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

November 2016 | Volume 19, Issue 11 | Inside this issue:

 

Thank you to Derrick Building Solutions
for being our sponsor this month!


Thank you to Kevin J LaCasse of Greystone Commercial
for sponsoring our Real estate ads this month.


Governor Walker Announces Wisconsin
Fast Forward Grants for Manufacturing

Deadline to Apply is December 7

On October 20th, Governor Scott Walker announced newly available Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) Grants for manufacturing occupations.
 
Since 2013, around $18.7 million in WFF Grants have been announced, equipping more than 18,000 current and new workers with high-demand skills.
 
“When we first took office, one of the greatest challenges we faced was removing barriers to employment for the people of Wisconsin," Governor Walker said. "We've come a long way, and this year, more people have worked in Wisconsin than at any point in our state's history. This is largely due to our investments in workforce development programs like Wisconsin Fast Forward. We're proud to announce another round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grants today, which focus specifically on providing manufacturing training so we can work to bridge the skills gap in this high-demand industry.”
 
In 2013, Governor Walker signed into law Act 9, also known as Wisconsin Fast Forward, with strong bipartisan support. The program acts as a catalyst and encourages increased collaboration between Wisconsin's workforce trainers and employers to develop and execute business-led programs. In the 2015-17 biennial budget, the WFF program was allocated $14.8 million in funding to provide employer-focused training grants, which are administered by the Office of Skills Development at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
 
The grants announced on October 20th are for manufacturing-specific occupations. Grants ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 will be awarded, and applications are due on December 7, 2016. Interested applicants must include a training program that mitigates an employer’s critical workforce problem, addresses a documented workforce demand supported by local, regional, or statewide labor data, and results in trained participants finding and retaining employment or incumbent workers earning higher wages.
 
To learn more about Wisconsin Fast Forward or apply for a grant, visit http://www.wisconsinfastforward.com/.

 
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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 will finalize the representation.
 
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.

 

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); and
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 17, 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.

 

WMC Names Harley-Davidson as
“Coolest” Wisconsin Product

Bikes Battle Brats and Boats at Inaugural Event Celebrating Manufacturing

On October 18th, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business association, announced Harley-Davidson as the winning product in its “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest.  The legendary motorcycle company beat out two other finalists, brats from Johnsonville Sausage LLC in Sheboygan Falls and littoral combat ships produced at the shipyards of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette.
 
WMC launched the contest in honor of October’s designation of Manufacturing Month. The effort was designed to help its members gain wider exposure for their companies and their products, and to promote industry as a viable and “cool” career option for young people in the state.
 
WMC’s contest received more than 270 nominations.
 
Read more at https://www.wmc.org/news/press-releases/harley-wins-coolest-thing-made-in-wi-contest/
 
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St. Croix EDC and UW Extension
Partner to Address County’s Broadband Needs

From UW Extension in St. Croix County:
Broadband services hold the potential to have significant positive impacts for economic development in St. Croix County. The St. Croix Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) Broadband Committee has been working to help expand broadband in the county. Initial efforts focused on researching potential impacts from broadband which include housing prices, time on market, matching employers with labor, allowing students to do homework, allowing for online learning, access to medical advice, and of course, entertainment.
 
The EDC’s Broadband Committee recently completed implementation and analysis of Broadband survey conducted for select locations in the county. The survey was developed by the Committee to gather targeted information that could be used to inform people on the importance and need of broadband services, increase support for efforts to remove barriers to expansion and adoption, and to support grant applications to secure financial support for expanding broadband services in the county.
 
The survey focused on three general areas in the county which include: 1) Town of St. Joseph, 2) southern half of New Richmond City, and 3) the Towns of Warren and Hammond and the Villages of Roberts and Hammond. These three areas were chosen based on the results of an initial countywide survey, stakeholder interviews, and the presence of conditions conducive to expansion.
 
The survey found that while a high percentage (90%) of respondents had internet service available in their neighborhood, only around 10% had service that would meet the Federal definition of Broadband Internet Service (i.e. 25MB download speeds). The survey also found that roughly 50% of respondents were dissatisfied with their present service. The top reasons for dissatisfaction included too slow (63%), inconsistent service (52%), and too expensive (49%). While these results are not surprising, they do indicate a need for public education on the reasons for these conditions.
 
Eric Biltonen, Chair of the EDC Broadband Committee and Community Resource Development Educator with UW Extension, is currently making arrangements to present full survey results at local government meetings as well as provide education on the conditions facing providers and steps citizens can take to encourage expansion into their localities.
 
The EDC Broadband Committee was established in 2015 to “assist in efforts to increase broadband access, reliability, and speeds throughout St. Croix County, including consumer, commercial, agricultural and organizational users, from a perspective of economic development.”
 
People or organizations interested in learning more about Broadband may contact Eric Biltonen at the UW Extension Office for St Croix County, 715-531-1930.
 

County Leaders Tour River Crossing

On Friday, October 14th, area residents John Soderberg, Roger Larson, William Rubin, and Nita Dusek toured the future driving deck of the St. Croix Crossing under construction between St. Croix (WI) and Washington (MN) counties.
 
Soderberg is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of First National Community Bank (New Richmond WI); Larson is Chair of the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors and represents District 11 on the board (Village of Star Prairie and Towns of Stanton and Star Prairie); Rubin is the Executive Director of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC); and Dusek is the EDC’s Administrative Assistant and owner of Nita Dusek Photography (River Falls).
 
Soderberg also served as a stakeholder from 2003-2006 as part of the federally-facilitated environmental streamlining review process which led to the U.S. D.O.T.’s Record of Decision on the project in November 2006.
 
Read more on the EDC website at http://www.stcroixedc.com/content/county-leaders-tour-river-crossing.
 
 

Princeton Review Names
UW-River Falls an
Environmentally Responsible Green College

On October 21st, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls announced its inclusion to The Princeton Review’s annual free guide to the most environmentally responsible green colleges.

The guide profiles 361 colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives, and activities. The profiles give college applicants information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, as well as student body facts and stats.
 
The 160-page guide is downloadable at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide. It includes detailed green facts including each school’s use of renewable energy, recycling, and conservation programs to the availability of environmental studies and career guidance for green jobs.
 
As part of its many commitments to sustainability, UW-River Falls utilizes its two campus laboratory farms and the Kinnickinnic River watershed to provide resources and opportunities for hands-on education and research. UW-River Falls has implemented many sustainable practices in its operations including stormwater management, solar panels, and waste minimization. Faculty and students offer distinctive sustainability-infused experiences through service-learning, civic engagement, and targeted research activities such as the student-driven regional climate summit and the KinniConsortium boundary organization.
 
A recently implemented sustainability effort at UW-River Falls is the Student Educator’s Program where students in the Sustainability Office serve as peer-to-peer sustainability educators both in and out of the classroom. UW-River Falls continues to enhance existing sustainability programs and initiatives as well as pursue new ways to further their efforts.
 
“Pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle in our personal lives as well as on campus and beyond is part of our moral obligation to ourselves and each other,” said Mark Klapatch, UW-River Falls sustainability and custodial supervisor. “We live on a planet with finite resources and we need to be diligent and innovative in our efforts to be more sustainable. UW-River Falls students, faculty, staff, and community members have proven time and time again that sustainability efforts are important and we are proud to have made the list of green schools.”
 
The Princeton Review chose the colleges in the guide based on Green Rating scores, from 60 to 99, which was tallied in summer 2016 for 640 colleges using data from its 2015-16 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school's sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment. Schools with green rating scores of 80 or higher made it into the guide. Most of the 350 schools in the edition are in the U.S.; ten are in Canada; one is in Egypt.
 
For more information about the sustainability practices at UW-River Falls, email Mark Klapatch at mark.klapatch@uwrf.edu.

 
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Child Labor Law Clinic and Best Practices
in Youth Apprenticeships Scheduled

Are you having trouble finding people to hire?
Are you looking for help?
We have the answer!
 
Attend the November 8th Youth and Registered Apprenticeship Showcase and Child Labor Law Clinic.
 
What to Expect
Learn best practices in hiring youth; hear from employers and students involved in the programs and begin the next steps toward growing your company.
 
Program Details
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
New Richmond High School
650 Richmond Way, New Richmond, Wisconsin 54017
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 am
**Meeting room off of the cafeteria
(Large forum)
 
Registration
Please register at: https://goo.gl/se5AlK
 
For More Information Contact:
Melisa Hansen
School to Career Coordinator
Hudson School District
715-377-3712
 
-or-
 
Liz Pizzi
Workforce Resource
715-232-7380 ext. 1014
 

 

Bowls for Hope Event at
UW-River Falls is Tuesday, March 7

Each year the University of Wisconsin-River Falls works with the community to raise funds through the Bowls for Hope event in which proceeds raised help a worthy nonprofit organization make a difference in the St. Croix Valley.
 
The 2017 Bowls for Hope event is Tuesday, March 7, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at UW-River Falls.
For an entrance fee of $25/ per adult and $5 per child age 12 and under, participants may select and keep a bowl created in glass/ceramic/pottery 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. Participants have the opportunity to vote for their favorite soup and a chefs’ choice award will be awarded to the soup favored by the chefs participating in the event.
 
The 2016 Bowls for Hope event raised $6,000 for the Assistance and Resource Center, Inc. (ARC) of River Falls. Since 2010, Bowls for Hope has raised more than $40,000 for St. Croix Valley charitable organizations.
 
For more information, visit http://www.uwrf.edu/BowlsForHope/ or email Mary Van Galen, mary.vangalen@uwrf.edu.

 

River Stone Kennels Wins WBD’s
2016 Emerging Business of the Year Award

On October 13th, River Stone Kennels of New Richmond, Wisconsin was honored as WBD’s 2016 Emerging Business of the Year winner. The award took place at WBD’s 6th Annual Friends of Small Business Luncheon, held at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison.  River Stone Kennels is owned by Josh and Whitney Miller.
 
“Our mission is to grow businesses, create jobs, and build communities and this annual event is our opportunity to showcase some of the tremendous business successes that inspire us.  It is our time to showcase what these entrepreneurs are doing to make our economy and communities better.” explained Dan Schneider, President/CEO of WBD.
 
The Emerging Business Award recognizes the challenges that small businesses face as they work through the critical first years of operation.  Nominees have shown they understand how to embrace the challenges they face with determination, creativity and ultimately, success.  All winners from this category shall be businesses that have existed 5 years or less.
 
“Josh worked with two different WBD team members as he contemplated the expansion of his operations,” noted Mike Dieckman, Eau Claire based WBD VP/Loan Officer.  “I know it was a big step to build a new building and purchase additional lands for training, but Josh and Whitney have really worked hard and it is great to see their efforts pay off.”
 
River Stone Kennels, located in New Richmond, specializes in obedience, gun and shed training for dogs. Josh is the lead trainer and dogs trained by him have won numerous competitions including 4 National Shed Dog World Champions.  In addition to their state of the art 35 kennel facility, they are located on over 100 acres of property that offers a variety of environments so dogs are prepared for any situation they could encounter while in the field.
 
“This business all started because of my love for my dog Easton.  Through him I discovered my talent for training and his performances in early competition got me noticed,” said Josh Miller.  “Turning a business from an idea to reality takes hard work and partners like WBD and Hiawatha National Bank who believe in you.”
 
About WBD
For 35 years, WBD has been partnering with Wisconsin financial institutions provide business financing solutions to help small businesses grow, create jobs and build communities.  As a SBA Certified Development Company, WBD is able to utilize the powerful SBA 504 program that reduces risk for lenders and improves terms for borrowers, helping more small businesses get access to capital for growth and expansion.  WBD is proud to have funded more than $2 billion of small business growth, leading to the creation of nearly 64,000 jobs statewide and consistently ranking in the top 10 most successful development companies in the country.
 
Watch the WBD River Stone Kennels Video Introduction here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqYDax82tZo&feature=youtu.be.  Learn more at www.wbd.org.
 

 

Fall River Crossing Updates


On Sept. 29, crews completed the pour at the Pier 10 overlook. Photo from Sept. 29.

Mn/DOT offered a hint at what a scenic overlook will look like when the formwork was removed from Pier 10 of the St. Croix Crossing. The overlooks are included as part of the 12 foot wide pedestrian walkway and bicycling area on the upstream side of the new bridge. Overlooks are under construction at Piers 8, 10, and 12.
 
The final bridge segment, weighing in at 180 tons, was lifted into place on Tuesday, October 4. Construction crews will now build the remaining forms to the fill small, two-foot gaps in the bridge deck. The segments for the on-land portion of the project in Oak Park Heights were fabricated on-site. The larger segments above the river were fabricated 30-miles away at Grey Cloud Island in Cottage Grove, Minnesota and transported by barge to the construction site.
 
With the final bridge segments secured into place, crews began demobilizing the blue lifters and ringer cranes that were brought to the site this spring.


Comparison photo of Piers 9 – 12. All segments are complete now.

 

Citizens State Bank Welcomes
New Business Development Officer

In mid-October, Citizens State Bank (CSB) announced the addition of Jon Fumich to their team.  Fumich is a Business Development Officer and works out of the Hudson office.
 
Fumich joins CSB with 12 years of banking experience and primarily works with small businesses, commercial businesses, professional service firms, business owners, entrepreneurs, lawyers and executives.  In his new role, Jon will work with business owners to determine their current and future financing needs, and identify areas of service including loans, lines of credit, letters of credit, deposits and cash management products. 
 
He lives in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota with his wife, son, and daughter (and another daughter on the way).
 
About CSB
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 at www.csbnet.net

 

REALTORS® Association:
Record Year on Track for Wisconsin Housing Market

On October 17th, the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA) released information on member-assisted transactions for September 2016. WRA said the Wisconsin housing market could set a record high this year. September sales were up 6.9 percent over September 2015 and the median prices increased 7.9 percent over the same period to $167,450. Through the first nine months of 2016, home sales were up 5 percent and the median prices rose 4.8 percent to $165,000.
 
In St. Croix County, there were 157 transactions in September, compared to 139 sales in September 2015 (or an increase of +12.9%). The median sale price for transactions in St. Croix during September was estimated at $219,900 compared to $221,000 in August 2015 (a decrease of -0.5%).
 
Year-to-date sales (January-September) in St. Croix were up +11.0% compared to January-September 2015 (1,317 transactions v. 1,187). The January-September 2016 median price increased +6.3% compared to January-September 2015 ($219,000 v. $206,000).
 
“Home sales are the highest we’ve seen in more than ten years,” said Erik Sjowall, WRA’s 2016-17 board chair. Whether you look at the month of September, the third quarter or year-to-date, home sales are at the highest levels since 2004.”
 
Demand outpaced supply across Wisconsin again in September, continuing a concern REALTORS® have expressed throughout the year. “Unfortunately, we could have sold more if we had more to sell,” said Sjowall. 
 
Even with the tight supply of homes for sale, every region has seen steady sales growth through the first nine months of 2016. The growth in existing home sales across WRA’s six regions of the state ranged between 3.4 percent and 6.3 percent compared to the first nine months of 2015.
 
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 has been stable over the last 12 months and stood at 231 in September 2016, which is nearly identical to the value from 2015. As a point of comparison, the national Index stood at 156.4 in July 2016.
 
Read more at www.wra.org.

 

St. Croix County’s September
Unemployment Rate at 3.1%

On October 26th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary September 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 3.1%. For comparison, St. Croix’s final rate in August was 3.5% and July’s final rate was 3.6%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.3%.
 
DWD said preliminary unemployment rates for September decreased or remained the same in 71 of the 72 counties compared to September 2015, and decreased in all 72 counties when compared to August  2016 rates. The current rates ranged from 2.6% in Dane, Green, Iowa, and Lafayette counties to 6.6% in Menominee.
 
The September 2016 preliminary unemployment rates decreased in all 25 of Wisconsin’s 32 municipalities with population bases of least 25,000 residents compared to August 2016 and September 2015. The September 2016 rates ranged from 2.6% in Madison to 4.4% in Racine.
 
Read more at http://www.stcroixedc.com/content/unemployment-09-2016.

 

October 2016 Dashboard
for St. Croix Valley Released

The October 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/content/dashboard.

 
Copyright © 2016 St. Croix Economic Development Corporation, All rights reserved.
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