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Volume 5 , Issue 3, June 6, 2022
 Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


Business Advocate Past Issues

Public Meetings Calendar

Chamber Events Calendar

Advocacy Blog


Community meeting - Niagara Waters bottling plant

 • Tuesday, June 7, 6:00-8:00 p.m.,

    Hobbs Municipal Ice Center, O’Brien Rink, 915 Menomonie St., Eau Claire


A community discussion about the proposed Niagara bottling plant, and plans to fund a Sustainability Coordinator from water utility revenue received from the Niagara Bottling plant, will be held by the City of Eau Claire. Community groups including JONAH, the  Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Eau Claire Sustainability Advisory Committee have been invited to participate. The program is planned to include presentations, discussions, and the opportunity to ask questions. Those wishing to learn more about Niagara’s operation, the city’s water supply, job creation, and perspectives on the environmental impact the proposed plant may have on the area are encouraged to attend. The City’s reference materials and information on future meetings on this subject may be found at EauClaireWI.gov/Niagara


Eggs & Issues: Our Energy Future

Friday, Jun 17, 7:00-8:30 a.m., Pablo Center or online via Perigon
Click here for details and to register


Join us at this edition of Eggs & Issues as we look at the questions that drive our future energy generation and use. How realistic are long term carbon neutral goals of utilities, governments, and businesses? What's the future of renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, and the infrastructure and education needed to support them? What policy issues will impact the business community, energy use, and conservation? You'll hear from Karl Hoesly, Regional Vice President Rates & Regulatory, Xcel Energy; Monica Obrycki, CEO, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative; John Carr, Vice President Strategic Growth, Dairyland Power Cooperative; Ned Noel, Senior Planner, City of Eau Claire; Tyrel Zich, Manager Pricing & Planning, Xcel Energy; and Adam Wehling - Dean of Agriculture, Energy & Transportation, Chippewa Valley Technical College.  

In this issue:

 • City Council to vote on housing annexation, Niagara Waters on June 14

 • Plan Commission: Cannery Park zoning and site plan

 • Local childcare initiative wins key grant

 • Trump endorses Michels in GOP Gubernatorial Primary

 • Primary ballots set for August 9

 • State and regional news

 • Positive May jobs report

 • 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 "+"


Annexation, Niagara Waters decisions

on Jun 14 City Council agenda

   At its most recent Legislative Session on Tuesday, May 24, the Eau Claire City Council decided to postpone until its June 14 meeting decisions on the proposed Orchard Hills annexation and a proposed development agreement for a $100 million Niagara Waters plant in the Gateway Industrial Park.

   Niagara plans to build a facility on 30 acres which would employ 58 positions with starting salaries of $59,000. The Chamber supports its approval as a desirable and responsible project that will provide significant economic and employment benefits, increase the tax base, and create high-paying jobs. We are satisfied that the City staff has taken care to ensure that there is sufficient water capacity to provide for a successful project, and that safeguards are in place in case of future unforeseen circumstances.

   The proposal drew controversy after social media posts questioning the impact on the city's water supply and raising environmental objections to bottled water as a business. According to FAQs provided by City staff regarding the project, the peak usage by Niagara would be only one third to one half of the production of one of the City's 15 wells.

Community meeting scheduled Tuesday evening

   The City has scheduled a community discussion on Tuesday evening about the proposed bottling plant, including its plans to fund a Sustainability Coordinator from water utility revenue received from the plant. Community groups including JONAH, the  Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Eau Claire Sustainability Advisory Committee have been invited to participate. The program is planned to include presentations, discussions, and the opportunity to ask questions. The meeting will take place from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Hobbs Municipal Ice Center, O’Brien Rink, 915 Menomonie St.

Orchard Hills annexation

  Also postponed was a council vote on the proposed annexation of 438 acres south of the City currently in the Town of Washington, described in its application "to allow a future residential development to have sanitary sewer and water main services when the City makes the services available."  The annexation would be the first in a multi-step process leading to housing development. It will still require rezoning, a development plan, platting, and other approvals. The proposal includes annexing part of the current Lowes Creek County Park, which would remain in that current use. 

   The Eau Claire Chamber is supporting the annexation as an important move to help address the community's critical housing shortage. As is often the case with new developments, a number of neighbors spoke at the Public Hearing opposing it. The Chamber has provided a letter to the City Council which 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." 

More information:

City staff annexation FAQs

City staff presentation on annexation

City FAQs on Niagara development agreement

Water bottling plant decision delayed by Eau Claire City Council (Leader-Telegram $)

Eau Claire to host public meeting Tuesday on water bottling plant proposal (Leader-Telegram $)

Community discussion planned for proposed Niagara bottling plant (WQOW News 18)


Plan Commission: Cannery Park zoning and site plan

   The Eau Claire Plan Commission's agenda for Monday evening includes the rezoning and site plan for the proposed Cannery Park along the west side of the Chippewa River, along with related improvements to Oxford Ave., and Maple St. The plan comes after extensive public outreach to determine the uses and design of the six-acres to be encompassed by the new park. The Waterways and Parks Commission recommended approval at its April meeting, and the request will be on the agenda for the City Council on June 13-14 (see pages 4-28 of the Agenda Packet linked below for narrative, maps, and other information).

   Also on the agenda are recommendations to the City Council for a final plat for Linden Place, a 34-lot, 7.8 acre development on the west side of Jeffers Rd. for construction of Twin Homes by C&M Properties (pages 51-54), and a final plat for the Pine Park East subdivision east of Rudolph Rd. on which the Statz Real Estate Partnership plans 12 single family lots on 5.9 acres (pages 55-57). 

More information:

Eau Claire City Plan Commission

• Monday, June 6, 7 p.m. Agenda Packet (78 pages)

Cannery District Park Project (City of Eau Claire)

Cannery District Redevelopment (City of Eau Claire)

Cannery Park headed toward final approvals (Leader-Telegram $)


Local Childcare initiative wins key state grant

   United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley learned last week that it will be awarded a state "Dream Up!" grant to accelerate its efforts to address the local childcare shortage. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCS) last Tuesday announced 28 grants totaling $20 million to community teams around the state to focus on building childcare supply. Each organization will receive strategic planning support and $75,000 in funding to evaluate, plan, sustain and expand existing child care, and support new child care programs.

  The local United Way has been leading a Chippewa Valley Child Care Task Force, some of whose members participated in the Chamber's May 20 Eggs & Issues program, including Andy Neborak, Executive Director of United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley; Renee Ernsting, Director of the Child Care Partnership at Western Dairyland; and Kimber Liedl, Business Engagement Director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association.

More information:

Dept. of Children and Families: Announces Project Growth grant recipients (WisPolitics.com)

Regional agencies awarded child care grants (Leader-Telegram $)

May Eggs & Issues recap: Addressing our Childcare Challenges (Eau Claire Chamber)

Eggs & Issues: Leaders address childcare issues (WEAU 13 News)

Chippewa Valley leaders seek solutions for child care 'crisis' (Leader-Telegram $)

Audio report: Tackling Our Childcare Challenges (WWIB, 17:32)


More local news:


EC school board to discuss November referendum (Leader-Telegram $)


Eau Claire talks about Fairfax Pool's future (Leader-Telegram $)


Sheriff’s Office requests expansion through ARPA (Leader-Telegram $)

Plan drafted for Eau Claire's $13.5 million in ARPA funds (Leader-Telegram $)

City Manager's presentation: Potential ARPA allocations (City of Eau Claire)

District attorney’s office looks to ARPA funding to address trial backlog (Leader-Telegram $)


Construction of the new county highway facility is on track and on budget (Leader-Telegram $)


Seven Mile Landfill negotiations remain a work in progress (Leader-Telegram $)


Trump endorses Michels in GOP Gubernatorial Primary

   Former President Donald Trump last week announced his endorsement of Tim Michels in the Republican Primary this summer for Wisconsin Governor. Michels is engaged in a competitive primary race which also includes former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson of Pewaukee, and State Rep. Timothy Ramthun of Campbellsport.

More information:

Donald Trump endorses gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels ahead of contested GOP primary (Wisconsin State Journal +)

Trump backing of Michels threatens to upend Wisconsin Governor's race (AP)

Michels talks Trump endorsement on ‘UpFront’ (WisPolitics.com)

Democrats seek to boot Wisconsin GOP candidate Tim Michels from ballot (The Cap Times)


Ballots set for August 9 Primary

Republican primaries featured in four local legislative races

   With the June 1 filing deadline last week, we now know who will be on the Democratic and Republican Primary ballots on Tuesday, August 9, to select who will be each party's nominee for the November 8 General Election.

   Locally, the final filings revealed that there will be Republican Primaries in four local legislative races. Among the most watched will be the 23rd State Senate District, where three candidates are vying to replace retiring State Sen. Kathy Bernier - State Rep. Jesse James of Altoona, Republican Party activist Brian Westrate of Fall Creek, and Sandra Scholz of Chippewa Falls; and the 68th Assembly District, where there are also three candidates for the seat Jesse James is vacating for his State Senate bid - Altoona School Board Member Hillarie Roth, Karen Hurd of Fall Creek, and Chris Connell of rural Eau Claire. No one filed for the Democratic Primary in the 23rd Senate. Nathan Otto of Altoona, an Eau Claire County Board member, was the only candidate filing for the Democratic Primary in the 68th Assembly district.

   The Republican Primary will also feature two candidates seeking the right to take on incumbent Democrat Jeff Smith of Eau Claire in the 31st Senate District - David Estenson of White Hall and Amber Provance of Pepin; and a same-party challenger in the 92nd Assembly District, Ryan Owens of Osso, vs. incumbent State Rep. Treig Pronschinske of Mondovi. 

   The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but seeks to provide non-biased voter information to introduce its investors to candidates and their positions on issues. The Chamber's Good Government Council will publish legislative candidate answers to its questionnaire in advance of the Primary. 

Key primaries for 3rd District Congress, US Senate, Governorship

   Democratic voters in the 3rd Congressional District will also vote on August 9 to select a candidate to take on the Republican nominee, Derrick Van Orden of Prairie du Chien, who was the only candidate to file in the GOP Primary. They include State Sen. Brad Pfaff of Onalaska, Rebecca Cooke of Eau Claire, Deb Baldus McGrath of Menomonie, and Mark Neumann of La Crosse. The winner in November will fill the seat of retiring Democratic Congressman Ron Kind of La Crosse. 

   Statewide, there will be a competitive Democratic Primary for the right to take on incumbent Republican US Senator Ron Johnson, and a competitive Republican Primary to take on incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Among the leading Democratic US Senate Candidates are Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee businessman Alex Lasry, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. Among the Republican Gubernatorial candidates are former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels of Hartland, Kevin Nicholson of Pewaukee, and State Rep. Timothy Ramthun of Campbellsport.

   There will also be competitive primaries for the Republican nomination for Attorney General to take on Democratic incumbent Josh Kaul, and primaries in both parties for Lt. Governor and State Treasurer. 

   The Chamber will provide investors with additional election information as the date draws nearer.

More election information:

State tracking of candidates by office (Wisconsin Elections Commission)

MyVoteWi (What's on your ballot, voter registration, polling places, etc.)

Open congressional seat headlines fall ballot (Leader-Telegram $)

3rd Congressional District candidate hopes to continue moderate approach (Leader-Telegram $)

Judge Everett Mitchell running for Wisconsin Supreme Court (AP)

Milwaukee County judge announces candidacy for Supreme Court (AP)

Wisconsin judge upholds legality of private election grants (AP)

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan says a lot of Republicans wanted to impeach Trump after January 6 but 'just didn't have the guts to do it' (Insider)

Milwaukee Common Council approves RNC framework agreement, without $6 million request (BizTimes)

Eau Claire Chamber "Business Matters" podcast: Interview with State Senator Kathy Bernier (EC Chamber, 41:26)


More state and regional news:


New UW president wants to continue tuition freeze (AP)


Wisconsin boosts broadband grants to $125M after record demand for funding (WPR)


Gov. Evers Announces $149 Million in State Funds for Local Roads (Office of the Governor)


Mayo Clinic study shows disparities in opioid treatment access (WEAU 13 News)


National economic news:


May jobs report shows employment growth of 390,000

   The national May jobs report showed growth of 390,000 jobs, ahead of expectations. With continuing strong hiring, the economy is now 822,000 jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels. The labor force participation rate rose slightly by .1 percent to 62.3%, 1.1% below February 2020. Unemployment is at 3.6% nationally, with continued labor shortages exemplified by there being two open positions for every unemployed individual.

More information:

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MAY 2022 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Payrolls rose 390,000 in May, better than expected as companies keep hiring (CNBC)

Strong US jobs report for May should not change Fed plans (Peterson Institute for International Economics)


COVID-19 Updates 

Chippewa County Public Health Director optimistic as area COVID-19 deaths remain low (Leader-Telegram $)


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: Our 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 (Ron Johnson 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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