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Volume 6, Issue 31, Dec 18, 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
"Talking Po!nt" Podcast
Contact: Scott Rogers, VP Governmental Affairs


Registration now open...
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.
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, Madison
    Click here for details and to register

Support local businesses: Buy Chamber Bucks for the Holidays
Chamber Business Hours:
Mon-Thu 7:30a-5p, Friday 8a-2p  Lobby Hours: Mon-Fri 10a-2p
Closed: December 25, 26, and January 1

In this issue:
 • Chamber hosting Civics Bee competition for middle school students
 • EC City Council approves Town of Washington legal settlement
 • Refugee resettlement 
 • New "Talking Po!nt" episode
 • UW Regents reverse vote and accept deal with legislative leaders
 • UWEC Science Building gets go-ahead, construction to start in summer
 • Chippewa Valley legislators interact at Chamber Legislative Breakfast
 • National and economic stories
 • 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 "+"


EC Chamber to host local competition for National Civics Bee
Middle School students are eligible, essay deadline is January 8
   The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to host a first-of-its-kind civics competition that encourages young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities. Participating 6th, 7th and 8th graders will flex their civics knowledge for a chance to win recognition and cash prizes. Finalists will be invited to Washington, DC to compete in the inaugural National Civics Bee® national championship in Fall 2024.
   Who can participate: Any 6th, 7th, or 8th grade student residing in Wisconsin with an idea about using civics to improve their community. Middle school students from public, private, charter, and home schools are invited to take part in the first-round civics essay competition. After a distinguished panel reviews the 500-word essays, the top 20 students will be selected to move on to the next round of competition: a live quiz event to test their civics knowledge. The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce will host this event at DeLong Middle School on April 13, 2024. The finalists and top winners will receive various prizes, including $500 cash for the first-place student. Winners then move on the state and potentially national competition.
Key Dates:
 • January 8, 2024: Deadline for Essays
 • April 13, 2024: Local competition for students with the top 20 essays
 • June 14, 2024: Statewide finals, Madison
More information:
National Civics Bee information (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
Application info for 6th, 7th, 8th grade students (WMC)

Wisconsin Chambers to Host Regional, Statewide Civics Bee (WMC)

City of Eau Claire...
EC City Council approves Town of Washington settlement on Orchard Hills annexation suit
   A proposed settlement with the Town of Washington over the City's 2022 annexation of land for the Orchard Hills development was approved last Tuesday by the Eau Claire City Council. The Town had sued to block the annexation, but recent negotiations have resulted in an agreement to dismiss the litigation. The text of the agreement removes the Town's objections, allows extension of City utilities, limits development on the northern edge of the land to single family homes, and provides a payment from the developer to the Town for road expenses incurred before the annexation. (See pages 146-159 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below.)
   The Council's next meetings will be January 8-9.
More information:
Eau Claire City Council
 • Monday, Dec 11, Public Hearing, Agenda Packet (22 pages)
 • Tuesday, Dec 12, Legislative Session, Agenda Packet (183 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)
    Latest issue: City Manager's Weekly Update (City of Eau Claire)
Orchard Hills annexation mutual agreement approved by city (Leader-Telegram $)
Most parking violations may become $30 (Leader-Telegram $)
Agreement reached over controversial town of Washington land annexation, council to vote (WQOW News 18)
Van Orden discusses PFAS on visit to water treatment facility (Leader-Telegram $)
Plans underway to filter PFAS out of Eau Claire water (WEAU 13 News)
Our View: A good moment for Van Orden on PFAS (Leader-Telegram editorial $)

Answering questions about refugee resettlement in the Chippewa Valley
   As Christian resettlement agency World Relief moves forward and answers questions about plans to bring 75 refugees to the Chippewa Valley, several local groups have come together to offer volunteers and donations to assist in the effort. At the same time, the Eau Claire City Council President has characterized anti-immigration rhetoric as "xenophobic," the Eau Claire County Board will consider a resolution on Tuesday asking for an economic study, and employers and business groups in other areas where refugees have settled say they've provided valuable economic benefits.
   On December 5, a group of organizations including the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association (ECAHMAA), JONAH, and Welcoming New Neighbors held a news conference to announce they have pulled together a group of local volunteers, monetary donations, and supplies to assist with the effort.
   "It’s really important to show our solidarity in supporting the refugees that are coming in,” said True Vue, Executive Director of ECAHMAA. "All of us currently live in peace with no fear of war, leaving our homes, having to experience living in a war zone. Those who are never refugees will never know the fear and sacrifice we as refugees had to to make," she said.
   World Relief, which has operated with a Wisconsin office in Appleton for 10 years, opened the Chippewa Valley office this year. It has provided extensive FAQs and other information detailing how refugee resettlement works, and how refugees are vetted before the come to the US.
More information:
WELCOMING NEWCOMERS: Valley Orgs Ready to Aid Refugees in Coming Year (Volume One)

Organizations speak in favor of World Relief and resettlement (Leader-Telegram $)
Digging Deeper: Answering your questions on refugee resettlement in the Chippewa Valley (WQOW News 18)
Frequently Asked Questions: Refugee Resettlement in the Chippewa Valley 
(World Relief)
Who is a refugee and what do they go through to get to the U.S.? - World Relief (World Relief)

County Board to Consider resolution
   The Eau Claire County Board meets Tuesday evening. Its agenda includes a resolution regarding refugees. See pages 50-52 of the Agenda Packet linked below.

More information: 
Eau Claire County Board
• Tuesday, Dec 19,  Agenda Packet
    County Board district maps and Supervisors
    County budget website (Eau Claire County)

    County Board meeting public comment submission (Eau Claire County)
County may seek more information from World Relief (Leader-Telegram $)
County board to discuss resolution regarding refugees (WEAU 13 News)

Berge responds to billboard
   Eau Claire City Council President Emily Berge on Thursday issued a statement responding to a billboard that appeared last week along Truax Blvd. in the city, which asserts a message including, "Your TAX$$ paying NGO to TRAFFIC Somali refugees to EAU CLAIRE area?"

   In her statement, Berge said "Eau Claire strives to be welcoming to all, no matter where you are from. I am saddened that a few area extremists continue to spread disinformation that only harms our community. I am concerned about how this xenophobic message impacts our immigrants, refugees, and city as a whole. I encourage Eau Claire to unite around compassion and stand together against this fear-mongering and extremism." Xenophobia is defined as "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign."
   The billboard in question is similar to other rhetoric and blog posts by some groups opposed to the resettlement.

More information: 
City Council Prez Claps Back at ‘Xenophobic’ Anti-Refugee Billboard (Volume One)

Employers and business groups note positive impact of refugees
   The Chamber contacted colleagues in the Fox Valley and Waukesha areas, where refugees and other immigrants have been welcomed, who say their experiences with World Relief and other agencies have been positive.

   The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce issued a report on the Economic Impact of Immigrants in Minnesota, which found that "Immigrants complement native-born workers well and play essential roles throughout the economy. As the state’s population ages and the native-born workforce participation rate drops, foreign-born workers fill in the gaps in employment," it noted.
   The National Association of Manufacturers says refugees strengthen industry.
   “When manufacturers hire refugees, they see fewer turnovers and increased efficiencies, and at the same time, they’re helping improve the lives of refugees, their families and communities," says Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee. "Increasing diversity in the talent pool and developing more inclusive workplaces strengthens the competitive advantage of our industry and our workforce.”
   In Willmar, Minnesota, which has a large immigrant and refugee population, the community conducts an annual "Welcoming Week," which civic and business officials say is designed “to make sure that all are welcome in our community.” 
   “These are people that come ready to work, and that is one of the reasons that they choose Willmar, because the word gets out that there are a lot of work opportunities,” Pablo Obregon, Willmar Community Growth director, told the West Central MN Tribune.
More information:
Husco Provides Wisconsin Jobs to Refugees (National Assn of Manufacturers)

Welcoming Week celebrates Willmar's diverse population (West Central Minnesota Tribune)
The Economic Contributions  of Immigrants  in Minnesota (Minnesota Chamber of Commerce)

Also meeting this week...

Zoning Policy Advisory
Committee (ZPAC)
• Monday, Dec 18, 4:00 p.m., Banbury Place, 800 Wisconsin St., Bldg. 2,  3rd floor, Eau Claire Conference Room Agenda

More local stories...

Spring election candidate petitions being circulated
Offices on the Ballot in Spring 2024 (Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce)
City councilor Jessica Schoen announces campaign for District 1 (WQOW News 18)
Clara Serrano announces campaign for Eau Claire City Council (WEAU 13 News)
Emily Anderson announces re-election bid for District 2 (Leader-Telegram $)

Gov. Evers, WisDOT Announce Federal Funding Awarded to Study Expansion of Passenger Rail Service in Wisconsin
(Office of the Governor)
More steps are taken to make passenger rail service possible in Eau Claire (WEAU 13 News)
Rail Commission discusses next steps (Leader-Telegram $)

Day shelter for the homeless finds temporary digs in former pawn shop
(Volume One)
Haven House signs lease for new location (Leader-Telegram $)

Here Are the Headliners for the 2024 Northern Wis. State Fair
(Volume One)

America’s Newest National Park Runs Through the Chippewa Valley
(Volume One)

New episode...
"Talking Po!nt" podcast
The importance of advocating in Madison
   Decisions made in Madison have a big impact on the economy of the Chippewa Valley. In this episode, moderator Creative Director Chelsea Seckora talks to Chamber President & CEO Dave Minor and VP Governmental Affairs Scott Rogers about the ways we can work together to influence state policymakers. Hear details on how you can participate in the upcoming Chippewa Valley Rally. Recorded in the WIN Technology Studio. Media sponsor Royal Credit Union. Click below to listen:
Talking Point Podcast Ep 3, "The importance of advocating in Madison" (32:24)
Talking Point Podcast Ep 2, "It's Budget Season" (17:37)
Talking Point Podcast Ep 1 "Why we advocate" (16:18)


UW Regents change vote, accept deal with legislative leaders
   After initially rejecting it on December 9, the UW Board of Regents voted 11-6 last Wednesday to accept the deal negotiated between President Jay Rothman and GOP legislative leaders that settled issues over DEI positions, releases pay increases for UW staff, and moves forward the proposed UW-Madison Engineering Building.
UWEC Science Building to start construction
  Also last week, the State Building Commission authorized construction of UW-Eau Claire’s $340.3 million Science and Health Sciences Building.
More information:
UW regents reverse position, accept GOP deal on funding and limits to DEI programs (WPR)
UW Regents approve deal on diversity, pay raises after six-month budget standoff (Journal-Sentinel +)
UWEC student rally shows both protest, support of UW System Board of Regents recent vote (Leader-Telegram $)

Board of Regents Approve Deal (Speaker Robin Vos)

Gov. Evers Releases Statement Regarding Board of Regents Vote (Office of the Governor)
UW Regents reverse course and approve deal with Legislature (Dave Cieslewicz, Isthmus)

UWEC Science & Health Sciences Building
Science and Health Sciences Building construction to begin in summer (UWEC)

UW-EC aims for summer to start on Science and Health Science Building construction (Leader-Telegram $)

Eggs & Issues: Holiday Legislative Breakfast
   Over 100 people attended the Chamber's annual preview of the January legislative session last Friday at the annual Holiday Legislative Breakfast.  Participating legislators included Senators Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire),  and Representatives Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire), Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek), and Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer).
   The lawmakers discussed their personal priorities for the rest of the legislative session, and agreed on, or debated, several issues of interest for the Chippewa Valley. Click here to read more...
More information:
Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce holds Holiday Legislative Breakfast edition of ‘Eggs and Issues’ (WEAU 13 News)

Wis. legislators discuss UW System board decision to freeze DEI, boost state funding (Leader-Telegram $)
Ranked choice voting may come to Wisconsin (WPR)

Join us at the...
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.
 • Wednesday, Feb 28, Madison
    Click here for details and to register

More state and regional stories...

Can apprenticeships be the key to solving child care issues?
(Journal-Sentinel +)

Gov. Evers, U.S. Sen. Baldwin Announces New Investments to Help Expand Access, Affordability, and Adoption of High-Speed Internet
(Office of the Governor)

Gov. Evers, DNR Announce $414.4 Million To Improve Municipal Wastewater and Stormwater Infrastructure
(Office of the Governor)

Federal agency finds Superior gas plant won't cause significant environmental harm


National and economic stories...

Fed holds rates steady, indicates three cuts coming in 2024

Retail sales rose 0.3% in November vs. expectations for a decline

The Biden Administration’s Plan to Seize Drug Patents, Explained
(The Dispatch)

Congress passes $886 billion defense policy bill, Biden to sign into law
Votes: House: 310-118, Senate: 87-13
Wis House votes: Yes: Derrick Van Orden (R-3), Scott Fitzgerald (R-5), Mike Gallagher (R-8), Brian Steil (R-1); No: Mark Pocan (D-2), Tom Tiffany (R-7), Not Voting: Gwen Moore (D-4)
Wis Senate votes: Yes: Tammy Baldwin (D), Ron Johnson (R)

Public dissatisfied with Biden-Trump rematch
(AP/University of Chicago Poll)

New Hampshire Gov. Sununu endorses Nikki Haley for president

Food for thought...

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

Zoning Reform Is Entering A New, Grown-Up Era (Next City)
St. Paul's recent legalization of up to four units per lot city-wide showcases a smarter, more thoughtful future for zoning reform.

A walkable neighborhood is elder care
(Urbanism Speakeasy with Andy Boenau)

It's time to admit that modern transportation systems & car dependency are forms of ageism.

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

Mark your calendar:

Eau What A Night: The Chamber's 109th Annual Meeting
 • Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Workforce Solutions Summit
• Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024 (Rescheduled)

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

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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