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Volume 5, Issue 13, Aug 15, 2022
 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

Advocacy Blog


Last chance to register...

Eggs & Issues: The Economic Imperative of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Friday, Aug 19, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
Click here for details and to register

Registration deadline 12:00 noon on Thursday, Aug 18

   Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has gotten increasing attention as an overall priority to ensure Eau Claire is a community that is welcoming to everyone. At this edition of Eggs & Issues, we'll take a specific look at why it is important to our economy. We've assembled a panel that will bring a wide range of private and public sector perspectives to that question, including Wes Escondo, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin and Chair of the Chamber's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Task Force; Valerie Fedie, Western Wisconsin & Duluth Market Leader, Wipfli; Maysee Herr, CEO, Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce; and Dr. Lynette Livingston, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, CVTC. 


Aug 9 Primary Election results

3rd District Congress, area State Legislature, and Local Results (EC Chamber)

Results: Statewide offices (EC Chamber)

Scroll down for more election news...

In this issue: 

 • EC City Council: Apartments move forward, Oxford Ave. construction closure decision postponed

 • Plan Commission: Menomonie Food Co-op, Sky Park apartments

 • EC School Board nearing referendum decision

 • Chamber concierge program aims to help talent attraction

 • Sun Country flights open for booking, begin Dec 1

 • Michels, Barnes, Pfaff win key state primaries

 • James, Hurd win local legislative primaries

 • Inflation eases in July

 • US House passes reconciliation bill

 • 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 "+"


EC City Council approves TIF, grants for apartment projects

Decision postponed on Oxford Ave construction closure

   At its Tuesday Legislative Session last week, the Eau Claire City Council approved a a purchase and development agreement with Merge Urban Development for a 5-story, 52-unit apartment building at Barstow St and Riverfront Terrace, the final lot in the North Barstow area. The 11,600 square foot site is immediately south of the Eau Claire Children's Museum currently under construction, and will abut the North Barstow Parking Ramp, where tenants will have access to parking. Merge will guarantee a minimum property tax valuation of $8 million, and will receive $800,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance. (See pages 37-70 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet linked below for more information, including the site location and renderings.) Merge is the same developer that is completing the Andante building on the north side of the Eau Claire River between Barstow and Farwell Streets, which is opening to occupancy later this summer. 

   The Council also voted to accept a $1 million state grant for W Capital Group's Phase II of The Current apartment building at 1700 N. Oxford Ave. 36 of the 43 units in the apartment building will have rents that are affordable to individuals who earn 30% to 60% of the county median income. The project earlier had received $483,430 in competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), but significant increases in construction costs led to the City of Eau Claire awarding the project $192,700 from its Affordable Housing Fund and the $1 million state Neighborhood Investment Grant. (See pages 71-130 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet.) The City also is receiving a $1.5 million Neighborhood Investment Grant to support the expansion and renovation of Catholic Charities' Sojourner House at 618 S. Barstow St. (See pages 131-173 of the Tuesday Agenda Packet.)

   The Council approved a proposal to apply for a gap loan of $2 million from the State Trust Fund for the library renovation project while awaiting pledged donations to come in (see pages 182-185). 

Businesses raise concern about Oxford Ave closure

   The Council decided to postpone for two weeks a decision on a temporary road closure related to the construction of Phase II of The Current. Area businesses raised concerns about customer access resulting from a temporary closure of part of Oxford Ave at the construction site between Sept 15 and Jan 15. The delay will give time for the developer, City, and local businesses to look at potential solutions. W Capital Group's Tyler Warner said the postponement would not affect the ability to begin construction this month. 

Eau Claire City Council

 • Monday, Aug 8, Public Hearing - Canceled

 • Tuesday, Aug 9, Legislative Session (Agenda Packet, 270 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)

City seeks loan to cover gap before library donations arrive (Leader-Telegram $)

Developers Buy Final Two North Barstow Plots (Volume One)

Planned low-income apartments in Eau Claire get funding boost (Leader-Telegram $)

Potential Cannery District road closure riles businesses (Leader-Telegram $)

You Ask, We Answer: Will there be enough parking around North Barstow when everything is built? (WQOW News 18)

Commentary: Observing and Enjoying Eau Claire’s Downtown Tipping Point (Nick Meyer, Volume One)


EC Plan Commission: Site plans for Menomonie Food Co-op,

Sky Park apartments

   The Eau Claire Plan Commission's agenda for its Monday evening meeting includes approval of site plans for two local projects:

   1. A three-building apartment complex on 4.54 acres at Hamilton Ave and Craig Rd by RyKey Properties. The plan includes a total of 96 units in a mixture of one- and two-bedroom sizes. All of the proposed units fit the definition of workforce housing, with 10 units in one of the buildings set aside specifically with rents affordable to people with incomes at 60% of the County Median Income (CMI). (See pages 12-47 of the agenda packet linked below for narrative, plans, and elevations.)

   2. Menomonie Market Food Co-op's plans for a new building on the south side of RDA Block 7 at Barstow and Galloway streets in downtown Eau Claire. The building will have a foot print of 10,500 square feet, plus provide for 48 surface parking stalls. (See pages 48-70 of the agenda packet for narrative, plans, and elevations.)

   The Plan Commission will also get an update regarding plans for the Highway T corridor (see pages 71-75).

More information:

Eau Claire Plan Commission 

 • Monday, Aug 15, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (79 pages)

Plans for new co-op up for vote (Leader-Telegram $)

Food Co-op Expansion Plan (Menomonie Market Food Co-op)

Website: RyKey Properties (RyKey Properties)


EC School Board nearing referendum question

 The Eau Claire Board of Education is expected to reach a decision at its meeting Monday evening regarding a referendum for the Nov 8 election. Its Referendum Committee met last week and is scheduled to present a recommendation to the Board for an ask totaling $98.6 million. The referendum proceeds would be used for a variety of projects to expand school capacity and other priorities.

More information: 

Eau Claire Board of Education

 • Monday, Aug 15, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet 

School Board information (ECASD)

School Board members (ECASD)

EC school board slated to finalize referendum plans (Leader-Telegram $)


Chamber concierge program aims to help talent attraction

   The Eau Claire Chamber's "Explore Eau Claire" concierge program was one of the local initiatives highlighted last Thursday at a "Wisconsin Tomorrow Summit: Workforce Recruitment, Attraction, Retention" organized by Competitive Wisconsin. 

   A diverse line up of speakers and panelists addressed efforts to expand internships, highlight community amenities, and advance collaboration among government and business.

   Chamber President & CEO Dave Minor talked about the benefits of "Explore Eau Claire" in making early connections to the community for new and prospective new employees and their families.

More information:

Competitive Wisconsin website

Reeling them in (Leader-Telegram $)

Chamber Workforce Initiative - Develop, Attract, Retain

"Explore Eau Claire" - concierge program


EAU Sun Country flights to MSP, Ft. Myers begin in December

Now open for booking

   The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport has announced that Sun Country Airlines’ service to and from EAU is now on sale. Service to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) will begin on December 1 and to Ft. Myers, FL, will start on December 19. 

   “Travelers in our region will now have access to Sun Country’s affordable fares with connecting flights through MSP and direct flights to RSW,” said Airport Director, Charity Zich. “We are pleased that Sun Country will be expanding their offerings from their original proposal to a total of four roundtrips per week to MSP with flights timed to maximize connection opportunities.”  

   In July, the US Department of Transportation selected Sun Country Airlines to serve the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport through the Essential Air Service program.  Sun Country Airlines operates 98 routes serving 78 airports across the United States, Mexico, Central America, Canada and the Caribbean. 

   "Sun Country offers a customer experience that includes free in-flight entertainment, complimentary non-alcoholic beverage service, a new mobile-friendly website with more self-service tools, and new interiors on each aircraft," said the airline in a news release. Sun Country flights will be provided on 186-seat Boeing 737s.

   “Sun Country is well known to Wisconsin travelers,” said Joe Beckendorf, Director of Network Planning and Airline Scheduling.  “We already provide scheduled service to Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison, and we are excited to now connect the Chippewa Valley with the 78 destinations we serve in addition to direct service to Fort Myers.” 

   Current flights to Chicago on United Express carrier Sky West will continue through November. 

More information:

Sun Country EAU Schedule - beginning Dec 1 (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

Current EAU flight information - United Express (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

Airline transition FAQs (Chippewa Valley Regional Airport)

Sun Country News Release (Sun Country Airlines)

Website - Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country Airlines now booking flights from Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (WEAU 13 News)

Ticket to Paradise: Sun Country tickets now on sale for Twin Cities, Florida (WQOW News 18)

Chippewa Valley business leaders react to Sun Country announcement (WEAU 13 News)


Altoona seeks applicants for City Council vacancy

Application deadline Aug 17

   Altoona City Council member Tim Sexton has moved out of the City and resigned his seat. Sexton represents District 5 (Wards 9 and 10). The City of Altoona is seeking applicants for the seat and will appoint an individual to serve out the rest of the term through April 2023. The deadline to apply is 2 p.m. on  Wed, August 17. Applicants are asked to send an application letter and resume to the Altoona City Clerk, 1303 Lynn Ave., Altoona, WI 54720.

More information:

City of Altoona Ward and Council District Map (City of Altoona)

Altoona City Clerk website (City of Altoona)

Altoona seeks new council member (Leader-Telegram $)


More local stories:


RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: Draganetti’s Joanne Palzkill is State Restaurateur of the Year (Volume One)


Rolling into the market: New local refuse hauler starts service in September (Leader-Telegram $)


Eau Claire hosts US Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship (WEAU 13 News)


You Ask, We Answer: What are the bicycle laws and where should cyclists ride? (WQOW News 18)


Aug 9 Primary sets up fall General Election matchups

 • US Senate: Barnes (D) vs. Johnson (R)

 • Governor: Evers (D) vs. Michels (R)

 • Attorney General: Kaul (D) vs. Toney (R)

 • 3rd District US Congress: Pfaff (D) vs. Van Orden (R)

 • Local GOP winners: James 23rd Senate, Hurd 68th Assembly

   Lots of competitive races in both the Democratic and Republican parties resulted in the highest turnout - 26% - in a Primary since 1982.

   In statewide races, construction owner Tim Michels won a competitive Republican primary to take on incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers this fall. In the contests for their fall Lt. Gov. running mates, State Sen. Roger Roth of Appleton won the Republican nomination and State Rep. Sara Rodriguez of Brookfield will be the Democratic nominee.

   As expected, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes took the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Republican US Senator Ron Johnson after his top competitors dropped out of the race a few days before the Primary. For Attorney General, Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney won a close race for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Josh Kaul this fall. 

Pfaff wins 3rd District Democratic Primary 

   State Sen. Brad Pfaff of Onalaska won a competitive, multi-candidate race for the Democratic nomination to succeed longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse, winning over Rebecca Cooke, Deb McGrath, and Mark Neuman. Pfaff will face Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden in what is expected to be a close race in November. 

Local legislative, Sheriff races now set

   The most closely watched local primaries were for the Republican nominations in the 23rd Senate district, where Sen. Kathy Bernier is retiring, and the 68th Assembly District, which is open because Rep. Jesse James in running for Senate. James won the 23rd Senate nomination over Brian Westrate and Sandra Scholz. There will be no Democrat on the fall ballot, as write-in candidate Dan Hardy did not meet the threshold of 1600 votes. In the 68th, Fall Creek Village Board Trustee Karen Hurd won the nomination over Hillarie Roth and Chris Connell. In November, she will face the Democratic candidate, Eau Claire County Board Member Nate Otto of Altoona. For the 92nd Assembly Republican nomination, incumbent Treig Pronschinske held off a challenge from Ryan Owens. 

  Among closely watched races this fall will be the 31st District Senate contest between Democratic incumbent Jeff Smith of Eau Claire and Republican David Estenson of White Hall, both of whom were unopposed in the Primary.

  Dave Riewestahl won the Democratic nomination for Eau Claire County Sheriff and will face Republican Don Henning in November. Incumbent Republican Sheriff Ron Cramer did not seek reelection. In Chippewa County, Travis Hakes defeated Dan Marcon in a close race for the Republican nomination, and will face Democrat Chris Kowalczyk.

More information:

3rd District Congress, area State Legislature, and Local Results (EC Chamber)

Results: Statewide offices (EC Chamber)

Nov 8 election: Register to vote, find your polling place (myvote.wi.gov)

Full unofficial primary election results (Journal-Sentinel +)

Official election results (Wisconsin Elections Commission)

Wisconsin's 2022 primary turnout approaches 26%, highest in 40 years (PBS Wisconsin)


Michels’ win highlights new Wisconsin political map (The Center Square)

Michels vows to stand up for hardworking Wisconsinites after winning GOP guv nomination (WisPolitics.com)

Evers, Rodriguez hit the road for general election campaign stops (WisPolitics.com)

Evers, Democrats rally support as campaign goes full swing (Leader-Telegram $)

Gov. Evers, Democrats campaign in Eau Claire Thursday (WEAU 13 News)

US Senate:

Tight U.S. Senate race will keep Wisconsin in national political spotlight (The Cap Times)

Attorney General:

Kaul, Toney AG race likely to turn on broader issues (AP)

3rd District Congress:

Pfaff wins 3rd CD primary (WisPolitics.com)

Pfaff, Van Orden headed for 3rd Congressional District showdown (Leader-Telegram $)

Pfaff wins Democratic primary, will face Van Orden for WI 3rd Congressional District (La Crosse Tribune +)


Senate candidate Jesse James looks forward to General Election (WEAU 13 News)

GOP voters choose Hurd as candidate for 68th Assembly District (WQOW News 18)


Video: John Frank analysis - West-central Wisconsin a key political battleground for November general election (WEAU 13 News, 5:59)


Other state and election stories:


Vos calls narrow primary win over Trump-backed Steen testament to his conservative record (WisPolitics.com)


It’s official: Milwaukee will host the 2024 Republican National Convention (BizTimes Milwaukee)


Robin Vos fires Michael Gableman, leaving GOP election review in limbo (The Cap Times)


For Hmong Speakers, Keeping Wisconsin's Third Most Commonly Spoken Language Alive Is Essential (WPR)


What to know about UW's 10-year tuition freeze and what's ahead for Wisconsin college students (Journal-Sentinel +)


As dentists drop out of the workforce, rural communities suffer most (WPR)


National and economic stories:


Consumer prices rose 8.5% in July, less than expected as inflation pressures ease a bit (CNBC)


House passes massive climate, tax and health bill, sending Biden a core piece of his agenda to sign (CNBC)


IRS audits the poor at 5 times the rate of everyone else, analysis finds (CBS News)


California proposes to extend life of last nuclear plant at cost of $1.4 billion (Politico)


Who will pay for all the electric car chargers? Pretty much everyone (Axios)


If We Build Cities for Kids, We Build Cities for Everyone (Strong Towns)


Lawmakers Still Wrestle With Biden’s Chaotic Afghanistan Withdrawal (The Dispatch)


COVID-19 Updates 

From the Eau Claire City-County Health Department:

   Last Thursday, our community moved to a “low” COVID-19 community level. In addition, the CDC made changes to their recommendations regarding COVID-19. Some of these changes can be confusing, so we wanted to provide a summary of those changes for you. We know that COVID is not gone from our community and still poses a serious health risk to some individuals. We will be updating our website and have additional materials available in the coming days.

Recap of CDC guidance and updates:

   1. Layers of prevention are still the recommended method to help prevent spread. These include knowing the COVID-19 community level where you live or travel, knowing your personal health risks, masking, distancing, and ventilation.
   2. If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to stay home (quarantine). It is recommended that you wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5. This applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
   3. Stay up to date with vaccines, especially as new vaccines become available. This gives you the best chance to not get seriously sick.
   4. Remember: If you are sick, get tested for COVID-19. Stay home until you get the results. If you are positive, stay home for at least 5 days. People with serious illness may need to stay home longer. You should wear a high-quality mask through day 10. Call the health department with questions about when you can test again or return to work or school (715-839-4718).

More information: 

CDC streamlines COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk (CDC)

With new guidance, CDC ends test-to-stay for schools and relaxes COVID rules (WPR)


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:


Eggs & Issues: The Economic Imperative of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

 • Friday, Aug 19, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Bravo to Business Awards

 • Wednesday, Sep 14, The Florian Gardens


Eggs & Issues: Fall Election Outlook with Bill McCoshen

 • Thursday, Sep 22, Pablo Center or live stream on Perigon


Candidates Energy Forum

Eau Claire Energy Co-op, Eau Claire EDC, CVHBA, EC Chamber

 • Tuesday, October 4, 9:30-11:30 a.m., The Florian Gardens


Business Day in Madison

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

 • 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


Business Salutes Eau Claire Annual Golf Outing

• Monday, August 7, 2023


Next up on the public calendar


Wisconsin Political Calendar (WisPolitics.com)


General Election - Tuesday, November 8


Congressional & Legislative Maps

Wisconsin Congressional Maps (Dave's Redistricting)

Wisconsin Legislative District Maps (Wisconsin Legislature)


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 

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