Sign of the Times: Help Wanted


Sign of the Times: Help Wanted


The U.S. unemployment rate was recently announced at 3.7 percent making it the lowest since 1969. A few may remember 1969. Most will not. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has been reported at 3.0 percent or lower for eight straight months. It is not uncommon for some Wisconsin counties to report unemployment rates under two percent. St. Croix’s is at a modest 2.4 percent for September.

Human resource departments and job recruiters have their work cut out for them as they seek new workers. Some have reverted to comedy. In the case of a local bar and restaurant, a portable sign read, “Want some alone time? Have your kids work here.” Comedy aside, St. Croix continues to be among the fastest-growing counties in the state.

Other signs may have less desired results:

“Now Hiring” was placed atop a banner that read, “Fried Turkeys”

“Now Hiring 2 sausage biscuits $1.77”

Must read carefully: “Now Firing – Apply Within – Positions Available”

Found on a manhole cover: “Now Hiring: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Inquire Within”

“Help Wanted (Siruis persons only please)”

An oldie but goodie: “Sponge Bob is Here Hiring Managers”

“Now Hiring – Must Have a Clue”

Sad but sometimes true: “Because your boyfriend will eventually ask for gas money – Now Hiring”

A sign reads, “We’re looking for computer engineers who like to solve difficult problems. Call us at this number now” (a formula is provided where “x = 24” and “y = 30” . . . .)

And so it goes. From entry level positions to executive openings, jobs are available. Manufacturing, healthcare, education, construction, and retail sectors are all chasing the same scarce commodity. It seems “soft skills” will go a long way to landing a job, along with ambition or strong work ethic. The economy is strong, but outputs could be improved if critical positions were filled. Good luck recruiters. Good luck job seekers.

September 2018 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s September 2018 Unemployment Rate at 2.4%

On October 24th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary September 2018 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 2.4%. For comparison, St. Croix’s final rate for August was 2.9% and July’s final rate was 3.0%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.6%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates for September declined in 71 of the 72 counties when compared to September 2017, with 23 counties setting or tying all-time low unemployment rates for the month. The rates ranged from 1.8% in Iowa County to 5.5% in Menominee.

The September 2018 preliminary unemployment rates declined or stayed the same in all 32 of Wisconsin’s largest municipalities when compared to September 2017. Seventeen of the 32 largest municipalities set or tied their lowest September unemployment rate on record. Rates ranged from 1.9% in Fitchburg to 4.2% in Racine.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rate in September include Iowa (1.8%), followed by Lafayette (also at 1.8%), Dane (1.9%), Clark (2.0%), and Green (also at 2.0%). Menominee County had the highest rate in September at 5.5%, followed by Iron (4.6%), Forest (3.6%), Milwaukee (3.5%), and Florence (3.4%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix referenced above, September’s preliminary rate in Dunn was estimated at 2.2%, followed by Pierce at 2.5% and Polk at 2.6%. The current rates are lower in all four counties compared to the rates for September 2017.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 16-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The September 2018 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.2% which is lower than August’s final rate of 2.5% and July’s final rate of 2.6%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.8% in September 2017.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in September was estimated at 3.0%, which is the same as August’s final rate, but higher than July’s final rate of 2.9%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in September was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 2.9% and July’s final rate of 3.0%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for September was estimated at 3.7%, which is lower than the final rate 3.9% for both August and July. One year ago the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 4.2%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for September 2018 was estimated at 68.6%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 68.8% and July’s final rate of 68.9%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 68.8%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in September was estimated at 62.7%, which is the same as August’s final rate, but lower than July’s final rate of 62.9%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.0%.

September’s estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.

Nominations Open for 2018 Business of the Year

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Nominations Open for 2018 Business of the Year

St. Croix EDC is now accepting nominations for its 2018 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)

Qualifying companies must be involved in manufacturing, distribution, construction, health care, or must be service providers to other companies. Companies must be operated for profit. (Retail companies are not eligible.)

Individuals may nominate a company in any of the categories or a business may place their company’s name in nomination.

Recent Noteworthy Accomplishments such as:
milestone anniversary, physical plant expansion, new product line, increases in employment, sales increases, pollution control advances, new training programs, export sales, or any other significant advances.

Contributions to Enhance the Community:
Contributions to community projects, service to area youth, education programs, and other efforts to increase the quality of life in the area.

The winners will be announced in January and honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at Ready Randy’s in New Richmond.

A nomination form and guidelines can be obtained by clicking HERE or by contacting Nita Dusek at (715) 381-4383 or The deadline to submit is Friday, December 14, 2018 at the close of business. (The form is interactive. No need to print it! Fill it out on your computer, save it, then email it back to

Interstate Takes a Pounding


Interstate Takes a Pounding


We can thank a former president and military general, Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, for the U.S. interstate highway system. President Eisenhower was inspired by Germany’s efficient highway system he witnessed as a general during World War II. His support led to the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which secured funding for America’s first 41,000 miles of the interstate system.

The interstate is also called the Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Wait. Defense Highways? Yep. Eisenhower was concerned about the ability to evacuate major cities in the event of war, including a nuclear attack. Of course Uncle Sam needs to move its equipment at a time of crisis, too. It seems mile markers and numbered exits serve more than a basic purpose of assisting travelers.

The interstate has made a big impact on St. Croix County communities going back several decades. In late October 1959, a 41-mile segment of I-94 opened from Hudson to Menomonie. Another stretch, Menomonie to Eau Claire, opened soon thereafter. The celebrated opening produced fanfare. Attending dignitaries included governors from Wisconsin and Minnesota, U.S. Senators and Representatives, county board members, and local officials from communities dotting the interstate.

At nearly 60-years old, the interstate has every reason to be worn and tired. Standing outside a convenience store along the north or south frontage roads in Hudson confirms the intensity of east- and west-bound traffic. Cars, SUVs, and semis combine for a steady Zoom! Daily traffic counts are estimated at 90,000+ vehicles at the St. Croix River, maybe higher. It’s no wonder there are 11-inches of concrete atop a 20-plus inch base of aggregate material. The original concrete may have several layers of blacktop, as old applications are milled off to make room for new ones.

Construction cones and barricades are constant reminders of upgrades to I-94. A resurfacing project from Exit 4 to Roberts was recently completed. A more intensive project, from the Wisconsin-Minnesota border to Exit 4, will take a little longer. It includes upgrading and replacing deteriorating sections of roadway and shoulders, bridge decks over Front Street, concrete barrier walls, widening the bridge deck over State Highway 35 (River Falls exit), and adding some noise barriers. Hang in there motorists, commuters, and residents.

Traffic counts at key intersections along I-94 in St. Croix are very comparable to traffic numbers between Madison and Milwaukee. As the St. Croix Valley continues to grow, civic leaders need to intensify their drum beats in Madison to secure additional fix-it funding or accelerate projects on a mythical Wish List. The Madison region gets its fair share. So does Milwaukee. Don’t overlook St. Croix’s needs. Help beat the drum.

St. Croix Meadows Demolition



St. Croix Meadows Demolition

Video Captures Demolition of St. Croix Meadows Grandstands

A 3:20 minute video of the demolition of the grandstands at the former St. Croix Meadows Greyhound Racing Park in Hudson, Wisconsin has been released by St. Croix EDC.

Nita Dusek, the EDC’s administrative assistant, created the video. It is comprised of still scenes and live video footage of the demolition. Dusek, who owns Nita Dusek Photography, took several hundred photos as she captured the progress from April through July. Some of the live footage shows the removal of windows on the upper level and steel beams taken down.

St. Croix Meadows closed in 2001 and the uniqueness of the 130-acres made development difficult. The site was acquired in late March by a development group called St. Croix Meadows, LLC. On July 3rd, Governor Scott Walker formally announced a $500,000 Idle Site Redevelopment Grant to the City of Hudson. The grant offsets a portion of the demolition costs incurred by the developer.

An amended master plan for the redevelopment of the site was approved by Hudson’s Common Council. Mass grading and site preparation is largely completed. The developer envisions a mixed-use campus comprised of corporate sites, office, research and development, hospitality, commercial, retail, and privately-financed baseball stadium for the St. Croix Riverhounds franchise awarded from the Northwoods League.