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Volume 5, Issue 49, April 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


Eggs & Issues: Washington Update with the US Chamber
Join us for insights on federal policy issues and their impact on business from John Kirchner, Vice President, Midwest Region, Congressional and Public Affairs Division, US Chamber of Commerce. John will fill us in on critical topics including the federal role in solving workforce shortages, immigration, permitting reform, and concerns about federal overreach from agencies like the FTC, SEC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, DOJ, EPA, and the IRS. We'll also learn about the US Chamber's new tool to assess the public policy risks faced by business, and what you can do to impact federal policies.
 • Friday, May 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

In this issue: 
 • Regional Housing Study survey 
 • EC City Council: ARPA funding, fireworks
 • Applicants sought for EC District 1 City Council vacancy
 • Altoona to change River Prairie parking, take over old County Highway bldg
 • Scott Allen named new regional planning commission director
 • UWEC hosting "The future of free speech on campus" on May 1
 • Last chance for input into state budget
 • US Chamber: Public policy risks soaring
 • 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 "+"


Regional Housing Study Survey open through Wednesday
5-minute online survey to get local perspectives
   Eau Claire County, the City of Eau Claire, and the City of Altoona have partnered to undertake a Regional Housing Study. The study will examine housing market conditions across Eau Claire County to identify issues and opportunities related to housing supply in our area, and will make recommendations for action. The study is expected to be completed by early June.

   An online survey is open through April 26 to help the project team better understand local perspectives on housing-related issues. Click the link below to take the survey, which should take about five minutes to complete.
  Click here to complete the online Regional Housing Study Survey
  Eau Claire Regional Housing Study website 

Wisconsin Realtors Association: Home sales volume down, prices up
   The Wisconsin Realtors Association's March sales report shows that low inventories have hampered home sales in Wisconsin while prices in the state continue to rise. Inventory levels for March are historically low, with just 13,342 units for sale. Total statewide listings are down more than 20% when comparing March 2023 to March 2022. Home sales fell 23.6% and the median price rose 6.9% to $272,500 over that same period.

   Locally, the median price of a home sold in Eau Claire County was $311,500,  $51,500 more than a year before. Prices also increased significantly over last year in Dunn and Chippewa counties. 
Greywolf breaks ground on Station 955
   Milwaukee-based Greywolf partners last Tuesday broke ground on its 258-unit apartment complex at the site of the former Shopko store at 955 W. Clairemont Ave.

   “With growing demand for more multifamily housing in Eau Claire, we are excited to break ground on this new project to help fulfill this need,” said Joe Wagner, chief executive officer for Greywolf Partners. “Station 955 has a great location that will be beneficial for students at both UW-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College, as it is within a few minutes’ walk to campus, but it is also convenient for those living and working in the area while providing an abundance of amenities.”
More information:
Greywolf Partners Breaks Ground on Eau Claire Multifamily Development (WEAU 13 News)

New data from 4 jurisdictions that are allowing more housing shows sharply slowed rent growth (Pew Trusts)
Young, first-time homeowners getting priced out in increasingly tight housing market (Leader-Telegram $)
Wisconsin Realtors Association: Historically weak inventories keep March home sales down & drive prices up (WisBusiness.com)
March Home Sales Report (Wisconsin Realtors Association)
National Home Sales Report (National Association of Realtors)

EC City Council agenda: ARPA funds, fireworks location
Emily Berge installed as new City Council President
Applicants sought for District 1 Council Member vacancy
   The Eau Claire City Council's agenda this week includes discussion of a staff proposal for allocation of the City's remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, the location of the Independence Day fireworks, and plans for street improvements along Menomonie Street in the vicinity of the Sonnentag project.
   Each of those topics are included in the Council's Public Hearing on Monday evening. The Menomonie Street improvements cover the area from Carson Park Drive to 10th Avenue, primarily related to the street surface, but also includes construction of a roundabout at 10th Avenue (see pages 5-10 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below).
   The ARPA discussion relates to the $4 million in federal funding that the City has not yet allocated. City Manager Stephanie Hirsch is proposing spending $3 million of that amount on a series of priorities including affordable housing; services for the unhoused; initiatives that increase access, equity, and connection; and an inclusive community program. The remaining $1 million is tentatively proposed to be acted upon at the Council's May 9 meeting and would include set asides for acquisition of a day shelter, and for fiscal stability one time projects (see pages 12-24).

   The City is also considering a staff proposal to move the launch location of the July 4th fireworks to the High Bridge, primarily for safety and cost reasons. The traditional site is Carson Park, which the Eau Claire Express baseball team has urged be retained (see pages 25-26).
SC Swiderski projects
   Tuesday's Business Agenda includes the items discussed on Monday, plus final plats and a development agreement for SC Swiderski's "SCS Eau Claire Phases IV and V" projects located near North Crossing, south of Christopher Drive  (see pages 67-101 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). 
April 18 Organizational Meeting
   The Council met last week in its organizational meeting. Emily Berge was sworn in to a new 3-year term as City Council President after winning the office in the April 4 election. She succeeds former President Terry Weld, who did not run for reelection. District 2 Council Member Emily Anderson was elected by the Council to be its Vice President. (For the minutes of the April 18 Organizational Meeting, including the list of Council Members appointed to boards, commissions, and committees, see pages 12-14 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below.)

Applicants sought for District 1 Council member vacancy
   The Council is seeking applicants for appointment to fill a vacancy for the District 1 seat on the Eau Claire City Council. There is one year left on the 3-year term, which has become open because current Council Member Emily Berge was elected City Council President at the Spring election.
   An applicant must be a current resident of District 1, which covers the northeast area of the City: click here for the district map. The deadline to apply is May 4. Eligible applicants will be invited to an interview with Council on May 10 or 11, and asked to make a brief presentation at the City Council meeting on Monday, May 22, at 7:00 p.m.  The Council will consider the appointment at its Legislative Session on Tuesday, May 23, at 4:00 p.m.
Click here for full details on requirements and how to apply
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Apr 24, 7 p.m., Public Hearing Agenda Packet (43 pages)
 • Tuesday, Apr 25, 4 p.m., Legislative Session Agenda Packet (142 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)
Eau Claire ponders location change for July 4 fireworks (Leader-Telegram $)
Who Wants to Be a City Council Member? In Eau Claire, It Could Be You (Volume One)

Eau Claire's era of Emilys begins (Leader-Telegram $)
Emily Berge shares goals for Eau Claire as new city council president (WQOW News 18)
City planning more uses for APRA funds (Leader-Telegram $)

City of Altoona plans to change back-in River Prairie parking
Move of EC County Highway Dept will open space for use by City
   Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt, City Administrator Mike Golat, and members of the City's leadership team led a presentation this past Friday at River Prairie Center for the Chamber's annual "State of the City - Altoona" Eggs & Issues program. 

   Among the information shared were plans this summer to replace the back-in parking along streets in River Prairie to more traditional head-in parking. City leaders also talked about space needs created by the City's growth, some of which will be addressed as it takes over the Eau Claire County Highway Department's facilities when it moves to a new building soon.
   We'll have a more complete report on last Friday's event in next week's Business Advocate.
More information:
Altoona OKs spending to change River Prairie back-in parking (Leader-Telegram $)

Parking Changes coming to River Prairie area (WEAU 13 News)
Space needs for city services discussed in State of Altoona address (Leader-Telegram $)

Scott Allen new regional planning commission director
Lynn Nelson retiring June 30
   The West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC) has announced that its new Executive Director will be Scott Allen, who is currently Director of Community Development for the City of Eau Claire. 

   Allen will replace Lynn Nelson, who is retiring on June 30 after 27 years at WCWRPC, the most recent 10 as Executive Director. 
   Before joining the City of Eau Claire in 2018, Allen's prior positions included Director of Community Development for the City of Blue Springs, Missouri; Acting Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Marshfield, Wisconsin; and Senior Planner-Natural Resources for Scott County, Minnesota. He holds a Master’s Degree in Community and Economic Development from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from St. Olaf College. 
   “Scott’s background and prior leadership positions will help to ensure that the Regional Planning Commission continues to provide the high level of service expected by the counties and communities of west central Wisconsin,” said Nelson.
   Allen will be starting at WCWRPC on May 15, providing six weeks of overlap before Nelson's retirement. 
More information:
West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
New Director to take over leadership of regional planning (West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission)

More local stories:

Parking in Downtown E.C.? Forget the Ticket: Now There’s an App for That (Volume One)

Altoona schools regroup after narrow building referendum loss
(Leader-Telegram $)

The community comes together for the 15th annual Amazing Eau Claire Clean Up (WEAU 13 News)

New regional president takes over at Leader-Telegram (Leader-Telegram $)

Chippewa Valley Regional Airport announces addition of new Orlando seasonal destination (WEAU 13 News)

CW King returns to Chippewa Falls City Council (Leader-Telegram $)

Major renovations coming to Chippewa Falls hydroelectric dam (Leader-Telegram $)

Logo unveiled for 2023 Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest celebration (WEAU 13 News)

Governor Evers visits Bloomer, talks farming conservation (WQOW News 18)

Evers visits Bloomer-area farm, talks watershed protection (Leader-Telegram $)

Hollister named new Menomonie police chief (Leader-Telegram $)

Double major, 3.5 years, debt free and hired before graduation — How’d she do that? (UWEC)

IT SEEMS TO ME: Service one of life's 'greatest experiences' (Former EC City Council President Terry Weld, Leader-Telegram $)

IT SEEMS TO ME: Good news from county government (County Supervisor Dane Zook, Leader-Telegram $)

Menard Center for Constitutional Studies to host
"The Future of Free Speech on Campus" event May 1
   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.
The Future of Free Speech on Campus
• Monday, May 1, 5:30 p.m. In person: Room 100 of Hibbard Hall, UWEC
rtual: Click here to register
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)

Episode 15: Business Matters Podcast
Young Professionals Director, Kelsy Schultz and Hannah Connor with Chippewa Valley Technical College, discuss the mission and impact that the Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley has on our business community.
Click here to listen (17:30)


JFC Budget hearings wrapping up this week
Written comments encouraged - last chance for input
   The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) will conduct the last of its four public hearings on Wednesday in Minocqua, then will begin meeting regularly to draft the two-year budget it expects to present to the State Assembly and Senate in the next few weeks. 

   The JFC is also welcoming written testimony, which should be submitted as soon as possible to be considered. 
How to submit written testimony
All testimony shared by any of the means below will automatically be shared with all 16 members of the Joint Finance Committee. Details:
E-mail: budget.comments@legis.wisconsin.gov 

(You can send an email message or a PDF attachment on letterhead)
Web form: 

UWEC Science Building a top Chamber priority
   Representatives of the Chamber spoke at the April 11 budget hearing in Eau Claire, advocating for completion funding for the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building. Chamber Board Chair Scott Hoffman of WIN Technology, Executive Committee Member and former Board Chair Mark Faanes, CEO Dave Minor, and VP Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers asserted the need for a replacement for outdated Phillips Science Hall, and the broader economic impact of the project. 

   “Like me, it’s time for that building to be retired and to make the investment in a new building on campus,” said Faanes, who is the retired Partner in Charge for Wipfli's area office in Eau Claire.
   Also speaking was Melissa Janssen, Program Director of Community Relations for Royal Credit Union. 
   "Funding of the UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Building will allow the university to continue to produce the STEM and health sciences graduates regional industries need," she said. "The research and education that will be conducted in this facility will provide regional economic and healthcare benefits far beyond the boarders of the campus."
   The JFC is the next step in completion of the 2023-25 State Budget, working towards making a recommendation to both houses of the Legislature. The building includes partnerships with Mayo Clinic Health System and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and was included in the UW Board of Regents budget request and the proposed capital budget from Governor Tony Evers.
   The Science Building is the Chamber's #1 public policy issue this spring because it has such a far-reaching impact on the future of the university and the economy of our city and region. Chamber investors are strongly encouraged to take the time to attend the hearing and give comments. The building was included in Governor Evers' proposed 2023-25 capital budget. Funding must also be approved the the full State Legislature.
More information:
Chancellor encourages completion funding for new Science and Health Sciences Building during JFC hearing (UWEC)

Project site - Science & Health Sciences Building (UWEC)
News release - Chamber, legislators applaud Science Building in Governor's capital budget (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
2023 Business Issues Agenda (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

More state and regional stories:

2023-25 State Budget updates (Hamilton Consulting)

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate again sets record low (The Cap Times)

Wisconsin businesses want more workers, but barriers prevent many from joining the labor force (WPR)

Gov. Evers Signs First Acts of 2023-24 Session
(Hamilton Consulting)

Wisconsin Senate approves increased penalties for reckless drivers

Wisconsin legislature sends new carjacking law to Gov. Evers’ desk
(The Center Square)

New Assembly GOP income tax cut proposal would cap rate at 4.5% for Wisconsin
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Sheriffs in rural counties call for better mental health call response protocols
(WEAU 13 News)

Bipartisan coalition seeks one-time funds for Wisconsin's arts and creative industries
(Wisconsin State Journal +)

Wisconsin Creative Economy Coalition 

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers working on medical pot legalization

Brewers' funding fight appears to be intensifying between Evers, GOP
(WISN 12)

Proposed grant program aims to boost rural pharmacy workforce

'Dark store' ruling may not shed light on future of big-box store property taxes
(Racine Journal-Times +)

UW System president calls for financial assessments of 2-year campuses amid steep enrollment declines (WPR)

Newly appointed Wisconsin Secretary of State Godlewski says she wants to modernize the diminished office

Wisconsin flooding along Mississippi River expected to rise to 'major' flood category

Ripon moving GOP birthplace building across town in hopes of drawing Republican conventioneers
(La Crosse Tribune +)

Milwaukee Common Council approves Brady Street hotel
(WISN 12)

Minnesota House Democratic tax bill holds big cuts and hikes


US Chamber: Public Policy Risks soar amid growing
trend to regulate rather than legislate
   Public companies’ concerns about policy risks—like changes in taxes, regulations, and enforcement—have increased by 27% over the last decade, according to a new report from the US Chamber of Commerce.

   “The data show what business leaders tell us every day—rising public policy risks threaten business growth and innovation and our country’s global competitiveness,” said Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “In Washington, the polarization, gridlock, regulatory overreach, and inability to act smartly and strategically for our future are making it harder for businesses to do their jobs and move this country forward.”
   The study analyzed how many times S&P 500 companies referenced terms commonly associated with public policy risk in their 10-K filings with the SEC from 2011 to 2021, finding that policy risk mentions dramatically increased over the last decade as compared with other risks, which were relatively flat.
   The terms that saw the greatest percent increase in mentions were: “data privacy,” “immigration issues,” “labor” and “intellectual property.” The healthcare and utilities sectors saw the biggest increase in concerns about public policy risk over the last decade.
More information:
Report link: Public Policy Risks Faced by Companies Soar (US Chamber of Commerce, 18 pages)

Full story: Public Policy Risks Soar Amid Growing Trend to Regulate Rather than Legislate and Partisan Approach to Lawmaking (US Chamber of Commerce)

To learn more about policy risk and other important federal issues, join us at our May breakfast with John Kirchner from the US Chamber:
Eggs & Issues: Washington Update with the US Chamber
 • Friday, May 19, 7:00 a.m. CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

More national and economic news:

Jobless Claims Rise Again, Reach 245K Amid Softening Labor Market
(US News & World Report)

New Evidence Links Transit Cuts With Poverty and Unemployment

Lawmakers on Gallagher's China Committee Game Out a Chinese Attack on Taiwan
(The Dispatch)

Mike Gallagher, Chairman Of House’s Special China Committee, Talks About Meeting With Bob Iger And Hollywood Creatives – Q&A

Why China’s police state has a precinct near you

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

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

COVID-19 Updates 

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

Mark your calendar:

Working Mothers Luncheon
 • Wednesday, May 10, The Florian Gardens

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

Eggs & Issues: Washington Update with the US Chamber
 • Friday, May 19, CVTC Business Education Center

The Chamber's Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • 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 G
overnmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org

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