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Volume 4 , Issue 44, Mar 21, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Coming up...


Eau What A Night - The Chamber's 107th Annual Meeting

 • Thursday, March 31, The Florian Gardens
  Click here for details and to register


Eggs & Issues - "State of Altoona"
  • Thursday, April 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center
     Click here for details and to register

News in this issue:

 • April 5 election: Chamber Candidate Questionnaires published

 • Eggs & Issues: Tackling Housing Supply Challenges

 • Eau Claire City Council: No housing above Transit Center, for now

 • EC School Board to consider health insurance changes

 • Eau Claire County approves bonds for highway facility

 • Jackie Minor named Senior Center Director

 • Grants open: Child Care (Wis DCF), assistance for non-profits, small businesses (EC County ARPA funds)

 • Tommy Thompson touts UWEC Science Building in farewell visit

 • Kathy Bernier appears on 60 minutes as 2020 election debate continues
 • Fed raises interest rates
 • Biden signs FY 22 federal appropriations bill
 • 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 "+"


April 5 Election: City Council, School Board, County Board

   Wisconsin voters go to the polls on Tuesday, April 5, in a non-partisan election to select members of City Councils, Town Boards, School Boards, and Judgeships. In Eau Claire County, that includes contested races for Eau Claire City Council, Eau Claire Board of Education, and 21 of 29 seats on the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors. Click this link to find who is on your ballot


Where do candidates stand on key business issues?

   The Eau Claire Chamber does not endorse candidates, but provides voter education to help investors and the public make informed choices. Our Good Government Council develops questionnaires for candidates to provide them an opportunity to convey their thoughts on issues of importance to the business community.

Click here for a recap of local races and links to candidate questionnaires


Early voting available March 22-April 1

   Voters who wish to cast an in-person absentee ballot can do so at local municipalities on weekdays from March 22 through Friday, April 1. Click the following like to get details on locations and hours: Early voting 

Tuesday, April 5, polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

   To find your polling place and what's on your ballot: MyVoteWi.gov


Eggs & Issues: Discussion tackles housing supply challenges

   In 2019, the Chippewa Valley Housing Task Force found that housing supply in the community was insufficient for every income level and housing type. With the population continuing to grow and workforce issues mounting, that was the topic of last Friday's Chamber Eggs & Issues discussion. 

   Participating panelists included Cody Filipczak, Owner, C&M Homes & Real Estate; Taylor Graybehl, Associate Planner, City of Eau Claire; Bruce King, Government Affairs Director, REALTORS® Association of Northwestern Wisconsin; Brendan Pratt, Mayor of Altoona; Pat Smith, President, Chippewa Valley Home Builders Assn.; and Dante Tomassoni, COO of Development, P&R Companies. Each outlined the challenges they're facing in their area of responsibility, and talked about potential public policy solutions to address those issues. Graybehl provided a presentation on the highlights of the recent report released by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities that addresses housing affordability. 

   In coming issues of the Business Advocate, we'll provide more information about the content from last week's program and local housing issues 

More information:

"Enabling Better Places: A User’s Guide to Neighborhood Affordability" (League of Wis Municipalities)

Video and story: Housing challenges in the Chippewa Valley (WEAU 13 News)


 Next Eggs & Issues - "State of Altoona"
  • Thursday, April 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center
    Click here for details and to register


EC City Council agenda: Finish transit, parking aspects of transit center without housing
   At the Eau City Council's Legislative Session on Tuesday, the Council will be asked to approve finishing the transit and parking portions of the project without the workforce housing that had been anticipated to be built above it - at least for now. 

   According to the resolution being considered (pages 156-158 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below), the City has not been able to confirm an agreement with any private developer to build the second level of parking and the housing above the center at terms acceptable to the City, which had been anticipated to be part of the project. Therefore, according to the summary/background information provided by City staff, the plan for now would be for the City to take over responsibility for completing the full parking structure, but also to provide "for the construction of all parking and shared elements necessary to most economically construct workforce housing in the future." The resolution also points out that the full amount of planned parking is needed given the expectation that the Gibson ramp will be taken out of service within the next few years.

   The Council's Monday evening Public Hearing agenda includes a rezoning on La Salle Street for a single-family residential lot (pages 5-20 of the Monday Agenda Packet linked below), and a rezoning and general development plan for C&M Properties to build 17 twin homes on 7.8 acres connecting to Jeffers Road near the City brush site (pages 21-39).

Plan Commission approves Third Ward B&B

   At its meeting last Monday, the Plan Commission approved a request from a 3rd Ward home owner for a conditional use permit to allow short-term rentals at 1413 Frederic St for a bed & breakfast (see Plan Commission minutes on pages 195-197 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet, and pages 26-34 of the Mar 14 Plan Commission Agenda Packet also linked).
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Mar 21, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (43 pages)
 • Tuesday, Mar 22, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (197 pages)
Link to video recordings of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)
Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)

Eau Claire Plan Commission

• Monday, March 14, Agenda Packet (72 pages)

City to address short-term rentals this year (Leader-Telegram $)


EC School Board to consider health insurance coverage, base wages for hourly employees
   The Monday agenda for the Eau Claire Board of Education includes consideration of three different options for the renewal of the district's health and dental insurance plan for the upcoming school year. The two options being recommended by the Administration include narrowing the provider network to achieve cost savings. The Board will also vote on base wage increases for hourly and non-affiliated employees.

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, Mar 21, 6:30 p.m. closed, 7 p.m. public Agenda Packet

Board of Education website (ECASD)

Eau Claire school board to consider base wage increases, health care renewal (Leader-Telegram $)


EC County Board approves bonds for new highway facility, pay raises for Sherriff and Clerk of Court

   At its meeting last Tuesday, the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors approved the sale of $5.6 million in bonds to fund costs related to the new county highway facility now being finalized. Total cost for the facility is $32.7 million and it is currently within budget. It also approved salary increases for the Sherriff and Clerk of Court of 7% in 2023 and 2.5% in each of the following three years. Those two elected constitutional offices will be on the ballot this November, and their salaries are reviewed every four years before the election.
More information:

Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

• Tuesday, March 15, Agenda Packet

County Board approves pay raises for sheriff, clerk of court (Leader-Telegram $)

Committee awards fourth bid package for new highway facility (Leader-Telegram $)

With county road improvements in recent years, committee sets new rating goal (Leader-Telegram $)


Jackie Minor named Senior Center Director

   Jacqueline Minor, former CEO of the Superior YMCA, has been appointed executive director of the L.E. Phillips Senior Center.

   “We are pleased to welcome Jackie to the L.E. Phillips Senior Center as executive director,” said Jim Deignan, president of the center’s Board of Directors. “She joins our vibrant organization at a critical time when demand for programming and services is growing faster than at any time in the past.  We’re confident that Jackie has all the qualities needed to lead the center successfully into the foreseeable future.”

   Minor officially will begin at the center on April 1. The current executive director, Mary Pica Anderson, is retiring on March 31 after serving 16 years as executive director.

   Minor was CEO of the Superior-Douglas County Family YMCA from 2015-17, when she and her family moved to Eau Claire.  She was program operations director at the Superior YMCA from 1987-2015.  

   “The center is a great asset for this community,” Minor said.  “I look forward to building upon the wonderful work that is happening at the center.”

  Minor is married to David Minor, president and CEO of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce. 

More information:

Executive Director Appointed (LE Phillips Senior Center)

Minor named director of L.E. Phillips Senior Center (Leader-Telegram $)


Grant application periods now open:


Employer Child Care Grants: Application deadline April 4

   The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) is offering a grant program to support partnerships with businesses who purchase slots at existing regulated child care providers. 

  Partner Up! is being offered via the Child Care Partnership at Western Dairyland, a private non-profit located in Eau Claire. If your business is willing to cover 25% of your individual employees’ child care costs, then Partner Up! is awarding grant funding to cover the remaining 75% of that cost. You can now tell your current or future employees that child care is one of the benefits you are offering through your business. Application deadline is April 4.

More information:

Partner Up! Grant Program details (Wisconsin Dept of Children and Families)

or contact Laura Lash at Western Dairyland: Laura.Lash@wdeoc.org


EC County ARPA-funded assistance for non-profits, small businesses:

Application deadlines April 26, May 16

   Applications are open for Eau Claire County assistance, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), for small businesses and for non-profits affected by the pandemic. The program is being administered by the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC). Its two components include:

 - $5,000 grants to eligible businesses with 20 or fewer employees and to 501c3 non-profits who suffered an economic loss because of COVID-19. Deadline for submitting an application for this Component #1 is April 26 at 5 p.m.

 - Grants of $10,000-100,000 for organizations or businesses meeting the same eligibility criteria, which can be used for implementing forward-thinking and innovative projects, programs, or efforts that will assist the greater community in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadline for submitting an application for Component #2 is May 16 at 5 p.m.

More information:

Click here for full details and to download the application

For questions, contact Jess Peterson at WCWRPC at (715) 836-2918, ext. 24.


Other local news:


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


Hit the Trail Again: E.C.’s High Bridge Reopens (Volume One)


Eau Claire #4 best Midwest city in which to retire (Smart Asset)


Leinie Lodge Unveils New Pilot Brewery (Volume One)


Our View: Airport's change reveals opportunity (Editorial, Leader-Telegram $)


Life Story: Former legislator Roshell was fine with 'maverick' label (Leader-Telegram $)


Eau Claire Sesquicentennial:


Eau Claire's 150th Birthday | The Sesquicentennial (Visit Eau Claire)


Eau Claire's 150th: The founding and founders of Eau Claire (WQOW News 18)


Old Abe’s High-Flying History - Legendary ‘War Eagle’ joined E.C. troops in battle (Volume One)


Eau Claire's 150th: The impact and legacy of Uniroyal (WQOW News 18)


Tommy Thompson touts UWEC Science Building as part of farewell tour

   University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson swung a sledgehammer last Wednesday at UW-Eau Claire as part of a farewell tour of UW System campuses as he ended his tenure last Friday as System President.

   Thompson's sledgehammer, as well as those of UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt and Mayo Clinic Health Northwest Wisconsin Regional Vice President Rick Helmers, ceremonially knocked a few bricks off of Putnam Hall. It's one of two lower Campus residence halls scheduled to be taken down this summer in preparation for UWEC's planned Science and Health Sciences Building.

   The first phase of funding was approved by the Board of Regents and State of Wisconsin in the 2019-21 budget cycle. Since then, planning has continued for the building, which will still require second phase funding in the 2023-25 budget so construction can begin. As part of the project, Mayo Clinic Health System has committed to a partnership with UWEC that includes $13.7 million in funding for a 10,000 square-foot research facility within the building.

  “It’s an investment in the future,” Thompson said, encouraging funding to be approved next year. “It’s an investment in economic development. It’s an investment of making the Eau Claire community the strongest and best that it possibly can be.”

   At the ceremony, Schmidt announced that the riverside lobby of the new building would be named after Thompson. In addition to Thompson, Helmers, and Schmidt, Eau Claire City Council President Terry Weld also spoke at the event.

More information:

‘Steadfast advocate': UW-EC names first floor of new science building after Thompson (Leader-Telegram $)

UWEC officially begins new science building project (WEAU 13 News)


Bernier appears on 60 Minutes as Wisconsin battles over 2020 election continue

  “I will not apologize for speaking the truth,” State Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) said in an interview on the CBS program "60 Minutes," aired on March 13. Bernier, who is a former Chippewa County Clerk and serves as Chair of the State Senate Elections Committee, has pushed back on claims about fraud in the 2020 Presidential election in Wisconsin.

   Meanwhile, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) rejected calls to decertify President Joe Biden’s win after meeting privately Wednesday with advocates for just such a move.
  “We don’t have the ability to unilaterally overturn the election,” Vos said.

More information:

Video: In Wisconsin, a political battle over the 2020 vote still rages (CBS 60 Minutes, 13:37)

Bernier denounces election conspiracy believers in '60 Minutes' interview (Leader-Telegram $)

Rathmun says he wanted to punch GOP leader (AP)

Robin Vos comes under fire from Republicans, Democrats for 2020 election comments (Wisconsin State Journal +)

Vos rejects election decertification call (AP)


More state news: 


SURVEY: Wisconsin Employers Cite Worker Shortage as Top Public Policy Concern (WMC)


Gov. Tony Evers gives green light to design work for new UW-Madison engineering building (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Gov. Evers Has Signed 20 Bills Since Mid-February (Hamilton Consulting)


See the new Wisconsin Congressional & Legislative Maps (Dave's Redistricting)


Gas stations suing Woodman's for its cheap prices (WISN)


Fed increases interest rates by .25

   Last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee voted 8-1 to approve its first interest rate increase in more than three years, raising rates by a quarter percentage point, or 25 basis points.
   The move signaled expectations of additional rate increases ahead, as the Fed seeks to address increasing inflation without hurting economic growth.

More information:
Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement (Federal Reserve)

Federal Reserve approves first interest rate hike in more than three years, sees six more ahead (CNBC)


Biden signs FY 22 appropriations bill

  President Joe Biden has signed the Federal Government's FY 2022 spending bill that spends $1.5 trillion to fund the government through September and provides new assistance to Ukraine.

More information:

Remarks by President Biden at Signing of H.R. 2471, “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022” (The White House)

Biden signs $1.5 trillion government funding bill with Ukraine aid (The Hill)


More national news:


Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson starts Monday (Roll Call)


Opinion: Gas prices are way up, but real cost of driving a mile was higher for most of the past century (MarketWatch)


COVID-19 Updates - CDC issues new mask guidance

Uncertainty and hope in the Chippewa Valley as pandemic’s second year ends (Leader-Telegram $)

State health authorities continue to monitor COVID-19 concentration in wastewater (WPR)

U.S. extends transportation mask mandate through April 18 (CNBC)


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:


2022 Cyber Security & Technology Conference

 • Thursday, Mar 24, CVTC Business Education Center


"Eau What a Night" - The Chamber's 107th Annual Meeting
 • Thursday, Mar 31, The Florian Gardens


2022 Human Resource Conference

 • Wednesday, April 6, The Florian Gardens


Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

 • Wednesday, April 20, Davies Center


Eggs & Issues: "State of Altoona"

 • Thursday, April 21 River Prairie Center



Next up on the public calendar:


Wisconsin Political Calendar (WisPolitics.com)


Spring Non-Partisan General Election
Local City and Town Councils, School Boards, County Boards, Judges
 • Tuesday, April 5


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
 • Tuesday, Aug 9


General Election
 • Tuesday, November 8


City of Altoona City calendar (with links to agendas)
Meeting and video links
Mayor and City Council Members
 • Thursday, Mar 24, 6 p.m. City Council

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 1 p.m. Altoona Housing Authority

 • Tuesday, Apr 12, 5:30 p.m. Plan Commission

 • Thursday, Apr 14, 6 p.m. City Council


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, Mar 21, 7 p.m. City Council Public Hearing

 • Tuesday, Mar 22, 4 p.m. City Council Legislative Council

 • Monday, Mar 28, 11 a.m. High Bridge Reopening

 • Monday, Apr 4, 4:30 p.m. Landmarks Commission

 • Monday, Apr 4, 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, Mar 28, 6:30 p.m.
Eau Claire Area School District
Board of Education
 • Monday, Mar 21, 7 p.m.

 • Monday, Apr 4, 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
Click here to find your County Board Representative (interactive map)

 • Monday, Mar 21, 1 p.m. Land Conservation Commission

 • Wednesday, Mar 23, 3 p.m. Committee on Judiciary & Law Enforcement

 • Tuesday, Mar 29, 7 p.m. Committee on Planning & Development

 • Wednesday, Mar 30, 5:15 p.m. City-County Board of Health

 • Wednesday, Apr 6, 2 p.m. Highway Building Committee

 • Wednesday, Apr 6, 7 p.m. County Board of Supervisors


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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