Dr. Lona Cook, Chair of the Chippewa Economic Development Corporation’s (CEDC’s) Advocacy Committee, noted that “the CEDC has been busy this past quarter working with our local legislators to support the use of Environmental Remediation Tax Increment Districts (ERTIDs), support more broadband funding, reduce healthcare costs, continue funding workforce apprenticeship and customized training grants, and take steps to solve the Chippewa Valley’s workforce housing crisis.”
Recently, Charlie Walker, President and CEO of the CEDC, went to Madison to voice the organization’s support for establishing a state income tax income program for workforce housing. Through CEDC’s Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) Visits, one of the main topics of concern for our local companies are (1) finding available talent and (2) having adequate housing for this talent in our communities. With this feedback, the CEDC’s Advocacy Committee identified workforce housing as a legislative priority and has been working with our Wisconsin elected officials Senator Kathy Bernier and Assembly Representative Rob Summerfield in suggesting and supporting possible solutions. Rep. Summerfield introduced Assembly Bill 156/Senate Bill 172, whose aim is to utilize Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) to award up to $42 million in tax credits each year to spur development of additional workforce housing units throughout the state.
CEDC Chair Tom Waldusky has been working with Eau Claire County, the City of Eau Claire, and Chippewa County in addressing the facility needs of the Chippewa Valley Innovation Center (CVIC). This joint economic development partnership program works to encourage and foster manufacturing entrepreneurs in the Chippewa Valley. Over the course of 30 years, the facility has helped companies like Advanced Laser and Precision Dyes start, graduate, and grow to what they are today. CVIC’s long range plan is to build a new modern facility that encourages more smart, automated manufacturing startups. Waldusky gave an update on the CVIC’s plan to the Chippewa County Board of Supervisors during their ARPA funding brainstorming session. Utilizing a small portion of the County’s ARPA funding to modernize the non-profit economic development program (CVIC) was requested and discussed.