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Volume 5, Issue 44, March 20, 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: Legislative Breakfast

With the legislative session in full swing and biennial state budget deliberations underway, we've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to give us an update and answer questions.

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

    Click here for more details and to register


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

Wednesday, Apr 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., UWEC Davies Center

   Click here for details and to register


Eggs & Issues: "State of the City - Altoona" 

Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat lead a presentation highlighting the accomplishments of the City during the past year, and its priorities for the rest of this 2023.

 • Friday, Apr 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center

    Click here for more details and to register

In this issue: 

 • April 4 Election: Altoona & Eau Claire School Board Questionnaires
 • UWEC increasing local retention of graduates, now nearly 1/3

 • Stout posts new high employment rate for graduates

 • Plan Commission to discuss Orchard Hills annexation

 • Joint Finance Committee: Apr 11 Budget Hearing in Eau Claire

 • WI Secretary of State La Follette retiring, Evers appoints Godlewski

 • 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 "+"


April 4 Election: Chamber Good Government Council Questionnaires for Altoona & Eau Claire School Board

Early voting weekdays March 21-31

   With the non-partisan spring election approaching on Tuesday, April 4, the Chamber has published its Good Government Council Questionnaires for the contested Altoona and Eau Claire School Board elections. The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but gives them an opportunity to assert their qualifications and answer questions about issues. In Altoona, there are three candidates for two positions, and in Eau Claire, there are four candidates for two positions. 

Click here to access the questionnaires:

Altoona School Board Questionnaire (Chamber Good Government Council)

Eau Claire School Board Questionnaire (Chamber Good Government Council)

There is also a tax levy referendum for Altoona schools:


What else is on your ballot

   The April 4 election also includes the race for a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, two state Constitutional Amendments, a state advisory referendum, an Eau Claire County advisory referendum, and a tax levy referendum in the Altoona School District. 

   Uncontested local races include Eau Claire City Council President, for which the only candidate is current District 1 Council Member Emily Berge, and three district seats on the Altoona City Council, in which the incumbents are the only ones on the ballot.  

To register to vote and see what's on your ballot, click on: myvote.wi.gov

For more information about state and local elections, click on:

   The Chamber's Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Chamber)


Election day and early voting

Early voting: Local municipalities offer early voting on weekdays from Tuesday, March 21, through Friday, March 31. Click here for early voting information.

Election day: On Tuesday, April 4, polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click on myvote.wi.gov to find your polling place.


More election information:

Referendum details and information (School District of Altoona)

Eau Claire Transit to offer free rides to the polls on spring election day (WEAU 13 News)


Nearly 1/3 of UWEC graduates staying in the Chippewa Valley

First Destination Report: Local retention of graduates is increasing

   The latest "First Destination Report," detailing where UW-Eau Claire students go in their first year after graduation, show that Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley region are retaining an increasing percentage to the area. The 2021-22 report shows that 32% are employed in the Chippewa Valley, a jump from 28% in 2020-21. 

   “The increase in new graduates taking jobs in the Chippewa Valley tells me UW-Eau Claire is an asset to the local economy, offering workforce talent that allows local employers to grow their businesses,” says Staci Heidtke, director of Career Services at UW-Eau Claire.

   The report outlines outcomes for 1,552 Blugolds who received their undergraduate degrees and 184 who received graduate degrees. More than 98% of Blugolds who graduated with undergraduate or graduate degrees in August and December 2021 and May 2022 are employed or continuing their education.

   It also shows that internships are a significant factor in where graduates land, with 60% of respondents reported that they completed at least one internship in their field.

   One local business that uses internships extensively and has successfully landed a significant number of graduates is Royal Credit Union. 

   “As an employer of over 900 people, Royal Credit Union places a high emphasis on our connection with UW-Eau Claire and actively recruits Blugold graduates to stay within our markets,” says Jennifer McHugh, Royals' Vice President - Community Engagement. “Ask any business leader and they will tell you talent attraction and retention are two of their top strategic priorities.” McHugh is also the Chair of the Chamber's Governmental Affairs Committee.

Proposed Science & Health Sciences building

   One of the Chamber's current state policy priorities is completion funding for UWEC's proposed Science and Health Sciences Building, which is anticipated to provide further opportunities to attract top students to the university, and to keep them in the area.

More information:

2021-22 First Destination Report (UWEC, 15 pages)

Blugolds stay in Chippewa Valley for employment (UWEC)

Majority of recent UW-EC grads find jobs in chosen field, report shows (Leader-Telegram $)


UW-Stout posts new high employment rate for graduates

   In its First Destination Report, UW-Stout reports that the overall employment rate of graduates rose to 99.4 percent for 2021-22, up from 98.4 percent the previous year. The number tracks those who are employed, continuing their education or serving full time in the military.

   “UW-Stout continues to be a national leader in preparing and placing students in successful careers,” Chancellor Katherine Frank said. “Our approach to career placement is intentional and strategic; it depends on in-depth and long-standing relationships with industry and business partners who help to inform student preparation throughout the university and across all academic programs.

   The number of UW-Stout graduates staying in Wisconsin to begin their careers rose from 56% to 59%, good news for the state, which has acute workforce needs caused in part by low unemployment.

Strengthening the child care workforce

   One specific area getting critical emphasis from Stout in addressing the state's workforce needs is addressing the shortage of licensed early childhood staff. The university recently highlighted its Child and Family Study Center (CFSC), which practices the university’s polytechnic mission of providing hands-on experiences to undergraduate and master’s students to prepare them for careers in child care and early childhood education. The CFSC also helps train future teachers, counselors and dietitians through academic instruction, research, classroom observations and service-learning.

   As part of its efforts in this area, UW-Stout has proposed a renovation of its Heritage Hall to support building a new CFSC, strengthening state-of-the-art programming and curriculum to keep UW-Stout students at the forefront of innovative and evidence-based early childhood services. A newly designed center will also include a common space for faculty, staff, community partners and families to expand existing collaborations and campus initiatives.

More information:

In a happy place: Graduates hit new highs in First Destination employment report (UW-Stout)

UW-Stout’s Child and Family Study Center looks to strengthen Wisconsin’s child care workforce (UW-Stout)

UW-Stout aims to strengthen state's child care workforce (Leader-Telegram $)

UW-Stout post-graduation employment rate hits new high (Leader-Telegram $)


EC Plan Commission: Orchard Hills annexation, Cannery District townhomes, Cypress Town Homes

   The proposed annexation of property from the Town of Washington to the City of Eau Claire for the planned Orchard Hills development will be discussed by the Eau Claire Plan Commission at its meeting on Monday. Originally approved by the City Council last year under procedures for a unanimous annexation, an Eau Claire County Judge recently vacated the annexation in response to a suit from the Town of Washington, which argued that park land included in the annexation belonging to Eau Claire County would have required the County to be part of the unanimous group. The new petition is under a provision that provides a process for annexation if a majority of owners request it. (See pages 30-64 of the Agenda Packet linked below.) City staff recommends approval of the annexation. After the Plan Commission makes a recommendation, the proposal would go to the City Council next week.

    The Chamber supports the annexation because of its potential to help address the housing shortage, and as the most responsible way to add housing as the city expands, providing more compact development with city services and less rural sprawl. 

Cannery District and Cypress Street townhomes

   Two projects described as townhomes also will be on the Plan Commission's agenda: An amendment to the general development plan along First Street in the Cannery District for 20 three-story twin homes by Grip Development (Agenda Packet pages 3-29) and a site plan by Haselwander Properties for 36 townhome units on 2.8 acres at 3421 Cypress Street (pages 65-92). 

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission

Plan Commission 2023 Work Program

 • Monday, Mar 20, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet (92 pages)


Meeting this week:


Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

 • Tuesday, March 21, Agenda Packet

County Board district maps and Supervisors


More local stories:


Gilliam resigns from CF council, weeks before re-election bid (Leader-Telegram $)


You Ask, We Answer: What is being built near Birch Street and McKinley? (WQOW News 18)


Sacred Heart, Encompass open rehabilitation hospital in EC (Leader-Telegram $)


Chippewa County exempts milk haulers from road bans (Leader-Telegram $)


Woman convicted in theft of company trade secrets (Leader-Telegram $)


Atkinson named City Administrator for the City of Menomonie (WEAU 13 News)


Menard Center for Constitutional Studies to host

"The Future of Free Speech on Campus" event May 1

• “The Future of Free Speech on Campus” will begin at 5:30 p.m. May 1 in Room 100 of Hibbard Hall. Some of the country’s leading experts on the state of free speech on college campuses will discuss what the future may hold for academia. Panelists include Donald Downs, Alexander Meiklejohn professor of political science emeritus at UW-Madison; Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE); and Amna Khalid, associate professor of history at Carleton College.

More information:

About the Menard Center or Constitutional Studies (UWEC)

The Future of Free Speech on Campus: May 1 event information (UWEC Menard Center for Constitutional Studies)


Chamber Staff News:


Career doesn't stop woman from pursuing additional degrees (CVTC, Chamber Education & Program Director Sarah Hughes)


Eau Claire picked for one of four State Budget Hearings

UWEC will host event on Tuesday, Apr 11

   The legislature's Joint Committee on Finance has announced that one of its four public hearings for the forthcoming biennial state budget will be held on Tuesday, April 11, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The other hearings will be April 5 in Waukesha, April 12 in Wisconsin Dells, and April 26 in Minocqua. 

   "As the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), said Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Representative Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), "we invite you to provide comments and input. Your ideas are an essential part of our process. We also encourage you to visit the website we have dedicated to the public hearing process. It is a central portal for input to reach the entire committee and it will be a helpful tool when looking for upcoming budget hearings and other documents pertaining to the budget process.” 

   The public hearings will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. Attendees will be asked to fill out a form upon arrival to be added to the queue to testify.

   The JFC has also created an online portal for constituents to provide input. All entries will be circulated to the full committee: Budget comment portal 

More information:

JFC Co-Chairs Announce Dates, Locations of State Budget Public Hearings (Joint Committee on Finance)

Joint Finance Committee hearing scheduled at UW-Eau Claire on April 11 (UWEC)

UW-EC will host April 11 state budget hearing (Leader-Telegram $)


More state and regional stories:


Doug La Follette retiring as Wisconsin secretary of state, Evers appoints Godlewski (The Cap Times)


Political ads in Wisconsin Supreme Court race raise questions (WTMJ)

Protasiewicz campaign ads slam Kelly for failing to step away from cases involving donors but the claims leave out significant facts (Journal-Sentinel $)


Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule on whether Transportation Utility Fees are legal to fund roads (WPR)

Report: A “TUF” Dilemma Over Local Transportation Funding (Wisconsin Policy Forum)


EPA to limit toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water (AP)

National PFAS limits would be far stricter than what Wisconsin has proposed (Wisconsin State Journal +)

What EPA’s nationwide PFAS rule means for Wisconsin drinking water  (Wisconsin Watch)

Our View: PFAS regulations will carry steep cost (Leader-Telegram editorial $)


Annette Ziegler to continue as Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice (Wisconsin State Journal +)


A Wisconsin environmental enforcement law is being challenged. Could the case jeopardize the ability to respond to disasters? (Journal-Sentinel $)


'Public can rest assured': Wis. Bankers Association promises stability after Silicon Valley Bank collapse (Channel 3000)


Why new housing rules stir so much trouble in Madison (The Cap Times)


Tribal leader calls for support from Wisconsin lawmakers at 2023 State of the Tribes address (WPR)


As UW System ends classes at Richland Center, other communities wonder if their 2-year campus is next (WPR)


La Crosse docks get $1.4 million in state funds for repairs (La Crosse Tribune +)


Numbers show increase in public benefits as Wisconsin’s labor participation has fallen (The Center Square)


WPS selects Wendy Perkins as its next President and CEO (WPS)


Regulators: Minnesota nuclear plant leak didn’t require public notice (AP)


US Chamber Small Business Update on the Banking Outlook

   The U.S. Chamber of Commerce held an interactive discussion on the latest banking news and what it means for your business on Friday. We were joined by Jeanette Mulvey, Editor-in-Chief at CO— and U.S. Chamber experts Curtis Dubay, Chief Economist, Tom Quaadman, Executive Vice President of Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, and Tom Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy, for a full breakdown of the health of the banking system and its critical impact on you and businesses nationwide. Please feel free to share this recording with your members. 

   On Friday, March 10, 2023, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced that it was taking over operations at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the 16th-largest bank in the country. Two days later, Signature Bank was shut down by New York state regulators.

   Why it matters: A vibrant and thriving banking system is vital to the overall health of the economy. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to any economic uncertainties and have concerns about what this week's bank failures mean to them.

Video: Small Business Update on the Banking Outlook (US Chamber of Commerce, 45:20)


More national and economic news:


Rent growth had smallest gain in two years: Redfin (Fox Business)


Inflation Coming Down, but Slowly (US Chamber of Commerce)


Canadian Pacific/Kansas City Southern railroad merger approved (Railway Age)


The GOP's stunning realignment on foreign policy (Axios)


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


COVID-19 Updates 


The Worst Covid Strategy Was Not Picking One (Bloomberg +)


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:


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, March 29, Madison


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Mar 31, CVTC Business Education Center


Spring Non-Partisan Election

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

 • Tuesday, April 4 


2023 Human Resource Conference

 • Tuesday, April 4 


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

• Wednesday, Apr 19, UWEC Davies Center


Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona

 • Friday, April 21, River Prairie Center


Chamber Royale

 • Thursday, May 18, Eau Claire Golf & Country Club


The Chamber's 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