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Volume 6, Issue 6, June 26, 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: Economic Development Update
With cranes 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. 
 • Friday, July 28, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Also for your summer calendar:
 • Monday, Aug 7, Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 14, Business After Hours, Residence Inn by Marriott
 • Friday, Aug 18, Eggs & Issues, CVTC Business Education Center


Next week's Business Advocate will be an abbreviated holiday week issue on Wednesday, July 5.

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-4:30p, Fri 8a-12n (Closed Fridays in July)

Lobby Hours: Mon-Thu 9a-3p, Fri 9a-12n (Closed Fridays in July)

In this issue:
 • EC City Council to consider Shopko area TIF
 • Online survey: Zoning code rewrite
 • County Board calls closed session Monday on DHS report
 • Last chance for Bravo to Business nominations (Deadline June 30)
 • Update on CVTC funding threat
 • JFC wraps up budget with tax cuts, reduced UW System funding
 • Governor signs affordable housing legislation
 • 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: TIF proposed for Shopko site
   The Eau Claire City Council meets this week, with its agenda including approval of a TIF district around the former ShopKo site, a 10.9 acre manufacturing and office building site in the Gateway Industrial Park, a property tax settlement with Target, and state funding agreements for the Dewey St. Bridge and LED lighting.
   The proposed Tax Incremental District (TID)16 would encompass several parcels in the former Shopko Plaza area between Stein Blvd., W. Clairemont Ave., Craig Rd., and W. Macarthur Ave. The plan envisions public improvements including street pavement replacements within the district and a pedestrian underpass at Clairemont and Stein. (See pages 104-141 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). Its creation was recommended by the Plan Commission on June 5. To take effect, the TID must also be approved by the Joint Review Board including other local property tax jurisdictions.
   Also on the Business Agenda for Tuesday's Legislative Session are a tax settlement refund for Target (see pages 217-227), a development and use agreement for 10.9 acres in the Gateway Industrial Park for Coating Tech Slot Dies (pages 228-263), a Certified Survey Map and development agreement with Sunnyvale Acres LLC for its housing development on the Southeast side west of Highway 53 (pages 76-103), and state funding agreements for replacement of the Dewey Street Bridge (pages 50-60) and installation of energy-efficient LED lighting (pages 61-71).
   The only item on Monday's Public Hearing agenda is a rezoning of property at 2840 W. Folsom to allow for construction of a mini-warehouse building (see pages 5-15 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below).
   Following Monday's meeting, the Council will hold a work session to discuss several of the City's ARPA funded projects, including those related to neighborhood services, trash service, employee-related initiatives, and asset management (see page 18 of the Monday Agenda Packet).
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, June 26, 7 p.m. Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (18 pages)
 • Tuesday, June 27, 4 p.m. Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (276 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)
2024-2028 Proposed Capital Improvement Plan (City of Eau Claire, 202 pages)
City plans new TIF district around former Shopko site (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce hosts reception for new City Council president (WEAU 13 News)

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. 
   Last week, the process began 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 (City of Eau Claire)

County Board calls closed session Monday on DHS report
   The Eau Claire County Board has called a Special Meeting for Monday night, most of it in closed session, to discuss the results of its internal investigation into the Department of Human Services and related issues.
More information:
Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors
 • Monday, June 26, 6 p.m. Agenda Packet
County Board district maps and Supervisors
Eau Claire County Board calls special closed-door meeting Monday on DHS investigation (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire County Board hears oral report on DHS internal investigation (Leader-Telegram $)
What happens next after County Board hears part of analysis on DHS investigation (WQOW News 18)
Eau Claire County Board meeting tonight on DHS investigation (WEAU 13 News)

More local stories:

Hope Gospel Mission celebrates 25 years of Hope
(Leader-Telegram $)

Hope Gospel Mission Celebrates 25 Years
(WEAU 13 News)

Hope Gospel celebrates 25 years of serving community
(WQOW News 18)

Hutchinson Technology laying off 50 more workers
(WQOW News 18)

Chamber ribbon cutting: TDS Telecommunications LLC opens doors on Eau Claire retail location
(WEAU 13 News)

Record crowds flocking to Country Fest
(Leader-Telegram $)

Celebrating Juneteenth in the Chippewa Valley
(WQOW News 18)

‘This is a Game Changer’: Local Skaters See Dreams Become Reality with Boyd Skate Park
(Volume One)

6 Broadway shows coming to Pablo Center next season
(Leader-Telegram $)

Bravo to Business Award nominations now open through June 30
   Bravo to Business is the Chamber's annual awards event that recognizes outstanding area organizations for the significant role they play in driving the community's business and economic growth. To be considered for one of these awards, the organization must be setting standards for excellence and innovation with their business practices and community involvement.  

   Any Chamber investor or non-investor can nominate a business for an award and a business may also nominate itself. Awards will be given based on the following categories:
   Small Business of the Year - Open to any Chamber investor business with less than 50 full-time employees
   Business of the Year - Open to any Chamber investor business more than 50 full-time employees
   Emerging Business of the Year - Open to any Chamber investor, OR non-investor business, that has been operating for 3 years or less
   Resilient Business of the Year (New category!) - Open to all Chamber investor businesses
   Young Professionals Best Place to Work - Open to all Chamber investor businesses with 5 or more full-time employees, that employ individuals that are members of Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley (YPCV).
   Award applicants are narrowed down to three finalists in each category. The winners will be announced at the Bravo to Business awards ceremony at The Florian Gardens Conference Center on Thursday, September 21.
More information:
Click here to for full details and to nominate a business

Bravo to Business: Chamber Seeks Nominations for Best Businesses in E.C. Area (Volume One)


Assembly adjourns without taking up CVTC,
tech college funding bill
   The State Assembly adjourned its floor session last Wednesday without taking up a proposal that would replace the local operational tax authority for the state’s technical colleges with state aid. Although the amended bill was on the Assembly calendar to be voted on Wednesday afternoon, the legislation was never brought to the floor. It appears that the objections raised by the business community made a difference, and that the legislation is now unlikely to move forward.
   The bill, known as AB2, was originally introduced to repeal the personal property tax. However, the shared revenue bill signed last week included the personal property tax provision. AB2 was then amended in the Ways and Means Committee late in the day on June 15, without a hearing, to eliminate the operating tax levy authority of local technical colleges. 
    With the state controlling the purse strings, college supporters point to the past history of declining state support for the UW System and local governments as creating potential for fiscal problems in the future.
   “We believe there is a great benefit to keeping our technical colleges locally accountable and responsible to the stakeholders of west central Wisconsin as allowed through the current funding structure and oppose the AB 2,” said Sunem Beaton-Garcia, President of CVTC. “The impact and success of this localized approach have been proven over many years, with 86 percent of CVTC graduates employed in Wisconsin and nearly 70 percent within the CVTC district.”  
   The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Chippewa Valley regional legislators opposing the provision.
   "We are concerned that such a drastic change in the funding mechanism is moving towards enactment without a hearing or thorough discussion of the purposes, options, and consequences," wrote Chamber President & CEO, Dave Minor. 
   Technical colleges are currently funded through a combination of property taxes, state aid, tuition and fees, federal aid, and other sources. In Eau Claire, the CVTC levy makes up about 4.3 percent of total property tax bills. 

More information:
Chamber letter to Chippewa Valley legislators (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
CVTC highlights local impact of proposed assembly bill amendment (News release)
Assembly adjourns without taking up tech college funding bill (Wispolitics.com)
CVTC opposes proposal to swap property taxes for state aid (Leader-Telegram $)
GOP amendment would block tech colleges from using property taxes to pay for operations (WPR)
Documents: Speaker Robin Vos pushed to eliminate technical college taxing authority (WPR)

Final state budget action includes $3.5 billion in tax cuts,
reduced funding for UW System
   The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) completed its work on the 2023-25 state budget last Thursday, with its proposals now going to the full legislature for approval. The budget must also be signed by Governor Tony Evers before it takes effect.
   Notable JFC action on its final day included a $3.5 billion tax cut, lowering state income taxes in all four tax brackets. It also followed through on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' move to cut $32 million from the UW System budget to defund diversity offices and positions. It also approved $525 million in funds for newly-enacted affordable housing initiatives. JFC did not include in its budget funding proposed by Governor Evers to continue the Child Care Counts program when its funding runs out next year, although Republicans say they are working on a package of bills to address child care.
   Earlier in the month, JFC did include funding in its capital budget for the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building and UW-Stout's Heritage Hall renovation, but not for UW-Madison's proposed Engineering Building.
More information:
Tax cuts and a UW squeeze: A look at the proposed GOP-backed Wisconsin state budget (AP)

Republicans approve $3.5B income tax cut, reduce state funds for the UW System (WPR)
Wisconsin Lawmakers Unveil Plan To Cut Income Tax Rates, Democratic Governor Dumps On It (Forbes)
UW System: Statement by UW System President Jay Rothman on budget committee announcement (WisPolitics.com)
Republicans vote to cut UW System budget by $32 million in attempt to defund diversity offices (Journal-Sentinel +)
Republicans vote to cut University of Wisconsin System’s budget by $32M in diversity programs spat (AP)
UW System president pushes back against criticism of campus diversity initiatives (WPR)
Could GOP plan to defund UW diversity offices lead to campus closures? Here's what we know (Journal-Sentinel +)
Rothman says ‘all options’ for two-year campuses on the table amid threat of funding cuts (WisPolitics.com)
Video: WisPolitics June 22 Luncheon with UW System President Jay Rothman (Wisconsin Eye)
Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance recommends completion funding for UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Building (UWEC)
Joint Finance Committee approves UW-Stout’s Heritage Hall renovation project (WEAU 13 News)

Evers signs shared revenue bill
   Governor Tony Evers last Tuesday signed legislation implementing the shared revenue compromise agreed to with State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). It provides for dedicating 20% of the state's sales tax revenue for local governments, increasing shared revenue payments to counties and municipalities, allowing the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to enact local sales taxes with certain restrictions, and investments in K-12 schools and education.
See the link below for the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's (LFB) estimates of additional shared revenue amounts for municipalities and counties based upon the recently-passed compromise legislation. As examples, the City of Eau Claire would receive an additional $1.216 million (20% above the existing $6.08 million), Altoona $302,845 (26.7%), Augusta $102,517 (20%), the Village of Fall Creek $53,988 (23.5%), and Eau Claire County $1.04 million (47.3%). 
More information:
Gov. Evers Enacts Legislation Providing Historic Shared Revenue Increases for Local Communities (Office of the Governor)

Proposed revenue sharing to municipalities (Legislative Fiscal Bureau)
Proposed revenue sharing to counties (Legislative Fiscal Bureau)
Gov. Tony Evers signs bill to keep Milwaukee financially stable, boosting funding to local governments (Journal-Sentinel +)

Cities, towns 'might finally be able to make ends meet': Evers celebrates bipartisan shared revenue law (WPR)
Governor Evers visits Chippewa Falls to promote shared revenue bill (WQOW News 18)
Evers tours CF fire station, touts shared revenue agreement (Leader-Telegram $)
7 Takeaways from the final shared revenue bill (The Recombobulation Area)
Area politicians divided on fairness of anticipated shared revenue increase (Leader-Telegram $)
Beloit to see over $3.5 million increase in shared revenue (Beloit Daily News)

Evers signs affordable housing bills, JFC provides
$525 million in budget
   Governor Tony Evers last Thursday signed five bipartisan bills aimed at addressing housing affordability and supply in the state, while the Joint Finance Committee committed $525 million in the budget to fund the initiatives created by the bills.
   All five bills originated in the State Assembly, with several local State Representatives served as lead sponsors or cosponsors of the legislation. Sen. Romaine Quinn (R-Cameron) was a Senate sponsor of all five. The Eau Claire Chamber supported all five bills. The bills include:
   • Assembly Bill 264, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 14. Lead Sponsor Rep. Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake), local co-sponsors included Reps. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire), Warren Petryk (R-Town of Washington), and Donna Rozar (R-Marshfield). Creates a residential housing infrastructure revolving loan fund program, allowing a residential housing developer to apply to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) for a loan to cover the costs of installing, replacing, upgrading, or improving public infrastructure related to workforce housing or senior housing.
  •  Assembly Bill 265, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 15. Lead sponsor Rep. Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek), local co-sponsors Reps. Emerson, Rozar, Petryk. Creates a main street housing rehabilitation revolving loan funding program, allowing an owner of rental housing to apply to WHEDA for a loan to cover the costs of an improvement to workforce housing to maintain it in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition or to restore it to that condition.  
   • Assembly Bill 266, now 202Wisconsin Act 16. Co-sponsored by Rep. Clint Moses (R-Menomonie). Establishes a new procedure for certiorari review of local land use decisions regarding residential development, providing that the new procedure for certiorari review is the only review available for a decision of a political subdivision regarding an application for approval, such as a permit or authorization for building, zoning, driveway, stormwater, or other activity related to residential development.  
   • Assembly Bill 267, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 17. Cosponsored by Reps. Emerson, Rozar, and Petryk. Makes various modifications to the Workforce Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program administered by WHEDA, including but not limited to: Specifying the home must be a single-family residence that the applicant occupies as the applicant’s primary residence and that was constructed at least 40 years prior to the date of the loan application; Allowing eligible rehabilitation to include the removal of lead paint, asbestos, mold, or other environmental contamination;  Allowing eligible rehabilitation to include repairing or replacing flooring or an interior wall or ceiling, or an internal plumbing system; and  Requiring WHEDA to establish policies and procedures to administer the loan program and the policies and procedures must, to the extent practicable, address credit underwriting guidelines and loan repayment requirements.  
   Assembly Bill 268, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 18. Lead Sponsor Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer), Co-sponsors Reps. Emerson, Moses, Petryk. Creates a commercial-to-residential conversation revolving loan fund program under WHEDA, allowing a developer to apply to WHEDA for a loan to cover the costs of converting a vacant commercial building to workforce housing or senior housing; and  Requires the housing associated with a conversion loan must be new residential housing for rent or for sale and must consist of 16 or more dwelling units.
    "Upper-floor housing has been a part of Wisconsin downtowns since the days our communities were built," noted Hurd about AB 265, "Before automobiles, business owners had their shops on the first floor and lived upstairs. After World War II, the automobile increased people’s mobility, and much of the population moved to the suburbs and commuted to and from their businesses each day. Many of these upper floor living spaces fell into disuse. For several decades, these spaces have deteriorated, sitting empty and unmaintained or simply used for storage. The good news is that most of these buildings were built so soundly that they’ve endured.”
More information:
Gov. Evers Signs Bipartisan Package of Affordable Housing Legislation (Office of the Governor)

Wisconsin governor signs affordable housing bills, Republicans approve funding (AP)
Representative Hurd Votes to Improve Workforce Housing (News release)

Assembly passes bills on reading literacy, alcohol, and more
   In a busy floor session last Wednesday afternoon, the State Assembly passed a number of bills on a variety of topics including reading literacy, an overhaul of the state's alcohol regulations, and allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control. To become law, the bills must also be passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor.
More information:
Wisconsin Assembly passes bills to overhaul literacy programs, let pharmacists prescribe birth control (WPR)
Wisconsin Assembly approves bills to increase birth control access, overhaul alcohol industry (Wisconsin State Journal +)
Assembly approves alcohol regulation overhaul on 90-4 bipartisan vote (WisPolitics.com)
Wisconsin Assembly passes sweeping bill to overhaul liquor law (AP)
Assembly passes reading education bill with bipartisan support (WisPolitics.com)
Assembly passes phonics-based reading bill in a bipartisan vote (Journal-Sentinel +)
Assembly passes bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills (WisPolitics.com)

More legislative stories:

Evers signs new funding program for farm roads into law

Attacks on election workers would be a felony under proposal being considered in Wisconsin Legislature

Assembly Elections Chair Krug praises embattled elections administrator Wolfe, wants joint meeting with Senate on her performance (WisPolitics.com)

Speaker Robin Vos says American Family Field funding deal remains elusive (Journal-Sentinel +)

LFB: State would have to put another $525M into $1.8B rainy day fund to meet national median (WisPolitics.com)

Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee OKs $400M for Superior's Blatnik Bridge project (Superior Telegram +)

More state and regional stories: 

Home sales fell 22% in Wisconsin, but prices continue to skyrocket
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin's unemployment fund avoided deficit during pandemic, but hasn't fully recovered

‘They die so quickly’: Fentanyl killing 1,000+ people in Wisconsin each year
(Wisconsin Watch)

Fiserv Forum location announced for Aug 23 GOP primary debate in Milwaukee

American Family Field's public owner is getting more attention. Here's a rundown.
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Known for immersive exhibits and hidden treasures, the new Milwaukee Public Museum is adding storytelling
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Superior committee examines closure of homeless encampment
(Superior Telegram +)

Port of Green Bay continues to see high cargo volumes so far this year

Xcel Energy Surpasses 50% Carbon-Free Electricity Generation Companywide
(Xcel Energy)

Justice Department finds pattern of discriminatory policing in Minneapolis
(Star-Tribune +)


National and economic stories:

Despite Current Pause, Powell Cautions That Rates May Rise Again Later This Year (Forbes +)

Trump, Fox’s Bret Baier spar over former president’s 2020 election claims (The Hill)

Republican Will Hurd announces he's running for president (CBS News)

Van Orden Introduces Warrior Call Day Resolution, Co-Chairs Military Mental Health Task Force (Office of Rep Derrick Van Orden)

Van Orden pushes veteran mental health proposal
(Leader-Telegram $)

Supreme Court rejects a lawsuit from states demanding that Biden administration boost deportations

As fuel taxes plummet, states weigh charging by the mile instead of the tank

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

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

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

Chamber & CVTC Business Community Breakfast
 • Tuesday, Sep 12

Bravo to Business

 • Thursday, Sep 21

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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