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

October 2016 | Volume 19, Issue 10 | Inside this issue:



Thank you to First American Bank & WITC for being our sponsors!


Thank you to Kevin J LaCasse of Greystone Commercial for being our Real Estate Sponsor this month!


EDC Holds Member Appreciation at
Barley John’s Brewing Company

St. Croix EDC’s board and staff hosted an enthusiastic crowd of member-supporters and prospective members on Tuesday, September 20th at Barley John’s Brewing Company in New Richmond, Wisconsin.
Attendees were treated to beverages and appetizers during the 2-hour networking event. EDC President Agnes Ring provided a welcome and tours of the brewery were conducted.
Barley John’s opened its doors a year ago and features a taproom and commercial kitchen to compliment the brewing operations. It is owned by John Moore who envisioned greater opportunity in Wisconsin and choose New Richmond as the location. Wife Laura Subak operates Barley John’s Brewpub in New Brighton, Minnesota.
The EDC promotes St. Croix County as a preferred location of business and industry. St. Croix County provides business and industry an ideal combination of an attractive setting, major metro appeal, and favorable business conditions. Public and private sector memberships support the work of the EDC through annual members.
Lean more about 2017 membership options with the EDC at or call (715) 381-4383.

Photo Credit: Nita Dusek Photography

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WEDC Will Lead Middle East Trade
Venture for Wisconsin Companies

Global Trade Venture in January will include visits to UAE and Qatar

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will lead a global trade venture to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Doha in Qatar early next year, with a goal of connecting Wisconsin companies with potential buyers, distributors and other partners in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets.
The countries that make up the GCC—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE—are among some of the wealthiest in the world. Although much of the region’s wealth has accumulated thanks to oil and gas exports, world economic trends are forcing them to diversify their economies, and these countries are spending heavily to do so.
Top government and private-sector priorities for growth in the region include: tourism, transportation logistics, health care, bioscience, medical devices, aerospace and aviation, downstream energy processes and clean technology, education, and food processing and food security. Wisconsin companies doing business in these sectors should consider exporting into the GCC markets.
This trade venture’s goal is to connect Wisconsin companies with potential buyers, distributors and other partners in these markets. This trip is suitable for companies that are not yet exporting into these markets. In addition, companies that are already exporting into these markets can use the global trade venture to enhance their business ties in UAE and Qatar and to expand their market presence.
“A diverse exporting strategy is essential to business growth and it serves to protect companies against varying global economic conditions,” said Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of international business development. “Through WEDC’s global trade ventures and with the assistance of WEDC’s global network, we help provide a clear path for Wisconsin companies to grow their sales in international markets.”
The global trade venture will take place Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, 2017, and will include segments in Dubai and Doha. In each city, participating companies will be scheduled for customized business meetings with potential local partners hand-picked for their companies by Wisconsin’s authorized trade representatives in the market, based on the Wisconsin companies’ strengths, needs and preferences.
The trade venture is scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Arab Health trade show. With 4,000 exhibitors and 130,000 attendees from 163 countries, Arab Health is one of the largest medical and health-related trade shows in the world. Trade venture participants in the health care sector will have many of their meetings at the show, and will have the opportunity to check out competition from around the world. Participants in other sectors will have the option of traveling to local firms’ facilities.
Each participant in the global trade venture will also receive market intelligence specific to his or her company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing the company’s product or service into these markets.
The fee for this program is $2,650, which covers market research and one-on-one appointments; pre-trip and in-country staff support; transportation between the two program cities; admission to Arab Health for attending companies; group transportation between airport and hotel in each city; country briefings and networking events; and some group meals.
The program registration deadline is Dec. 16. For more information, visit


Commerce Department Report Details
2015 Export Info

On September 8th, the U.S. Commerce Department released a new report that shows U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1.3 trillion in merchandise exports in 2015, accounting for 89 percent of all goods exported from the United States.
The 2015 Metropolitan Area Export Overview states that 156 metro areas exported more than $1 billion of goods to consumers around the globe.
“In metropolitan areas from Abilene, Texas, to York, Pa., exports continue to be a source of growth for the local economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Exports from 119 metropolitan areas increased last year, leading to new records for places like Cincinnati, Las Vegas, and Sacramento. The Department of Commerce continues to focus its services on helping firms sell ‘Made in America’ products to global consumers, which will support additional growth and good-paying jobs.”
With $19.6 billion in export value, the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI metro area was ranked 16th by Commerce. Hennepin County led the 16-county region with $7.9 billion in export value. Commerce estimates there were 4,748 small and medium-sized goods exporters in 2014. Ninety-six percent of the Minneapolis goods exporters shipped their manufactured products overseas.
The report includes the following highlights:
The Houston-Woodland Hills-Sugarland metropolitan area was ranked No. 1 for the fourth consecutive year with total goods exports exceeding $97 billion;
New York-Newark-Jersey City; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin round out the top five metropolitan areas for goods exports;
The Houston, New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles metro areas each exceeded $50 billion of goods exports in 2015 for a fourth consecutive year;
El Paso, Texas, was the largest metro area to register double-digit export growth both in 2015 and from 2009-2015, shipping $24.6 billion in goods abroad in 2015. This represented a 22 percent increase from 2014, and a 217 percent increase from 2009;
Houston was the largest metropolitan area exporter of goods to potential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) markets with goods exports totaling $36.2 billion in 2015; and
There were 14 metro areas that exported more than $20 billion of goods in 2015.
Learn more at
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Regional Business Fund
Announces New Loan Program

The Regional Business Fund (RBF) was launched in 2007 and serves growing businesses in west central Wisconsin, including St. Croix. RBF’s Board of Directors voted on September 8th to amend the Investment Strategy to include a new loan program. 

Named the Growth Loan Fund, the new program targets newly-formed businesses that are looking to grow, but cannot obtain conventional financing. Details include:
The business must have been in operation for at least 2 years and have at least $250,000 in sales in the last 12 months;
No matching funds are required;
A clear growth strategy must be outlined in a business plan;
The business must be unable to obtain traditional financing through a bank or credit union;
The loan amount ranges between $10,000 and $60,0000; and
The interest rate is fixed at four percent (4%) for up to 10 years.
Interested businesses may use the Micro Loan application until the fund’s staff can get a new application created and uploaded to the website.
Learn more at or call the regional planning commission at (715) 836-2918.

Small Business Development Center
Offers Entrepreneurial Training Program

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls will be offering an Entrepreneurial Training Program beginning Wednesday, October 12th to prepare potential entrepreneurs to start their own business and owners of existing businesses to improve or grow their business.
The 10-week program will be held Wednesday evenings at UW-River Falls’ Hudson Center, 2501 Hanley Road, Hudson, Wisconsin. Topics will include:  the Lean Start Up method, business plans, finances, record keeping, legal issues, marketing, social media and human resource topics. Sessions run from 6:00-8:30 p.m. and include subject specialist guest speakers, instruction and coaching. At the end of the ten weeks, students will be prepared to write a comprehensive business plan.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is offering qualified applicants a grant to cover 75 percent of the cost of the course, reducing the cost to $250 for those that meet the grant requirements.
To register for the course and begin the grant application process, visit Applications must be completed at least two weeks prior to the first class session.
For more information, email SBDC Consultant Katherine Fossler at or call 715-425-0620.

St. Croix County Transit
Committee Studies Services

The St. Croix County Transit Planning Subcommittee is working with the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of transit services to serve an increasing demand for trips within St. Croix County, and between St. Croix County and neighboring communities.
There will be an open house for the public to provide input on Wednesday, October 5th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the St. Croix County Agriculture and Education Center, 1960 8th Avenue, Baldwin, Wisconsin.
The committee is very early in the planning process and would like to hear from the public.
Where do people travel?
Would the public use transit services if they were convenient and cost-effective?
What kind of transit services work for county residents?
For others?
What does the public view as benefits of public transit?
The study will also consider the types of transit services that may best serve those with any identified need, efficiently and cost-effectively.
There will be plenty of opportunities to provide input at the open house. A short presentation will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Visit and take a quick five-minute online survey.
For more information, email County Supervisor Dave Ostness at

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Fall River Crossing Updates

On Friday, September 23, construction crews placed the final stay cable at Pier 10 near the middle of the St. Croix River. Stay cable installation is now complete at all five river piers. A total of eight stay cables are anchored within each pier tower, each connecting to a stay segment on the bridge deck. Stay cables help support the load, or weight, on the bridge and are necessary to support the 600-foot spans between the river piers.

On September 27 the final barge loaded with multi-ton bridge segments arrived at the construction site from the Grey Cloud Island Casting Yard in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, about 30-miles away. A nearly vacant casting yard at Grey Cloud Island is shown on September 23. The final segments were cast at Grey Cloud Island on August 3, 2016 before making the trek to the construction site. Construction crews anticipate placing the final river bridge segments the week of October 3rd.

Crews continue work on the overlook located at Pier 8. Photo from Sept. 12.

The bridge spans the St. Croix River as depicted in this September 21st aerial photo from Mike Demulling. The Wisconsin Highway 64-County Road E interchange in the Town of St. Joseph can be seen in the background.
Mike Demulling captured the Highway 64-County Road E interchange in this photo. Highway 64 extends to Somerset and New Richmond in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

Gaps between the river piers continue to close as multi-ton bridge segments are placed and secured daily by construction crews (credit: Mike Demulling).
Wisconsin State Highway 35 is shown in the foreground along with the abutment on the bluff in the Town of St. Joseph (St. Croix County, Wisconsin). Credit: Mike Demulling


U.S. News Names UW-River Falls a Best
Regional University & Top Public University

In mid-September, U.S. News & World Report named the University of Wisconsin-River Falls a Best Regional University-Midwest, Top Public University-Midwest, and Best Undergraduate Business Program for 2017. UWRF’s most recent ranking appears in the U.S. News & World Report's 2017 edition of Best Colleges.
The annual survey assesses more than 18,000 U.S. based colleges and universities, of which 1,374 are ranked. The institutions receive rankings based on 15 measures of academic quality, including retention, graduation rate performance, faculty resources, financial resources and alumni giving.
The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings are available at
The profile for UW-River Falls is available at
For more information, email Beth Schommer at

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UW-Stout Announces ISO Offerings

ISO 9001:2015 Transition Strategies for Your Organization
Join us for this seminar to learn what’s new in ISO Standards as relative to the updates published in fall of 2015. The new standards include two new elements: risk management and context of the organization.

If you are currently ISO 9001:2008 certified, this session will provide you with an overview of strategies to make the transition to 2015.
2008 certified organizations are allowed a three-year transition period. Our seminar examines suggested guidelines for a phased transition over this three-year period, as well as how to implement new procedures and modify existing ones.
Program Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Program Times: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: University of Wisconsin-Stout, Memorial Student Center, Northwoods Room, 302 10th Ave. E., Menomonie, WI  54751
Contact: Joni Geroux,, 715-232-5270
Register at:
ISO 9001/13485 Internal Process Auditor Training
Gain the consistency to meet customers’ expectations with ISO 9001/13485 standardization! The course will provide a detailed review of the ISO standard requirements and the proof that should be available to the auditor. Attendees will leave with true-to-life auditing experience.
Program Dates: Thursday and Friday, October 27 & 28, 2016
Program Times: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: University of Wisconsin-Stout, Memorial Student Center, Northwoods Room
302 10th Ave. E., Menomonie, WI  54751
Contact: Joni Geroux,, 715-232-5270
Register at:


Xcel Energy Breaks Ground on
New Hudson Service Center

On September 26th, Xcel Energy conducted a ceremonial groundbreaking on a new service center located in the southeast quadrant of Wisconsin State Highway 35 and Hanley Road in Hudson, Wisconsin.
The proposed service center contains almost 26,400 square feet of space for office, fleet/maintenance, and vehicle storage. It is planned on a 21.3-acre site to allow for future additions. A second building, measuring 8,400 square feet, is designated for cold storage. The facilities will serve a multi-county area for Xcel and the location along Highway 35 and close proximity to Interstate 94 were important factors in selecting the site.
When completed, the new facility will replace Xcel’s existing operations at Heggen Street and Livingstone Road in Hudson. Xcel outgrew this space due to continued growth in west central Wisconsin.

Photo by Nita Dusek Photography


Breaking Ground: DQ Grill & Chill® in New Richmond

Community supporters helped celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking of a DQ Grill & Chill® on North Knowles Avenue in New Richmond, Wisconsin on September 26. When the project is completed, it will replace a Dairy Queen Brazier that’s been a key part of the New Richmond community for over 40 years.


Construction Updates: ALDI, Taco Bell, Jimmy John’s

Construction is well underway on three projects in the southeast corner of State Highway 65 (Knowles Avenue) and Richmond Way-Dorset Lane. On June 24th, community leaders helped celebrate the ceremonial start of construction of a 19,000 square foot ALDI store. In mid-August, construction began on a 3-unit commercial development anchored by a locally-franchised Jimmy John’s, doing business as New Richmond Subs, LLC. It is owned and operated by the Brose family from New Richmond. Also in August, construction started on a Taco Bell restaurant. These pad sites are directly in front of St. Croix County’s Health and Human Services facility, which was converted from a closed grocery store. Other retailers in the immediate area include a Walmart Super Center and a locally-franchised Culver’s restaurant.


EDC President’s Column:
Sign of the Times – Help Wanted

St. Croix EDC’s 2016-17 president Agnes Ring offered insights about workforce shortages in the Summer newsletter. Read her column here:


Lunch and Learn at Citizen State Bank
"How can the Election impact the Economy?"

Citizens State Bank is sponsoring a free Lunch and Learn on Wednesday, October 19th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. as a way for attendees to learn more about how the upcoming election can impact the economy.
Will there be continued growth or a recession on the horizon?
Dr. Logan Kelly, Director for the Center for Economic Research at UW-River Falls, will present his economic outlook, including a look back and a look ahead.

A look back:
Summary of the state of the region's economy; and
Comparing post-recession economic outcomes in Wisconsin and Minnesota
A look ahead:
Summary of Trump's economic plan;
Summary of Clinton's economic plan; and
Evaluation of the differences and the likely outcomes of each candidate’s ideas
About the presenter, Dr. Logan Kelly, UW- River Falls
Dr. Kelly joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls in the fall of 2010.  Prior to that, he was an assistant professor at Bryant University.  He received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Kansas (KU) with specializations in macroeconomics and applied econometrics.  While at KU, he taught undergraduate courses including money and banking, microeconomics and managerial economics and presented research in the areas of economic forecasting, monetary economics and education economics.  His continuing research interests include monetary aggregation, macroeconomic modeling and simulation, and blockwise weak separability testing.
For more information or to register, contact Cathy VanDong, Citizens State Bank, 715.386.9050 or


St. Croix County’s August
Unemployment Rate at 3.5%

On September 21st, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary August 2016 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 32 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s rate was estimated at 3.5%. For comparison, St. Croix’s final rate for July was 3.6% and June’s final rate was 3.9%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.4%.
DWD said preliminary unemployment rates for August decreased or remained the same in 65 of the 72 counties compared to August 2016, and decreased or remained the same in 66 of the counties when compared to July  2016 rates. The current rates ranged from 2.8% in Dane County to 8.6% in Menominee.
The July 2016 preliminary unemployment rates decreased or stayed the same in 25 of Wisconsin’s 32 municipalities with population bases of least 25,000 residents compared to August 2015. The July 2016 rates ranged from 2.6% in Fitchburg to 6.7% in Racine.


September 2016 St. Croix Valley
Dashboard Released

The September 2016 edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard was recently released by the Center for Economic Research (CER) at UW-River Falls and St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
The Dashboard is a snapshot of the economic condition of the labor, consumer, and housing markets in the seven county St. Croix Valley in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It presents the latest available data in one convenient package (note: most regional data is available with a one or two month delay).
Dr. Logan Kelly, director of CER, conducts research for the Dashboard and compiles the results.
The Dashboard can be viewed at


REALTORS® Association: Summer Ends
Strong as Home Sales and Prices Increase

On September 19th, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) released information on member-assisted transactions for August 2016. WRA said summer home sales in the state ended on a strong note, pushing prices up at a pace above the rate of inflation. Across Wisconsin, August sales were up 9 percent over August 2015, making it the strongest August since 2005. The median price for Wisconsin home sales rose to $170,000 in August, which is 5.3 percent higher than August 2015. WRA noted the annual inflation rate ranged between 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent through July.
In St. Croix County, there were 197 WRA assisted transactions in August, compared to 153 sales in August 2015 (or an increase of +28.8%). The median sale price for WRA transactions in St. Croix during August was estimated at $228,000 compared to $204,000 in August 2015 (an increase of +11.8%).
Year-to-date sales (January-August) in St. Croix were up +10.5% compared to January-August 2015 (1,158 transactions v. 1,048). The January-August 2016 median price increased +6.6% compared to January-August 2015 ($218,250 v. $204,750).
“This is our most active selling season, and we sold a lot of homes this summer,” said Erik Sjowall, WRA’s 2016-17 board chair. In a typical year, 32.1 percent of the annual home sales volume in the state occurs between June and August. From June-August 2016 just over 26,500 homes were sold, making it the strongest summer since 2005. The state had 45,337 homes on the market, which is down 14 percent from August 2015. This translates to just 6.9 months of available supply in August. Buyers have more options in rural areas due to the 11.6 months of supply, but urban counties only have 5.1 months of supply, on average.
“This market continues to be impressive and it is supported by a good economy in the state and low mortgage rates,” said WRA President and CEO Michael Theo. “Good job prospects and low mortgage rates help offset the fact that median prices have been moving up since March 2012.”
Even with the strong growth in prices, housing remains affordable in the state. 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 225 in August, which is close to its level from August 2015.


James Hanke, Brandon O’Connell Join
Market & Johnson Business Development Reps

Market & Johnson recently announced the hiring of James Hanke and Brandon O’Connell as Business Development Representatives. They will assist the Market & Johnson team in securing new construction projects while building relationships with key business leaders. They will become actively engaged within the community as well as key industry associations. Hanke will focus on the industrial and manufacturing markets while O’Connell concentrates on the medical, educational, and retail markets.
James Hanke is a longtime resident of the Chippewa Valley and resides in Eau Claire. He has a bachelor’s degree in World Politics from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Master’s certification in Community and Economic Development from Penn State. Prior to joining Market & Johnson, he spent over six years as the manager of economic development and community services at Xcel Energy. Hanke is interest in the community and has been involved in the Confluence Project, The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic and Community Table. He also served as a board member or advisor to a number of economic development organizations in the region, including the board chair for Momentum West, a regional economic development organization serving ten counties in west central and northwest Wisconsin.
Brandon O’Connell comes to Market & Johnson with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Real Estate Property Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Upon graduating from Stout in 2012, he spent four years with Mid-America Real Estate-Minnesota as a commercial property manager located in Minneapolis. He managed a portfolio of over 600,000 square feet of retail real estate for Mid-America. O’Connell served on the program and newsletter committees for the Minnesota Shopping Center Association (MSCA) and was a member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). He holds a Minnesota Salesperson’s license and was an active member of the Big Brother Big Sisters organization in St. Paul, Minnesota.
About Market & Johnson
Market & Johnson is the largest general building contractor/construction manager in western Wisconsin with offices in Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Oakdale, Minnesota. The firm employs, on average, 400 construction professionals and serves all of western Wisconsin. For additional information on Market & Johnson, its projects and services, visit the company’s website at Contact Jason Plante at (715) 834-1213 for questions or additional information.


Shawn Tyler Graduates from the
Graduate School of Banking

Shawn Tyler, Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Officer at Citizens State Bank, recently graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado (GSBC), a 25-month banking school which provides management and leadership training for community-banking professionals.  He was among 159 graduates of the 66th Annual School Session, hosted July 17-29 on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder.
GSBC students are recognized by their bank’s executive team as rising stars in their organizations, and as graduates, often continue to become leaders in their respective organizations. A degree in banking is widely recognized by the banking industry at large, and is a marker of advanced education which hundreds of bank-industry professionals from around the country accomplish each year.
“Completing the coursework and projects associated with the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado is a great accomplishment for community bankers around the country,” said GSBC President Tim Koch, “Sponsoring organizations and communities should be very proud of the time and effort our graduates exhibit during their time as a student at GSBC.”
Graduates receive a diploma upon successfully completing six weeks of classroom training which focuses on the areas of general management, lending, leadership and human-resource management and financial management in banks. Requirements for graduation also include comprehensive examinations, intersession research projects and participation in a bank-management simulation course designed to provide students with experience managing a bank.
About Citizens State Bank
Citizens State Bank has been serving businesses and individuals throughout the St. Croix Valley area for over 100 years with branches in five locations, including Hudson, Roberts, Woodville, Elmwood and Menomonie.  The bank’s goal is to provide unprecedented customer service based on its core values which are integrity, customer focus, team focus and agility. 
Learn more, visit

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