Dove Healthcare – South Eau Claire on Mall Drive announced Registered Nurse Darcy Laramy as their new director of nursing, responsible for leading the nursing department and helping to advance quality and clinical outcomes. Laramy has worked in long-term and post-acute care for the past 14 years and her breadth of roles and experiences include nurse case manager, MDS coordinator, assistant director of nursing, infection preventionist, staff development coordinator and director of nursing. She also has participated and served on various nursing committees.
Wendel, a nationally recognized design, construction and energy services company (ESCO), announced the addition of Romaine Anderson as Healthcare Development liaison. He will work out of Wendel’s office in Eau Claire. In his role, Anderson will focus on hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Midwest. Anderson brings decades of experience in the quality assurance of healthcare facilities design and construction to Wendel. He will be an integral part of the project team from start to end, from initial contact to planning to design quality. He will also be involved in code reviews and construction inspections. Previously, Anderson spent nearly 20 years working with the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services as a plan reviewer and life safety surveyor for CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.
WNB Holding Company, the holding company for WNB Financial, recently announced it has reached an agreement to purchase First State Bank of Wabasha (FSB) and its office in Kellogg. The purchase, which is expected to be completed in third or fourth quarter 2018, is contingent upon normal regulatory approval. Upon completion of the sale, both FSB offices will become offices of WNB Financial. Until regulatory approval is received, customers of First State Bank of Wabasha will not be affected. After the purchase is completed, WNB Financial will communicate directly with affected customers about the transition. Founded in 1874, WNB Financial has offices in Winona, Eau Claire and Holmen, Wis.
Manjunatha, M.D., recently joined the Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Manjunatha earned his medical degree at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Belgaum, India. He completed pediatric residencies at Rajiv Gandhi University in Bangalore, India; the Royal College of Pediatrics in London; and Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield, Wisconsin.
Manjunatha is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. He also is certified in neonatal resuscitation and pediatric advanced life support.
Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award — the highest award possible. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring that stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. This is the second year in a row Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire has received this distinction. The award was earned by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a period of two years.
At a busy June 26 legislative session, the Eau Claire City Council approved a new transit fare plan for individuals experiencing low income, approved a construction contract for Haymarket Plaza, considered repatriating the Soo Line 2719 steam locomotive, and decided not to fill the City Council President vacancy.
Council won't fill President vacancy
Th Council decided not to fill the vacant City council President position, meaning it will remain open until the April 2019 election. Former Council President Kerry Kincaid resigned on June 12 in the midst of a term that runs to April 2020.
The Council considered using the same process it has in recent years to fill other vacancies by having open applications to be considered for temporary appointment. With two of the current 10 members absent, the motion failed in a 4-4 vote, which would have required six votes to be enacted. As a result, Council Vice President Andrew Werthmann, who was reelected this spring to represent District 5, will continue to preside over meetings until next April. Whoever is elected in the 2019 election will serve that last year of the term., and the office will be up again for a full three-year term in 2020.
On Monday the Council also recognized former City Council members for their service, including Kerry Kincaid, David Klinkhammer, Kathy Mitchell, Tim Tewalt, and Bob Von Haden. Kinkhammer and Von Haden received their plaques in person and thanked the Council and the public for their opportunities to serve.
More information: Werthmann to continue as acting president of Eau Claire City Council (Leader-Telegram), City council rejects proposal to fill president vacancy (WEAU TV 13),
Eau Claire City Council reaches stalemate on president pick (WQOW TV 18)
Haymarket Plaza construction site and renderings
Haymarket Plaza construction bid approved
Construction will get underway soon on Haymarket Plaza, the public area located between Haymarket Landing and the under-construction Pablo Center at the Confluence. The Council awarded a $1.8 million contract to Pember Companies, Inc., of Menomonie, to be completed this fall.
In related news, the pedestrian bridge that will connect the plaza with Phoenix Park is expected to be installed in mid-July, weather permitting.
2719 in Duluth (taken Sep 2017)
Council considers bringing Soo Line 2719 back to Eau Claire
The issue that generated nearly an hour of discussion at the Council's Monday, June 25, public hearing was a proposal by Council Members Dave Stroebel and Jeremy Gragert for the City to consider repurchasing the historic Soo Line 2719 steam engine, now at the Lake Superior Transportation Museum in Duluth.
The engine was donated to the City by the Soo Line in 1959. It was on static display in Carson Park from 1960 to 1996, when a local group purchased and restored the locomotive to running condition. Initially kept at the Union Pacific roundhouse in Altoona and used for passenger excursions, the locomotive moved to Duluth in 2006 after the roundhouse was torn down and local railroads were no longer available for excursion operations. The engine was sidelined after the 2013 excursion season because it cannot be operated until completion of an expensive mandatory boiler inspection. In 2015, the City of Eau Claire exercised its right of first refusal to purchase the locomotive for $1, then sold it to the Duluth museum for $2, but held an option to repurchase it until July 31, 2018, for $4.
Ken Buehler, executive director of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, argued that the engine should stay in Duluth, where the museum hopes to raise funds to eventually put it back in operation. Other speakers maintained that the engine belongs in Eau Claire and provides a unique opportunity to showcase a part of the city's history. Strobel, whose resolution was supported by the Chippewa Valley Museum and Visit Eau Claire, said the move gives the city options for controlling the future of the locomotive.
Under the resolution, passed by the Council 7-1 at its Tuesday session, the City will seek a six month extension on its option or, if the museum does not agree to it, will exercise the option and make the $4 purchase. Strobel said supporters want to use the time to bring a plan back to the City Council for the future of the engine.
More information: Historic Steam Train Could Come Chugging Back to Eau Claire (Volume One)
Low income transit fares approved
The Council also approved a proposal to roll back a transit fare increase implemented earlier this year for individuals whose household income is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. Qualifying riders will be able to purchase single rides for $1.50 instead of $1.75, and monthly passes for $45 instead of $50.
Before passage, an amendment to allow qualifying individuals to self-certify was added to the original proposal. The new fare is effective July 2. In order to receive the reduced fare, eligible riders must submit an Income-Qualifying Fare Verification Form and receive a permit card from the Transit Administrative Office. More information: City Transit Fares Notice.
Recorded video and Agenda Packets
More information: Recorded video of June 25 & 26 City Council meetings (Valley Media Works/Community Television), City Council Agenda Packets: June 25 public hearing, June 26 legislative
Posted by: Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
After several years of many changes at The Plus, it was decided to finally celebrate! The most recent change was to their menu. Website
Congratulations to CCFBank on its expansion and remodeling at Eastridge Center. Website
Associated Bank is the largest bank headquartered in Wisconsin, distinguished by consistent, quality customer experiences, built upon a strong commitment to our colleagues and the communities we serve. Personal service is our guiding principle, from providing products that meet and exceed individual customer needs, to doing the “little things” that make your experience with Associated a special one.
Associated offers a full range of banking services and other financial products and services:
CORPORATE AND COMMERCIAL SPECIALTY
COMMUNITY, CONSUMER AND BUSINESS
Associated Bank, as we know it today, is the result of many mergers and acquisitions. The roots of our founding banks run deep in our communities. One of the most recent and notable is the merger with Bank Mutual, which was completed on June 25. As Associated Bank and Bank Mutual have become one company, Associated Bank has expanded into nearly a dozen additional communities, significantly enhancing our market presence in Western Wisconsin.
There are now six Associated Bank locations in the Chippewa Valley.
We have a longstanding commitment to strengthening our communities. From personalized service and customized financial solutions to corporative giving and employee volunteerism, we seek to make life better for all members of the communities in which we serve. Throughout our 157-year history, Associated Bank has been proud to plan an active role in helping our communities grow and prosper. Through our financial support, colleague volunteers and partnerships with nonprofit organizations, we work to help revitalize and strengthen our communities.
Associated Bank colleagues serve the local Chippewa Valley communities through a number of organizations including:
In addition, Lambeau Field Live, a traveling exhibit from the Green Bay Packers presented by Associated Bank will make a stop at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair July 11-15 in Chippewa Falls. Fans visiting Lambeau Field Live can enjoy Play 60 activities, alumni meet-and-greets, a satellite Packers Pro Shop and Packers Hall of Fame, a Lambeau Leap wall and a one-of-a-kind virtual reality display. Associated Bank has been the Bank of the Packers since 1919.
Construction will be underway in early September as WESTconsin Credit Union breaks ground on a 35,000 square foot, two-story Administrative Center. The new facility will be built on vacant land the credit union owns directly west of their Menomonie – East Office located at 3333 Schneider Avenue. The building will house WESTconsin’s Service Center, Human Resources, Training, Member Experience, Accounting, Payment Operations, and Risk Management departments, as well as Corporate Officers. Spaces for training and meeting rooms are also included.
SDS Architects of Eau Claire is celebrating its 65th Anniversary in 2018. Founded in 1953 by Grant Paul, the firm became known as Seymour Davis Seymour when longtime employees and associates Pete Seymour, Gary Davis, and Joe Seymour assumed ownership in 1984. To reflect the growth of the architectural practice and a long-term ownership transition plan, the corporation’s name was changed to SDS Architects, Inc. in 1994. Today, the firm has a reputation of design excellence in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education; commercial; manufacturing; recreational; government; and religious facilities. Join SDS Architects on Instagram during the coming weeks for a special presentation of historic project photos from each year of their firm’s history: https://www.instagram.com/sds_architects/.
Three registered nurses at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital have recently earned their advanced certification. Amy Lokken and Shannen Topper, registered nurses in the hospital’s women and infants department, recently earned their Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification (RNC-OB), making them certified in inpatient obstetric care – which includespregnancy, labor and childbirth. To be eligible, a candidate must currently be a licensed registered nurse with two years of work experience in labor and delivery and at least 2,000 hours in the specialty. Eddie Stefonek, a registered nurse in the hospital’s emergency department, recently earned his certification as a Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN). The exam incorporates the body of knowledge in trauma nursing across the continuum of care, from injury prevention through reintegration to home. To be eligible, a candidate must currently be a licensed registered nurse with two years of work experience in trauma nursing and at least 2,000 hours in the specialty.
United Bank customers in Western Wisconsin will soon see a familiar brand in their local markets. Citizens Community Federal™ (CCFBank™) parent company Citizens Community Bancorp, Inc., has announced its intent to merge with United Bank. United Bank will merge into Citizens to form a combined bank with $1.2 billion in assets and 28 branch locations from northwest Wisconsin to southern Minnesota, the eastern edge of the Twin Cities, and Rochester Hills, MI. Customers will benefit from more convenient locations, broader products and services, enhanced mobile capabilities, larger lending limits and the same friendly people they have come to know at their local branch.
Praise for bi-partisan Dodd-Frank relief bill
Local financial institutions say the passage of banking reform last month will help small businesses by reducing the burden of unnecessary regulations that get in the way of lending decisions. In late May, the President signed S. 2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act”, first passed by the US Senate on March 14 and then by the US House on May 22.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the new law "right-sizes some of the regulatory overreach enacted in Dodd-Frank that imposed a one-size-fits-all approach to overregulating community and regional banks that had nothing to do with the financial crisis. This new law unclogs the spigot for local lenders and restores credit access for Main Street businesses to keep our economy humming."
"Looking at this from a Community Bank perspective, I believe this is a good bill as it will provide relief to community banks on the increased regulatory costs," said Paul Swartos, VP Commercial Banking and Chippewa Valley Market President, CCF Bank, who is also a member of the Eau Claire Chamber's Governmental Affairs Committee. "By providing relief, this should allow community banks to continue to support the customers and communities they serve."
Praise for the bill also came from Brandon Riechers, President/CEO of Eau Claire-based Royal Credit Union: “S. 2155 provides regulatory relief for community-based financial institutions like Royal Credit Union and offers the opportunity to better serve our Members. We are very excited about one credit union-specific provision that will allow us to classify loans made on one-to-four unit, non-owner occupied residences as real estate loans as opposed to business loans. This simple change will allow credit unions to dedicate more resources to Main Street by providing additional loans to small businesses.”
How our Congressional Delegation voted
US Chamber President/CEO Tom Donahue said the bipartisan vote in both houses was "encouraging because it proves it’s possible for Congress to achieve compromise when good, pro-growth policy is within our grasp." It passed the Senate 67-31 and the House 258-159. Wisconsin's Senators split their votes, with Ron Johnson (R) voting Yes and Tammy Baldwin (D) voting No. Both local Congressmen, Ron Kind (D-3) and Sean Duffy (R-7), voted Yes.
Despite its bipartisan support, there was spirited debate on the Senate floor with what the US Chamber asserted were attempts to muddy the discussion by mis-characterizing what the bill actually does. To counter the misinformation, the US Chamber wrote this explanation: Four Myths about the Banking Bill and Why They’re Wrong. The U.S. Chamber also released a video that tells the story of how one-size-fits-all regulations have hindered banks’ ability to lend to small businesses.
Join us for Eggs & Issues with the US Chamber in August
For more about current federal issues, the atmosphere in Washington and the outlook for the election, join us for our August 17 Eggs & Issues breakfast where we'll get a full update from John Kirchner of the US Chamber. Click here for more details and to register.
Posted by: Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
The Eau Claire City Council's Tuesday, June 12, meeting began with a surprise announcement that City Council President Kerry Kincaid had resigned. City Manager Dale Peters read from Kincaid's resignation letter: “On this day, and effective immediately, I find it necessary to resign my position as City Council President as it has become impossible to govern in a manner befitting a city that works, and to which the public has become accustomed.”
In its story on the resignation, the Leader-Telegram quoted Kincaid: “It’s been a long year,” she said in an interview, her only public comment about the resignation, “A lady knows when it’s time to leave.”
Kincaid had been a member of the City Council since 2004. She was elected Council President in 2009 and re-elected in 2012, 2014 and 2017, the last time unopposed. Since her term doesn't expire until 2020, state law requires that a special election be held no later than April 2019 to fill the remainder of the term. The Council's five at-large seats will also be on the ballot in 2019 for three-year terms. The Council has a total of 11 members. The five district positions were elected this spring.
Kincaid's tenure as Council President will likely most be remembered for the City's role in the development of the Confluence Project, the final piece of which will open in September.
Council Vice Chair Andrew Werthmann conducted the meeting in the absence of a Council President.
Food Truck Fridays, "Oxbeaux" street concert approved
During its business agenda, the Council last week approved Volume One's plans to conduct monthly "Food Truck Fridays" at the "Railroad Street Lot" along the Eau Claire River, between Barstow and Farwell streets behind Galloway Grille. It also approved a three-year agreement with the Oxbow Hotel for its "Oxbeaux Street Concert" on the Thursday evening immediately before the Eaux Claires Festival, which will be July 5 this year. The event will close one block of Galloway Street and contain the event within a secure, fenced area. One significant change from 2017 is that the City’s open intoxicants ordinance will not apply to the closed portion of Galloway during the event "due to the unique situation in which the same entity controls the property on both sides of the street, a complete closure of the street and other factors." During last year's event, the city prohibited alcohol on the closed portion of Galloway Street. The sponsors will be responsible to the city for all costs associated with safety, detours and other aspects of closing the street.
More information: Council president quits: Year of turmoil, radical change in council makeup may have played role (Leader-Telegram), Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid Abruptly Steps Down (Volume One), Some members unaware before resignation by Eau Claire City Council president (WEAU TV 13 News), New ‘Food Truck Friday’ Series set to launch in July (Volume One), Eau Claire City Council approves Oxbeaux's request for street closure (WQOW TV 18).
Meeting details: Link to Valley Media Works video recording, full Council packet with agenda
PESI, Inc. celebrated the completion of its new Materials Management building. Website
Low unemployment is leading to increased wages for Eau Claire workers according to John Koskinen, Chief Economist for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue who spoke at the Chamber's June 15th Eggs & Issues. Presenting on the State of the Wisconsin Economy, the data Koskinen provided hit home for many local businesses and provided a greater context for trends that are being seen locally.
The Unemployment Rate Locally and Statewide
Many of the businesses in Eau Claire and Wisconsin are facing a common problem: a labor force shortage. Today, Wisconsin has an all-time record low unemployment rate of 2.8%, down from its previous 40-year low of 3.0%. An economy is considered to be at full employment once it hits a 4.0% unemployment rate, indicating that Wisconsin is well beyond full-employment. See the map below for a seven year comparison.
This trend extends to the city and county of Eau Claire. The county hit a record low unemployment rate in March of 2018, and the city’s rate reached a record low of 2.7% in April. See the graph below for a history of Eau Claire's unemployment rate.
The Labor Shortage and Its Upward Pull on Wages
Despite the difficulties that result from low unemployment such as employers being unable to fill needed positions, there is a benefit which increases the local and state economy’s competitiveness and benefits employees: wage increases. After years of wage stagnation in the Eau Claire Area, wages have been increasing since 2013. This trend is also being seen statewide. Rising wages are directly related to a low unemployment rate as the need for workers pulls up wages to attract and retain employees. See the graph below for a history of wage trends in the Eau Claire Area.
A Strong Local and State Economy
The phenomenon of rising wages is not the only sign of a strengthened local and state economy. Wisconsin Ranks 15th in median household income when adjusted for cost of living. The business expansion rate that has been increasing in the Eau Claire Area and Wisconsin since 2010 ranks Wisconsin as 18th in net job creation. Additionally, Wisconsin is 2nd in the nation (next to Minnesota) for “main street entrepreneurship.” This last accolade of being 2nd in the nation for main street entrepreneurship, means that small businesses have a high survival rate of 50.77%. Wisconsin does have a low business entrance rate, but Koskinen noted that this is actually indicative of low business turnover and the ability for small businesses to better survive once they are established in comparison to other states.
Net migration can be a factor related to workforce shortages. Koskinen was optimistic that the trend was moving in a positive direction. Wisconsin has about equal in- and out-migration rates. Both rates are rising some, but out-migration at a slower pace. Koskinen explained that the slightly positive balance of migration comes from people moving from Illinois, and that most of the population lost to out-migration move to Florida or Arizona. The mostly neutral net-migration has provided the benefit of increasing wages resulting from a labor shortage and at minimum shows that the state is not losing citizens more than it is attracting and retaining, but greater in-migration would be beneficial to help meet employer needs.
In addition to the measures mentioned above, Koskinen detailed 12 different measures of evaluating the strength of the local and state economy such as real GDP, educational attainment, tax burden, housing, poverty, and health care.
Click here to view the full presentation.
Posted by: Kaylee Tracy, Legislative & Workforce Development Intern
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.