This morning, CEDC stopped over at the Chippewa Falls U-Haul Moving Center and had a quick BEAR Discussion with Paul Zillmer, the general manager, to gain a little insight on what he sees is happening in migration and out-migration within the Chippewa Valley. Many don’t know, but U-Haul publishes their U-Haul Growth Index on a yearly basis. This annual report determines growth by calculating the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state in a calendar year. California and Illinois, for the second consecutive year, witnessed the largest net losses of one-way U-Haul trucks. Zillmer noted that while this report shows migration trends, they do not directly correlate to population growth. However, it’s a pretty good gauge of how well cities are attracting and retaining its residents.

“The Chippewa Valley continues to see steady movement; we are not experiencing any huge spikes in people moving in nor people moving out, from what I can see,” noted Zillmer. “Eau Claire is a little different; there is a spike in the summer when UW-Eau Claire students come to town. The university is a huge draw and is more so a destination university.”

For economic development, Zillmer’s observations seem to be good news, and Wisconsin’s ranking in the U-Haul report remained the same as the previous year (2020), at number 13. Madison moved up to fifth place among the most moved-to cities, while Milwaukee was number 14, according to the U-Haul report. In 2022, CEDC will be working harder to help Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley move up in the ranks!

CEDC’s Advocacy Committee is gearing up to make sure that Wisconsin’s business and tax climate remain attractive and welcoming to new residents and businesses, and that it is geared to help our existing industries modernize with automation. Here’s why: America’s population grew by one percent this past year, and that is the lowest growth ever recorded. The U.S. added only 393,000 people in 2021, making a total population of 331.9 million. Of interesting note, the Census showed that there were 148,000 more births than deaths, and that number continues to shrink. A surplus usually supplies the growth of the country. Finally, people moving into the state from other countries continues to shrink, according to the 2020 Census. In short, this is the first year in which growth from births exceeding deaths falls below net arrivals from other countries. Death rates continue to edge up, especially in areas with the Opioid epidemic.

So, the Chippewa Valley will need to embrace and encourage more automation in order to maintain and/or increase the volume and speed of business. The Advocacy Committee will also work to ensure that our tax burden on residents does not continue to rise — cost of living is an important reason that people migrate to a location. Aggressively pursuing more broadband expansion, which is needed for automation and telecommuting, is also a major goal in 2022 for CEDC.

In 2022, CEDC will continue its Business Expansion And Retention (BEAR) Discussions, Visits, and Listening Sessions to stay abreast of the issues that are important to our economic base and help position our companies to take advantage of opportunities.

Promoting and organizing events like STEAM nights and career fairs are important activities to educate and familiarize our existing young population about the opportunities and advantages that are offered in the Valley, and will be continued by the CEDC. Stopping the out-migration of our population is an important economic growth strategy.

Finally, we will continue our efforts with Momentum West to expand our talent recruitment activities, making people more aware of the opportunities that the Chippewa Valley has. Then one day, the Chippewa Valley will make the ranks in the inbound U-Haul Growth Index.