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Welcome to the Business Facts newsletter with business news and information about St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

February 2017 | Volume 20, Issue 2 | Inside this issue:

 

 

St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses and Individual for 2016

On January 12, 2017, Agnes Ring, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of Oliphant Brewing LLC (Village of Somerset), Wisconsin Lighting, Inc. (City of New Richmond), and Croix Gear and Machining (City of Hudson) as recipients of the 2016 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.
 
The EDC board of directors also named Trudy Popenhagen as the recipient of the 2016 EDC Directors Award.
 
The companies and Ms. Popenhagen will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Ready Randy’s in New Richmond.
 
Read more at www.stcroixedc.com.
 
Dinner tickets are priced at $38.00 and can be ordered several ways. For credit card payments, visit http://tinyurl.com/jd76uuu. To ask for an invoice, contact Nita Dusek at nita@stcroixedc.com, or send check to Nita Dusek, St. Croix EDC 1101 Carmichael Rd, Hudson, WI 54016.  RSVP deadline is Wednesday February 8, 2017. 

 
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WEDC Announces Trade Venture to Mexico

Wisconsin companies invited to join the trade venture to Mexico in June

 

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is leading a global trade venture to Mexico from June 11-16.
 
Wisconsin companies, whether new to exporting or looking to expand their exports into Mexico, are invited to participate in this program, which will travel to Mexico City, the nation’s largest city, and Monterrey, which is Mexico’s third-largest city by population and second-largest in terms of its contribution to GDP, and has a high concentration of manufacturing facilities aligned with Wisconsin’s key industry sectors.
 
Since Mexico is one of the top export markets for U.S. companies across all sectors, Wisconsin companies from a broad range of industries are encouraged to take part in this this trade venture. Leading export categories from Wisconsin to Mexico include industrial machinery, electrical machinery, vehicles and parts, plastics, and medical and scientific instruments. U.S. products are already well represented in the market, and are perceived to be a good value for the price.
“With a growing middle class in Mexico, the demand for U.S. goods is going to continue to increase,” said Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of international business development. “We have a robust and thriving relationship with Mexico. WEDC’s international development team and local trade representatives can serve as a local intermediary so your company can expand into this growing market.” 
 
In each city, participants will be scheduled for one-on-one meetings with potential partners who are hand-picked for each company. Each participant will also receive a custom Mexico market assessment detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing a product or service into the market. WEDC has eyes and ears on the ground in Mexico, in the form of Wisconsin’s authorized trade representatives—thus making it easier for Wisconsin companies to find local partners they can trust, and taking some of the guesswork out of launching in a new market. WEDC will arrange appointments for participants, which will allow them to focus on business rather than logistics and scheduling.
 
The fee for this program is $1,650, which covers market research and one-on-one appointments, transportation to business meetings, hotel accommodations for the duration of the program and some group meals.
 
The program registration deadline is May 12.
For more information, visit InWisconsin.com/mexico2017.
 

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Up to $3 Million in Wisconsin Fast Forward
Worker Training Grants Available


In early January, Governor Scott Walker’s 2017 State of the State Address focused on developing Wisconsin’s workforce talent.
 
To reinforce this focus, Governor Walker joined Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen in announcing the availability of up to $3 million in new Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) grants. The grants are intended to provide Wisconsin employers with customized worker training solutions for construction and small business workers.
 
“One of the greatest challenges facing Wisconsin now is bridging the skills gap and finding workers to fill jobs in high-demand sectors,” Governor Walker said. “Workforce development is a top priority for us for 2017 and beyond, and these Wisconsin Fast Forward grants incentivize state employers to implement training programs that provide workers with the practical skills they need to succeed. Programs like Wisconsin Fast Forward, Youth Apprenticeship, and Project SEARCH remove barriers to employment and are crucial as we continue towards our goal of ensuring anyone who wants a job can find a job here in Wisconsin.”
 
DWD’s Office of Skills Development (OSD) set Construction and Small Business Grant Program Announcement (GPAs) based on a comprehensive analysis of pressing workforce needs that included skilled worker labor market employment projections and the immediate worker training needs of employers.
 
GPA details include:
 
Worker Training for Construction Occupations:
Up to $2 million in available grant funding
            Application Deadline: March 3, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.
            Individual Award Amount: $5,000 to $400,000
             Grantee Match: $1 for every grant $1 requested
 
Worker Training for Small Businesses (50 or fewer full-time employees):
Up to $1 million in available grant funding
            Application Deadline: March 3, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.
            Individual Award Amount: $5,000 to $50,000
            Grantee Match: $0.50 for every grant $1 requested
 
“Governor Walker’s Wisconsin Fast Forward program continues to fuel business growth and the economy through effective, employer-driven workforce training grants,” said DWD Secretary Allen. “DWD is seeking innovative and collaborative grant proposals to provide construction and small business workers with portable skills training and industry recognized credentials.”
 
The OSD has developed an effective process that enables businesses to easily apply for grants, ensuring that unemployed trainees are hired and incumbent trainees receive a pay raise. Funding is subject to state budget approval.
 
During the past four years, Governor Walker’s administration has invested over $200 million of state funding into workforce development, including $30 million in WFF grants to Wisconsin employers for customized skills training to fill current job openings and ongoing skill requirements. DWD has awarded over $18 million in WFF grant contracts to date, supporting nearly 200 worker training projects that are benefitting hundreds of businesses and thousands of workers across the state. View the intent to award summaries at http://www.wisconsinfastforward.com/reports.htm.
 
For more information or to learn how to apply for WFF grants, please visit www.WisconsinFastForward.com.

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Bowls for Hope Soup Event Will Benefit
the Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce County

Each March, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls works with the community to raise funds through the Bowls for Hope event where proceeds raised help a worthy organization make a difference in the St. Croix Valley. This year, Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce County – Moolah for Milk program has been selected as the benefiting organization.
 
The 2017 Bowls for Hope event is Tuesday, March 7, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Riverview Ballroom of the University Center at UW-River Falls. Tickets are now on sale.
 
For an entrance fee of $25 per adult and $5 per children, age 12 and under, participants at the event may select and keep a bowl created in ceramic, pottery, fibers, wood and glass studio classes at UW-River Falls, River Falls High School, Meyer Middle School, the Renaissance Academy, or by area artists. Attendees may also sample, at no extra charge, soups donated and served by area restaurants. Guests have the opportunity to vote for their favorite soup. A “Chefs’ Choice Award” will also be awarded to the soup favored by the chefs participating in the event.
 
“The Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce County – Moolah for Milk program is honored and excited to be chosen as the 2017 charity recipient of the Bowls for Hope event,” said Jeff Bealles, coordinator, Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce County.
 
The Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing hunger and inadequate nutrition in Pierce County through service, education, communication and coordination. Moolah for Milk annually provides thousands of milk coupons, redeemable for a free gallon of milk from area grocery stores, to individuals and families in need throughout Pierce and St. Croix Counties. Free milk coupons are distributed to clients in area food pantries and are also included in school backpack programs.
 
“Fresh dairy is a vital source of vitamins and nutrients, and an ingredient in many recipes. It’s a high priority for our pantries to make it available to everyone and the Bowls for Hope funding will go a long way to ensuring this. We’re very appreciative,” Bealles said.
 
For more information on the Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce Count – Moolah for Milk program, visit http://www.hungerpreventioncouncil.com.
 
Participating restaurants:
Participating restaurants include Belle Vinez, Bo’s ‘N Mine, Copper Kettle, Dish and the Spoon Café, Kilkarney Hills, Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery, River Falls Area Hospital Dining Services, Kinni View Deli at Riverwalk Square, South Fork Café, UWRF Chartwells Dining Services, West Wind Supper Club, and Whole Earth Grocery.
 
Artists contributing bowls:
Contributing artists include Marilyn Anderson, Donna Badje, Ingrid Bjerstedt-Rogers, Katie Burce, Roger Evans, Cathi Herriman, Jay Jensen, Randy Johnston, Jennifer King, Michael Luethmers, Pat McCardle, Jan McKeachie-Johnston, Wendy Olson, Doug Peterson, S.C. Rolf, Scott Zeinert, Rhonda Willers, Rhonda Willer’s ceramic classes at UW-River Falls, Eoin Breadonis glass studio classes at UW-River Falls, Renaissance Academy classes taught by Anne Buchholz and Kyle Stapleton, River Falls High School pottery classes taught by Gina Pedriana-Basche, and Kelyn King’s class at Meyer Middle School.
 
Nan Jordahl will provide live piano music throughout the evening.
 
Tickets
Tickets can be purchased at the River Falls Chamber of Commerce, 215 West Maple Street; at the Chancellor's Office, 116 North Hall, UW-River Falls; and at the Information Desk in the University Center. For questions about advance ticket sales, call (715) 425-3201. Tickets will also be available at the door. Purchasing tickets in advance, however, will guarantee a bowl.
 
For more information, visit www.uwrf.edu/bowlsforhope/ or email mary.vangalen@uwrf.edu.

 

Business Reporter Forecasts Population
Milestones for Major Metro Areas in 2017

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI MSA
Expected to Reach 3.6 Million Residents

G. Scott Thomas is a projects editor for Buffalo Business First in Buffalo, New York. He published an article on January 11th about 2017 population milestones in 25 of the major metro areas in the U.S.
 
Based on a forecasting model, Thomas predicts the Twin Cities metro area will hit a population of 3,600,000 residents on November 10, 2017. By the end of 2017, the forecasting model suggests the population of the Twin Cities will be 3,604,588. St. Croix and Pierce counties in Wisconsin help comprise the 16-county Twin Cities metro area. It is the 16th largest metro area in the U.S.
 
The article posted by Thomas can be read at the link below. The article includes a slideshow of the 25 metro areas approaching their respective population milestones in 2017 as well as an interactive tool that allows the user to search population projections for 108 of the largest metro areas in the U.S. (1/1/2017 to 1/1/2018).
 
http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2017/01/11/population-milestones-loom-for-25-major-u-s.html
 
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Mid-January Aerial Photos Illustrate
Tranquility of the St. Croix River Valley

Mike Demulling is the manager of the New Richmond Regional Airport (New Richmond, Wisc.). He has taken aerial photos of the St. Croix Crossing project since its inception back in mid-2012 with the exploratory borings into the bedrock beneath the St. Croix River.
 
Demulling recently posted new aerials photos taken in mid-January 2017. Crisp air temperatures and a fresh snowfall contributed to the beauty and tranquility of the St. Croix Valley.
 











 

Hudson Physicians Earns Family
Friendly Workplace™ Certification 

 
Hudson Physicians of Hudson, Wisconsin recently received Silver Level Certification as a Family Friendly Workplace™ from the United Way St. Croix Valley’s Success by 6 initiative. This certification recognizes businesses that actively invest in programs and practices that support employees and their families.
 
The family friendly practices Hudson Physicians was recognized for include flexible scheduling, a private room for nursing mothers, job-sharing, a health savings account and health insurance.
 
“We value our employees and think we provide a great place for them to work that is family friendly,” said Michelle Sell, Hudson Physicians’ employee services director.  “It just made sense to get the official designation so that our patients and the public, along with our employees, know that we are committed not just to them but their families.”
 
Family Friendly Workplace™ is a program of United Way St. Croix Valley’s Success by 6, developed specifically for employers in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix Counties. Businesses can achieve certification by earning points for family friendly practices. There are three certification levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Certification fees paid by the business support educational programs and service delivery for early childhood development.
 
“Policies that promote work-life balance increase employee productivity and loyalty as well as having a positive impact on families,” said Success By 6 Engagement Specialist Lara Otsuka. “With certification fees supporting early childhood programs that in turn help to develop a solid future workforce, we really see this as a win for businesses, families and the community.  We commend Hudson Physicians for championing families and early childhood programs in the St. Croix Valley.”
 
For more information on Family Friendly Workplace™ certification, go to www.FamilyFriendlyWorkplace.org.
 
About Hudson Physicians
Hudson Physicians is an independent private practice located next to the Hudson Hospital in Hudson, Wisconsin. It is a primary care clinic with specialties in women’s health, family medicine, pediatrics, sports medicine, nutrition counseling, occupational medicine, internal medicine, and general surgery. Hudson Physicians has been rated the lowest-cost healthcare provider in the Twin Cities metro area by Minnesota Health Scores (2014).
 
Learn more at www.HudsonPhysicians.com.
 
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WI REALTORS® Association:
2016 is Record Year for Housing market

On January 23rd, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) released information on housing transactions for December 2016. December sales rose 4.1 percent compared to December 2015 and the median price rose 7.4 percent to $161,000. Home sales for the year increased 6.1 percent compared to 2015, making 2016 the strongest year in sales since WRA recalibrated its tracking system in 2005. The 2016 median price rose to $165,000, which is 5.9 percent higher than 2015. By comparison, the average inflation rate for 2016 was just 1.3 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
 
In St. Croix County, there were 121 transactions in December, compared to 103 sales in December 2015 (an increase of +17.5%). The median sale price for transactions in St. Croix during December was estimated at $216,855 compared to $210,000 in December 2015 (or an increase of +3.3%).
 
Year-to-date sales (January-December) in St. Croix were up +12.1% compared to January-December 2015 (1,697 transactions v. 1,514). The January-December 2016 median price increased +5.9% compared to January-December 2015 ($219,900 v. $207,700).
 
“This has been a truly remarkable year for housing in the state with sales exceeding 81,000 units for the first time on record,” said Erik Sjowall, WRA’s 2016-17 board chair. The previous peak recorded using the current tracking system was in 2015 when just over 76,000 homes sold. “We’ve been experiencing very low inventory this past year, and the supply continued to tighten in December, which makes these record sales all the more impressive,” added Sjowall. Statewide, there were just 4.9 months of inventory in December, with the available homes dropping to 33,560. While inventory levels naturally fall during winter months, this is the lowest level seen since WRA began tracking these figures in 2009.
 
“There are several factors that have been pushing prices up, including tight inventories, but also a solid economy, favorable mortgage rates, and a very low rate of foreclosure statewide,” said WRA President & CEO Michael Theo.
 
For 2017, WRA says there is no doubt that mortgage rates will rise as the Fed pushes the short-term rates up to control inflationary pressures in the economy.  Theo advised buyer that moving quickly is the key. “There are excellent values and opportunities in this market, even in an environment of rising prices and rising rates, but buyers must be decisive,” said Theo.
 
The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index shows the portion of a median-priced home that a household with a median family income and a 20 percent down payment can afford to buy, assuming the remaining 80 percent is financed with a 30-year fix mortgage. The Index stood at “234” in December, which is only down about 2.9 percent from December 2015. In November 2016, the Index was reported at 235. And in October it was 236.
 
Read more at www.wra.org.

 
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St. Croix EDC Admin Assistant 
earns Master of Photography

Nita Dusek of Nita Dusek Photography, recognized for
superior image making and photographic service with
a degree from Professional Photographers of America
 
St. Croix EDC Administrative Assistant Nita Dusek, who also owns Nita Dusek Photography in River Falls, has earned the master of photography degree from Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The degree was presented to Dusek by PPA president Lori Craft, Cr.Photog., at the association’s annual convention, Imaging USA, held January 8-10, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

The master of photography degree is not merely a piece of paper. It means that Dusek has met the standards of excellence set by PPA. She has been awarded this degree in recognition of her superior photographic competence demonstrated through photographic competition, advanced education and service to the profession. Dusek’s degrees—and all the expertise they require—illustrate her accomplishments and talent as one of a select few. She is also one of only 45 photographers in Wisconsin who holds the Certified Professional Photographer designation through PPA.
 
Dusek specializes in portraits for high school seniors, and families, business headshots, and corporate photography. Visit her website at www.nitadusek.com.
 
About PPA
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international nonprofit association created by professional photographers, for professional photographers. Almost as long-lived as photography itself, PPA’s roots date back to 1869. The nonprofit assists nearly 30,000 members through protection, education and resources for their continued success. See how PPA helps photographers be more at www.PPA.com.
 
For more information, contact: Nita Dusek, Nita Dusek Photography, (715) 377-6277 or visit www.nitadusek.com.

 
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