What's at stake on August 14
The state-wide partisan primary is coming up on Tuesday, August 14 to determine who will be on the ballot in the November 6 general election. This year, there are multiple competitive races. State and national offices up for election are: Governor, Lt. Governor, WI Attorney General, WI Secretary of State, WI State Treasurer, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, odd-numbered Wisconsin State Senate and all Assembly seats. The polls will be open from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm, but anyone can vote early starting July 30.
Wisconsin Primary Elections are “Open Primaries”
When districts have more than one candidate from the same party running for a seat, a partisan primary election is held to nominate a single candidate to move onto the general election. The person who wins a plurality of votes, meaning the highest number, is their party’s nominee to go onto the general election.
The state of Wisconsin has what is called an “open primary” for partisan elections. When voters go to the polls they will receive one ballot that lists all parties’ candidates. Since 1905, voters have been restricted to vote for their top choice candidates from a single party across all races. Wisconsin’s system is called an “open primary” because voters can vote for a party’s candidates without having registered as a member of a party. 14 other states including Minnesota use this system. Other states use either a closed primary where voters must register as identifying with a particular party, or use a variation of the two systems.
Election Day, Tuesday, August 14
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click here to find your polling place
Early and Absentee Voting
If you are unable to make it to make it to the polls or want to vote early, you can either request an absentee ballot or vote In-Person Absentee.
For City of Eau Claire residents, In-Person Absentee Voting lasts from July 30th – August 10th, 2018 on Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm at City Hall. For registered voters who want to receive an absentee ballot, you must request one with the city clerk’s office by 5:00 pm the Thursday before the election (August 9th). For voter registration or absentee voting forms, visit the City of Eau Claire’s election page.
For City of Altoona residents: In-person absentee voting can be done at the Altoona City Hall, 1303 Lynn Ave., weekdays through August 9, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on August 10, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you live elsewhere in Eau Claire County: click here for contact information for the elections office in your municipality. You can also request a ballot and see your polling place or what’s on the ballot at My Vote Wisconsin.
Races to Keep an Eye On
This year’s primary election has a lot of candidates vying for one seat. Although there are competitive Republican seats, there are by far more Democratic candidates in each competitive race. There are eight Democratic candidates running for Governor including Kathleen Vinehout of Alma, who gave up her seat in the 31st Senate District to run, Tony Evers who is currently the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, former State Representative Kelda Roys, and Firefighters Union President Mahlon Mitchell. Republican Governor Scott Walker is running for reelection and has one relatively unknown primary opponent, Robert Meyer. Other state offices with primary contests include Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and US Senate. In the latter race, Republicans Kevin Nicholson and Leah Vukmir are vying for the right to face incumbent Democratic US Senator Tammy Baldwin.
Competitive local legislative seats and Chamber Good Government Council Questionnaires
More locally, the 31st Senate District has three Democratic candidates and one Republican (Mel Pittman, Plum City) running. The Democratic candidates are Jon Schultz (Arcadia), Jeff Smith (Eau Claire), and Steve Boe (Taylor).
The 91st Assembly District adds to the list of competitive Democratic races with four Democratic candidates that are all from Eau Claire: Thomas Vue, Jodi Emerson, Eric Larsen, and Rich Postlewaite. A candidate forum for the district was held on Wednesday July 25 where the candidates had a difficult time differentiating their policy stances from each other. Echo Reardon (Eau Claire) is the Republican candidate.
The 92nd Assembly District has three Democratic candidates and one Republican (incumbent Treig E. Pronschinske, Mondovi). Desiree Gearing-Lancaster (Black River Falls), Rob Grover (Galesville), and Max Harts (Black River Falls) are the Democratic candidates.
The Eau Claire Chamber’s Good Government Council (GGC) distributed a questionnaire to the 31st Senate Districts and 91st and 92nd Assembly District candidates. The GGC is a committee devoted to encouraging voter participation and providing members of the business community with non-biased information about candidates’ positions on important issues.
Here are the candidates' answers to the Chamber's questionnaire:
31st Senate District
91st Assembly District
92nd Assembly District
Posted by: Kaylee Tracy, Legislative & Workforce Development Intern
As businesses like yours are feeling the effects of Wisconsin’s 2.9% unemployment rate with either not having enough people to hire or applicants not having the right skills, various state and regional organizations have deployed efforts to address workforce needs from multiple angles. You can easily take advantage of one of the programs called Inspire Connections, which is an online program connecting employers to their future workforce: local students in grades 6-12.
How participating in the online Inspire Connections can help
A very tangible way for you to address your workforce needs is by having an online company profile on Inspire Connections. Inspire Connections is a tab within a larger platform called Career Cruising, which a majority of local school districts are using as a part of Wis. State mandated Academic and Career Planning curriculum (ACP). ACP helps students explore careers and make curriculum choices for high school and beyond. ACP curriculum is now required for students across the state in grades 6 - 12.
Local companies have an employer profile on Inspire Connections to market who they are as an organization and communicate that students don’t have to move away to have a career that they love. Students are getting to learn about specific careers and industries via Career Cruising, but the employer profiles compliment this by providing a way to show an employer’s unique organizational identity, communicate needed skills or educational pathways for a field, and allow students to get a feel for what a career or industry looks like in a real world setting. Overall, companies have an opportune tool to build interest in their organization, industry, or careers hired in the area. Employees can also volunteer as an online Career Coach to periodically help answer student questions about a career or offer Work-Based Learning Activities to give your business that extra, in-person exposure and connection with students.
Inspire Connections is being used across the state, but locally the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation and Momentum West – the regional economic development corporation for our 10 county region in western Wisconsin – are responsible for administering the program. To help address the business community's workforce needs and increase effective business participation on the platform, the Chamber has been offering workshops to help get businesses signed up and equip them to use the program effectively in a way that will maximize student interest in their business.
Sign up for an Inspire Connections Workshop
Establishing a company profile is easy and free for employers. Sign up for one of the Chamber’s upcoming Inspire Connections Workshops to show you how to get started with your Inspire profile, learn more about the program, and how to design your profile in a way that will maximize student interest.
To attend a workshop, click on one of the listed times offered for more information and to register.
Inspire Connections and K – 12 Academic and Career Planning are just part of the workforce puzzle. Marketing efforts coincide these actions by seek to attract talent – getting people to live and work in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has identified the link between returning tourists and the likelihood that they may stay to live and work in the state. “The number one reason why people travel is fun,” stated Wis. Secretary of Tourism Stephanie Klett at the Chamber’s July 20 Eggs & Issues. The department has deployed award winning marketing campaigns to communicate just that very idea.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is addressing a different issue through marketing. They are trying to expand people’s perceptions of Wisconsin beyond “beer, the Packers, and cheese,” to include the available diverse career opportunities and work-life balance. Their campaign that targets Midwest millennials, transitioning veterans and their families, and alumni living in a different state was recently allocated $6.8 million by the state legislature. “Now that legislation has been signed, WEDC and its agency partners can build upon the successes of in-state talent-oriented marketing and a recent paid-media campaign in Chicago,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and chief officer of the WEDC.
The list of workforce programs and initiatives goes beyond just these three programs and state efforts. There are over 105 different programs locally and regionally, that tackle workforce needs from various angles. Programs like Youth Apprenticeships or the newly created coordinated internship program between UWEC, UW- Stout, and UWRF focus on education and training. Other programs like the Age of Opportunity Job & Volunteer Fair or Project SEARCH help people overcome barriers to the workforce. To help employers navigate all of the available resources, the Chamber will be hosting a Workforce Solutions Summit on October 29 at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.
More information on Inspire Connections: Information for employers and coaches
Posted by: Kaylee Tracy, Legislative & Workforce Development Intern
Dr. Erik Dickson was recently announced as the new medical director for skilled nursing and post acute care provider Dove Healthcare – South Eau Claire. Dickson is the chief physician executive for HSHS Western Division and a family medicine physician with OakLeaf Clinics - Eau Claire Medical Clinic. As the medical director, Dickson will ensure that appropriate systems exist to facilitate good medical care using current standards of practice. He will assist in establishing and applying good monitoring systems, and ensure effective documentation and follow up of findings. Lastly, Dickson will assist in maintaining physician compliance with the State and Federal Regulations.
Wipfli will be hosting the first of nine monthly Human Resources (HR) Business Forum meetings in Eau Claire. The Human Resource Business Forums have a set curriculum to educate participants on the key functional areas of HR management. These forums are ideal for individuals who do not have a formal education in HR management, who may be new to the field and are looking to acquire foundational knowledge, or who are looking to strengthen their technical skills. Meetings are held monthly September through May and all will be held in Eau Claire. Participants are encouraged to register soon as space is limited.
Libardo Rueda Prada, M.D., recently joined the Hospital Medicine Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Prada completed medical school at Universidad Industrial de Santander in Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia. He completed an internal medicine residency at SBH Health System in Bronx, New York. Prada is a member of the American College of Physicians. His professional interests include critical care and hospital medicine, and pulmonology.
Speech-language pathologist Hailey Brost recently joined the Speech-Language Therapy Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Brost earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from UW-Eau Claire. She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Her professional interests include working with people with aphasia and providing functional intervention.
Campus Pride has given UW-Eau Claire its highest rating, five stars, in its Campus Pride Index, a tool that helps colleges and universities improve campus life for LGBTQIA+ students. Campus Pride is the leading nonprofit organization in the U.S. working to create more LGBTQIA+-friendly learning environments at colleges and universities. With the five-star rating, UW-Eau Claire becomes one of just 27 U.S. colleges and universities (and one of two in the UW System) to receive Campus Pride’s highest recognition. According to the Campus Pride website, the index rankings are based on a school’s performance on to eight “inclusion factors” as they relate to LGBTQIA+ students: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention.
UW-Eau Claire also has been named one of Affordable Colleges Online’s Most LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities for 2018-19, ranking 10th out of 69 schools that made the list. UW-Eau Claire is one of just four UW System universities to be included. Affordable Colleges Online examined data from all accredited postsecondary schools in the nation in determining its list of top LGBTQIA+-friendly institutions. Its goal was to find those colleges that “offered the most notable balances of academic rigor, LGBTQ student support and affordability,” according to the Affordable Colleges Online website. A school’s Campus Pride Index ranking is a component of its score in the Affordable Colleges Online ranking.
Care Partners Assisted Living celebrated the completion of its new facility on the west side of Eau Claire.
“I’m alive today because of the treatment I received at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital.”
Those words from Lisa, a recent cancer care patient from Eau Claire, are ones that guide Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) Sacred Heart Hospital colleagues to provide quality and respectful care daily.
Health care is dynamic. However, one thing remains the same – your health care is yours. You can choose your doctor and you can choose your hospital. HSHS Sacred Heart is here to guide the community through that process. When you entrust your health care to the HSHS family of dedicated and qualified team members, you can be assured that team will listen to provide care centered around your needs. That’s something HSHS has been doing for nearly 130 years, since the hospital sisters crossed the ocean from Germany and then traveled by horse and buggy to Illinois and Wisconsin to establish hospitals.
Exciting developments are currently happening throughout the hospital.
Soon the newly renovated Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital will open to provide even more individualized treatments and support to those undergoing unfamiliar and uncertain times in their lives. Colleagues go to any length to make the reality of cancer easier to understand. Nurses, doctors and support staff work to take the worry out of chemotherapy and radiation.
“They made me feel like a person, not a number, and the assistance I received took away the stress and burden so I could focus on my health,” said Lisa.
The hospital is proud of its accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer – an accreditation it has held for more than 50 years. In partnership with Prevea Health, a multispecialty provider group working with the hospital, the renovated Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital will be complete in September.
Outstanding care will continue through innovative technology, specialized treatments and enhanced services.
Georgia Smith, Executive Director of the Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital says cancer care is not just about medical care.
“From disease-specific support groups, to art therapy, music therapy, journaling and more, patients can choose whatever helps them undergo treatment,” she said. “Our oncology RN navigators, professional counselors, social workers and financial advocates are also here to assist with the complexities of cancer care, family dynamics and insurance questions. These services are provided for free because it’s just what we do.”
An expanded cancer center is just one of several exciting enhancements the hospital is proud to present to the community.
A beautiful, newly upgraded Women and Infants Center is now open. The birth of a baby is deeply personal. The nationally certified team of nurses and care providers feel the time spent at the hospital should also be personal. That’s why new birthing suites are accommodating families more than ever.
Birthing hammocks help ease the pain of labor. Aromatherapy can calm the senses. Hydrotherapy tubs can be used for pre-labor and are also built for the delivery experience if moms choose a water birth. Being comfortable may mean connecting to the built-in sound system to play mom’s favorite music. The rooms are now larger as well to accommodate more family members, including a sofa sleeper so mom’s number one coach can always be close.
Perhaps the most exciting feature of the new Women and Infants Center is the rooms themselves. Equipped with the comforts of home, and the birthing needs, rooms are designed to host every part of labor, including delivery, recovery and post-partum care. Gone are the days of wheeling mom into a second room for delivery, then another room for recovery, and yet a third room, a nursery, for newborns. Today, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital allows families to stay together in one room to bond through the entire birth journey.
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital’s mission is to provide healing love for all people through high-quality Franciscan health care ministry. Taking care of you and your loved ones to the very best of our ability is the hospital’s focus. Colleagues, community advocates and hospital volunteers hope you choose HSHS for 24/7 health care.
Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett at the Chamber's Eggs & Issues breakfast
"The number one reason people travel is fun," asserted Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett at the Chamber's Eggs & Issues breakfast on Friday, July 20, at the Lakely, attended by 75 local business and community leaders.
Upon becoming Tourism Secretary seven years ago, Klett said her first priority was to get away from just having slogans, but to answer the question, "how can we communicate fun?" in promoting travel to the state. A little bit of serendipity brought her to Hollywood producer David Zucker, best known for the "Airplane" movie franchise and a native of Wisconsin. That contact led to the first in a series of videos produced by the Zucker brothers, "Symphony Snowball Fight:"
"Is tourism marketing a good investment?"
Introduced by Volume One Publisher Nick Meyer, who also serves on the Chamber's Board of Directors and is one of the owners of the Oxbow Hotel, Klett's presentation could itself be termed "fun" given her unique sense of humor and enthusiasm for Wisconsin.
But more than just "fun," the state's investment in tourism marketing over the past seven years has led to a $5.8 billion increase in tourism spending in the state, up 40% to a level of $20.6 billion annually, employing over 195,000 people.
"The cool thing about tourism is that there's a halo effect," said Klett. When people have fun here, "we know they're coming back, and the more they do that, the more apt they are to get a job here, retire, etc." The Secretary also noted that hers is the state's smallest cabinet level department, with just 24 employees.
Creative approach multiplies itself in free media exposure
The state's innovative commercials with the Zuckers and other recent themes have also managed to garner extensive free news coverage, termed "earned media" in the business, in the tens of millions of dollars. One of the most popular was this commercial with former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, a Kansas native:
Taking advantage of national "foodie" trends
One of the state's latest theme's provides a Wisconsin twist on the public's growing interest in culinary experiences, the Wisconsin Supper Club. Not only did the following commercial generate over 1.4 million views in its first month, but an online poll to name the state's best supper club generated more than 400,000 votes, with a significant number from out of state.
Making a difference in Eau Claire
"Our state has it all. I really feel sorry for other states," said Klett, perhaps tongue-in-cheek (but not really!). She pointed out the great things happening in Eau Claire, and also suggested she would like to come back and talk about the Wisconsin Arts Board, another part of her department which nurtures creativity in the state in ways that are manifesting themselves locally.
At the conclusion of the breakfast, Cami Johnson, Services Manager at Visit Eau Claire, provided a local update, incuding news of a record year in tourism here in 2017. Driven by a single-year 12.5% increase in spending, Eau Claire rose from number 14 to number 10 in the state's ranking for most tourism spending. Tourism spending in Eau Claire topped $257 million last year, the highest ever.
New downtown visitor center
This fall's opening of The Pablo Center at the Confluence will bring with it a new 3,000 square foot downtown Visitor Center, which "will not be your run-of-the-mill center with a bunch of brochures," said Johnson. There will be stage for occasional music, garage doors that open up, and interactive displays within the center. It will be located at the corner of Graham and Gibson streets. Visit Eau Claire will also move its offices into the building.
Johnson also detailed the free media the area has garnered recently, building upon the image created by Wisconsin overall, and additionally fueled by a Department of Tourism-sponsored media tour that visited Eau Claire last year. So far, positive stories about the region have appeared in USA Today, Better Homes & Gardens, the Huffington Post and the Star-Tribune.
Special thanks to our Business Advocacy sponsors, who make the Eggs & Issues series possible: Miron Construction, Xcel Energy, Banbury Place/Cigan Properties and Eau Claire Energy Cooperative.
Some photos provided by Visit Eau Claire
Posted by: Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
The recently completed the 2018 Western & Central Wisconsin Wage Survey has revealed a 3.70 percent overall increase in its group of 35 benchmark jobs, an acceleration of last year’s increase of 2.99 percent.
The increase is an “indicator of positive wage growth and robust market conditions,” notes Deborah Marshall, Senior Manager, HR Consulting, at Wipfli in Eau Claire, who serves as the lead technical advisor for the survey. “Although there are always variations in numbers reported due to different employers participating (or not participating) and individual job fluctuations, the ‘overall’ number is still a fairly reliable statistic. Accordingly, actual average pay increase percentages awarded were up from last year as well.”
In its 19th year, the survey results were compiled from submissions by 151 companies in various industries, in an area encompassing the coverage area of the chambers of commerce in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Marshfield, Menomonie, Portage County, Rice Lake, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids. Also involved were local chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in the Chippewa Valley, La Crosse, Wausau and Winona, MN. The survey is administered by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce.
Employers in central Wisconsin were included for the first time this year, resulting in a 25 percent increase in the number of participating organizations. Base pay levels for over 18,000 employees were included in the survey, on 150 different job titles. Manufacturers represented 43 percent of the employers and 50 percent of the rates of pay in the survey, up significantly from last year. The survey also has industry breakouts for healthcare, financial institutions, non-profits, and a general category for all other types of organizations.
The full survey results are available to employers for purchase at the Eau Claire Chamber. A copy of the survey will be available at the Eau Claire Public Library. Participating members of the chambers of commerce and SHRM chapters receive a copy at a reduced price. The order for is available online or contact Casey Schumacher (715-858-0614).
WESTconsin Credit Union is collecting school supplies and monetary donations for families in need, August 1-11. Donations can be made at any WESTconsin Credit Union location and online at westconsincu.org. All proceeds will be delivered by WESTconsin Staff to local schools and organizations for distribution. Listed below are a few of the area schools and organizations:
Altoona Office | Altoona Compassion Coalition
Chippewa Falls Office | Lake Wissota Lions Club “Stuff the Bus”
Eau Claire Office | Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley
Menomonie East Office | River Heights Elementary
Menomonie Downtown Office | Downsville Elementary
Menomonie North Office | Knapp Elementary
All items will be accepted along with monetary donations. This year marks the tenth annual school supply drive in which WESTconsin has been involved. Last year, the drive as a whole raised $1,237.52 and collected over 5,000 supplies.
The RCU Foundation gifted $34,000 to the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes (GSNWGL) for repair projects at Camp Nawakwa. The camp helps provide safe, affordable, and inspiring outdoor experiences for girls all year long. Approximately 8,200 Girl Scout members from seven Wisconsin counties use Camp Nawakwa facilities, in addition to many troops that travel from other parts of the state.
Ali Zaied, M.D., recently joined the Pulmonology Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Dr. Zaied completed medical school at the University of Jordan in Amman. He completed internal medicine residencies at King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman, Jordan, and University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Florida.
Peoples Bank Midwest only moved down the block but their new building is one to be proud of. Congratulations! Website
Congratulations to Holiday Inn Express & Suites Eau Claire North on it's amazing remodel!
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.