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

December 2016 | Volume 19, Issue 12 | Inside this issue:

 
 

 

Thank you to Wipfli and Westconsin Credit Union
for sponsoring this newsletter!


 

Thank you Kevin J. LaCasse of Greystone
Commercial
for the Real Estate ads!


Attend the December 13 Legislative
Forum at WITC-New Richmond


St. Croix EDC will host its eighth annual legislative forum with state legislators from St. Croix County on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the Cashman Conference Center on the WITC-New Richmond campus, 1019 South Knowles Avenue, New Richmond, Wisconsin.
 
Public and private sector members of St. Croix EDC, along with county businesses and residents, are invited to attend and participate. An informal networking session with the legislators runs from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. followed by a question and answer period from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
 
St. Croix County is represented by five individuals in the Assembly and three in the Senate.
 
The general election on November 8th finalized St. Croix’s representation to include State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Representative-elect Shannon Zimmerman, Representative-elect Rob Stafsholt, Representative Adam Jarchow, Representative Romaine Quinn, and Representative Warren Petryk.
 
The terms for State Senators Janet Bewley and Kathleen Vinehout expire in 2018.
 
The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to RSVP to St. Croix EDC at (715) 381-4383 or nita@stcroixedc.com.

 
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St. Croix EDC Seeks Nominations
for Business of the Year


St. Croix EDC is now accepting nominations for its 2016 Business of the Year awards program.
 
Categories include:
 
Emerging Business of the Year (a start-up business that has operated in St. Croix County for five or fewer years)
Small Business of the year (29 or fewer employees)
Business of the Year (30 or more employees).
 
A nomination form and guidelines can be obtained from the EDC at (715) 381-4383 or by email, nita@stcroixedc.com , or online at http://www.stcroixedc.com/content/16-business-year-nomination-form.
 
Individuals may nominate a company in any of the categories, or a business may place their company’s name in nomination.
 
The winners will be announced in January and the companies will be honored at a banquet in Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Ready Randy's in New Richmond, WI.
 
For more information, contact William Rubin or Nita Dusek at St. Croix EDC, (715) 381-4383 or nita@stcroixedc.com.

 

WEDC Seeks Companies for China Trade Venture


Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) invites representatives from Wisconsin companies to join a trade venture to China March 18-25, 2017. The trade venture will include visits to Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing, China’s three top cities for global business connections.
 
With a greater metropolitan area population of 34 million, Shanghai is China’s business and financial hub. Located in eastern China at the mouth of the Yangtze River, it is home to the world’s busiest container port.
 
Tianjin is China’s fourth-largest city, and one of its fastest-growing cities. Located half an hour from Beijing by high-speed train, it is a hub for advanced industries and finance, and is also a major seaport.
 
Beijing, the capital of China, has a metro area population of 25 million, and is home to more Fortune Global 500 companies than any other city in the world.
 
“China is an important market for Wisconsin exports, including medical and scientific instruments, industrial machinery and electrical machinery,” said WEDC Vice President of International Business Development Katy Sinnott. “Wisconsin’s leadership in these areas and our well-known manufacturing and research capabilities create exciting business opportunities for globally minded companies in our state.”
 
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 China. Meetings in other nearby cities may also be arranged depending on the companies’ needs.
 
The fee for this program is $2,000 which covers market research and one-on-one appointments, transportation to business meetings, hotel accommodations for the duration of the program, country briefings and some group meals.
 
The program registration deadline is Feb. 6, 2017. For more information, visit http://inwisconsin.com/export/assistance/global-trade-venture-china-2017.

 

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 www.Made.InWisconsin.com.
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UW-Claire Continuing Education Offers
Session on Launching a Food Truck Business

A one-day course through UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday, January 25th is offered to prospective entrepreneurs interested in learning more about launching a food truck business.
 
The session runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at The Clarion Hotel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
 
A $99 fee includes instruction, course materials and light refreshments. Approved contract hours and continuing education hours total 5.5 hours.
 
Learn more at www.uwec.ly/foodtruck.
 

UW-River Falls Seeks 2017 Spring Career Fair Exhibitors

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) is seeking employer involvement for the Spring Career Fair to be held Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Center on campus.
 
The Career Fair gives students the opportunity to meet and network with potential employers. Students can learn about internship and career opportunities with employers who relate to their area of study.
  
UWRF Career Services prepares students for the Career Fair by offering a prep session prior to the event. The session features interactive stations for students to learn about and practice networking, conversing with recruiters, creating appropriate application materials, dressing professionally, and researching attending organizations.   
 
Career Fair registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis. UWRF Career Services encourages interested parties to register as early as possible. The registration deadline is February 10.
 
More information and further details about the Career Fair can be found at www.uwrf.edu/careerfair, by contacting Tia Fuhr, Career Fair Coordinator, at cfcoordinator@uwrf.edu or by calling 715-425-3572.
          
 

Loans Approved for Hammond Restaurant


Two loans from the Regional Business Fund, Inc. were recently approved for a new restaurant in downtown Hammond, Wisconsin. Both loans will assist with the opening of Schuggy’s American Grill and Taphouse.
 
The Village of Hammond’s loan committee approved a request for a façade loan for Schuggy’s exterior. St. Croix EDC’s loan committee approved a request for the renovation and remodeling of the kitchen.
 
The Schug family, Trent and Betsy, are the owners-operators of Schuggy’s American Grill, under the legal entity Schuggy’s, Inc. They also own the Barn Board Grill and Saloon in Roberts, Wisconsin.
 
Schuggy’s American Grill expects to open in January 2017. For more information go to
www.schuggys.com.
 
The 7-county Regional Business Fund was launched in 2007 through the cooperation of towns, villages, cities, and counties in west central Wisconsin. The fund supports capital investment and job creation projects through a flexible loan pool. For information on the Regional Business Fund, go to www.rbfinc.org.
 

 
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Construction Progress of
Sunflower II Solar Installation Toured


St. Croix Electric Cooperative (Hammond, Wisc.) held a media day for interested parties on November 14th to preview construction progress at its Sunflower II solar array along 140th Street in the Town of Warren.
 
Sunflower II is 2.34 megawatts alternating current (AC) and 2.90 megawatts direct current (DC). It is expected to produce enough electricity to power more than 300 homes annually.
 
St. Croix Electric acquired the 20-acre site and leased it to the developer, SoCore Energy, for 25 years. SoCore owns the array and is responsible for its operation and maintenance. The general contractor is Faith Technologies of Menasha, Wisconsin.
 
1,433 I-beams were driven into rows on the site. The I-beams are the support framework for the 9,360 solar panels that are being installed. The array is expected to begin producing power in mid-December. Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse, Wisconsin will purchase 93 percent of the power generated at Sunflower II and St. Croix Electric will purchase the remaining 7 percent.
 
The solar panels are aligned to face the east each morning, but will pivot throughout the day to follow the path of the south toward the west.
 
Sunflower II compliments St. Croix Electric’s initial solar array, called Sunflower 1, located at the cooperative’s headquarters in Hammond. Sunflower 1 is a cooperative member-supported 103 kW project, making Sunflower II 26 times larger.
 
A 16-acre pollinator garden on the site will be seeded when constructed is complete.
 
About St. Croix Electric Cooperative
St. Croix Electric was formed on November 5, 1937 as a result of five farmers determined to bring electricity to rural St. Croix County. Nearly two years later, on May 24, 1939, electricity was delivered to the first account. Today the cooperative operates more than 1,765 miles of electric distribution lines that serve 11,200 member accounts. Learn more at www.scecnet.net.

 

 

Swinging Bridge Brewing Will Open
in Downtown River Falls in Early 2017

 
Swinging Bridge Brewing Company is scheduled to open in downtown River Falls, Wisconsin in February 2017. Owned and operated by River Falls resident Dustin Dodge, Swinging Bridge is a “nano” brewery that will employ a Community Supported Brewery (CSB) model for its support.
     
The brewery is planned as a community gathering place, offering light food and great beer. The brewery’s taproom includes seating for 50 customers who can sample a wide array of freshly brewed beer. Patrons in the taproom can also see the brewing process.
 
A Mug Club membership program is offered at Swinging Bridge. Membership programs allow the brewery to build a community around Swinging Bridge’s beer and provide a discount to members in return for their commitment to the brewery.
 
This past fall, a loan from the Regional Business Fund was approved for Swinging Bridge Brewing. Loan proceeds were combined with funds from a primary lender and the owner’s down payment to acquire equipment, purchase inventory, and remodel the space at 122 South Main Street in River Falls.
 
About the Brewery’s Name
The brewery gets its name from one of the most beloved icons in River Falls, the Swinging Bridge at Glen Park. In 1925, the Minneapolis Bridge Company designed and built a suspension bridge to span the South Fork tributary of the Kinnickinnic River at the site of the former Cascade Mill and dam. The “glen” is a deep ravine formed by the South Fork tributary. The current bridge is a replica of the beloved 1925 bridge
 
Learn more at www.swingingbridgebrewing.com.

 

Somerset’s Oliphant Brewing Company
Approved to Self-Distribute in Minnesota

Somerset-based Oliphant Brewing has been approved to self-distribute its products in Minnesota. Through an attorney, brewery owners-founders Matt Wallace and Trevor Wertanin contacted Minnesota’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) to solve the question of self-distributing or having to rely on a distributor.
 
AGED ruled that Oliphant could self-distribute if it obtained a wholesaler and importer license in Minnesota, which it received in October.
 
Read more about Oliphant and its approval process in The Growler:
http://growlermag.com/oliphant-breaks-legal-barrier-with-launch-into-minnesota-market/

 

UW-River Falls Falcon Foods
Offers Holiday Online Ordering

Falcon Foods are produced by the UW-River Falls students in the university processing plants. Students work under the direction of a full-time plant manager and produce a variety of products including cheese, ice cream, and meats, which are available for purchase in the Falcon Foods Store on campus.
 
Just in time for the holiday season, Falcon Foods is offering online orders for cheese blocks and cheese and meat gift boxes.
 
Visit www.uwrf.edu/FalconFoods for product and shipping information, or contact  (715) 425-3702 or falconfoods@uwrf.edu.

 

WisDOT Hosts Public Information Meeting
for Improvements to the St. Croix Looped Trail

Meeting to focus on the trail design status + opportunities for public involvement

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), Northwest Region office, will host a public information meeting to discuss the final design phase of the St. Croix Crossing Project in St. Croix County on Tuesday, December 13th at the St. Joseph Town Hall from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The meeting starts with a presentation at 5:00 p.m., followed by an open house format. Discussion items will include the layout and park amenities for the proposed pedestrian/bike trail, local road alterations, and the proposed landscaping throughout the project corridor. 
 
WisDOT has been working closely with St. Croix County on the pedestrian/bike trail and trailhead.  St. Croix County will be the owner and maintainer of the trail facility upon completion of the initial construction by WisDOT.  The public is encouraged to attend the meeting to learn ways to help make the pedestrian/bike trail and trailheads an example of civic pride.  There are many ways for the public to be involved in this project and to sponsor various aspects of the trailheads.  Representatives from businesses and corporations are also welcome to attend. 
 
The public is encouraged to attend the meeting, provide input, and ask questions concerning this project.  Maps showing the current trail designs will be on display.  WisDOT representatives will be available to discuss the project on an individual basis.
 
If you are unable to attend the meeting, or would like more information, contact Teresa Davis at (715) 836-7277.  Written comments regarding the project can be mailed Teresa Davis, WisDOT, 718 West Clairemont Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54701.
 
About the St. Croix Crossing
The St. Croix Crossing project is a joint venture with Minnesota Department of Transportation, and has been under construction since 2013.  The new bridge will open to traffic in the fall of 2017.  The pedestrian/bike trail, final alterations to local roads, and landscaping will be constructed in 2018.

 

 

Economic Indicators Posted On-Line

Current economic indicators from the U.S. Census Bureau are posted online at  http://www.census.gov/economic-indicators/index.php.
 
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.

 

November 2016 Dashboard
for St. Croix Valley Released

The November 2016 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 www.uwrf.edu/CenterforEconomicResearch (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 http://www.stcroixedc.com/sites/default/files/PDFs/1611%20Dashboard.pdf.

 

St. Croix County’s October
Unemployment Rate at 3.2%

On November 23rd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary October 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 3.2%. For comparison, St. Croix’s final rate in September was 3.1% and August’s final rate was 3.5%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.2%.
 
DWD said preliminary unemployment rates for October decreased or remained the same in 70 of the 72 counties compared to October 2015, and decreased or remained the same in 45 of 72 counties when compared to September 2016 rates. The current rates ranged from 2.6% in Lafayette County to 6.4% in Menominee.
 
The October 2016 preliminary unemployment rates decreased in 30 of Wisconsin’s 32 municipalities with population bases of least 25,000 residents compared to October 2015. The October 2016 rates ranged from 2.5% in Fitchburg to 4.3% in Racine.
 
Read more at http://www.stcroixedc.com/content/unemployment-10-2016.

 

REALTORS® Association: Solid October
Home Sales Support Record Year

On November 21st, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) released information on member-assisted transactions for October 2016. WRA said sales in October 2016 matched last October’s extraordinarily strong market, capping off the strongest 10 months of sales in Wisconsin since 2005. This strong market continues to push median prices higher, rising 6.5 percent to $165,000 over the past 12 months, and continuing a trend of price escalation over the past four and a half years. Prices for the first 10 months of 2016 were up 5.1 percent compared to the same period in 2015. Meanwhile the annual pace of inflation is 1.6 percent.
 
In St. Croix County, there were 122 transactions in October, compared to 126 sales in October 2015 (or a decrease of -3.2%). The median sale price for transactions in St. Croix during October was estimated at $230,700 compared to $207,000 in October 2015 (an increase of +11.4%).
 
Year-to-date sales (January-October) in St. Croix were up +9.9% compared to January-October 2015 (1,443 transactions v. 1,313). The January-October 2016 median price increased +6.7% compared to January-October 2015 ($219,900 v. $206,000).
 
At the current pace, homes sales in Wisconsin for 2016 are projected to reach 80,000, compared to 76,700 homes sold in 2015 “This is impressive given the fact that inventory levels continue to fall in the state,” said Erik Sjowall, WRA’s 2016-17 board chair.
 
There were 40,373 homes on the market in October, which represents 6.1 months of available supply. This is well below the October peak of 66,068 homes in 2010 when there was 14.6 months of available inventory. “Low inventory levels are a concern, especially in our metropolitan counties, which had just 4.6 months of supply in October,” said Sjowall.
 
“A strong economy, low interest rates and affordable housing are a recipe for a strong existing home market,” said WRA President & CEO Michael Theo. The Wisconsin economy is at or near what economists consider to be full employment, with unemployment at 4.1 percent in October.
 
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 “236” in October compared to “235” in October 2015. It was “231” in September 2016.
 
Read more at www.wra.org.
 

 

PNC’s Christmas Price Index® Rises 0.7 Percent for 2016

PNC’s Christmas Price Index® Rises 0.7 Percent for 2016
 
Based on gifts from the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, the price tag for the PNC Christmas Price Index (CPI) is 34,363.49 in 2016, or a 0.7% increase (+$232.50) from 2015. The 2015 Index was the lowest increase in six years.
 
By comparison, the government’s Consumer Price Index has increased 1.6 percent over the past 12 months.
 
The cost of each item was revealed on December 1st on PNC Bank’s interactive website, www.pncchristmaspriceindex.com which teaches consumers about the Index.
 
Of the twelve items measured by the Index, eights had the same price as in 2015
 
The PNC CPI also calculates the cost of shopping for the 12 gifts online. As internet prices tend to be higher, convenience comes at a cost in 2016. Shopping online means a consumer will spend $44,602 for the gifts, or $10,239 more than at mythical stores.
 
PNC Bank also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas” i.e. the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song’s verses. In 2016 True Loves will pay a grand total of $156,507 for all 364 gifts, or $1,000 more than in 2015 and more than $56,000 from 1984.
 
This is the 33rd year PNC Bank and PNC Wealth Management conducted its whimsical economic analysis.

 

Season’s Greetings From St. Croix EDC!

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