with light appetizers and beverages provided. There is no cost to attend but advance registration is appreciated.

Thursday, April 21, 4:00-6:00 p.m., Chamber office

   Click here to register

In this issue:

 • Spring local election results

 • Non-partisan? Local races feature political endorsements

 • Pablo Group, UWEC announce hotel project for Sonnentag Center

 • Hirsch begins service as Eau Claire City Manager

 • EC City Council meets this week

 • Eau Claire County Board carries zoning issues over to next session

 • Internet speed test participation needed to advance broadband expansion

 • State and regional news

 • National news
 • 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 "+"


Voters choose City Council, School Board, County Board seats

   Thanks to retirements of incumbents and contested races, we'll see lots of new faces on the Eau Claire City Council and Eau Claire County Board as the result of last week's Spring Non-partisan Election.

   For the five At-Large seats on the Eau Claire City Council, incumbents Kate Beaton and Rod Jones were reelected, and will be joined by newcomers Larry Mboga, Joshua Miller, and Charlie Johnson, the top five among eight candidates. Current At-Large Council Members Catherine Emmanuelle, Jon Lor, and Dave Klinkhammer did not seek reelection.

   There will be 11 new faces on the 29 member Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors, after seven incumbents retired and four were defeated in contested races. In total, 21 of the 29 races were contested.

   On the Eau Claire Board of Education, incumbents Tim Nordin and Marquell Johnson were reelected, and newcomer Stephanie Farrar won the third available seat from among the six total candidates. Former member Aaron Harder resigned from the board in February and was not on the ballot. 

   Also on the ballot were several uncontested seats, including a Wisconsin District Court Judgeship, Eau Claire County Judgeships for Branches 1 and 6, plus Altoona's Mayor, City Council, and School Board. Eau Claire County also had an advisory referendum on the ballot asking whether the state should establish a right to clean water.

Election results:

Eau Claire City Council

Eau Claire Board of Education

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

Altoona Mayor and City Council

Altoona Board of Education

Area Judgeships

Non-partisan? Local races feature endorsements, campaign help from political parties, prominent political figures

   Although Wisconsin's Spring Elections are officially non-partisan, and no political label is attached to candidates on the ballot, the partisan leaning of candidates and the involvement of political parties has been increasing.

  For example, the three winners in the Eau Claire School Board race were endorsed by the Eau Claire County Democratic Party and prominent local progressives, while the three challengers - newcomers Cory Cronrath, Nicole Everson, and Melissa Winter - ran a coordinated campaign as conservative candidates. Both the Eau Claire County Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Eau Claire County had pages on their website with lists of endorsed candidates in local nonpartisan races. Click here to read more...


More Wisconsin Spring Election Stories:

Incumbents make strong showing in area school board races (Leader-Telegram $)

WI school referendums overwhelmingly get approved, but ones that failed have common trend (WTMJ)

Voters approve most west-central Wisconsin school referendums (Leader-Telegram $)

Voters oust multiple incumbents from Marathon County Board (Wausau Daily Herald +)

Cavalier Johnson elected as Milwaukee's first Black mayor (WPR)

Republican Legislator Samantha Kerkman winner of Kenosha County executive race (Kenosha News)

Riewestahl becomes third candidate for EC sheriff (Leader-Telegram $)


Pablo Group, UWEC announce hotel for Sonnentag Center

   The Pablo Group and UW-Eau Claire last week announced that a new SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel will open in 2024 in conjunction with UWEC's Sonnentag Project. 

  “The Pablo Group’s mission is to build vitality in downtown Eau Claire,” said Pablo Group Partner Julia Johnson at a news conference. Construction on the 128-room hotel will begin this summer.

More information:

Pablo Group: To open a SpringHill Suites by Marriott (News Release, WisBusiness.com)

Hotel will be built adjacent to County Materials Complex (UWEC)

Video: Hotel announcement (UWEC, YouTube, 1:04)

Pablo Group Unveils Plans for Hotel Next to Sonnentag Center (Volume One)

Pablo Group announces new hotel development next door to Sonnentag Events Center (WQOW News 18)

Pablo Group details plans for hotel next to County Materials Complex (Leader-Telegram $)


Hirsch begins service as Eau Claire City Manager

   Newly-selected Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch officially began her duties on Monday, April 4. The Chamber will host an informal Welcome Reception on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, for investors to meet Hirsch. See details below.

More information:

Incoming Eau Claire City Manager is Hometown Proud (Volume One)

Hirsch takes over at City Hall (Leader-Telegram $)

Stephanie Hirsch steps into new city manager role (WQOW News 18)

Chamber reception for City Manager Stephanie Hirsch

• Thursday, Apr 21, 4-6 p.m. 

  Click here for details and to register


EC City Council meets this week

   The Eau Claire City Council meets this week for its regular Monday evening Public Hearing and Tuesday Legislative Session.

   The one item on Monday's agenda is a Public Hearing on annual federal funds the City is receiving from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including $534,975 under the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program and $314,860 from the HOME Investment Partnership Program to improve affordable housing opportunities for income-eligible persons. The City also expects to receive $100,000 in local program income from Housing Rehabilitation loan payments and paybacks. See pages 4-9 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below for the proposed allocations. The Council will act on the plans at its May 10 meeting.

   The Business Agenda for Tuesday's Legislative Session includes budget amendments to approve contracts for the expansion and remodeling of Fire Station No. 6 on Golf Rd (See pages 44-46 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below), electronic tools for Eau Claire Transit funded through the CARES Act (pages 47-51), and construction of the Boyd Park Skate Park (pages 52-55). 

   The agenda also includes acceptance of Plan Commission recommendations to approve the final plat for a 15-lot subdivision on property owned by the Cliff Family Trust on 35 acres on the west side of Talmadge Rd in the Town of Washington, within the City's extraterritorial jurisdiction (pages 59-64), and an adjustment to the condo plat for the Boyd School Condominium Homes at 1105 Main St. (pages 65-70). The Council will also consider collective bargaining agreements with transit workers and police (pages 71-80). 

   Among items on the Consent Agenda is approval of a Special Events Permit for Eau Claire Jazz Inc. for the Jazz Crawl downtown on the evening of Friday, April 22 (pages 17-19). 

More information:
Eau Claire City Council
• Monday, Apr 11, 7 p.m. Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (9 pages)

• Tuesday, Apr 12, 4 p.m. Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (86 pages)

Eau Claire planning count of short-term rentals in city (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire fire stations to get upgrades (Leader-Telegram $)

Rising Costs: City Will Shoulder More of New Transit Center’s Price Tag (Volume One)


County Board holds final session of current board

Approves carrying zoning questions to next legislative session

   In its final session under its current make up, the Eau Claire County Board on April 6 decided to carry over two pending zoning proposals to the new board after it is seated on April 19. 

   The two zoning proposals include 238 acres in the Town of Washington for the proposed Orchard Hills subdivision, and 35 acres in the Town of Clear Creek. The Orchard Hills project has been approved by the Town of Washington Board, but the County Planning & Development Committee deadlocked 2-2 on whether to recommend approval. The developers asked to delay full County Board consideration.

  “We feel it is best for all parties involved to allow us additional time to meet with the neighborhood group and/or discuss alternatives that will meet the town and county policies at hand to see if we can work out a plausible solution that will fit with the neighbors and what is needed as a development team to make this a good neighborhood for all parties,” said Craig Wurzer on behalf of the developers.

More information: 
Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

• Wednesday, Apr 6, Agenda Packet

County Board carries over Washington subdivision rezoning request (Leader-Telegram $)


Momentum West: Residents asked to take internet speed test to advance broadband expansion

   West Central Wisconsin residents can help improve broadband in their communities by taking a simple internet speed test to identify areas of need.  State and federal grants are available to bring broadband to underserved areas around the state, but in order to tap into those grants the state must identify those areas of greatest need. Momentum West, along with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

   “Our region has made great strides in deploying high speed broadband.  With your participation we can start the process to broadband our underserved areas,” said Steve Jahn, Executive Director, Momentum West. 

  Even those residents without internet access can help by logging onto the site from a friend’s home or the local library. Click on “Enter an address with No Available Service” when you complete the survey.

   To take the test, residents and businesses simply need to visit the following site by May 8. It will only take a few moments and personal information is always protected and never shared.



More local news:


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


Gov. Evers presents EC schools with $160K as part of 'Get Kids Ahead' initiative (Leader-Telegram $)

Gov. Evers visits Northstar Middle School, speaks on student mental health (WEAU 13 News)


Nicolet Bankshares, Inc. Continues Strategic Growth with Acquisition of Charter Bankshares, Inc. (News Release)

Nicolet buying Eau Claire bank for $158M (Leader-Telegram $)


Jackie Minor leads L.E. Phillips Senior Center as new executive director (WQOW News 18)

Incoming Senior Center Director Brings YMCA Experience (Volume One)


Chancellor receives Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce award (UWEC)


Children’s Museum of Eau Claire closes on New Markets Tax Credits financing (WEAU 13 News)


State and regional news:


Gov. Evers Takes Action on 78 Bills (Office of the Governor)

Evers vetoes more than 40 Republican-backed bills (AP)

58 New Laws: Gov. Evers’ Signatures and Vetoes in March (Hamilton Consulting Group)

Evers vetoes bill eliminating minimum voucher ages (AP)

Wisconsin hunters disappointed in Evers' hunting, fishing vetoes (The Center Square)


After Foxconn's pledges have failed to materialize, a former executive is hired by UW-Madison College of Engineering (WPR)


John Casper to retire from Oshkosh Chamber (Insight on Business)


WMC sues Pewaukee over transportation utility fee (Waukesha County Freeman)


Wisconsin child care coalition launches new initiative to urge investment, expansion of child care programs (WPR)


Despite minimal changes, Wisconsin's new congressional maps create second competitive seat (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Wisconsin Republicans wrestle over candidate endorsements (AP)


U.S. Senate candidate Tom Nelson visits Eau Claire, touts job plan (WQOW News 18)


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Godlewski issues 'Cut Costs Plan,' calls for suspension of federal gas tax (Journal-Sentinel +)


Wisconsin traffic, transit ridership still down two years after start of pandemic (WPR)


Gas Tax Holidays: Election-year gimmick could jeopardize infrastructure (Debby Jackson, Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin)


National news:


Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court in historic vote (NBC News)


There’s never been such a severe shortage of homes in the U.S. Here’s why (NPR)

Congressional panel to visit Milwaukee, Kenosha to study housing, workforce issues (Journal-Sentinel +)


Fed Signals Half-Percentage-Point Rate Increases Could Be Warranted at Coming Meetings (Wall Street Journal +)


Fed signals more aggressive steps to fight inflation (AP)


How can small business owners offset inflation? (News Nation)


Goldman Sachs sees a 38% chance of recession in the next 24 months (Fortune)


States and Localities Score Wins in New Covid-19 Spending Deal (Route Fifty)


U.S. Wants More Oil From Canada but Not a New Pipeline to Bring It (Wall Street Journal $)


Misinformation is derailing renewable energy projects across the United States (WPR)


NTSB chair escaped her smashed Subaru with a concussion, and many questions (Washington Post +)


Carnival posts best-ever booking week as CDC drops COVID cruise ship warning (Fox Business)


Biden administration extends pause on federal student loan repayments through August (CNN)


Psaki: Student loan borrowers likely to have to pay debt 'sometime' (Politico)


How Redistricting Affects The Battle For State Legislatures (Five-Thirty-Eight)


COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 cases are rising again in Wisconsin, but DHS says a backlog of data has elevated the numbers in the last 24 hours (Journal-Sentinel +)


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:


Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

 • Wednesday, April 20, UWEC Davies Center


Eggs & Issues: "State of Altoona"

 • Thursday, April 21, River Prairie Center


Chamber Reception: New City Manager Stephanie Hirsch

 • Thursday, April 21, Chamber Offices


"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
 • Tuesday, Aug 9


General Election
 • Tuesday, November 8


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

 • Monday, Apr 11, 6 p.m. Parks and Recreation Committee

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 1 p.m. Altoona Housing Authority

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 5:30 p.m. Plan Commission

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 5:30 p.m. Public hearing

 • Thursday, Apr 14, 6 p.m. City Council

 • Tuesday, Apr 19, 6 p.m. City Council


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, Apr 11, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Session

 • Wednesday, Apr 13, 5 .m. Housing Opportunities Commission

 • Monday, Apr 18, 7 p.m. Plan Commission - Canceled

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 7:30 a.m. Redevelopment Authority

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 3:30 p.m. Sustainability Advisory Committee

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 6 p.m. Transit Commission

 • Monday, April 25, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, April 26, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Session


City of Augusta
City website
Village of Fall Creek
Village Board


Town of Washington
Town website
Altoona School District
Altoona School Board

• Monday, Apr 25, 6:30 p.m.

Eau Claire Area School District
Board of Education
 • Monday, Apr 18, 7 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
Click here to find your County Board Representative (interactive map)

 • Monday, Apr 11, 3 p.m. ADRC Board

 • Monday, Apr 11, 5 p.m. Committee on Parks & Forest

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 2:30 p.m. Committee on Administration

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning and Development

 • Monday, Apr 18, 1 p.m. Land Conservation Committee

 • Monday, Apr 18, 5 p.m. Housing Authority Board

 • Monday, Apr 18, 6 p.m. Public Hearing-Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Commission

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 7:30 p.m. Chippewa Valley Regional Airport-Airport Commission

 • Monday, April 25, Human Services Monthly Board

 • Tuesday, April 26, 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