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Volume 4 , Issue 52, May 16, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

Advocacy Blog


May 17 Sunset Welcome Reception

Honoring newly-elected city council and school board members

A special welcome reception to honor newly-elected local officials. We're inviting those elected for the first time on April 5 to the Altoona and Eau Claire City Councils, and Altoona and Eau Claire School Boards to join us for this informal opportunity to meet and interact with Chamber investors. (This event immediately follows the Chamber's Business at the Gardens that evening.)

 • Tuesday, May 17, 7:00-8:30 p.m., The Florian Gardens

    Click here for details and to register

    Business at the Gardens (preceding event: click here for details)


Last chance to register...

May 20 Eggs & Issues: Tackling Our Child Care Challenges

Child care has been increasingly cited as one of the most difficult workforce challenges for parents and employers in today's economy. At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll learn more about the local Chippewa Valley Child Care Task Force as it works to understand the scope of the problem, define the core issues, and identify potential innovations and policy changes needed to move towards solutions.

 • Friday May 20, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
  Click here for details and to register

In this issue:

 • Orchard Hills property seeking City of Eau Claire annexation

 • Liquor license issue postponed, Country Jam annexation approved

 • New Eau Claire Library Director announced

 • Altoona Comprehensive Plan open house on May 18

 • EC School Board to discuss communication plan

 • Chamber holds Youth Apprenticeship signing day

 • Governmental Affairs interns reflect on the experience

 • State and regional news

 • National and economic news

 • COVID-19 updates 

 • 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 "+"


Orchard Hills seeking City of Eau Claire annexation

Plan Commission will also consider SpringHill Suites site plan

   The owner of the property planned for the Orchard Hills housing development at the south edge of Eau Claire is now seeking annexation to the City of Eau Claire. The request will be on the agenda of the Eau Claire Plan Commission on Monday evening for a recommendation to the City Council. The annexation then goes to the City Council for action on May 24.

  LaVerne L. Stewart, owner of the proposed Orchard Hills site, and Todd A. Hauge, owner of land between that site and the current city limits, are requesting annexation of 438 acres to the City. The proposal would include annexing part of the current Lowes Creek County Park, which would remain in that current use. According the the narrative with the application, the purpose of the annexation is "to allow a future residential development to have sanitary sewer and water main services when the City makes the services available."

  The agenda information for the Plan Commission meeting notes that additional approvals will also be needed before the property can be developed, including "rezoning; general development plan; platting; SSA (Sewer Service Area) amendment and comprehensive plan amendment." (See pages 9-15 of the Agenda Packet linked below for full information, including a map of the site and and FAQ list about the proposal and annexation process provided by City staff.)

   In its report to the Plan Commission, the City's staff recommends approval of the annexation. In answer to one of the FAQs in its document, "If we annex, does the City have resources to support the large annexation?," City staff wrote:

  “Eau Claire is a growing community, and we have a recognized need for additional housing, and this new development allows for this growth to occur with sufficient municipal services. This type of growth provides additional tax revenue to allow the city to adjust services to meet the new growth. Without an annexation, growth in large rural lots requires more expensive municipal service delivery." The FAQs estimate a full build out of the development could provide $600 to $700 million in additional tax base for the City.

   The property owner and developers had previously sought rezoning through the property's current Town of Washington jurisdiction and the Eau Claire County Board. Although approved unanimously by the Town of Washington Board, it has drawn neighbor opposition. The County Planning & Development Committee deadlocked on a recommendation to the full County Board.

   The residential development is being planned by CDPG Developers, which includes Craig Wurzer, owner of C&E Wurzer Builders, Paul Holzinger of Holzinger Holmes, Damian Prince of Chippewa Valley Excavating.    

Chamber supports annexation and development 

   The Chamber has provided a letter to the Plan Commission in support of the annexation, and previously supported rezoning of the property for residential development. The May 12 letter to the Plan Commission notes: "Among the most significant current challenges for our local economy are workforce development and housing supply. These issues are closely tied together because housing supply impacts the ability to meet the needs of a growing population, as well as affordability for all individuals and families. This annexation is a first step towards the development of additional housing supply in our community. This will help address the housing shortage while providing benefits for everyone towards attainability and affordability. It also has the advantage of providing for the availability of city utilities and other services to appropriately support its development."

Pablo Group: Salsbury Flats condo plan, SpringHill Suite site plan

   Monday's Plan Commission agenda also includes two projects being developed by the Pablo Group. The final condo plat for its Salsbury Flats, a seven unit rehabilitation of historic row houses and two single family homes at 302 Grand Avenue is up for recommendation to the City Council (see pages 3-8). It is also seeking Plan Commission approval for a site plan for a 4-story, 128-room SpringHill Suites hotel along the Chippewa River at Menomonie Street (see pages 16-64). The latter was recently announced as part of the County Materials Complex being developed by UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System, which will also include the Sonnentag Event Center and Mayo Clinic facilities.

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission

 • Monday, May 16, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (64 pages)

Chamber support letter (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)

Annexation for controversial subdivision reaches Eau Claire Plan Commission (Leader-Telegram $)


City Council approves Country Jam annexation

Decision postponed on liquor license

   At its Tuesday Legislative Session last week, the Eau Claire City Council approved Country Jam USA's annexation request for 160 acres along Highway T, south of 20th Avenue, slated to be the future site of its annual festival beginning in 2023. The property is currently in the Chippewa County Town of Wheaton. Annexation will allow city utilities to be extended to the site (see pages 175-178 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below). 

   Also on Tuesday's agenda was the renewal of the two liquor licenses for downtown Eau Claire establishments The Plus and The Rev (one license), and the Metro (the other license), currently held by Benny Haas. The City Attorney's office had recommended against renewal, arguing that they have been abandoned. However, when the item came up on the agenda, Assistant City Attorney Jenessa Stromberger said progress had been made and asked to postpone the item until the Council's May 24 meeting. 

   After Tuesday's Legislative Session, the Council held a Work Session to discuss remote participation in meetings, and the potential allocation process for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. 

More information:   

Eau Claire City Council

• Monday, May 9, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (7 pages)

• Tuesday, May 10, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (192 pages)

Link to videos of city meetings (City of Eau Claire)
Contact information: City Council members (City of Eau Claire)

Liquor license decision delayed for 3 downtown Eau Claire businesses (Leader-Telegram $)

[UPDATE] City Council Delays Decision on Liquor Licenses for The Plus, The Metro (Volume One)


New Library Director named

   The Eau Claire Public Library's Board of Trustees last week announced the selection of Nancy Kerr, currently library director at Longmont, Colorado, as its new Director. Kerr replaces Pamela Westby, who retired last fall. She will begin her duties on June 27.

More information:

Eau Claire library's new director named (Leader-Telegram $)


Altoona Comprehensive Plan Open House on May 18

   The City of Altoona is inviting residents to an Open House to take part in reviewing and providing feedback on its 2022 Draft Comprehensive Plan. This drop-in-style event will be hosted by the City of Altoona and their planning consultant, Vandewalle & Associates.

More information:

City of Altoona Comprehensive Plan Public Open House
• Wednesday, May 18, 6-8 p.m.

   Fish House Recreation Center, 418 9th Street West, Altoona

   Visit AltoonaCompPlan.com for the latest information


EC School Board to discuss communication plan

   Among the items on the agenda for the Eau Claire Board of Education on Monday night is the presentation and discussion of a draft communication plan created by Board Member Erica Zerr. According to the presentation posted as part of the agenda (see link below), the goals of the plan include: Strategically connecting the Board with the community in fulfillment of Governance Commitments, Increase public awareness and knowledge of  the Board’s work,  Create strategic points of engagement between the Board and the community, Facilitated and intentional conversations to inform Board work, and Increase opportunities for under-engaged groups to connect with the Board.

   The agenda also includes confirming Board Member committee appointments for the coming year. 

More information:

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, May 16, 6:15 p.m. Closed Session; 7 p.m. Regular Session Agenda packet

Eau Claire Board of Education

Draft Board Communication Plan (ECASD)

EC school board aims to improve community communication (Leader-Telegram $)


Chamber holds Youth Apprenticeship signing day

   The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its first Youth Apprenticeship Signing Day last Thursday, recognizing students, schools, and employers who are participating in the program for the 2022-23 school year.

   Youth Apprenticeship is a State of Wisconsin program that provides opportunities for high school students to explore their chosen field with employers who can provide training, mentorship, and skills in related jobs. Students work 450 paid hours during the experience. The Chamber serves as the area YA Consortium to facilitate the program for Eau Claire's North, Memorial, and McKinley High Schools, Fall Creek High School, and Regis High School. 

   For more information about employer participation in YA, contact Kaylynn Winegar, Vice President Workforce Initiatives: winegar@eauclairechamber.org or 715-858-0615.

More information:

Your Apprenticeship Employer and Student Information (Eau Claire Chamber)

Students take steps towards their careers at Youth Apprenticeship Signing Day (WEAU 13 News)


Chamber Governmental Affairs interns reflect on the experience

Plus a "Where are they now?" look at past interns

   An important aspect of the Chamber's accomplishment of its governmental affairs efforts each year is the work done by its Political Science interns from UW-Eau Claire, a program that first began in 1997. 

   The Eau Claire Chamber's 2021-22 UW-Eau Claire Governmental Affairs interns, Brianna Franke and Danya Morman, are completing their official internships this month. They've provided reflections on their experiences, as well as a look back at other students who've filled that role and what' they're doing now. 

   "This internship has taught me so much about local and state governments that I don’t believe could be matched by any other experience," noted Franke.

   "I am grateful for all the opportunities it has given me including making connections that may help me in the future, gaining skills about effective lobbying, the importance of voter education and engagement, and many others," said Morman.

   To learn more, and see a "Where are they now?" review of past interns, click the link below.

More information:

Past interns reflect on their time at the Chamber of Commerce (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)


More local news:


Barron, Menomonie housing projects get low income tax credits (Leader-Telegram $)


Happy Trails to You: City Adds Trail Segment Downtown (Volume One)


Temporary road closures coming to Golf Road, Folsom Street this week (WQOW News 18)


Blugold biology alumna interviewed for ‘60 Minutes’ on child mental health (UWEC)

Video and Story: "I felt so alone": Rising rates of suicide, depression accelerated by pandemic among U.S. kids (CBS 60 Minutes, 13:20)


State and regional news:


Gov. Evers Announces Additional $25 million in Main Street Bounceback Grant Program (Office of the Governor)

Gov. Evers announces additional $25 million investment into Main Street Bounceback Grant Program (WEAU 13 News)

Information: Main Street Bounceback Grants (WEDC)


Head of Wisconsin Nursing Board resigns over vetoed advanced practice nursing bill (The Cap Times)

Advanced Practice Nurses slam Evers over veto (WKOW)

SB 394 (Wisconsin Legislature)

Governor's Veto Message - SB 394 (Office of the Governor)


Wisconsin Republicans look to unite at convention amid internal feuds (AP)

2020 casts a long shadow over 2022 GOP primary, but could that hurt nominee in the fall? (Wisconsin State Journal +)


Briefings begin with Milwaukee Common Council members on an agreement that could bring the 2024 Republican National Convention to the city (Journal-Sentinel $)


Wisconsin families feel stress of finding baby formula, navigate alternatives amid national shortage (WPR)


Video and story: Tourism reservations on pace to top 2019, J-1 visa program rebounds (UpFront, WISN)


Judge finds lame-duck settlement language unconstitutional (AP)

Dane County Judge declares lame-duck settlement provision unconstitutional (Wisconsin State Journal +)


'Unlike it’s ever been': New college graduates are finding jobs sooner, at higher pay (WPR)


Kohl’s board remains in control following shareholder vote (BizTimes)


UCLA dean Jennifer Mnookin named UW-Madison's next chancellor (Wisconsin State Journal +)


National and economic news:


US inflation slowed last month for the first time since August (CNN)

Producer Price Gains Slowed in April but Remain Elevated (Wall Street Journal $)

Producer Price Index News Release summary (Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Nasdaq pops 3%, Dow jumps 400 points in comeback rally following steep losses earlier in the week (CNBC)


Nationwide internet: Biden administration to release $45B for high-speed service (Fox Business)


COVID-19 Updates 


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:


Business at the Gardens

• Tuesday, May 17, The Florian Gardens


Sunset Reception

Honoring newly-elected public officials

• Tuesday, May 17, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Tackling Our Child Care Challenges

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


Leadercast - The One Thing

• Thursday, June 2, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Our Electric Energy Future

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


Business Day in Madison

 • Wednesday, October 19, Monona Terrace


Workforce Solutions Summit

 • Wednesday, November 16, Pablo Center


"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


Public Meetings Calendar

Our Public Meetings Calendar has moved to our website. 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 

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