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Volume 5 , Issue 5, June 20, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

Advocacy Blog


Eggs & Issues: Planes, Trains, Automobiles & More...

Friday, Jul 15, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
Click here for details and to register

Registration deadline 12:00 noon on Thursday, Jul 14

  What's the future of transportation in Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley? At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll take a look at what's happening with transportation trends in our current economy and the policy issues surrounding them, including implementation of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). We'll get a statewide perspective from Debby Jackson, Executive Director, Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin; an update on efforts to establish passenger rail service to Eau Claire from Scott Rogers, Chair, West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition; get details on progress on the new transit center under construction and planned route changes from Tom Wagener, Eau Claire Transit Manager; and hear the latest about Essential Air Service (EAS) decisions and local airline changes from Charity Zich, Airport Manager, Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.

In this issue:

 • City Council approves annexation, Niagara Waters proposal withdrawn

 • RDA approves MOU with Ambient Inks for Cannery District

 • Plan Commission: Proposed rezoning for SkyPark housing 

 • Eau Claire County: 87 businesses and non-profits get ARPA grants

 • HSHS mental health needs survey for $15 million state funding 

 • Chamber "Bravo to Business" Award Nominations open through Jun 30

 • State and regional news

 • National and economic news

 • 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 "+"


City Council approves annexation

Niagara Waters proposal withdrawn, Cannery Park plan approved

   The Eau Claire City Council voted 9-2 last Tuesday evening to approve the proposed annexation of 438 acres south of the City currently in the Town of Washington, described in its application "to allow a future residential development to have sanitary sewer and water main services when the City makes the services available."  The annexation will be the first in a multi-step process leading to housing development. It will still require rezoning, a development plan, platting, and other approvals. The proposal included annexing part of the current Lowes Creek County Park, which would remain in that current use (see pages 234-241 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). 

   To be approved, the annexation required 8 of the 11 members to vote for it. During the meeting, some Council members wanted to postpone consideration to August to allow more time for interaction with current neighbors who oppose the annexation. However, the Council defeated the postponement 4-7. After extensive debate about the pros and cons, voting for annexation were Council Members Emily Anderson, Kate Beaton, Emily Berge, Jill Christopherson, Jeremy Gragert, Charlie Johnson, Roderick Jones, Joshua Miller, and Terry Weld. Voting "no" were Council Members Larry Mboga and Andrew Werthmann. 

Chamber supported annexation

   The Eau Claire Chamber supported the annexation as an important move to help address the community's critical housing shortage. As is often the case with new developments, a number of neighbors spoke at the Public Hearing opposing it. The Chamber provided a letter to the City Council which noted: "Among the most significant current challenges for our local economy are workforce development and housing supply. These issues are closely tied together because housing supply impacts the ability to meet the needs of a growing population, as well as affordability for all individuals and families. This annexation is a first step towards the development of additional housing supply in our community. This will help address the housing shortage while providing benefits for everyone towards attainability and affordability." 

Niagara Waters proposal postponed

   The Council had also been scheduled on Tuesday to vote on a development agreement for a proposed $65 million Niagara Waters plant on 30 acres in the Gateway Industrial Park. The plant would employ 58 positions with salaries starting at $50,000 and averaging $59,000. 

   City of Eau Claire Economic Development Director Aaron White announced at the meeting that Niagara had requested the item be removed from the agenda. The Council then voted to postpone action indefinitely, which would require a change to the proposal if it is to be brought back to the Council within a year. 

   The Niagara proposal generated hundreds of opposing comments to the City Council based upon fears generated regarding the City's water supply, and those who opposed the concept of bottled water as business. This despite the City's utility staff providing significant scientific evidence of adequate well capacity and resources in the aquifer. 

   The Chamber supported the development agreement as a desirable and responsible project that would provide significant economic and employment benefits, increase the tax base, and create high-paying jobs. We communicated to City Council members that we were satisfied that the City staff had taken care to ensure that there is sufficient water capacity to provide for a successful project, and that safeguards are in place in case of future unforeseen circumstances.

Cannery Park plan approved, ARPA work session held

   The City Council on Tuesday approved the rezoning and site plan for the proposed Cannery Park along the west side of the Chippewa River, along with related improvements to Oxford Ave., and Maple St. The plan comes after extensive public outreach to determine the uses and design of the six-acres to be encompassed by the new park (see pages 7-35 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below).

   City Manager Stephanie Hirsch lead a public discussion after Tuesday's meeting regarding the potential allocation of the $13.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the City is receiving (see pages 43-46 of the Monday Agenda Packet). 

More information:

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, June 13, Public Hearing (Agenda Packet, 48 pages)

 • Tuesday, June 14, Legislative Session (Agenda Packet, 270 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)


City staff annexation FAQs

City staff presentation on annexation

Chamber annexation support letter (Eau Claire Chamber)

Niagara Waters development agreement:

EauClaireWI.gov/Niagara (City of Eau Claire web page with more detail)

Chamber Niagara support letter (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

It Seems to Me: Setting the record straight (Scott Rogers, Eau Claire Chamber, column in the Leader-Telegram)

It Seems to Me: Project's positives outweigh negatives (Stephanie Hirsch, EC City Manager, column in the Leader-Telegram $)

Our View: City seems to have data to back proposal (Leader-Telegram Editorial $)

News coverage:

Water bottling company withdraws before Eau Claire City Council vote (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire City Council approves controversial annexation (WQOW News 18)

Company withdraws bottling facility proposal at City Council meeting (WEAU 13 News)

Niagara Bottling Withdraws Plans for E.C. Plant (Volume One)

Company pulls plans for Eau Claire water bottling plant (WPR)

BIPOC group wants greater input in city's $13.5M ARPA proposal (Leader-Telegram $)

Our View: Lessons from Tuesday's meeting (Leader-Telegram editorial $)


RDA approves MOU for Ambient Inks in Cannery District

Discusses purchase agreement for another Merge apartment building

   At its meeting last Wednesday, the Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority (RDA) approved an MOU with Ambient Inks to negotiate terms for its planned construction of a $9 million facility north of the Brewing Projekt. It would provide the company, which creates and sells merchandise for music artists, authors, and businesses, an opportunity to expand and combine its office and production spaces. The Cannery District site would also include retail and public spaces. It fits the RDA's vision of continuing a "maker's district" theme for the area. (See pages 4-11 of the Agenda Packet linked below for more details, elevations, etc.)

   The RDA also began consideration of a purchase agreement with Merge Urban Development for the remaining "Liner Remnant" along the North Barstow Parking Ramp at Riverfront Terrace and Barstow streets, immediately south of the Eau Claire Children's Museum building currently under construction. Merge proposes a five-story building with commercial space on the ground floor and 52 apartment units including studio, one- and two-bedroom floor plans. It would guarantee a minimum value of $8 million. The RDA postponed action on the purchase agreement to its next meeting on July 20. Merge is currently nearing completion of the Andante apartment building at 100 N. Farwell, across Barstow Street from the proposed site. 

More information:

Redevelopment Authority 

 • Wednesday, Jun 15, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (24 pages)

    Merge Liner Site apartment concepts (5 pages)

Redevelopment Authority (City of Eau Claire)

Cannery District Redevelopment (City of Eau Claire)

Ambient Inks plans to build in Cannery District (Leader-Telegram $)

Merge plans building next to parking ramp, new museum (Leader-Telegram $)

Andante apartment building (Merge Urban Development)


EC Plan Commission: Zoning for 96 apartments at Sky Park

Aspen Meadows II development, N Clairemont coffee drive-thru, new TID

   At its Monday evening meeting, the Eau Claire Plan Commission will consider a rezoning for recommendation to the City Council for 4.5 acres in Sky Park from light industrial to multi-family residential to allow RyKey Properties to construct three buildings with 96 units, consisting of a combination of one- and two-bedroom apartments totaling 147 bedrooms. All of the units will fit the definition of workforce housing, with the developer agreeing to provide 10 of the one-bedroom units to be affordable to individuals who have income at 60% of the County Median Income (CMI). The development will be located at the corner of Craig Road and Hamilton Ave., on property less suited to industrial uses. (See pages 31-45 of the Agenda Packet linked below for more detailed information, including maps and elevations).

   Also on the Plan Commission's agenda are a rezoning for a 7Brew Coffee Shop to be located at N. Clairemont and Moholt Dr. (pages 4-30); a planned development to allow construction of a single family home by C&M Properties in Aspen Meadows II at 6140 Aspen Meadow Ct. (pages 46-51); a conditional use permit for Hope Gospel Mission to expand residential accommodations for its Renewed Hope program at 2650 Mercantile Dr. (pages 79-86); and a project plan for creation Tax Increment District (TID) No. 15, an overlay to current TID 9 at the Gateway Industrial Park to continue development of unimproved land in the area. 

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission

 • Monday, Jun 20, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (86 pages)

Plan Commission website(City of Eau Claire)

Link to videos of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)

Living in Sky Park (Leader-Telegram $)


62 businesses, 25 non-profits get $5,000 County ARPA grants

Next phase: 59 applications submitted for potential recovery projects

   The agenda for the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday evening includes an update from the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC) on disbursements from the $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the County allocated for small businesses and non-profits. The County hired WCWRPC to administer that program, which is a portion of the total of $20 million in federal ARPA funds it is receiving (see pages 24-34 of the Agenda Packet linked below).

   The first phase had a deadline of April 26 for businesses with less than 20 employees and 501c3 non-profits to apply for individual $5,000 grants. A total of 87 eligible applications were received - 62 businesses and 25 non-profits - for a total of $435,000 awarded. A list of recipients is included in WCWRPC's report in the Agenda Packet. 

   The second phase invited the applications from organizations or businesses meeting the same eligibility criteria to apply for grants between $10,000 and $100,000 "for forward thinking and innovative projects, programs, or efforts that would assist the greater community in recovering from the pandemic." Those applications were due by May 16. A total of 59 applications were received, requesting $4.5 million of the approximately $1.5 million still available. WCWRPC will be working with the ARPA Committee appointed by the County to review and score those applications, with awardees anticipated to be determined in August.

Starlink report, Broadband ARPA funding request

   The County Board will also get a report on the County's satellite-based Starlink internet service pilot currently being utilized by 50 customers in rural Eau Claire County, and will act on a recommendation from the Committee on Administration to allocate $99,576 in ARPA funding to United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley and the Eau Claire County Broadband Expansion project (see pages 35-44 and pages 88-90 of the Agenda Packet). 

More information:

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

 • Tuesday, Jun 21, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

County Board District Representatives

County Board Districts map

Link to minutes and videos

County ARPA Committee (Eau Claire County)

Starlink impresses in county update (Leader-Telegram $)


Community mental health needs survey:

Help HSHS implement $15 million in state funding 

   The current Wisconsin state budget included $15 million to expand mental health beds in the Chippewa Valley. As part of the plan to implement the intent of that legislation, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls are asking the public to participate in a survey to help more specifically identify the unmet mental health needs in our community. 

Click here to take the survey (Deadline Jun 30)


City of EC accepting Public Street Art applications
   Residents, artists, businesses, and community organizations can apply to create a Public Street Art project on a local street in Eau Claire. Communities around the world have used street art as a way to bring neighbors together and enhance the appearance of their neighborhood. The City encourages creativity within the guidelines below to help ensure public safety.

Click here for information and an application packet (select and click "Public Street Art")


Chamber "Bravo to Business" award nominations now open

June 30 nomination deadline for Sep 14 awards event

   For almost 20 years, the Eau Claire Area Chamber has recognized businesses of all sizes, entrepreneurs, and business leaders for their contributions to the business community. In 2021, the Chamber launched “Bravo to Business” by revamping and adding to its award categories. Bravo to Business will focus on our businesses and community development for their significant role in driving the city’s business community and economic growth. This event will be held on Wednesday, Sep 14, in conjunction with National Chamber of Commerce Month.

   Award applicants are narrowed down to three finalists in each category. The finalists and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony.  

Nomination Process

   Anyone can nominate a business for an award on the Chamber's website, including self nominations. Categories include: Small Business of the Year - Less than 50 full-time employees; Business of the Year - More than 50 full-time employees; Emerging Business of the Year - Operating for less than 3 years; Community Economic Development Project of the Year; and Young Professionals Best Place to Work. 

Click here for information and to nominate a business (deadline June 30)

 • Mark your calendar for Wednesday evening, Sep 14, for "Bravo to Business"


Leader Ethics recognition event

Principles in Practice Award - Tommy Thompson

   An opportunity to join Leader Ethics, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes ethical leadership in government, in recognizing Tommy Thompson for his recent leadership as Interim President of the UW System.

 • Wednesday, June 22, 12:00-12:30 p.m., virtual event

   Click here for details and free registration


Safe Kids. Safe Communities.

   An event for area parents with the Eau Claire Police Dept. to equip them with the most up-to-date strategies, resources, and language to teach their children how to identify safe and unsafe situations and know how to respond to stay safe.

 • Thursday, June 23, 6:00-7:30 p.m., CVTC Business Education Center

    Click here for details and registration


More local news:


Power providers: Challenges await with push to renewable energy (Leader-Telegram $)


Thrillist Dubs E.C. One of America's ‘Coolest’ Once Again (Volume One)


Sculpture Tour Eau Claire Aims for Growth (Volume One)


Badger Boys State makes UW-Eau Claire debut (Leader-Telegram $)


Roy Atkinson Top Choice for Chelsea City Manager (Chelsea Update)


New Owners, Same Connell’s: Connell’s Supper Club and Connell’s Club 12 Get New Owners (Volume One)


Additional donation supports track and field renovations for Memorial High (Leader-Telegram $)


THE STAGE IS SET: Pablo Center Unveils Season 5 Lineup (Volume One)


Our View: CVTC-UW System Degree deal good for students, schools (Leader-Telegram editorial $)


State and regional news:


Wisconsin Republicans allow PFAS standards to take effect(AP)

Wisconsin's PFAS standards are on track to take effect. What happens next? (WPR)

PFAS Update: State Rules Move Forward; New EPA Health Advisories; Judge Stays Ruling (Hamilton Consulting)


Elections commission picks GOP attorney as new chair (AP)


Former Wis GOP Congressmen Petri, Ribble: Jan 6 hearings should serve as a warning (The Cap Times)


Companies forge partnerships to address employment barriers (Insight on Business)


'Employees have a stronger voice': How local companies are looking beyond wages to attract workers in a tight labor market (Journal-Sentinel +)


Study: Tourists spent 31% more in Wisconsin in 2021 (AP)


‘HERE’ IT IS: Eau Claire to Host First-of-Its-Kind HMong Economic Conference (Volume One)


A small Wisconsin town is honored as the state's first Black-founded community (NPR)


La Crosse tourism officials using ‘geo-tracking’ service to improve marketing efforts (WisBusiness.com)


UW-RF gets Board of Regents approval to construct new science building (Leader-Telegram $)


Wisconsin transportation agencies make their case for public transit as pandemic, budget woes loom (WPR)


Eau Claire Chamber "Business Matters" podcast: Interview with State Senator Kathy Bernier (EC Chamber, 41:26)


National and economic news:


Wisconsin unemployment rate ticks up as labor force participation grows (BizTimes)


Romney Revamps His Family Security Act (The Dispatch)


Federal Reserve increases key interest rate by 0.75% in biggest hike since 1994. What's that mean for economy and you? (USA Today)

Powell vows that the Fed is ‘acutely focused’ on bringing down inflation (CNBC)


Mortgage rates surge to 5.78%, highest level since 2008 (Fox Business)


Producer Price Index News Release summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Wholesale prices rose 10.8% in May, near a record annual pace (CNBC)

A Key Inflation Reading Capturing Wholesale Prices Rose Again in May (Wall Street Journal $)


May retail sales unexpectedly decline as sizzling hot inflation weighs on spending (Fox Business)


The S&P 500 is in a bear market; here’s what that means (AP)


Biden tells oil companies in letter ‘well above normal’ refinery profit margins are ‘not acceptable’ (CNBC)


Several factors are converging to push gas prices higher (AP)

Gas prices hit record high in EC (Leader-Telegram $)


Enbridge, Line 5 Supporters Kick Off Safest Way Tour in Superior (Fox 21)


Bumpy take-off for summer travel season (News Nation)


Legalizing Incremental Change—Everywhere—To Meet America’s Housing Needs (Charles Marohn, Strong Towns)


The Way Forward for the Senate’s Gun Violence Bill (The Dispatch)


US report: Nearly 400 crashes of automated tech vehicles (AP)


COVID-19 Updates

FDA authorizes 1st COVID-19 shots for infants, preschoolers (AP)


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:


Eggs & Issues: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, & More...

• Friday, Jul 15, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Eggs & Issues: The Economic Imperative of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

• Friday, Aug 19, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Bravo to Business Awards

Click here to nominate a business (June 30 deadline)

• Wednesday, Sep 14, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Fall Election Outlook with Bill McCoshen

• Thursday, Sep 22, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Business Day in Madison

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

 • 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 (Ron Johnson 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


Public Meetings Calendar

Our Public Meetings Calendar has moved to our website. 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 

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