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Greetings from the Chippewa Valley! This year, at the 18th Annual Chippewa Valley Rally, we look to strengthen relationships with state legislators and administration officials that will prove to be beneficial to both the Chippewa Valley and the State of Wisconsin. The Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance is made up of the three chambers within the Chippewa Valley: Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie. The Chamber Alliance’s 2,200 members, representing 55,000 employees, contribute significantly to the employment and tax base in Wisconsin. Western Wisconsin is one of the fastest growing regions in Wisconsin. With more than one million additional residents expected in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area in the next twenty-five years, the Chippewa Valley is expecting continued growth and is poised for extensive economic development with much to offer business and residents including:

• Rated as one of the top regions with the best quality of life in • •

• •

the United States. A track record as being among the safest places to live in the United States. Continually recognized as one of the best places to raise a family in the United States, as reported by Business Week Magazine. The region is home to world class health care. The Chippewa Valley is also home to top quality higher education with a history of collaboration with area universities and technical colleges.

We look forward to sharing the Chippewa Valley’s story with you again this year! The Chamber Alliance is comprised of the three chambers of commerce in the Chippewa Valley— Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie. The mission of the Alliance is to create a stronger business voice in the Valley by having three chambers align on areas of mutual interest.


C H A M B E R ALLIANCE chippewa falls - eau claire - menomonie

2012 Issues Unemployment Insurance Reform An estimated 30,000 jobs listed on just the DWD job center are not being filled because of skills mismatch, continued extended unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance fraud and failed drug tests. The Wisconsin Unemployment Trust Fund balance has declined in

each succeeding year since 20002001 and currently is obligated to pay back a $1.18 billion loan to the federal government. Recently, businesses were assessed a fee just to pay the interest on the loan. Reforming unemployment insurance is necessary to fill current and future job openings and to address the unemployment trust fund shortfall.

Action requested: • Expand the options for investigating and prosecuting inflated or fraudulent benefit claims in the Unemployment Insurance and Worker’s Compensation Systems and develop a clear definition of what constitutes employee misconduct for the purpose of denying unemployment insurance benefits as identified in last sessions SB219/AB310.

• Preserve Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund solvency by appropriately enhancing revenue, controlling costs and prohibiting the diversion of UI Trust Fund dollars to unrelated programs.

• Invest in and require more job training to help re-tool and enhance skills for the unemployed workforce by providing grants to the technical colleges and businesses in high demand employment sectors.

• Consider drug testing to receive unemployment insurance benefits.


Education Support the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Energy Education Center. As energy markets continue to drive the economy, CVTC looks to meet the demands of future job growth in the energy sector by providing a comprehensive learning and demonstration center to serve new and incumbent workers of the Chippewa Valley and beyond. The Energy Education Center will be a demonstration facility for dayto-day classes, training for energy industry workers, the application of innovation and applied research. It will focus on renewable energy generation (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) along with efficient energy management. This will result in a workforce trained in emerging energy technologies, adding value and growth to the economy of West Central Wisconsin.


Action requested: As

Wisco nsin focuses on alternative and renewable energy, the state needs to inves t in our futu re workforce by helping educational institutio ns, like CVTC, have the necessary resou rces to train this specialized workforce.

Economic Development Continue support of the Be Bold initiative. Through many of the Be Bold and other economic development efforts, Wisconsin has improved its competitive advantage through

regulatory reform and reorganizing economic development organizations to better seed, nurture and cultivate new economic opportunities that would create high paying jobs. Although we are heading in the right direction, more can be done.

Action requested: Continue to support economic development initiatives by passing legislation that increases eligible activities with additional funding allocation, while not creating specific funding silos limiting flexibility. Support legislation which would provide for venture and seed capital while also allowing the sale of angel tax credits. This would make investments into early stage businesses more attractive.

Rescind prevailing wage mandates passed in the 2009-2011 state budget bill, which would reduce cost and increase competition on development projects. The increased prevailing wage results in millions of dollars worth of private construction being subject to additional administrative regulations, as well as raising the cost of many governmental projects. At a time when our economy is slowed, increased costs of construction will further hamper investment. Chippewa Valley communities are struggling to attract jobs and development to their area. Increasing the costs of local developments through the expanded application of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws, restrains area local communities’ and developers’ abilities to pay for infrastructure and grow the economy.

Actio n re ques ted:

Thank yo for the m u any chan g e s made to prevaili ng wage i n the 201 2013 stat 1e budget b ill, but we ask th at you wo uld fully rescind r ecent pre vailing wage man dates tha t were passed in the 20092011 Stat budget bi e ll (2009 W i sconsin Act 28) (§6 6.0904, W is. Stats .).


Infrastructure Transportation As the Chippewa Valley’s population and economic activity continue to grow, a robust, balanced transportation system is critical to the smooth flow of people and freight to promote commerce. State

Action requested: l • Complete the State Rai

Plan, and continue the e Freight Rail Assistanc ng ppi shi Program to ensure s rie access for local indust and communities that continue to show more er freight activity. Consid looking at selective ays weight limits on highw e mor e mot if it will pro efficient intermodal n transfer of goods betwee ay. freight rail and highw

Ensure good repair and 4 adequate capacity on I-9 . and its feeder highways

• Continue long-term

planning for a high speed rail link for the Chippewa Valley on the


transportation policy must address the needs of our area to ensure that our transportation assets provide economic competitiveness and freedom of travel. It should include all key modes -- highway, rail and air – in a balanced way.

Chicago-Twin Cities corridor, and continue to study the feasibility of complementary local/ to commuter rail service . and from the Twin Cities to • Maintain good access

the air travel system, including air travel choices that include the al Chippewa Valley Region to Airport and access Minneapolis-St. Paul.

g • Ensure a stable fundin

e stream that will provid adequate funding for ments infrastructure invest to ded that is not rai . balance the state budget

Broadband Today, high speed internet, or broadband, is essential for economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness. The United States – the country that invented the Internet – has fallen from 1st to 15th in highspeed Internet penetration and WI ranks 43rd in access among states. High-tech innovation, job growth, telemedicine, distance learning, rural development, public safety and e-government require truly highspeed, universal networks that lack in some areas in the Chippewa Valley.


on Requested: As the Northwest Central Wi sconsin Broadband Plan work s to identify ways to fill the gaps in broadband availabi lity by continuing to levera ge current assets and resources allocated for broadband deploy ment, we ask the legislatu re to consider providing some income and sales tax incentiv es for private sector provid ers. This would expand broadban d to underserved areas to promote commerce, informatio n, education and emplo yment.

It’s service worth talking about.

Together our energy creates strong communities.

Join the conversation.

Group Health Cooperative has been providing local, personal service for over 30 years. See for yourself how real service from real people makes a REAL difference.

Xcel Energy is proud to support Chippewa Valley businesses, education and economic development.

© 2011 XCEL ENERGY INC. (888) 203-7770

7 2.25x3.75_Rally_Sponsorship.indd 1

12/21/11 3:24 PM

Environment Environmental Impact on Lakes and Rivers The Chippewa Valley is rich in water resources and values its natural resources. These water resources support our quality of life by providing recreation and tourism to boost our economy. Run off from various sources jeopardizes the water quality in our area’s lakes and rivers.


Action requeste


Consider changi ng assessment practices to en courage farmer s to ‘retire’ crop land along rivers and stre ams, thus creating buffer strips to protec t water quality an d encourage conservation. Currently, retired cropland is designated “recreational” and has a higher tax rate. There should be a “conservation” tax level that is equal to “cro pland” for these extraord inary efforts to protect our area ’s land and wate r for future gene rations.

Income Tax Reciprocity Wisconsin has reciprocity agreements with many of its neighboring states, but reciprocity for individual income tax with Minnesota ended January 1, 2010. Over 75,000 people must now wrestle with tax laws and documentation for two states while living in one. Government needs to simplify residents’ access to their earned money, not increase the challenge to retrieve overpaid taxes.

ank ve you for efforts to mo . rd agreements forwa orts Please renew any eff ess to expedite the proc pewa ip Ch e ev to help reli onsin sc Wi Valley and West to ng residents from havi te tax file two separate sta the time returns; reducing urces so and financial re e taxes. needed to reconcil

Action requested: Th


Thank You to our Legislators UW building projects The continued funding of capital projects at the Universities in the Chippewa Valley including UW – Stout, with the addition of Fleming Hall and Harvey Hall, and UW Eau Claire’s new education building, will help keep the Universities competitive by providing excellent facilities for students and the community.

would have furthered cost shifting to employers increasing the healthcare cost even more.

UW Board of Regents Regional Representation Thank you for passing SB 28, which ensures greater regional representation of the UW system on the Board of Regents. Tax exemption for Health Savings Account contributions Thank you for providing a tool that promotes healthcare engagement and helps reduce healthcare costs by ensuring the tax deductibility of Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions. Wisconsin now joins the 46 other states that allow this beneficial tool.

For enhancing state economic development efforts and supporting many of the Be Bold initiative suggestions Through Be Bold and other economic development efforts, Wisconsin has improved its competitive advantage through regulatory reform and reorganizing economic development organizations to better seed, nurture and cultivate new economic opportunities.

Medicaid rates and funding Thank you for fully funding the FY11 Medicaid budget without decreasing the reimbursement rate or enrollment cuts. Reducing reimbursements rates 10

Changes to prevailing wage rules Thank you for rescinding many of the prevailing wage mandates in the last budget, which will reduce cost and increases competition on economic development projects.

Chippewa Valley airport upgrades Thank you for your help in funding the general aviation terminal improvements at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport. This public facility was expanded to accommodate additional traffic, provide flight planning and pilot training, is ADA accessible and increased the energy efficiency of the facility.

Thank You to our Sponsors





Manufacturing Custom Engineered Plastic Films Since 1971 One of North America’s premiere suppliers of custom engineered cast embossed films converted by automotive, rubber, packaging, medical and consumer industries.

Bloomer Plastics relies heavily on the Progressive Rail line that runs from Rice Lake to Chippewa Falls.

Bloomer Plastics Mission Statement: Bloomer Plastics, Inc. will provide the opportunity for our employees to improve their standard of living and quality of life by striving to be the superior North American supplier of custom engineered cast film products for converters and manufacturers.

it’s all about connections

At AT&T we know businesses are a lifeline for communities in the Chippewa Valley. By partnering with local development groups and chambers of commerce, we keep those businesses connected. That’s just another part of our commitment to limitless possibilities. AT&T is proud to support the Chippewa Valley Chamber Alliance.

© 2012 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.


2012 Chippewa Valley Rally  

A booklet highlighting the issues facing the Chippewa Valley for the Wisconsin state legislators.

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