Eggs & Issues: Eau Claire's Re-emergence - Economic Development, Tourism, and the Arts
June 25 Eggs & Issues at the Pablo Center for the Confluence, RCU Theatre Stage
The Chamber's first in-person Eggs & Issues breakfast since early last year featured a wide-ranging discussion of the status of the area's economic resurgence following the pandemic.
Hosted on the stage of the Pablo Center's RCU Theatre, Chamber Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Jennifer McHugh of Royal Credit Union, and Governmental Affairs Vice President Scott Rogers, moderated a discussion with Aaron White, City of Eau Claire Economic Development Director; Benny Anderson, Visit Eau Claire Executive Director; and Jason Jon Anderson, Pablo Center at the Confluence Executive Director. More than 70 business and community leaders attended the Friday, June 25, breakfast, catered by Chamber investor company KP Katering.
White referred to the significant number of construction projects underway or planned in the area, especially housing, representing pent-up demand as business recovers from the pandemic and economic activity picks up. He did note that challenges in finding sufficient workforce and increases in the cost of construction materials are threatening to slow activity form what it otherwise might be. White also direct the city's Redevelopment Authority and Downtown Eau Claire, Inc.
Benny Anderson said the area benefitted from its strong line up of outdoor activities, with local tourism recovering more quickly than expected. After room tax revenue dropped by 83% in the spring of 2020, local officials projected a spring this year down 30% from 2019, but has seen stronger activity and is nearing 2019 levels. He noted that a recently-released video about Eau Claire by YouTube vloggers The Excellent Adventure has generated hundreds of positive comments and tens of thousands of views.
Jason Anderson spoke about the situation of performing arts venues being the first to close and last to open threatening their very survival. The Pablo Center took a leadership role in creating state and national independent venue organizations who worked with state and federal political leaders to successfully secure financial assistance. The Pablo Center has now announced its new season, kicking off with membership opportunities now available, ticket sales beginning later in July, and a public open house on its reopening day on September 12. Looking ahead, Anderson looks forward to the creative economy getting back on track to the $12 in economic activity generated by every $1 of ticket sales that studies show, and to plans that are being finalized to launch the Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 2022.
Related news coverage:
Officials: Chippewa Valley poised for economic comeback (Leader-Telegram $)
Across Altoona, many housing projects underway this summer (WEAU 13 News)
YouTube channel The Endless Adventure spotlights art, food, and culture of EC, garners thousands of views (Volume One)
Re-Imagine, Re-Emerge: Pablo Center Announces Season Lineup (Volume One)
Gov. Evers Announces More Than $140 Million for Wisconsin's Tourism and Entertainment Industries (Office of the Governor)
Evers announces $140 million in tourism and entertainment funding (WQOW News 18)
City of Eau Claire Economic Development (City of Eau Claire)
Eau Claire County Economic Development Corp.
City of Altoona
Downtown Eau Claire Inc (DECI)
Visit Eau Claire
Pablo Center at the Confluence
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Posted by Scott Rogers, Vice President Governmental Affairs
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.