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

March 2017 | Volume 20, Issue 3 | Inside this issue:



Thank you to our sponsor this month, Bremer Bank and Wesconsin Credit Union. We appreciate your support.


Thank you to our Real Estate Sponsor, Kevin J. LaCasse from Greystone Commercial!

Banquet Honors Top Businesses and Individual 

2016 Business of the Year winners (left to right) EDC President Agnes Ring, Todd Loehr of
Wisconsin Lighting (Small Business), Trevor Wirtanen and Matt Wallace of Oliphant Brewing
(Emerging Business), Matt Johnston and Ruthie Johnston of Croix Gear and Machining
(Business of the Year), and 2016 Directors award winner Trudy Popenhagen. 

On February 16th, St. Croix EDC honored its 2016 business of the year winners at R&D Banquet Hall in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The 2016 winners are Oliphant Brewing (Village of Somerset) as Emerging Business of the Year; Wisconsin Lighting (City of New Richmond) as Small Business of the Year; and Croix Gear & Machining (City of Hudson) as Business of the Year. Trudy Popenhagen, a retired community service manager with Xcel Energy, received the 2016 EDC Director Award.
Each of the honorees received a plaque from the EDC as well as a legislative citation from the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly, and congratulatory letters from Governor Scott Walker, U.S. Representative Sean Duffy, U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, Somerset Village Board, New Richmond City Council, and Hudson City Council.
Past business of the year winners and recipients of the Directors Award were also introduced during the program.
EDC president Agnes Ring served as the evening’s emcee.
The 23rd annual awards banquet was sponsored by Associated Bank, Bakke Norman Law Offices, Baldwin LightStream, Bremer Bank, Citizens State Bank, Derrick Building Solutions, Eckberg Lammers Law Firm, First American Bank, First Bank of Baldwin, First National Bank of River Falls, First National Community Bank, First State Bank and Trust, Hiawatha National Bank, JA Counter, Market & Johnson, Phillips-Medisize, St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Security Financial Bank, WESTconsin Credit Union, Wipfli CPAs and Consultants, Wisconsin Business Development, and Xcel Energy.

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Volunteers Rally in Madison

Thirty-two citizen lobbyists from the 4-county region participated in the Greater St. Croix Valley Legislative Day in Madison on February 8.

The volunteers worked in teams of four and spent the afternoon in appointments with state legislators or in larger meetings with Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen, Workforce Deputy Secretary Georgia Maxwell, Tricia Braun, COO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and Jack Jablonski, Governor Walker’s deputy chief of staff for communications.
St. Croix EDC helped launch a legislative day event several years ago to raise the awareness of the St. Croix Valley in Madison. The time at the capitol is considered one-part awareness-building and one-part lobbying on issues of importance in the areas of economic development, tourism-recreation, workforce, and education.

St. Croix EDC asks Residents and Businesses for Input

St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) invites residents and businesses to participate in a short survey to help its Board of Directors better understand the perceptions of the business climate in St. Croix County along with the EDC’s work as an economic development organization. The EDC’s stakeholders include citizens, business representatives, elected officials and appointed staff. 
The survey is sponsored by St. Croix EDC Board of Directors and administered by the University of Wisconsin - Extension. 
The online survey can be taken at

All responses are anonymous.
For more information, contact St. Croix EDC at (715) 381-4383.

WEDC’s “Made in Wisconsin” Program Continues

Companies operating in Wisconsin continue to  utilize a branding tool—an official “Made in Wisconsin” logo—to help market the origin and quality of their products, thanks to a program from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
The Made in Wisconsin logo can be adapted to reflect applicants’ production processes. Options include Made in Wisconsin, Manufactured in Wisconsin, Produced in Wisconsin, Built in Wisconsin, Grown in Wisconsin, Invented in Wisconsin, Designed in Wisconsin, Engineered in Wisconsin, and Brewed in Wisconsin
There is no cost to use the logo. Companies wishing to participate fill-out a simple application stating how they will use the logo and certifying that the product or service on which they seek to use the mark fulfills program requirements. Once an application is approved, the company can download high-resolution image files for the specified use.
The Made in Wisconsin Program complements the Wisconsin Department of Trade, Agriculture and Consumer Protection’s Something Special From Wisconsin™ Program, offering companies two ways to show their state pride.
For more information, visit
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August Opening for St. Croix River Crossing is Possible

After decades of fits and starts, federal approval of a new bridge over the St. Croix River between St. Croix County, Wisconsin and Washington County, Minnesota occurred in early 2012. It required action by the U.S. House and Senate, followed by then-President Barack Obama’s signature on a bill that exempted the project from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Construction began in the spring of 2013 and will finish this August, weather permitting. Throughout the winter, concrete pours have closed the small gaps in the bridge segments between the piers. The sixth and final closure pour was completed on February 9, resulting in a complete bridge deck structure from the Minnesota abutment to the Wisconsin abutment.
Below the driving surface crews are installing an exterior catwalk and a drainage pipe system that runs the length of the bridge. Electrical wiring throughout the hollow portions of the bridge segments allows for lighting and controls.
The $600+ million project is a major infrastructure investment for the eastern Twin Cities and west central Wisconsin. It replaces the 1930s-era Stillwater Lift Bridge with a modern, four-lane bridge that connects expressways on both sides of the river. The Lift Bridge will close to vehicular traffic and transition to a recreational amenity for bicyclists and pedestrians. A multi-use trail in Wisconsin and Minnesota connects the new crossing to the Lift Bridge. A 12-foot wide pedestrian and cycling lane and scenic overlooks are additional amenities for area residents and travelers to enjoy.
Learn more at, or on Facebook at

Looking east towards the Wisc. bluff from the Pier 12 overlook. Crews continue work on the Pier 12 deck skirt and closing of the stay cables. Photo from Feb. 27.

Looking east towards Piers 9 – 12 from atop Pier 8. Photo from Feb. 21.

Bird’s eye view of the closure pour between Piers 7 and 8 located on the Minn. shoreline. Photo from Jan. 14.

Looking east from the Hwy. 95 off-ramp. Photo from Feb. 2.

View of Pier 10 stay cables. Once deck skirt work is complete, crews work on closing up the stay cables. Closing up stay cables means pulling over the protective cover at the base so the individual cables are encased. Photo from Feb. 27.

Badger State Ranked #16 in U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural “Best States” list

Wisconsin is ranked 16th on the inaugural “Best States” list published by U.S. News and World Report.
The ranking measured how citizens experience their state, based on more than 10,000 data points and 68 different metrics. Wisconsin’s highest ranks among seven categories were fifth for government and 10th for crime and corrections. Government ranks states on transparency, integrity, fiscal stability and their use of digital technology in serving residents, and crime and corrections ranks states based on public safety and the quality and fairness of their prison systems, including racial bias, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Wisconsin ranked #21 in health care, #17 in education, #10 in crime and corrections, #37 in infrastructure, #35 in economy, and #5 in government.
Southern states generally dominated the bottom of the rankings. Louisiana was ranked as the worst state overall, followed by Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and New Mexico.
Read the report at

Regional Planning Commission Announces
"Strong Towns" Workshop

The West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission will host a series of free Strong Towns workshops on Thursday, April 20, 2017 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
The workshops feature Chuck Marohn, PE, AICP, the director of Strong Towns. The mission of Strong Towns is to support a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient.
Something for Everyone
For local leaders: Marohn will share his knowledge about developing financially productive communities. Attendees will have the chance to speak with him about transportation, engineering, finance, or planning issues. The Strong Towns overview session is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the corporate offices of RCU, 200 Riverfront Terrace in Eau Claire. It is followed by a walking tour of downtown Eau Claire, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
For everyone: Marohn’s Curbside Chat is a presentation followed by a community discussion
about the financial health of our places. It is centered on the question, “Why, despite all the growth America has experienced, do our cities struggle financially just to accomplish basic
tasks?” This session runs from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Eau Claire Public Library, 400 Eau Claire Street, in Eau Claire.
Refreshments will be provided at all events
Registration required at

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Economic Indicators Posted On-Line

Current economic indicators from the U.S. Census Bureau are posted online at
Summaries include the Advanced Report of Durable Goods, New Residential Sales, Business Inventories, Construction Spending, and the Quarterly Financial Report on Manufacturing. Each indicator depicts the director (up or down) since the last report.

First National Community Bank adds Commercial Lender

First National Community Bank recently announced the addition of Chuck Jerrick to its Commercial Lending team as Vice President in their Hudson, Wisconsin office.
Chuck brings a wealth of industry knowledge in all aspects of finance with more than 16 years of banking experience in the St. Croix Valley.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud University and is active in the Hudson community where he serves on the board of directors for the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation, the Hudson Hospital Foundation, and Junior Achievement.  
Chuck resides in Hudson with his wife and 4 children and enjoys golfing, fishing, and coaching his kids sporting teams in his free time.

Linda McMahon confirmed to lead SBA

On a vote of 81-19, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Linda McMahon to lead the Small Business Administration. The vote occurred on Tuesday, February 14.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says McMahon will “prioritize growing jobs over growing government bureaucracy” and calls that a welcome change from Washington.
The SBA is best known for making loans to the small businesses and the disaster aid it provides to companies and entrepreneurs.
Its budget is generally under $1 billion. The leadership of the SBA is considered a Cabinet-level position.
Learn more at

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Ryerson Acquires Guy Metals

On February 15th, Ryerson Holding Corporation (NYSE: RYI), a leading distributor and value-added processor of industrial metals, announced that it acquired Guy Metals, Inc., a privately-owned metal service center company located in Hammond, Wisconsin.  Guy Metals processes stainless and nickel alloy products including its trademarked “Pit Free Dairy” and “Super4” finishes used in food, dairy, pharmaceutical, and beverage applications.  The Company employs 70 people and has annual revenue of approximately $35 million.  Consistent with the recent Laserflex acquisition, Guy Metals bolsters Ryerson’s value-added processing capabilities to provide additional services to its customers.
“As Ryerson advances through its 175th year in business as an industry leader and iconic industrial brand, we are delighted to welcome Guy Metals to our company. Guy Metals has built a hard-earned and well-deserved reputation as an innovator in stainless steel processing and finishing,” said Eddie Lehner, Ryerson’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “The acquisition of Guy Metals adds a valuable dimension to our strategic objective of further strengthening our stainless steel franchise through the offering of a unique portfolio of highly differentiated value-added products that can scale across our footprint while meaningfully enhancing the customer experience.”
Mike Burbach, Ryerson's President, North-West Region added, “Guy Metals is an outstanding company known for top quality products and innovative finishes for the stainless steel industry that complement Ryerson’s extensive stainless offering.  We are excited to have the Guy Metals team join the Ryerson family.”
Guy Young, President and Chief Executive Officer of Guy Metals, stated, “The Guy Metals team is excited to join Ryerson and expand our unique service offerings.  We look forward to growing our brand with the Ryerson team and their extensive global network.”
About Ryerson
Ryerson is a leading distributor and value-added processor of industrial metals, with operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and China.  Founded in 1842, Ryerson employs around 3,500 employees in approximately 100 locations. Visit Ryerson at

February 2017 Dashboard for St. Croix Valley Released

The February 2017 edition of the St. Croix Valley Economic Dashboard has been released by the Center for Economic Research (CER) at UW-River Falls, in partnership with St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC). The dashboard is a snapshot of economic conditions in labor, consumer, agricultural and housing markets for the seven county St. Croix Valley, which includes the Wisconsin counties of Polk, St. Croix, Pierce, and Dunn and the Minnesota counties of Chisago, Washington, and Ramsey. It presents the latest available data in one convenient package (note: most regional data is available with a one or two month delay).
The 4-page Dashboard can be viewed on the CER’s website, at (select: St. Croix Valley Dashboard and then click to download the latest edition and scroll to view all four pages).
Dr. Logan Kelly, Director of CER, conducts the research for the Dashboard Read his observations in St. Croix EDC’s press release at

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Wisconsin REALTORS® Association:
Limited Supply of Homes Impacts Sales & Prices

On February 20th, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) released information on housing transactions for January 2017. Across the state, January sales rose 1.7 percent compared to January 2016 and the median price rose 6.4 percent to $158,000. WRA noted that January sales were lower than the brisk 5.9 percent throughout 2016.
In St. Croix County, there were 74 transactions in January, compared to 84 sales in January 2016 (a decrease of -11.9%). The median sale price for transactions in St. Croix during January was estimated at $235,450 compared to $202,000 in January 2016 (or an increase of +16.6%).
“The mild winter helped January sales somewhat, but it’s really the solid economic fundamentals that are supporting the market,” said Erik Sjowall, WRA’s 2016-17 board chair. He noted homes that closed in January likely had accepted offers in late November or early December. “What has pushed these sales to record levels is the fact that mortgage rates are still very low and the state economy is adding jobs,” added Sjowall.
“This was a strong January, especially given how far our inventories have slipped over the last year,” said WRA President & CEO Michael Theo. Statewide, the supply of homes on the market dropped to just 4.3 months. “We typically consider a balanced market to have approximately six months of supply; anything lower than that is considered a seller’s market,” said 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 “239” in January, down just slightly from the same time period last year. “This means a typical buyer can afford to buy 239 percent of the median-priced home, which is better than the nation as a whole and the entire Midwest,” said Theo. “The problem is not affordability; it’s finding a home to buy.”

UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education
March Program Offerings

UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education / UW-Extension connects people with possibilities by providing degrees and certificates for working adults, professional and workforce development, youth and community programs, and resources for business. The following is an upcoming program that provide the opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

Supervisory Management: Learning to Lead
March 2-3, Hudson
Moving into a management role for the first time-or even moving into new roles over time-can be stressful for even the most seasoned supervisors. For those just starting out, though, the initial challenges can be overwhelming. This program will provide you with the knowledge and confidence needed to excel as a supervisor
For complete program details visit the Continuing Education website, email or call 715-836-3636.

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