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Volume 6, Issue 10, July 24, 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


Last chance to register...
Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
   With cranes often in the skyline, significant construction projects underway, and new records for tourism impact, what's the continuing future for commercial, industrial and housing development in the Chippewa Valley? At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll hear from local leaders of economic development activities about their current projects, challenges and opportunities.
   Our guests will include Aaron White, Community Development Director for the City of Eau Claire; Mike Golat, Altoona City Administrator; Luke Hanson, Executive Director, Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation; and Benny Anderson, Executive Director of Visit Eau Claire.
 • Friday, July 28, 7:00-8:30 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
 • Friday, Aug 18, Eggs & Issues
 • Thursday Sep 21, Bravo to Business Awards

 • Friday, Sep 29, Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-4:30p (Closed Fridays in July)
Lobby Hours: Mon-Thu 9a-3p (Closed Fridays in July)

In this issue:
 • EC City Council to vote on Local Vehicle Registration Fee
 • Eau Claire County Board picks Coffey as new Chair
 • Chippewa Valley Chambers: Local UW projects will have far reaching impact
 • Wisconsin Policy Forum report: State Budget Settles Big Issues, Leaves Room to Keep Bargaining on Others
 • Transportation Funding Under Threat in US House of Representatives
 • 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: Local Vehicle Registration Fee to get vote
Action scheduled on apartment rezonings, new restaurant liquor license
   The Eau Claire City Council this week will have a public hearing and vote on a proposed $24 annual Local Vehicle Registration Fee. It would impose the fee to fund a specific set of ten street projects. This is a revised proposal from the proposed $30 fee that failed on a tie vote at the Council's March 14 meeting. The new measure is being proposed by Council Members Emily Anderson and Andrew Werthmann, who voted against the March proposal. The fee would generate $1.2 million per year. (See pages 67-68 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below, which includes the list of proposed street projects.)
   Monday's agenda also includes public hearings on two rezoning requests: Cannery West Apartments at 2125 3rd Street by Valley Investment Partners. The infill project would include two multi-family buildings: A 17-unit building facing 2nd Street and a 19-unit building along 3rd Street. The project would provide a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. The site currently includes a parking lot and vacant land. (Pages 5-29 of the Monday Agenda Packet), and a proposed four-unit building at 618 E Grand Ave, across from University Park, by Holzinger Homes. Each unit of the two-story building would be one-bedroom with 864 square feet (Pages 30-43). The Plan Commission recommended approval of both requests with conditions.
   The Monday agenda also scheduled a public hearing on an amendment to the General Development Plan for the Culver's on Brackett Ave to reduce its required landscaping bed to allow for addition drive-through space because of market demand (Pages 44-66). The Plan Commission requested postponement of this item.
(See pages 132-135 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below for draft Plan Commission minutes.)
   Tuesday's Legislative Session will include votes by the Council on the above measures. The business agenda includes approval of a Class B Reserve Liquor License for a new bar and restaurant in a former gas station site at the corner of Menomonie and Clairemont to be known as Fella's Loaded Goat (see pages 39-53 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). David Burg is the applicant.
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, July 24, 7 p.m. Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (69 pages)
 • Tuesday, July 25, 4 p.m. 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)
New wheel tax proposal shows where money would go (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire considering wheel tax month after state shared revenue deal was signed (WPR)
New Apartment Proposal Adds to Cannery District Momentum (Volume One)
Restaurant/Bar hopes to occupy empty gas station on Menomonie Street (WQOW News 18)
Our View: City learned the right lessons from March wheel tax debate (Leader-Telegram editorial $)

City seeks dismissal of Town of Washington annexation suit
   In its response to a suit filed last month by the Town of Washington, the City of Eau Claire has asked a judge to dismiss the move to stop the annexation of 438 acres at the southwest edge of the City for the proposed Orchard Hills development.
   “This lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to frustrate the rights of private property owners to develop their lands and exercise their voting rights in the community of their choice,” says the response filed by Deputy City Attorney Dough Hoffer. It also asserts that "The City of Eau Claire’s decision to annex the territory in questions complies with Wisconsin law and is grounded in sound public policy.”
  The Town had prevailed in 2022 in an earlier lawsuit on the original annexation. The City then undertook a new annexation procedure in March under an alternative process that required approval from only a majority of landowners involved. The City Council's March 28 annexation vote was 9-1, arguing that the CDPG Developers' proposed housing development would be best created utilizing city services including water and sewer. The Town of Washington lawsuit asserts that the property is too far removed from the City's border and infrastructure.
   The Chamber supported 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.
More information:
Eau Claire seeks dismissal of lawsuit from neighboring town (Leader-Telegram $)

County Board chooses Nancy Coffey as new Chair

   At its regular meeting last Tuesday, the Eau Claire County Board voted by ballot to elect District 10 Supervisor Nancy Coffey as its Chair to serve until next April's local election. The move came after the Eau Claire County Board voted 17-9 on July 12 remove Nick Smiar as County Board Chair after a series of meetings related to legal and personnel issues around the County Department of Human Services. 
   Coffey, who was serving as the Board's First Vice Chair, was elected on 15-12 vote, with two Supervisors absent, over District 4 Supervisor Stella Pagonis. Pagonis was also a candidate for Chair at the April 2022 organizational meeting, where Smiar had been reelected on a 15-14 vote. The County Board Chair is elected by the Board from among its members. Smiar continues to serve as District 15 Supervisor.
Zoning update approved
   The Board also approved
a comprehensive zoning code update for the county. The revisions are primarily aimed at simplifying the code and making it easier to understand and use, rather than significant changes in permitted uses, etc. The new "Land Use Development Ordinance" will replace the previous code adopted in 1982 and will be in effect in those towns who adopt County Zoning, including Brunswick, Clear Creek, Drammen, Lincoln, Otter Creek, Pleasant Valley, Seymour, Union, and Washington. After adoption by the County Board, each Town Board will also need to adopt the revised code within one year to continue with county zoning. The revision process began in 2018, managed by the Planning and Development Department, and the revision has been endorsed by the City-County Board of Health, the Groundwater Advisory Committee, and the Committee on Planning and Development. (See pages 70-81 of the agenda packet linked below.)
   An earlier version of the update raised concerns in May from the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) about a provision that would have required subdivisions to have shared drinking water systems and/or shared wastewater treatment systems if they have lots smaller than 1.5 acres. The Chamber joined CVHBA at the May 9 public hearing held by the Committee on Planning & Development to express concerns and request changes. Subsequently, the Committee worked with the Health Department to draft revisions that address groundwater protection needs without applying arbitrary standards.
2024 Budget: Public input meetings and survey
   The Board's Budget & Finance Committee has begun joint meetings with other board committees to work on its 2024 budget, has scheduled two public input meetings in August, and is asking for public input via a survey. See information below.
Meeting information:
Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Tuesday, July 18, Agenda Packet (84 pages)
County Board district maps and Supervisors
Link to County Board agendas and past meeting videos
County Board 2024 Budget Public Input meetings
County budget website
 • Thursday, August 3, 6 p.m., Augusta Senior Center, 616 W. Washington St.

 • Thursday, August 17, 6 p.m., Altoona City Hall, 1303 Lynn Ave.
 Online survey: 2024 EC County Budget (click this link)
News coverage: 
Eau Claire County Board goes for Coffey (Leader-Telegram $)
New chair elected for Eau Claire County Board (WEAU 13 News)
Nancy Coffey voted as new chair of Eau Claire County Board (WQOW News 18)
Eau Claire County Board approves opioid and drug overdose resources (WQOW News 18)
Eau Claire Co. schedules public input sessions on '24 budget (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire County offering citizen engagement survey (WEAU 13 News)
Eau Claire Co. Meals on Wheels gets used to new, bigger facility (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire County forms group to study potential role in emergency medical service (Leader-Telegram $)

More local stories:

'We are very excited to see what happens': Eau Claire hosting hundreds for travel content conference (WQOW News 18)

Video: I’ve Never Been Able To Do This Before! (Visit to Eau Claire by YouTube creators Squirmy & Grubs, 12:13)

Tourism destinations helped push rural Wisconsin's net-migration beyond its neighbors in recent decades (WPR)

Report: Why Is Wisconsin’s Rural Population Growth Outpacing the Midwest? (Wisconsin Policy Forum)

Altoona Awarded $10K Grant For Housing, Holding Design Competition
(Volume One)

CVTC Simulation Camp gives students a look into health care jobs (Leader-Telegram $)

Country Jam wraps up 32nd year with high attendance
(WQOW News 18)

Despite rain, Rock Fest and Northern Wisconsin State Fair have record crowds
(Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire’s 99th County Fair kicks off
(WEAU 13 News)

Skillet, Colton Dixon expected to pack OneFest in Chippewa Falls
(Leader-Telegram $)

Mayo Clinic Health System Awards $375,000 to Schools, Orgs in Region
(Volume One)

New Cobban Bridge to open Tuesday
(WQOW News 18)

Chippewa County DHS adding 13 employees
(Leader-Telegram $)

How John Murphy Became a Legend in Eau Claire Radio
(Volume One)

CF city engineer Rubenzer retires after three decades with city
(Leader-Telegram $)

Last chance to participate...
Wage Survey deadline July 31
   The Eau Claire Chamber is extending the deadline for the Western & Central Wisconsin Wage Survey to July 31.
   The survey covers employers from nine Chambers of Commerce, including Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Marshfield, Menomonie, Portage County, Rice Lake, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids, in cooperation with the local chapters of Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) in the Chippewa Valley, La Crosse, Wausau, and Winona.
   The objective for this survey is to be the definitive resource of base compensation information for commonly recognized jobs in our geographic area.
More information:
Click here for full details about the survey and how to participate


Chippewa Valley Chamber leaders: Local UW projects will have far reaching impact
   In an "It Seems to Me" Op-Ed appearing in last Friday's Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, the leaders of the Chippewa Valley's three Chambers of Commerce celebrated the impact of UWEC and UW-Stout projects included in the state budget.
   "The inclusion of two local UW System building projects in the recently enacted state budget – UW-Stout’s Heritage Hall renovation and UW-Eau Claire’s new Sciences and Health Sciences Building – is great news because both projects are set to deliver benefits to our region and Wisconsin that will far exceed their cost. The public investment in each of these projects will strengthen our regional economy, address workforce shortages, accelerate productive partnerships with businesses, and even help secure the very future of the universities themselves," said the column, signed by Ashley DeMuth, Chief Executive Officer, Menomonie Area Chamber & Visitor Center; David Minor, President & CEO, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce; and Allyson Wisniewski, President, Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.
   The narrative expressed appreciation for "the tenacity of our bipartisan Chippewa Valley legislative delegation, working in both of their party caucuses to secure inclusion of funding for the projects through the Joint Finance Committee, passage by the Assembly and Senate, and the signature of Governor Tony Evers."
   It concluded with recognition of the universities' role as economic engines for the region, and how critical the two projects are to keep each of the institutions competitive in an era of significant demographic challenges for higher education.
Click here to read the full column (Leader-Telegram $)

Wisconsin Policy Forum report: "State Budget Settles Big Issues, Leaves Room to Keep Bargaining on Others"
   "Drawing upon an unprecedented state surplus of nearly $7 billion, elected officials packed the new state budget with a combination that might otherwise have seemed impossible: the largest increase in funding for public services in three decades, coupled with sizable tax cuts, and the preservation of abundant reserves.  In the Wisconsin Policy Forum’s new report that recaps the adopted 2023-25 state budget, we highlight the key issues that resulted in both compromise and conflict. For example, the budget provides a sizable funding boost to Wisconsin’s public schools, a key priority of Gov. Tony Evers – while also giving historic increases to charter and private voucher schools.   The tax and spending plan also provides new resources for the state’s cash-strapped local governments, allowing for particularly large infusions for Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee, as well as for many of its smallest communities. At the same time, it includes major funding increases for state payments and credits to lower local property taxes.  Yet it rejects many of the governor’s other funding priorities, such as expanding Medicaid, establishing permanent funding to support child care providers, or increasing support for the University of Wisconsin System. The plan also dropped major income tax cuts, which along with the spending rejections means the budget will retain ample reserves for policymakers moving forward."
   So notes a news release from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, highlighting its summary of the recently-enacted 2023-25 biennial state budget, and remaining issues to be resolved.
   “The good news for both sides is that a final budget not only has been adopted on time, but has preserved much of the state’s massive surplus, thus leaving the possibility at least of future compromises on child care, higher education, income tax cuts, and more,” the report says.
   See the link below to read the full report.
More information:
News Release: State Budget Settles Big Issues, Leaves Room to Keep Bargaining on Others  (Wisconsin Policy Forum)
Full Report - Compromise and Conflict: Budget Settles Most Issues, Leaves Room for Bargaining on Others (Wisconsin Policy Forum)
Report: Wisconsin taxpayers are expected to see over $1 billion in savings from the latest state budget (Journal-Sentinel +)
Report: State Aid to Rise For Wisconsin's Small Communities (WKOW)

Local impact of the state budget and what's next...
Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
   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, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
  Click here for details and to register

More state and regional stories: 

Sen. Rob Hutton: With declining enrollment, sustaining all of UW System's branches looks ominous
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Tech Council board urges approval of UW engineering building project

Gov. Tony Evers signs sweeping phonics-based reading bill into law
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Gov. Evers boosted school funding for 400 years. Why some school leaders aren't impressed
(Journal-Sentinel +)

What’s next for the ‘Year of Mental Health?’
(The Cap Times)

Republican Melotik wins 24th AD special election

Impacts of updating commercial building code debated in legislative committee

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers' bill would eliminate nearly all state income taxes for retirees
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Evers repeats calls for Wisconsin lawmakers to take action on child care funding
(Channel 3000)

'You still have to eat': Wisconsin's child care worker pipeline is strong, but industry can’t keep staff

Evers vows vetoes of legislation targeting transgender Wisconsinites
(The Cap Times)

Wisconsin Republicans pitch Constitutional Amendment to block church closures during emergencies

Democrats eye Wisconsin high court’s new liberal majority to win abortion and redistricting rulings

WisPolitics tracks $56 million in spending on Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Federal authorities interview Wisconsin's top election official in 2020 probe
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Bipartisan group No Labels eyes third-party ticket, working to secure ballot access in Wisconsin, other states

Wauwatosa puts the brakes on Transportation Utility Fee after Supreme Court ruling
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin's home sales down 25% for first half of 2023
(Leader-Telegram $)

June 2023 Home Sales Report: Inventories Remain Tight, Hampering Sales and Driving Prices Higher (Wisconsin Realtors Association)

Number of jobs in Wisconsin reaches record high as unemployment hovers near record lows (WPR)

Wisconsin added 7,000 private sector jobs in June

73 percent of businesses in WMC survey say public high school grads unprepared for workforce

Workforce readiness among concerns from manufacturer employer survey

Plagued by teacher shortages, some states turn to fast-track credentialing

Marshfield-area farm couple opening their home to Ukrainian refugees the subject of film unveiled at Tribeca Film Festival
(Marshfield News-Herald)

In Fitchburg, there's a new solution to the skilled labor shortage: The Boys & Girls Club
(The Cap Times)

Most of Wisconsin could have broadband this decade, report says
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Proposal to tear down freeway sparks excitement, debate in Milwaukee
(The Daily Reporter)

Minnesota DOT releases survey, website for 10 ‘Rethinking I-94’ scenarios
(TwinCities.com +)

Wausau Chamber moves: New offices in old railroad depot
(WAOW News 9)

Green Bay Packers release financial report, focused on investments in future
(WEAU 13 News)

Packers report operating profit of $68.6 million, down 12% from prior fiscal year

Downtowns face the decline of office workers. But Milwaukee outpaces many of its peers
(Journal-Sentinel +)

DA: Superior Tourism Commission violated open meetings law
(Superior Telegram +)

St. Paul City Council puts sales tax for roads, property tax for child care on 2023, 2024 ballots
(TwinCities.com +)


Transportation Funding Under Threat in US House of Representatives
But Senate Committee passes different version on bipartisan 29-0 vote
   It’s not yet been two years since the transformative long-term infrastructure package known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law.
   "But efforts are underway in the U.S. House of Representatives to undermine the funding provided to upgrade and modernize the nation’s infrastructure," says advocacy group United for Infrastructure. "The Fiscal Year 2024 House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill passed out of House Appropriations Committee on July 18 reduces funding for critical transportation and housing programs by 38 percent.  Should this bill be approved by Congress, many of the most popular grant programs such as the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants, the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) grants, and the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants will not receive any FY24 appropriations.  Additionally, funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) is being slashed as is funding for Amtrak and its busy Northeast Corridor (NEC).  The only reason why these programs will receive any funding at all in this bill is due to the advanced appropriations that were provided in the IIJA."
   "As devastating as the cuts in the FY24 House THUD bill are, it is early in the FY24 appropriations process.  While the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote, it is not clear if there are enough votes for it to pass the full House where Republicans hold a four vote majority.
Regardless of what happens in the House, the Senate is not expected to go along with the proposed cuts, which will make finding compromise on a final funding bill a difficult task," says the group.  
   Indeed, the Senate Appropriations Committee last Friday voted on a bi-partisan basis, 29-0, to maintain most programs in the IIJA. Both bills must still pass the full House and Senate and be resolved before going to the President. 
More information:
Transportation Funding Under Threat in House of Representatives (United for Infrastructure)

House GOP seeks billions in cuts to rail, water infrastructure spending (Washington Post +)
BILL SUMMARY: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill (US Senate Democratic News Release)
Senate Committee Approves FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill (US Senate Republican News Release)
Senate Committee on Appropriations Advances FY 2024 Transportation Appropriations Bill (APTA)

More national and economic stories:

Retail sales rose in June for third straight month
(CNN Business)

Labor market's sudden shift towards skilled trade workers is a win for blue-collar jobs
(Fox Business)

New Hampshire Gov. Sununu will not run for reelection in 2024

Biden’s latest student loan forgiveness plan would cost taxpayers $475B, analysis says
(Fox Business)

Russia’s Withdrawal From Ukraine Grain Deal Threatens Millions
(The Dispatch)

Video:Rep. Mike Gallagher - Our economic relationship with China is incredibly fraught

Constraining China and building on early successes focus of House hearing on AI's impact on national security
(ABC 7)

Wisconsin solar projects face delays from federal review to ensure no panels used Chinese forced labor

‘This Is a Really Big Deal’: How College Towns Are Decimating the GOP

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

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

Food for thought:

Innovation can help us address climate change. But conservatives need to make the right arguments.
(The Dispatch)

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

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: Economic Development Update
 • Friday, July 28, CVTC Business Education Center

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

Eggs & Issues
• 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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