Join us at our summer Networking and 30th Anniversary Event!
Join us at our summer Networking and 30th Anniversary Event!
St. Croix County’s April Unemployment Rate at 2.9%
On May 24th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary April 2023 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s April rate was estimated at 2.9%, which is lower than March’s final rate of 3.4% and February’s final rate of 3.8%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.1%.
DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from March to April decreased or stayed the same in 67 of 72 counties. Current rates range from 1.5% in Lafayette to 6.2% in Iron.
Preliminary unemployment rates from March to April decreased or stayed the same in 28 Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year, the rates declined or stayed the same in 34 cities. Rates ranged from 1.6% in Madison, Muskego, Neenah, and Sun Prairie to 3.8% in Superior.
The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in April include Dane (1.6%), Calumet (1.7%), Ozaukee (1.8%), Sheboygan (also at 1.8%), and La Crosse (1.9%). Adams had the highest rate in April at 5.4%, followed by Burnett (5.2%), Bayfield (5.1%), Iron (5.0%), and Polk (4.6%).
St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 2.9%, April’s preliminary rate in Pierce was also 2.9% and Polk’s rate was 4.0%.
St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The April 2023 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.7%, which is lower than the final rate of 2.8% for March and February’s final rate of 3.2%. The unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was 2.0% in April 2022.
Nearby Washington County in Minnesota reported a preliminary rate of 2.4% in April, while Dakota County, MN reported a rate of 2.5% and Chisago County, MN had a rate of 3.7%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in April was estimated at a record low 2.4% which is lower than the final rates of 2.5% for March and 2.8% in February. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 2.8%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Minnesota in April was estimated at 2.8%, which is the same as final rate for March, but lower than February’s final rate of 3.0%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 2.3%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for April was estimated at 3.4%, which is lower than the final rate of 3.5% for March and February’s final of 3.6%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.6%.
Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for April was estimated at 64.8%, which is higher than the final rate of 64.6% for March and February’s final rate of 64.5%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 65.4%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in April was estimated at 62.6%, which is the same as the final rate for March and higher than February’s final rate of 62.4%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.2%.
April’s estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.
Congrats Grads: You Have Crossed The Bay
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Another one of life’s milestones await 2023 graduates, whether the grads are completing pre-K, middle school, high school (a/k/a Independence Day), or two- and four-year colleges and universities.
Grads, you made it! Some lapped the field with highest honors. Others liked the comfort in the middle of the pack. And hopefully just a very few crawled across the line after catching a belt loop in the barbed wire obstacle course. Congrats to all!
Not so fast, though. Before diplomas are in hand, there’s a commencement exercise. Superintendents, principals, and school board chairs know the routine. Procession. Greetings. Speakers. Presentation of diplomas. Caps a-flyin’. Departure procession. Hello World!
A sage speaker may explain that the term commencement is both an end and a beginning. Wait, what? The class clown wonders if 12 more years of academic rigor are ahead if this is the beginning. Fear not, class clown. You have crossed the bay.
A bay in any body of water – lake, sea, or ocean – is a safe harbor. Waters are calmer. Breezes are lighter. Leave the safe harbor and the water is deeper, the speed of the wind is stronger, and the waves roll with a predictable cadence.
Out of the bay and into the ocean. Buck it up, grads. Rough waters lie ahead.
“You have crossed the bay. The ocean lies before you.”
Those words were spoken by William O. Reece, the father of a Hudson, Wisconsin baseball dad, who grew up on the family farm in Ledyard, Iowa. In May 1946, William graduated from high school as class valedictorian. There were just nine grads in the class of ’46. Bigger isn’t always better. In his commencement speech Reece stated, “You have crossed the bay. The ocean lies before you.” It was said to have inspired his classmates.
Inspire he did. And William led the way. He served in WWII. He pursued veterinary medicine in college and was a waiter in a girl’s dorm, thus assuring himself three square meals a day. Lucky William met his future wife at the dorm. He earned a PhD and completed an accomplished 38-year career as a professor in 1998, teaching 2,000 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students in his physiology course along the way. Perhaps best of all, Dr. Reece authored and edited several textbooks that are still used today. They are published in multiple languages.
Ending. Beginning. Bay. Ocean. It’s out there Class of 2023. Remember, there are plenty of opportunities in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley when you return. St. Croix cannot maintain its position as among the fastest-growing counties without young adults starting families. Choosing to lead the way here helps make the region better than it already is.
Congratulations grads at all levels. “You have crossed the bay. The ocean lies before you.”
2023-24 Directors and Officers Elected at EDC Annual Meeting
St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) held its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 9th. A slate of officers for 2023-2024 and three new board members were elected, along with the re-election of two directors.
Krista Paulus, Commercial Relationship Manager, Security Financial Bank (River Falls, WI branch), was elected President. She has served on the board since 2020 and replaces Aaron Sundeen who completed his term as President. He will continue to serve on the board and the executive committee as Past President.
Susan Yohnk Lockwood, Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and New Richmond Campus Administrator, Northwood Technical College (New Richmond, WI), was elected First Vice President.
Tom Loonan was elected Second Vice President. He is an attorney and shareholder with Eckberg Lammers. He practices civil municipal law and business law.
Marina Onken was re-elected Corporate Secretary-Treasurer. She retired as Dean of the College of Business and Economics (CBE) at UW-River Falls in late 2021 and is now Professor Emeritus of Strategy and Innovation at CBE.
Krista Paulus and Brian Zelenak were re-elected to the board. They will serve final three-year terms, ending in May 2026.
Carrie Borgstrom (left), Brian Hinz (center) and Ann Searles (right) were elected to three-year terms on the board. Borgstrom is a business banking officer with Royal Credit Union (RCU). Hinz is a partner with Studio EA, and provides architecture, interiors, and management services to commercial, industrial, and residential clients. Searles is the executive director with St. Croix Valley Food Bank, Inc.
The board of directors accepted the 2022 financial review from Jason Zahradka, CPA with Guinn, Vinopal & Zahradka, LLP.
The board honored Popenhagen (left photo), Ring, (center photo) and Sparks (not pictured) at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting. New President Paulus (right photo) also honored past president Aaron Sundeen.
No IOU’s to Moms
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Sunday, May 14 is a big day for moms. It’s an even bigger day for sons, daughters, in-laws, and outlaws to come through in the clutch. The term clutch is as subtle as Effort vs. Results, meaning the difference between trying and accomplishment. Just like an impatient coach, moms seek results, whether it’s on May 14 or going forward.
Does Mother’s Day spending make an economic impact? Yes, and in a big way, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). They’re the source of all things relating to spending on special occasions. The NRF says $35.7 billion (with a “b”) will be spent this year on moms and it will be a new record, nearly $4 billion (there’s that “b” again) more than 2022’s record high of $31.7 billion.
NRF labels Mother’s Day shoppers as so-called consumers, regardless of size of age. Consumers plan to spend $274.02 per person this year, the highest in the history of the NRF survey. A freckled-face six-year old or pair of brothers could be secret consumers for mom. The six-year old just picked out a garden trowel for her momma and she’s beaming. The brothers are confident their mom will be surprised with the baseball cards they bought with allowance money. Just what mom wanted. Note to mom: slide the cards into protective sleeves in case the rookie of the year or future hall of famer is among the cards.
What are the most popular gifts this year? The NRF says flowers (74%), greeting cards (74%) and special outings such as dinner or brunch (60%) top the list. The categories with the highest spending are jewelry ($7.8 “b”), special outings ($5.6 “b”), and electronics ($4 “b”).
Thoughtful gifts in 2023 are of high priority, in other words, make them meaningful. Survey respondents said the most important factors in purchasing a Mother’s Day gift include finding items that are unique or different (47%) or those that create a special memory (42%).
Lovepop is a rapidly growing greeting card company that creates intricate pop-up cards guaranteed to stand out in the crowded field of cards. A recent Lovepop blog outlined Mother’s Day activities for nearly every sort of mom. Suggestions included day trips, a trip to the farmer’s market, a staycation, or photo-shoot. For the outdoorsy mom, there’s a picnic, cycling (try an e-bike), hiking, or gardening – with mom supervising the work. For the travel-loving mom, explore a new city together, purchase new luggage, or join her on the next travel adventure.
The freckled-face girl and card trading brothers signed a pledge for Mother’s Day 2023. They called upon classmates, playmates, Instagram followers, and LinkedIn connections to honor the pledge: No IOU’s to moms in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley. Card shops, main street shops, and gift card purveyors stand ready. Garden centers and nurseries, river excursion tours, coffee shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, restaurants, and parks are expected to report record sales days on May 14th.
Happy Mother’s Day 2023.
Small Business Week 2023 Includes EDC Visits
EDC board members and community supporters made stops to Crumbl Cookies (Hudson), JA Counter, an Alera Group Company (New Richmond), SYKL Power Bikes (Baldwin), Barbell Coffee Company (Hudson-River Falls), Bywater Business Solutions (Somerset), Smokey Treats Barbecue Restaurant (Hudson), O’Keefe Millwork (River Falls), and Baldwin LightStream (Baldwin).
EDC President Aaron Sundeen noted, “Small businesses in St. Croix County are the heartbeat of local economies. They pioneer innovation and create opportunities for families and workers in the St. Croix Valley.”
Small businesses are innovative, resilient, and make many contributions to local, regional, and state/national economies. Of interest,
-Nearly half of all private sector workers in our country are employed by small businesses.
-These businesses also account for almost half of our Nation’s gross domestic product.
-They create many of the goods and services Americans rely on to sustain their everyday lives.
-Owning a small business fulfills dreams of a better life, a chance to build a family legacy, and becomes a source of community enrichment.
County Board Chair Bob Long joined EDC President Sundeen with a joint proclamation on behalf of small businesses in the county at the April board of supervisors meeting.
See photo captions below.
Top left: Crumbl Cookies
EDC staff started the week of May 1st off on the right foot with an early stop at Crumbl Cookies in Hudson. The order was used at a mid-morning appointment. The three partners of the Hudson location are Connie and Rory Young and Karen Lea (Frenchy) French. Connie and Rory relocated from Colorado and Frenchy splits time between Alaska and Florida. In the spirit of Small Business Week, the partners opened their second store in Eau Claire on May 5th.
A third store is scheduled for Onalaska later this year.
Top right: JA Counter, an Alera Group Company
JA Counter was founded in 1976 by James Counter as an insurance agency specializing in individual life, health and disability and employee benefit planning. Counter’s daughter Linda Skoglund joined the firm in 1990 and became a shareholder in 1997. She acquired all shares by 2001. The company joined Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. in 2016 and became a member of the Benefit Advisors Network (BAN) in 2007. Out of the network, 23 independent firms discussed providing the best of both worlds – national scope combined with local service. The plan was executed and an aggregator was formed, uniting the 23 firms into a larger entity known as the Alera Group.
2nd row left: Barbell Coffee Company
Barbell Coffee was founded in 2020 as a family-run coffee roasting business in Hudson, Wisconsin with office space at the Business Innovation Center in River Falls. It is owned and operated by Cassie and Ender Gocmen. Barbell is a specialty coffee roaster, meaning only high-quality, single origin beans are sourced and roasted in small batches. The company tagline is Don’t Drink Weak Coffee; Drink Barbell Coffee.
2nd row right: SYKL Power Bikes
SYKL creates affordable and modern electric bikes for the youngest and oldest of hearts, including off-road ramblers and asphalt amblers, offering a better, long-range, fat-tire electric bike for adults, with numerous built-in accessories. Model options include the compact (folding) series, metro series, and Xplorer series, designed for rugged terrain and climbing hills, but delivering long-range capacities.
3rd row left: Bywater Business Solutions
Owned and operated by Chris Ferguson, Bywater Business Solutions is new to Somerset, Wisconsin. The business sources printed products, promotional items and apparel for companies, allowing the companies to operate efficiently and promote their organization. Bywater creates “company stores” to manage the procurement of sales and marketing material and other items regularly purchased. Chris brings a wealth of knowledge, education, and international business experience from his native Canada to the St. Croix Valley.
3rd row right: Smokey Treats
Smokey Treats transitioned from River Falls to Hudson earlier this year. Owner Matt Beranek says Smokey Treats is not a traditional barbecue joint. Meat is hand-trimmed with great care and seasoned with only the best local ingredients from Croix Valley Foods (Hudson, Wisc.). The meat is slow-smoked for 12-14 hours before being hand-pulled or sliced.
Bottom row left: O’Keefe Millwork
O’Keefe Millwork is a leading manufacturer of architectural woodworking and custom cabinetry products, serving the Minnesota-Twin Cities commercial construction industry. Its roots go back to 1984. O’Keefe works primarily with general contractors and its products are showcased around the U.S. in hospitals, clinics, hotels, assisted living centers, casinos, multi-housing, office buildouts, retailers, and institutional environments.
Bottom row right: Baldwin LightStream
Baldwin LightStream has a long and proud heritage of moving communications forward. In 1900, as telephone service was first entering homes across America, it led the revolution in the Baldwin and Woodville, Wisconsin area as Baldwin Telephone Exchange. In the 1980’s as cable television expanded, services were also expanded as well as its reach into Hammond, as Baldwin Telecom, Inc. Now operating as Baldwin LightStream, the company provides internet, video, phone, and security solutions to residential customers and custom solutions and business phone systems to commercial users.
St. Croix County’s March Unemployment Rate is 3.4%
On April 26th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary March 2023 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s March rate was estimated at 3.4%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.8% but higher than January’s final rate of 3.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.6%.
DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from February to March decreased or stayed the same in all 72 counties. Rates also declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The current rates range from 1.6% in Dane to 5.4% in Adams.
Preliminary unemployment rates from February to March decreased in all of Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year, the rates declined in 34 cities. Rates ranged from 1.5% in Madison to 3.8% in Superior.
The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in March include Dane (1.6%), Calumet (1.7%), Ozaukee (1.8%), Sheboygan (also at 1.8%), and La Crosse (1.9%). Adams had the highest rate in March at 5.4%, followed by Burnett (5.2%), Bayfield (5.1%), Iron (5.0%), and Polk (4.6%).
St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.4%, March’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 3.3% and Polk’s rate was 4.6%.
St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The March 2023 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.2% and January’s final rate of 2.9%. The unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was 2.9% in March 2022.
Nearby Washington County in Minnesota reported a preliminary rate of 2.5% in March, while Dakota County, MN reported a rate of 2.7% and Chisago County, MN had a rate of 4.3%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in March was estimated at 2.5%, which is lower than the final rate of 2.8% in February and January’s final rate of 2.9%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.1%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Minnesota in March was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.0% and December’s final rate of 2.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 2.4%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for March was estimated at 3.5%, which is lower than February’s final of 3.6% but higher than January’s final rate of 3.4%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.6%.
Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for March was estimated at 64.6%, which is higher than the final rate of 64.5% for both February and January. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 65.3%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in March was estimated at 62.6%, which is higher than February’s final rate of 62.4% and the same as January’s final rate of 62.4%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.5%.
March’s estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.