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Volume 4 , Issue 48, Apr 18, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Apr 21 Eggs & Issues: The Chamber's Annual "State of Altoona"

   "Start with yes!" is the theme of this year's annual update from the City of Altoona. Mayor Brendan Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat will highlight that theme as "an organizational value that energizes us as we address challenges and opportunities as a City, and leads us to more innovation, collaboration and connection resulting in a thriving community."

   Join us at this event to hear about the accomplishments of the City during the past year, and its priorities for the rest of 2022. Registration includes a hot buffet breakfast.

 • Thursday, April 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center
    Click here for details and to register


Welcome Reception: Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch

Join us for an informal opportunity to meet new Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch. You're invited to stop by the Chamber office any time between 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., with light appetizers and beverages provided. There is no cost to attend but advance registration is appreciated.

Thursday, April 21, 4:00-6:00 p.m., Chamber office

   Click here to register

In this issue:

 • Pagonis to challenge Smiar for County Board Chair

 • EC City Council Organizational Meeting on Tuesday

 • Hirsch begins City Manager duties, City Council approves project bids

 • Eau Claire School Board meets Monday

 • Apr 26 deadline for County small business, non-profit ARPA grants

 • Wis Supreme Court picks GOP maps for Legislative Districts

 • More Wisconsin Legislative retirements announced

 • Tommy Thompson decides against run for Governor

 • Evers signs 15 bills, vetoes 28

 • Judge rules DNR lacks authority to regulate PFAS

 • Bipartisan bill introduced to improve Opportunity Zones

 • Wis unemployment rate drops to 2.8%

 • US Chamber urges measures to fight inflation
 • COVID-19 updates 

 • Mark your calendar
 • Public meetings
Note on article links: A subscription is required for those marked with "$"
Publications known to have article limits for non-subscribers are marked with "+"


Pagonis to challenge Smiar for County Board Chair

11 new members at County Board Organizational Meeting Tuesday

   Long-time County Board Supervisor Stella Pagonis (Dist 4, Altoona) indicated last week that she will challenge current County Board Chair Nick Smiar (Dist 15, Eau Claire) for the Board Chair position. Each two-year session, the Board Chair is elected by majority vote of the 29 member Board of Supervisors. Smiar, a retired UWEC professor, has been a member of the Board since 2010 and Chair since 2018. Pagonis, an attorney, has been on the Board for 16 years and currently Chairs the Budget and Finance Committee.

   Following the April 5 election, there will be 11 new faces on the 29 member Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors, after seven incumbents retired and four were defeated in contested races. In total, 21 of the 29 races were contested.

   Close elections in two races, district 11 and 23, were decided by 10 votes or less, but recounts completed last week did not change the outcome.

More information:

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

• Tuesday, April 19, 7 p.m. Link to agenda when available

Pagonis challenging Smiar for EC County Board chair (Leader-Telegram $)

Eleven new supervisors elected to EC County Board (Leader-Telegram $)

Two EC County Board recounts do not change winners (Leader-Telegram $)

April 5 local election results (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Non-partisan? Local races feature endorsements, campaign help from political parties, prominent political figures (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


Hirsch begins service as Eau Claire City Manager

   Newly-selected Eau Claire City Manager Stephanie Hirsch officially began her duties on Monday, April 4. The Chamber will host an informal Welcome Reception on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, for investors to meet Hirsch. See details below.

More information:

Incoming Eau Claire City Manager is Hometown Proud (Volume One)

Hirsch takes over at City Hall (Leader-Telegram $)

Stephanie Hirsch steps into new city manager role (WQOW News 18)

Chamber reception for City Manager Stephanie Hirsch

• Thursday, Apr 21, 4-6 p.m.

  Click here for details and to register


EC City Council last week approved project bids for fire station, Boyd Skate Park; Holds Organizational Meeting this Tuesday

   As a follow up to the April 5 election, the Eau Claire City Council will hold its Organizational Meeting this Tuesday, April 19, to elect a new Council Vice President and choose Council Members for appointment to Boards, Commissions, and Committees. 

   The election brings three new members to the Council, since incumbent At-Large Council Members Catherine Emmanuelle, Jon Lor, and Dave Klinkhammer did not seek reelection. The new set of five At-Large members includes incumbents Kate Beaton and Rod Jones, who were reelected, and newcomers Larry Mboga, Joshua Miller, and Charlie Johnson. 

Previous Council approves first station, transit Boyd Park contracts

   At its Legislation Session last Tuesday, the final for the outgoing Council members, contracts were approved for the expansion and remodeling of Fire Station No. 6 on Golf Rd (See pages 44-46 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below), electronic tools for Eau Claire Transit funded through the CARES Act (pages 47-51), and construction of the Boyd Park Skate Park (pages 52-55). The Council will also approved collective bargaining agreements with transit workers and police (pages 71-80). Among items on the Consent Agenda was approval of a Special Events Permit for Eau Claire Jazz Inc. for the Jazz Crawl downtown on the evening of Friday, April 22 (pages 17-19). 

More information:   

Eau Claire City Council

• Tuesday, April 19, 4 p.m. Organizational Meeting, Agenda

• Monday, Apr 11, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (9 pages)

• Tuesday, Apr 12, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (86 pages)

Eau Claire fire stations to get upgrades (Leader-Telegram $)

Lot repaving, home repairing included in Eau Claire's proposed grant budget (Leader-Telegram $)

Skatepark, new playground coming to Boyd Park (Leader-Telegram $)

Departing Eau Claire City Council members don't all rule out future runs (Leader-Telegram $)

Apr 22 Eau Claire Jazz Crawl Schedule (Eau Claire Jazz Festival)

BACK IN SWING: Eau Claire Jazz Festival to Return for the First Time Since 2019 (Volume One)


EC School Board meets Monday 

   The agenda for the Eau Claire Board of Education on Monday evening includes several items related to human resources for the summer and coming school year. It includes giving the Executive Directors of Human Resources and Business Services additional authority over the summer related to hiring, retirements, leaves of absence and recall from layoff.  The board will also consider contract-related issues for the 2022-23 school year, as well as the Master Agreement with the Eau Claire Association of Educators, which includes a 4.7% base wage increase for its members.

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, Apr 18, 7 p.m. Agenda packet

EC school board to consider several employment changes (Leader-Telegram $)


Apr 26 deadline Eau Claire County ARPA Grant Program 

$5,000 grants for non-profits and small businesses; Larger project-related program has May 16 deadline

   Utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, Eau Claire County has set aside approximately $2 million for the establishment of two small business and nonprofit grant programs (Component 1 and Component 2).
   Component 1 of the Eau Claire County American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Recovery Assistance Grant Program provides $5,000 grants to small businesses and nonprofits to assist with recovery from the negative economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The application deadline for Component 1 is April 26. 
   Component 2 of the Eau Claire County ARPA Recovery Assistance Grant Program provides funds for forward-thinking and innovative projects, programs, or efforts provided by a business or nonprofit organization that will assist the greater community in recovering from the pandemic. The funds can be used for continuation of an existing project or a new project, program, or effort. Grant Size: $10,000 - $100,000 – applicants will provide their requested funding amount as well as justification for the request. The deadline for this Component 2 program is May 16. 

More information:
Eligibility Criteria and Application (Eau Claire County)
or contact Jess Peterson with the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission at jpeterson@wcwrpc.org or 715-836-2918, extension 24.  

COVID-19 Recovery Grants Available to E.C. County Small Businesses, Nonprofits (Volume One)


More local news:


City of Eau Claire 2022 construction projects (City of Eau Claire)


One for the Record Books: E.C. Tourism Leader Says 2022 Could Top 2021 Peak (Volume One)


Eau Claire Jazz Festival returns April 22-23 (UWEC)


‘Going backward:’ Work remains to end landfill negotiations (Leader-Telegram $)


UW-Eau Claire awarded $150K by National Endowment for the Humanities (UWEC)


Panel discusses potential benefit of insulin safety net programs (Leader-Telegram $)


Menard Rises on List of World’s Billionaires (Volume One)


Video: Rep. Jesse James interviews Cabin Coffee owner about small business challenges (Facebook video 5:46)


Spicy News: Silver Spring Foods Among Recipients of CVTC Awards (Volume One)


Eau Claire's Minnesota Wire a finalist for Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Awards (WMC)


Charter Bank to Merge with Nicolet Bank (Volume One)


Our View: City's secrecy explanations don't hold up (Leader-Telegram Editorial $)


Wis Supreme Court picks GOP maps for Legislative Districts

   In a ruling issued last Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted the Republican-authored Legislative District Maps for the fall 2022 General Election. The move came after the US Supreme Court ruled that the originally-adopted maps, drawn by Governor Tony Evers, did not meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.

   The move comes just as candidates can begin circulating petitions to get on the ballot for the August 9 Partisan Primary, which are due on June 1. 

   Congressional District Maps adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, drawn by Governor Evers, were allowed to stand by the US Court.

More information:

Supreme Court decision text (WI Supreme Court)

New Legislative District Maps (Wisconsin Legislature)

New Congressional District Maps (Dave's Redistricting)

Wisconsin Supreme Court adopts GOP-drawn legislative maps (The Cap Times)

Wisconsin Supreme Court chooses maps drawn by Republicans in new redistricting decision (WPR)

Wisconsin Supreme Court adopts legislative maps drawn by Republicans (Journal-Sentinel +)

Wisconsin Supreme Court adopts GOP-drawn legislative maps (AP)


Legislative retirements include 6 from Senate, 22 from Assembly

Tommy Thompson decides against run for Wisconsin governor

   As the 2022 General Election season gets underway and candidates begin collecting signatures, 28 legislators are not running for reelection based upon retirement announcements and those running for other offices. 

   Locally, State Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) is among the retirements, with State Rep. Jesse James (R-Altoona) giving up his Assembly seat to run in the Senate primary on August 9.

   In news just out this morning, former Governor Tommy Thompson announced he will not run for Governor in 2022.

More election information:

Tommy Thompson decides against run for Wisconsin governor (AP)

List of legislators leaving office (WisPolitics.com)

Milroy to step away from Wisconsin politics (Superior Telegram +)

Mount Horeb Rep. Sondy Pope to depart Assembly after 20 years (Wisconsin State Journal +)

In far northern Wisconsin, several districts long held by Democrats are up for grabs (WPR)

Republican Eric Hovde opts out of run for Wisconsin governor (AP)

New congressional map creates competitive district in southeast Wisconsin (WPR)

Unanimous state Supreme Court blocks attempt to re-examine ballots in narrowly decided Racine school referendum (Journal-Sentinel +)


Evers signs 15 bills, vetoes 28

Has vetoed a record 126 bills this legislative session

   Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers last Friday acted on 43 bills, signing 15 of them and vetoing 28. Among those vetoed was a bill that would have expanded the state's school voucher program, and one that would have broken up Milwaukee's public school system into smaller districts. 

   Among the bills signed by the Governor last Friday were three implementing recommendations from the Ethics Committee related to lobbying and campaign finance. 

More information:

Gov. Evers Takes Action on 43 Bills (Office of the Governor)

WMC Disappointed in Gov. Evers’ Decision to Veto Bill that Would Expand Educational Opportunities for Families (WMC)

Evers vetoes GOP bills on MPS, voucher schools, parental 'bill of rights' (WPR)

Gov. Tony Evers vetoes bill to make taxpayer-funded vouchers available to all Wisconsin students (Journal-Sentinel +)

Gov. Tony Evers vetoes Republican plan to break up Milwaukee Public Schools into smaller districts (Journal-Sentinel +)


Judge rules DNR lacks authority to regulate PFAS

   Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled last Tuesday in favor of a complaint by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and co-plaintiff, Leather Rich, Inc., against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) challenging its regulation of PFAS chemicals. 

   The plaintiffs argued that the DNR had never gone through the appropriate rulemaking process to designate PFAS as hazardous materials. 

  “When the government ignores the rulemaking process, employers are left in the dark as to what regulations they must follow. Businesses cannot afford to have that kind of uncertainty, and we do not think it is too much to ask for DNR to simply follow the law as written,” said WMC Executive Vice President of Government Relations Scott Manley.

   Bohren agreed to a motion by Assistant Attorney General Gabe Johnson-Karp, representing the Natural Resources Board, to stay the order until May 12 to avoid “significant regulatory uncertainty” with the agency likely to appeal.

More information:   

Judge rules DNR illegally adopted hazardous materials cleanup standards (WisPolitics.com)

Wisconsin judge: DNR lacks authority to regulate PFAS (AP)

Toxic 'forever chemicals' aren't defined as hazardous in Wisconsin — so the state can't force cleanup, judge says (Journal-Sentinel +)

Midwest Environmental Advocates: Decision in WMC lawsuit undermines state’s ability to address toxic PFAS contamination and endangers public health (News release)

Judge: DNR Acted Unlawfully When Setting Certain Environmental Policies & Standards (WMC)


More state and regional news:


SPEAKING FREELY: Colleagues from Right, Left to Promote Civil Dialog at UWEC May 5 event (Volume One)


'Some things just aren't partisan in nature': Wisconsin lawmakers cross the aisle to examine housing and economic disparities (Spectrum News)


Video & Report: A Little Help - Is Financial Aid Keeping College Affordable in Wisconsin? (Wisconsin Policy Forum)

Wisconsin lags the country in terms of investing in college financial aid, report finds (Journal-Sentinel +)


Wisconsin Supreme Court kills Monroe County frac sand facility (The Cap Times)


La Crosse finds solar path despite ownership hurdle (Wisconsin Watch)


WMC lawsuit challenges Pewaukee road use fee (Fox 6)


Vertical integration foundation of Kwik Trip business model (La Crosse Tribune +)


Improving quality of life—not just business—is the best path to Midwestern rejuvenation (Brookings)


Deconstructing the Past and Future of St. Anthony Falls Lock in Minneapolis (Streets MN)


Kind, Booker, Scott, Kelly Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Improving Opportunity Zones  

   Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) have introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill improving Opportunity Zones, a program that creates an incentive for individuals who reinvest unrealized capital gains into high-impact projects in rural and underserved communities. As communities across the country have begun to see investments take hold, Kind, Booker, Scott, and Kelly are proposing a series of improvements to the program.  

   "Opportunity Zones are bringing capital to communities in rural and underserved areas and investing in our local economies," said Rep. Ron Kind. "In order to ensure this program is used as it was intended, we need strong transparency and accountability measures in place. I'm proud to help introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to maximize the potential of Opportunity Zones, improve safeguards, and drive economic growth across the country."

   Also co-sponsoring the legislation, called the Opportunity Zones Transparency, Extension, and Improvement Act, are Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Todd Young (R-IN) and Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Dan Kildee (D-MI-05), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02).

   "Locally, Opportunity Zones have brought in new investment and helped increase critically-needed local housing supply. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen and improve the Opportunity Zones program so its benefits can be more fully realized and we thank Rep. Kind for championing this important initiative,” said Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers.

   Among the key provisions of the bill are: Reinstating and expanding the reporting requirements that were present in the Investing in Opportunity Act (IIOA), the original stand-alone legislation that created Opportunity Zones; Ending Opportunity Zones that are not impoverished; Creating pathways for smaller-dollar impact investments; Providing operating support and technical assistance to high-poverty and underserved communities; and extending the tax incentive for two years in order to facilitate continued investment.

More information:

Bill text (US Senate)

Opportunity Zones overview (Milken Institute)

Kind, Booker, Scott, Kelly Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Improving Opportunity Zones (Office of Rep Ron Kind)

New Legislation Would Extend and Improve Opportunity Zones (OpportunityDb)


Wisconsin's unemployment rate drops to 2.8%

   The state's unemployment rate dropped to a record low 2.8 percent in March, remaining below the national average of 3.6 percent. That comes with a record high number of workers employed in the state of 3.1 million, according to Dennis Winters, Chief Economist at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD).  The number of unemployed people at 88,500 is just 200 more than the record low in May 1999.

   "So on the labor force, everything is looking good for all the right reasons," Winters said. "That being employment up, unemployment is down and the unemployment rate is reflecting that."

   Winters said the number of nonfarm jobs in the state has reached 98 percent of the pre-pandemic level, while the state's GDP has exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

   "We're still that many jobs down, but our productivity has gained," he said. "So we've got a higher GDP based on fewer jobs."

More information:

BLS Data: Wisconsin's Unemployment Rate in March Reaches Record Low 2.8 Percent (DWD)

Video and story: DWD Briefing on March 2022 Labor Market Data (Wisconsin Eye)


US Chamber: Action needed on regulations, tariffs,

energy to fight inflation

   After last week's report that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped last month to a rate 8.5% above last year, Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the government must focus on easing regulations, reducing tariffs, and increasing domestic energy production.

   “New data out today shows what Americans already know: inflation continues to chip away at their buying power and impact the larger workforce. Rising costs in housing, food, and energy are making it difficult for American families and businesses to get ahead, and while monetary policy remains the best tool to fight inflation, policymakers should also be focusing on easing regulations, reducing tariffs, and increasing domestic energy production."

   Bradley pointed out that inflation is the result of supply and demand.

   "To shift the blame to businesses is misguided and only increases the likelihood that the real causes of inflation will not be addressed." 

More information:

Consumer Price Index Summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

US inflation jumped 8.5% in past year, highest since 1981 (AP)

Consumer prices rose 8.5% in March, slightly hotter than expected and the highest since 1981(CNBC)

U.S. Chamber Urges Focus on Easing Regulations, Reducing Tariffs, and Increasing Domestic Energy Production to Combat Historic Inflation (US Chamber of Commerce)


More national news:


High inflation has homebuyers relocating to more affordable areas in record numbers (Fox Business)


The New Voting Restrictions Aren’t as Restrictive as Many Think (Sarah Isgur, Politico)


U.S. lawmakers look for path ahead on billions in restaurant, small business aid (Wisconsin Examiner)


Small Businesses Object to Rerouting of Covid-19 Aid (Wall Street Journal $)


Why the infrastructure law is transformative — and why it isn’t (Politico)


Disney Faces Backlash in Florida Amid ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Controversy (Wall Street Journal $)


Food for thought:


Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid (Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic)


COVID-19 Updates 

It’s not over: COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in US (AP)

Mask mandate aboard planes, trains and buses in the US extended until May 3 (CNN)

No plans to reinstate local mask mandate at this time, Dane County health officials say (Channel 3000)


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: "State of Altoona"

 • Thursday, April 21, River Prairie Center


Chamber Reception: New City Manager Stephanie Hirsch

 • Thursday, April 21, Chamber Offices


Eggs & Issues: Child Care Challenges

• Friday, May 20, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Eggs & Issues: Energy Issues

• Friday, June 17, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


"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 (Tammy Baldwin 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


City of Altoona City calendar (with links to agendas)
Meeting and video links
Mayor and City Council Members

 • Tuesday, Apr 19, 6 p.m. City Council

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 9 a.m. Public Library Board

 • Thursday, April 28 6 p.m. City Council Meeting


City of Eau Claire Full calendar  
City Council Members (City of Eau Claire)
Link to video recordings of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)

 • Monday, Apr 18, Plan Commission - Canceled

 • Tuesday, Apr 19, 4 p.m. City Council Organizational Meeting

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, Redevelopment Authority - Canceled

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 3:30 p.m. Sustainability Advisory Committee

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 6 p.m. Transit Commission

 • Monday, April 25, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, April 26, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Session

 • Monday, May 2, 4:30 p.m. Landmarks Commission

 • Monday, May 2, 7 p.m. Plan Commission 


City of Augusta

City website
Village of Fall Creek
Village Board


Town of Washington
Town website
Altoona School District
Altoona School Board

• Monday, Apr 25, 6:30 p.m.

Eau Claire Area School District
Board of Education
 • Monday, Apr 18, 7 p.m.


Augusta School District 
Augusta School Board


Fall Creek School District 
School Board


Chippewa Valley Technical College
District Board


Eau Claire County Full calendar

County Board District Maps
County Board District Representative 

Link to recordings of past meetings 

 • Monday, Apr 18, 1 p.m. Land Conservation Committee

 • Monday, Apr 18, 5 p.m. Housing Authority Board

 • Monday, Apr 18, 6 p.m. Public Hearing-Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Commission

 • Tuesday, Apr 19, 7 p.m. County Board of Supervisors

 • Wednesday, Apr 20 p.m. CJCC Full Council 

 • Wednesday, Apr 20, 7:30 p.m. Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Commission

 • Monday, April 25, Human Services Monthly Board Meeting

 • Tuesday, April 26, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning & Development


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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