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Volume 6, Issue 39, Feb 12, 2024
 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 2024 Business Issues Agenda
"Talking Po!nt" Podcast
Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs


Update on community response to HSHS/Prevea closures
 • Legislation proposed to repurpose $15 million unspent state funds
     Committee hearings on Wed., support letters and testimony needed
 • Marshfield Clinic announces expansion of labor and delivery beds
 • Mayo describes initiatives to increase regional capacity
 • New providers adding services in primary care, mental health, urgent care
 • Local governments pass resolutions urging healthcare collaboration
scroll down to continue reading below...

Also in this issue:
 • Downtown Eau Claire parking survey open
  EC City Council meets this week
 • EC Zoning code open house Monday, Feb 19
  Jerry Jacobson named Wisconsin Banker of the Year

  New Marquette Poll shows Biden, Trump tied in Wisconsin
  US Rep Mike Gallagher not seeking reelection
 • Food for thought
 • 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 "+"


Last chance to register...
Eggs & Issues: The State of the City - Eau Claire
The Chamber's annual "State of the City" address. City Council President Emily Berge, City Manager Stephanie Hirsch, and Deputy City Manager Dave Solberg will recap highlights from 2023 and take a look at the City's challenges and plans for 2024. Then the discussion will focus on this key question: How does the City maintain strong growth and protect its residents’ health and happiness, even when we receive bad news? "City governments have an incredibly diverse set of tools to use to shape our region’s future and the day-to-day lives of all residents. Eau Claire has experienced record growth in recent years, and we are working to put in place building blocks that ensure growth helps our community. Learn how we plan to weather the challenges that come along to not just survive, but to find opportunity and strive to be the best city in Wisconsin and beyond." There will also be time for questions and answers.
 • THURSDAY, Feb 15, 7:00-8:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
Bringing the Chippewa Valley's voice to Madison. Organized by the Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and Menomonie Chambers of Commerce. After a very productive 2023, we'll be back in Madison to thank policymakers for key wins, remind them of unresolved issues, and build relationships.
Click here for the 2024 Chippewa Valley Rally Issues
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, Madison
Click here for details and to register

Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-5p, Friday 8a-2p


HSHS/Prevea Recovery Task Force continues work 
   The region-wide Task Force created to address the announced closures of HSHS and Prevea facilities in western Wisconsin is continuing its work. Co-chaired by retired healthcare executive Bill Rupp and Jerry Jacobson, President of Northwestern Bank in Chippewa Falls, the Task Force is a collaborative effort across the community to fully assess the challenges and take prompt action. Subcommittees have been established to address specific issues such as patient needs and concerns, healthcare gaps, HSHS and Prevea employees, effects on employees of other businesses, business redevelopment, potential governmental action, communications, city/county health departments, funding administration, and IT impacts.
Website provides up to date information
   A special website has been set up to be a clearinghouse for information. It also provides an opportunity sign up for updates:
Click here to stay informed

Bill proposed to repurpose unspent $15 million state funds
Committee hearings on Wed., support letters and testimony
   Committees in the State Assembly and State Senate this week will hear testimony regarding bills proposed by several Chippewa Valley are legislators that re-allocates $15 million in previously unused funds originally intended for healthcare needs in the area.

   According to a news release provided by area Republican legislators, the state approved $15 million in the 2021-23 state budget for HSHS to expand their psychiatric mental health bed capacity. Unfortunately, HSHS never came to claim those funds, and the money is still waiting to be dispersed. The plan is to repurpose those monies to a new grant program that would serve as a short-term bridge to continue emergency services until other providers can scale their capacity to meet the needs of the community.
    “Our proposal addresses this immediate need while providing time for a longer-term solution to take shape,” said Sen. Jesse James (R-Altoona).
   “This has been a tremendous loss to our community. Over the past two weeks I have been having conversations with my constituents about what the next best steps are,” said Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer).
    “Recovering will take all of us working together. The WI State Legislature stepping in to provide funding to help bridge the gap until a long-term solution is implemented and functioning is vital,” said Rep. Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek).
Support letters needed for Wednesday hearings
   Reallocating these funds require legislative action, but the time is short given the imminent end to the legislative session. Committees in the Assembly and State Senate will hold hearings on these bills this Wednesday, Feb 14: The Assembly Committee on Health, Aging, and Long-Term Care at 9 a.m. and the Senate Committee on Health at 1:00 p.m. There are two bills: AB1077/SB1015 moves the money currently in the state building trust fund to the general fund, and AB1078/SB1014 authorizes the Joint Committee on Finance to spend the funds on hospital emergency services in the region. If passed out of committee, the bills would go to the full Assembly and State Senate for action.

The Chamber is providing a letter of support for these bills as part of the testimony to be received in the committee hearings this week. It would be helpful for Chamber investors, whether as organizations or individuals, to provide their own support letters and/or register in support of the bills.

   If you are willing to be part of this, please email Scott Rogers, Vice President Governmental Affairs: rogers@eauclairechamber.org no later than 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb 13.
Click here to read the Chamber's letter to legislators (Eau Claire Chamber)

Bill information:
AB1077 SB1015  (transfer from the building fund to the general fund)
AB1078 SB1014 (authorizes use for local  needs)

More information:
News release (Chippewa Valley area Republican Legislators)

Legislators announce $15M for emergency departments in Chippewa, Eau Claire counties (WEAU 13 News)
Proposal would give Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls emergency departments $15 million (WQOW News 18)

Marshfield Clinic announces expansion of
Eau Claire labor and delivery capacity
   Marshfield Clinic Health System announced Friday it is more than doubling its labor and delivery beds at Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire to meet the needs of the community in the wake of the recently announced hospital closures. 
MMC-Eau Claire will expand its obstetrics unit from eight beds to 20 beds, which could accommodate an additional 550 births a year. The hospital is actively identifying the level of additional staffing, technology needs and timeline to begin operating the expanded unit.
   “As other hospitals and health systems are making difficult decisions, we have determined the steps we can take to increase delivery and labor beds for expectant mothers and their families," said MMC-Eau Claire President Brad Groseth. “We know the importance of having a comfortable space with high quality staff and resources to deliver their child to families in the area."
   Groseth added that MMC-Eau Claire is finalizing plans for an expected increase of patient volume, especially in emergency and urgent care. Recruitment is underway for open positions and additional job fairs will be scheduled. 
More information:
Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire will more than double labor and delivery capabilities (Marshfield Clinic Health System)

Marshfield Clinic Health System to double labor, delivery beds at Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire (WEAU 13 News)
Marshfield Clinic adding more labor and delivery beds in Eau Claire (WQOW News 18)

Mayo describes initiatives to increase regional capacity
   Mayo Clinic Health System last week announced a series of initiatives to increase its local capacity. Some of these include: Increasing capacity at all of their Critical Access Hospitals in the region, located in Barron, Bloomer, Menomonie and Osseo. Investigating ways to expand Emergency Department and Urgent Care capacities across all sites. Significantly increasing the capacity of their Family Birth Center. Expanding virtual care options, including Primary Care On Demand, and more.
More information:
Mayo Clinic Health System taking steps to address healthcare concerns (WEAU 13 News)

What Mayo Clinic is doing in the wake of upcoming HSHS/Prevea closures (WQOW News 18)

New providers adding services in primary care,
mental health, urgent care
    Three providers on Tuesday will be announcing expansions of services across the Chippewa Valley to meet needs in such important areas as primary care, mental health, urgent care, dental, and preventative health.
   NorthLakes Community Clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), providing a wide range of outpatient primary care services, including medical, dental, and mental health care. They focus on Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured or underinsured folks who often have significant challenges accessing the care they need. NorthLakes has provided pediatric dental services in Eau Claire for the past two years. Last fall, they added mental health counseling.
   Remedy Mental Health is a Wisconsin and Minnesota based mental health clinic "committed to meeting patients where they are with forward-thinking treatments that offer a better quality of life. We understand the importance of mental health services and the impact that disruptions in care can have on individuals and their loved ones. While we are not able to fill the void of all the critical services impacted by the departure of HSHS and Prevea Health, we are uniquely positioned to maintain and enhance outpatient mental health and substance use disorder services. We are pleased to announce that we have successfully hired 95% of the employees of Prevea Behavioral Health outpatient clinics. This will provide for a seamless transition of care without any disruption to patients."
   Pivotal Health is a Wisconsin-based start up launched in 2021 focused on urgent care, primary care and preventative health, which "has an innovative model for clinician house calls for urgent care and primary care for patients of all ages - easier for consumers and for our providers." They are announcing that they have providers in the area ready to start seeing patients in March, fully in network with all major and regional health insurers including UnitedHealth care, BlueCross BlueShield, Network Health, Medicare, and others.
More information:
Click here for more details about these providers

Local governments pass resolutions urging collaboration from HSHS and Prevea to ensure continuation of healthcare services
   Several local municipal and county governments, among them the Cities of Altoona, Chippewa Falls, and Eau Claire, as well as Eau Claire County, last week passed resolutions  that call upon HSHS and Prevea to work "collaboratively with the medical community and other local stakeholders to ensure quality healthcare and services continue to be available in the Chippewa Valley." While recognizing the value these facilities have provided to the community, the resolution asks for a delay in the closures "to allow community stakeholders including, but not limited to, the medical community and local municipalities, to work collaboratively to ensure a continuity of service within the community for the health and well-being of residents."
   The Eau Claire City Council passed its resolution unanimously at a special meeting on Wednesday. The action was preceded by an update on work of the HSHS Prevea Recovery Task force presented by Eau Claire Chamber President and CEO Dave Minor.
More information:   
City of Altoona resolution (City of Altoona)
City and County approve resolutions asking for HSHS/Prevea cooperation (Leader-Telegram $)
Eau Claire City Council and County Board vote on resolution regarding HSHS/Prevea Health shutdowns (WEAU 13 News)
Resolution asking HSHS and Prevea to work with local communities is approved by Altoona City Council members (WQOW News 18)
Chippewa County Board votes on HSHS, Prevea resolution (WEAU 13 News)
Chippewa Falls City Council votes on HSHS/Prevea Health Resolution (WEAU 13 News)

More regional healthcare stories...

OakLeaf Medical Network says it's moving forward with community hospital
(WEAU 13 News)

OakLeaf network to create independent community hospital plan (Leader-Telegram $)

Chippewa County needs new location for morgue, coroner offices, after St. Joseph's closes
(Leader-Telegram $)

Chippewa Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine files lawsuit against HSHS
(WEAU 13 News)

Chippewa Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine files lawsuit to keep area hospitals open longer (WQOW News 18)
Chippewa Valley clinic files court action to keep HSHS hospitals open until July (WPR)

Van Orden Urges Governor Evers to Join His Request for State, Federal Resources Following Recent Hospital Closures in Western Wisconsin
(WEAU 13 News)

Gov. Evers Announces Appointments to Governor’s Task Force on the Healthcare Workforce
(Office of the Governor)

Local Mayo Clinic nurse selected for governor's task force (WQOW News 18)
Gov. Evers discusses layoffs, health care access in western Wisconsin ahead of regional closures (WPR)
Gov. Evers discusses future of CV healthcare after closures with community leaders (Leader-Telegram $)


Downtown Eau Claire seeks input with parking survey
   Downtown Eau Claire Inc (DECI) is looking into public input regarding current experiences and future needs for parking in the city's downtown area. The City of Eau Claire will be performing a Parking Study that will be used to decide the future of paid parking in the downtown area.  DECI is looking for information from downtown business owners, employees, residents, and visitors to help inform the City and City Council on the needs and interests of these important stakeholders.
Click here to take the parking survey (DECI)
More information:
Downtown Eau Claire Parking Parking Survey Now Open (Volume One)
DECI wants to know what you think of downtown parking (WQOW News 18)

Meeting this week:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Feb 12, 7 p.m. Public Hearing Agenda Packet (26 pages)
 • Tuesday, Feb 13, 4 p.m. Legislative Session Agenda Packet (91 pages)
    2024 Budget website (City of Eau Claire)
    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 zoning code update work continues
Public open house Monday, Feb 19
   As the City of Eau Claire continues its work on a comprehensive update of its zoning code, dubbed the "Century Code Update," you are invited to attend the next public open house on Monday, February 19th from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.  
   There will be information about the new zoning districts and land use images/standards to review and to ask questions and provide input. An interactive proposed zoning map and the draft code text will be released next week ahead of the open house as well.
   In the same location at the library, the City Council and Plan Commission will meet before the open house from 4 pm to 6 pm for their next Zoning Policy Advisory Committee (ZPAC) meeting. This is an open meeting, but public input will be collected at the open house.
More information:
Century Code Update website (City of Eau Claire)
Zoning Policy Advisory Committee
 • Monday, Feb 19, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Century Code Update open house
 • Monday, Feb 19, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
    Open house information

"State of the County" explores ways to  provide intervention for people undergoing crisis before needing to involve law enforcement 
   The Chamber's recent Eggs & Issues breakfast, the annual 'State of the County' address, was led by Eau Claire County Board Chair Nancy Coffey and County Administrator Kathryn Schauf. They reviewed the highlights of Eau Claire County's work over the past year, its priorities for 2024, and key partnerships critical to the County's effectiveness.   
   The program focused especially on innovative work the County is undertaking to Learn how the County and key partners are piloting innovative, research-based, collaborative approaches. Insights were provided by Sheriff Dave Riewestahl, Criminal Justice Services Director Tiana Glenna,  Deputy Director of Human Services Ron Schmidt, and Judge Michael Schumacher.
More information: 
Report: Eggs & Issues - State of the County (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
State of the County: Deflecting people from the justice system (Leader-Telegram $)
Next monthly policy breakfast: 
Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Eau Claire
 • THURSDAY, Feb 15, 7:00-8:00 a.m., CVTC Business Education Center
    Click here for details and to register

Business View Magazine calls the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport "a hub of innovation and growth" in feature article
  "Nestled in Chippewa County, Wisconsin, the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (EAU) is a vital gateway to the western Wisconsin region. Owned by Eau Claire County, it’s strategically located just 3.5 miles north of Eau Claire’s central business district. As the largest airport in a 20-county area, its reach has historically catered primarily  to the Chippewa Valley region but has expanded recently with new airline service. The airport’s operations are governed by a budget approved by a seven member commission representing Chippewa and Eau Claire counties."
   "The airport remains a critical hub for not only general aviation, but for business aviation including Menards® an Eau Claire-based company, and Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service which bases its air ambulance helicopter at EAU. It also serves as an alternative landing site for flights heading to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). As of December 2022, Sun Country Airlines was the designated essential air service (EAS) provider offering weekly service to MSP as well as a seasonal rotation of destinations such as Las Vegas, Fort Myers, and Orlando. This unique EAS offering is the first in the country and has helped to expand the passenger reach of the airport."
Click below to read the full article...
Chippewa Valley Regional Airport shaping the future of aviation in western Wisconsin (Business View)

Other local stories...

Local organizations look for volunteers to extend Haven House hours
(Leader-Telegram $)

E.C. Fourth of July Fireworks Show to Continue at High Bridge
(Volume One)

Wisconsin Bankers Association: Gerald Jacobson named 2023 Banker of the Year

Spring 2024 Election
Tuesday, April 2
Local candidates on the Spring election ballot (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Chippewa Valley Rally Issues confirmed
   The legislative issues that will make up the 30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally have now been confirmed by all three sponsoring Chamber organizations.
   “Thank you” is the major theme of the 30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally, with many of our region’s most important economic priorities enacted in the 2023-25 State Budget or through other state legislation and action. This includes critical capital projects at area UW institutions, the compromise on shared revenue for local governments, repeal of the personal property tax, legislation to address housing supply and affordability, and the first step in expansion of passenger rail service to include the Chippewa Valley. Some issues remain to be resolved, including childcare, tax reform, and the EV charging network.
   We also know that the imminent closure of HSHS and Prevea facilities in the Chippewa Valley has emerged as a critical challenge for our community. We are in the process of assessing the community impact and needed response. If there are specific actions needed on the part of the state government to address the crisis, there may be additional related issues to be discussed at the Rally.
Click here to see the 2024 Chippewa Valley Rally Issues
How it works
   When you join us, you'll spend a productive day taking part in issue briefings, small group meetings at legislative offices, a keynote luncheon, and networking with others from our area who are interested in state government policy. You'll also be invited to online pre-event briefings to help you be prepared for a effective day in Madison. Optional same day charter bus transportation is available. (And don't worry if you've never participated before. Our legislative office meetings will be led by experienced previous attendees.) We also have special hotel rates on the nights before and after the Rally for those who combine the trip with other business in Madison.
More information:
30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, Madison
    Click here for full details and to register

State and regional stories...

'UPFRONT' recap: Gov. Evers on legislative maps, state's prisons and bills he's promising to veto
Wisconsin Democrats inch closer to overturning Republican-drawn legislative maps (AP)
LeMahieu says Senate GOP will consider passing Evers’ legislative maps (WisPolitics.com)

Before refugees settle in Wisconsin towns, who should be consulted?
(The Cap Times)

Rep. LaKeshia Myers is running for vacant Milwaukee Senate seat, has Lena Taylor's support
(Journal-Sentinel +)

City of Eau Claire celebrates transit equity day
(Leader-Telegram $)
Advocates call for investments in public transit (WPR)

Bipartisan bill gives Wisconsin communities flood resilience grants

Kaul Announces Settlement with Firm that Helped Market Opioids

WMC and WMC Litigation Center Celebrate Court’s Decision to Strike Down Illegal Transportation Tax


National and economic stories...

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin Republican and China hawk, will not seek re-election
(Journal-Sentinel +)
Gallagher won’t seek reelection (WisPolitics.com)
Gallagher says he won’t run for Congress again after refusing to impeach Homeland Security chief (AP)
GOP's Roger Roth announces candidacy hours after Mike Gallagher said he's not seeking re-election (Journal-Sentinel +)
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher joins Democrats in blocking impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas (Journal-Sentinel +)
Mike Gallagher one of only 4 Republicans to vote against impeaching Homeland Security secretary (WPR)

Marquette Law School Poll survey of Wisconsin finds Biden and Trump tied among registered voters, Trump up 1% among likely voters
(Marquette Law School Poll)
Marquette poll finds tight Biden-Trump race in Wisconsin, Haley up big over incumbent president (WisPolitics.com)
In Marquette's latest poll of Wisconsin voters, a parade of red flags for Biden and Trump (Journal-Sentinel +)

Food for thought...

The Flip Side: Both sides of important issues
(The Flip Side, daily digest)

How does Medicaid funding work?
(HealthCare Brew)

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

Mark your calendar:

Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Eau Claire
• Thursday, Feb 15

30th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Eggs & Issues: Legislative Breakfast
• Friday, Mar 15

Spring 2024 Election
 • Tuesday, April 2
Local candidates on the Spring election ballot

Eggs & Issues: State of the City - Altoona
 • Friday, Apr 12

Chamber Royale
 • Thursday, May 16, 2024

Golf Day in Eau Claire
 • Monday, Aug 5, 2024

"Bravo to Business" Awards
 • Thursday, Oct 17, 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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