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Volume 5, Issue 42, March 6, 2023
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Eau Claire, Wis.

Published the first business day of each week

Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

The Chamber's Advocacy Principles

The Chamber's Business Issues Agenda

Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs



Last chance to register - please sign up by Friday, March 10

29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

The Rally brings business and community leaders from Chippewa, Dunn, and Eau Claire Counties to spend the day in Madison to discuss key Chippewa Valley economic concerns with state policymakers. This year is extra-important with deliberations are underway for the state's 2023-25 biennial budget, including the UWEC Science Building. 

Wednesday, Mar 29, Madison

   Click here for more details and to register


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

With the legislative session in full swing and biennial state budget deliberations underway, we've invited members of the State Assembly and Senate who represent the Chippewa Valley to give us an update and answer questions.

 • Friday, Mar 31, 7:00-9:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center

    Click here for more details and to register


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

Wednesday, Apr 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., UWEC Davies Center

   Click here for details and to register


Eggs & Issues: "State of the City - Altoona" 

Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt and City Administrator Mike Golat lead a presentation highlighting the accomplishments of the City during the past year, and its priorities for the rest of this 2023.

 • Friday, Apr 21, 7:00-8:30 a.m., River Prairie Center

    Click here for more details and to register

In this issue: 

 • Evers capital budget proposal includes UWEC Science Building

 • EC City Council approves transit center housing, picks liquor license

 • State and regional stories

 • 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 "+"


Evers: UWEC Science Building in proposed capital budget

Chamber, bi-partisan legislators applaud inclusion

   Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers visited UW-Eau Claire last Thursday, part of a statewide tour following Tuesday's release of his proposal to invest $3.8 billion in the biennial capital budget "for the renovation and renewal of the state’s existing infrastructure and to support major projects across the state in 28 counties."

   Evers visited visited Janesville, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Spooner, and three University of Wisconsin (UW) System campuses, including UW-Eau Claire.

   “From improving state facilities and modernizing our UW campuses to investing in local community projects that will pay dividends for years to come,' said Evers, "my capital budget recommendations are about doing the right thing and investing in and building the sort of future we want to see for our state.”

   In Eau Claire, the focus was on the $231.3 million Evers proposes to complete the long-awaited UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building. The building will be a replacement for the aging Phillips Science Hall and the focus of enhanced science and health programs, including a partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System. The first phase funding for the project was included in the 2019-21 state capital budget, but was left out in 2021.

Impact goes beyond UWEC, say Chamber, local lawmakers

   “As much as this project is critical to UW-Eau Claire fulfilling its educational mission, it’s even more important for the economic impact it will have in the region and the state for our future workforce and for rural healthcare,” said David W. Minor, President and CEO of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is encouraging state lawmakers to ensure that the project is approved as part of the final state capital budget. Minor and Chamber Board Chair Scott Hoffman of WIN Technology joined Evers and UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt on Evers' tour on Thursday.

   "While the budget is still subject to legislative review and action over the next several months," said Schmidt, "I am deeply gratified by the governor’s endorsement of our project. His recommendation validates the countless hours our campus building committee has spent designing a 21st Century laboratory and instructional building to support our STEM and health sciences programs. Without a doubt, we would not be where we are today without the hard work of so many of our colleagues and the university’s many partners to advance the plans for this facility."

Bi-partisan legislative support

   “The UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building project is an important investment in our area’s long-term prosperity and workforce development,” agrees Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer). “This project will have a significant impact on our area.”

   “By approving the first phase project, we understood that we would need to complete the second phase as well,” said Senator Jesse James (R-Altoona). “We are looking forward to getting this done. There are workforce needs that this building will help address, and the Legislature will do our part to help lend support where we can.”

   “The impact of the UW-Eau Claire Science Hall building project cannot be underestimated for our communities,” said Rep. Warren Petyrk (R-Eleva), who himself is a graduate of UWEC. “This project will continue the knowledge boom our area is already experiencing and will ensure that we remain a national leader in undergraduate research. It also helps foster the proud legacy our public institutions have partnering with local business like Mayo Clinic Health Systems to help train our future workforce."

   "“The completion of the UWEC Science Hall will continue to put the Eau Claire region in the forefront of education, research and healthcare, and I am proud to have had a hand in helping push for this project," said Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire). "The new building will present Eau Claire with an incredible chance to continue as national leaders for rural healthcare research and innovation."

   The broad geographic reach of the project was also affirmed by Rep. Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake), who said, “I support the UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Building as it’s essential to train and grow those individuals looking for careers in the healthcare industry of our region. UW-Eau Claire has demonstrated outstanding and creative partnership programs such as the one it has forged with Mayo Clinic. These relationships coupled with the new Science and Health Sciences Building will further create much needed additional capacity for those looking for Health and Science career pathways.”

   Freshman Rep. Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek) took note of the opportunity for UWEC to graduate more students in key fields. “This is a project that would benefit the entire state of Wisconsin,” Hurd said. “The current science building has long been in need of replacement as STEM education has advanced.  The proposed new science building would enable the university to increase the number of graduates from the STEM fields of study which would contribute to the Wisconsin workforce.  The private-public partnership with the Mayo Clinic Health System in this project will be a significant benefit to our communities.”

Building Commission, Joint Finance Committee are next steps

   The State Building Commission will meet Thurs., March 23, 2023, to vote on the governor’s recommendations. Following that vote, the State Building Commission’s Capital Budget Recommendations are statutorily required to be submitted to the Joint Committee on Finance by the first Tuesday in April.

More information:

Project site - Science & Health Sciences Building (UWEC)

News release - Chamber, legislators applaud Science Building in capital budget (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Evers tours future site of science building at UW-Eau Claire (Leader-Telegram $)

Gov. Evers promotes budget plans at UW-Eau Claire (WEAU 13 News)

Evers visits Eau Claire, talks about capital budget benefiting university (WQOW News 18)

Gov. Evers Visits Capital Building Projects Across State, Highlights Historic Proposed Long-Term Investments in State’s Infrastructure (Office of the Governor)

Full capital budget proposal (Office of the Governor, 312 pages)

Gov. Evers Announces Historic Proposed Long-Term Investments in State’s Infrastructure (Office of the Governor)

Gov. Tony Evers proposes $3.8 billion for building projects, about half for UW System (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Chippewa Valley Rally to promote Science Building investment

   The inclusion of the UWEC Science and Health Sciences Building is one of the key issues to be presented by delegates to the 29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally on Wednesday, March 29, in Madison. The event was postponed from its original date in February because of the February 21-23 snow events.

   The Rally brings around 100 business and community leaders from Chippewa, Dunn, and Eau Claire Counties to spend the day in Madison to bring key Chippewa Valley economic concerns to state policymakers. The new legislative session is now underway, with lawmakers preparing to craft the 2023-25 state budget. With key local projects on the line and critical workforce- and tax-related issues to be addressed, that means it's an especially important year to make a strong regional impact in Madison.

   Additional participants are being sought and will be helpful to ensure a full complement of delegates. Registration is open through Friday, March 10.

More information:

29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, March 29, Madison (New Date!)

    Click here for details and to register

    Click here to read the full 2023 Issues Statements

Chippewa Valley Rally Will be a Capitol Time (Volume One)


EC City Council: Approves development agreement for transit center housing, awards liquor license to The Good Wives

   At its Legislative Session last Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council approved a development and purchase agreement with Merge Urban Development to construct an 81-unit apartment building of predominately workforce multi-family apartments with at least 40 units at rents affordable to renters with family incomes of 80% of the county median income. The agreement includes $5 million in Tax Increment Financing incentives. (See pages 119-138 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below.)

   The Council on also voted to award the one open Combination Class B alcohol license to The Good Wives restaurant, one of three applicants who sought the license that was given up recently by The Metro when it failed to open in time for a negotiated deadline. The other applicants included Country Jam, which is developing a new venue on the northwest side along Highway T, and Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant. After the Council meeting, Country Jam indicated it will apply for a more-expensive reserve license. (See pages 43-118 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet.) Also on Tuesday, the Council approved several street projects, including those involving Fourth Street, McKinley and Roosevelt Avenues, Meadow Lane, and Rudolph Road. (See pages 5-21 in the Monday Agenda Packet linked below.)

Council continues to talk Local Vehicle Registration Fee 

   After Tuesday's formal meeting, the Council conducted a work session to talk further about a potential Local Vehicle Registration Fee. Members are considering a $25-30 per vehicle fee which, if enacted, would to reduce assessments and debt. There are about 50,000 vehicles within the City. If the annual fee was $25,  it would raise $1.265 million annually. The City Council could act as soon as its March 28 meeting, in which case the fee would be effective July 1.

More information:

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Mar 6, Public Hearing Agenda Packet (21 pages)

 • Tuesday, Mar 7, Legislative Session Agenda Packet (195 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 wheel tax vote could come later this month (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire City Council approves housing agreement, grants license (WEAU 13 News)

Good Wives restaurant to receive sought-after liquor license (WQOW News 18)

The Good Wives chosen for Eau Claire liquor license (Leader-Telegram $)

Update - The Good Wives chosen for liquor license (Volume One)

Eau Claire fire chief announces retirement (Leader-Telegram $)


Eggs & Issues: Eau Claire leaders present "State of the City"

   City Council President Terry Weld and City Manager Stephanie Hirsch led a team of city staff and City Council members in presenting the annual "State of the City" address to the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce at its most recent Eggs & Issues breakfast.

   Weld, whose term ends in April and is not seeking reelection, recounted the accomplishments of the City during 2022, including record construction activity and key projects. Hirsch introduced several "gnarly challenges" facing City government, including housing supply and affordability, and fiscal stability. Deputy City Manager Dave Solberg discussed the challenges of coping with few options to increase revenue as costs continue to increase. Council Vice President Emily Berge, who is part of the leadership of the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, noted legislative efforts to address the financial squeeze on municipal governments. The program concluded with Weld's reflections on his six years of service on the City Council.

Click here for a full report on the program


DECI Celebrates Award Recipients

   Nine honorees were recognized at the Downtown Awards & Celebration, hosted by Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. (DECI) on Thursday, March 2nd at the Brewing Projekt.

   “This evening is a really great encapsulation of our downtown,” said Aaron White, DECI Executive Director. “We’re in this beautiful event space at a popular, homegrown downtown brewery, enjoying food from The Cranky Buzzard and 3rd & Vine – two downtown businesses we’re very proud of, and celebrating the people, businesses, and organizations that are the heart of our city.”

   Awards for the evening were split into two categories: Winners of pubic voting that took place in January and February, and several nominated awards that were decided by DECI Staff and volunteers.

Public vote winners

   Reboot Social – the gaming arcade and bar/restaurant located at 220 S. Barstow, took home top honors in two public voting categories: Favorite New Business, a category open to any business that opened its doors downtown in 2022, and Favorite Downtown Business, a category open to all businesses, new and familiar, located downtown.

   Voters overwhelmingly selected the new Eau Claire Children’s Museum at 126 N Barstow as the Best New Development project in downtown to be completed in 2022.

   L.E. Phillips Public Library was voted as the Most-Impressive Glow Up, recognition of their large renovation and expansion project completed in 2022.

Volume One’s Food Truck Fridays, a growing event held in Phoenix Park on the first Fridays of the month in May, June, July and August, were selected by voters as the Favorite Downtown Event in 2022.

Nominated honorees

   Pablo Center at the Confluence was honored as DECI Member of the Year for their contributions to the Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. organization and the center’s positive contributions to the downtown as a whole.

   The South Barstow Business Improvement District was awarded the Outstanding Achievement award for the district’s many accomplishments, including the addition of tree lighting, expansion of landscaping and decorative plantings, addition of district amenities, and advocacy on behalf of businesses in the district.

   Ayres Associates was honored as Event Partner of the Year for their volunteer contributions to downtown events, in particular for their large volunteer team support of DECI’s Grand Evening on the Bridge.

   Scott Rannila was selected as DECI Volunteer of the Year for his longstanding support of DECI and downtown businesses.


Meeting this week:


Eau Claire Plan Commission

Plan Commission 2023 Work Program

 • Monday, Mar 6, 7 p.m., Agenda Packet (221 pages)

Eau Claire's Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital files plans to grow (Leader-Telegram $)


Eau Claire Board of Education

• Monday, Mar 6, 5:30 p.m. closed session, 7 p.m. open Agenda Packet

Board of Education members and information

CV Montessori contract renewal to be discussed by school board (Leader-Telegram $)


Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors

 • Tuesday, March 7, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet

County Board district maps and Supervisors

Weideman named EC County human services director (Leader-Telegram $)


More local stories:


Athletic director Brad Ceranski hired as new Fall Creek superintendent (WQOW News 18)


Marshfield Clinic laying off 346 employees, including some Chippewa Valley workers (Leader-Telegram $)


Heavy lifting before sifting: Lake Altoona gets 40 tons of donated equipment (Leader-Telegram $)


Help is available for families in the Chippewa Valley that relied on the extra FoodShare benefits (WEAU 13 News)


Friends and Fans Remember Veteran E.C. Musician Billy Krause (Volume One)


Madison-based Civic Media to buy local station WEZY (Leader-Telegram $)


Menard Center for Constitutional Studies to host

two events relating to free speech

•  “‘Speech Is Powerful’: A Conversation with Megan Phelps-Roper” will begin at 5:30 p.m. March 8 in Room 1614 of Centennial Hall. A former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan Phelps-Roper will talk about becoming deradicalized through conversations with her supposed “enemies” online.
• “The Future of Free Speech on Campus” will begin at 5:30 p.m. May 1 in Room 100 of Hibbard Hall. 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.

More information:

About the Menard Center or Constitutional Studies (UWEC)

Menard Center for Constitutional Studies to host two events relating to free speech (UWEC)




Business Matters Podcast: Eau Claire Event District (Country Jam)

In this episode, Chamber President & CEO Dave Minor talks with Country Jam's Kathy Wright about Jam’s new home called the Eau Claire Event District and why it is more than just Country Jam.

Podcast: Business Matters Episode 14 (39:07, YouTube, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


National and economic stories:


U.S. Jobless Claims Tick Down (Wall Street Journal $)


Euro zone inflation softens to 8.5% in February as ECB signals interest rate hiking is not over (CNBC)


Bipartisan Senate group introduces rail safety bill in response to East Palestine derailment (CBS News)


Extremists Views Are Holding America Hostage. Here’s How We Break Free (Adam Kinzinger, Time)


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’s Origins Back Under the Microscope (The Morning Dispatch)


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:


29th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally

 • Wednesday, March 29, Madison (NEW DATE)


Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast

 • Friday, Mar 31, CVTC Business Education Center


Spring Non-Partisan Election

Election 2023: Guide to the Spring Election (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

• Tuesday, April 4 


Annual Chamber/UW-Eau Claire Business Community Breakfast

• Wednesday, Apr 19, UWEC Davies Center


Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona

 • Friday, April 21, River Prairie Center


Chamber Royale

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


The Chamber's Annual Golf Outing

 • 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 Governmental Affairs, at 715-858-0616 or rogers@eauclairechamber.org