Recently, the Chippewa Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) hosted a Developers Update Summit, where we invited state and regional developers to familiarize themselves with the many opportunities that Chippewa County has to offer. The event also provided a sneak peek to CEDC investors regarding current industrial, commercial, and residential developments that are in-progress or soon to be announced.
Besides giving attendees an update on the Chippewa Crossing project, Wangard Partners Inc. utilized the event to stay abreast of other development projects that are happening and provided insight as well as next steps, which the community can take into consideration to leverage its assets. Understanding how the community is investing in its roads, utility and high-speed broadband internet infrastructure, and workforce pipeline development helps site selectors, brokers, and developers with their due diligence in making investment decisions.
Summit presenter Stewart Wangard, CEO of Wangard Partners, noted that “Chippewa Falls certainly is safe and conveniently located by Eau Claire, and is where people want to be. The local economic development team continues to work together to demonstrate the community’s openness towards investment. Chippewa has a really good team in CEDC.”
Over a catered lunch, upwards of 40 attendees discussed mixed-use developments, fast-track zoning, the importance of collaboration, and the future of development incentives. With rising building material costs and interest rate increases, communities that want development in a reasonable amount of time are having to become more creative in their incentives. Those communities that are able to say “yes, let’s figure out how to make it happen” are those that tend to rise to the top of a developer’s preferred locations.
Julie Keown-Bomar, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU), updated the group on the modernization of a historic building on the corner of River and Island streets in downtown Chippewa Falls. WFU is planning to have a retail space on the first floor, office space on the second floor and residential space on the third floor. During the meeting, Keown-Bomar announced that Greenfire Management Services has been hired to help with the project.
During the discussion of residential space, Adam Ashley (Ashley Construction), Jessica Oleson-Bue (Chippewa County Housing Authority), and Pat Smith (Eau Claire Insulation) gave the group an update on current trends in home ownership vs. renter-ship. In Chippewa County, 73% of homes are owner-occupied, whereas 27% of homes are rentals. Our community has a higher percentage of ownership than our neighboring counties, Dunn (67%) and Eau Claire (64%), and a lower percentage of rentals than Dunn (33%) and Eau Claire (36%) counties. The Chippewa County also outperforms the state of Wisconsin in both categories, 67 and 33 percent respectively. In addition, the panel discussed why median housing prices have risen 47 percent over the last ten years.
“The success of CEDC’s programs, especially its Business Attraction activities, has increased the opportunity for housing development,” noted Dante Tomassoni, COO of Development at P&R Companies. “The community is in a really neat position for development opportunities and has great potential.”
After the summit, the developers were toured around Lake Wissota Business Park and downtown Chippewa Falls. The tour afforded time to showcase what our community has to offer on a one-to-one basis with each developer and reinforced what was discussed during the Developers Update Summit..