December 2023 Unemployment at 3.5%

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St. Croix County’s December 2023 Unemployment Rate at 3.5%
On January 24th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary December 2023 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s December rate was estimated at 3.5%, which is higher than November’s rate of 3.1% and October’s revised final rate of 3.2%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.8%.

DWD said Preliminary December 2023 unemployment rates decreased or stayed the same in 26 of 72 Wisconsin counties over the month. Over the year, 67 of 72 Wisconsin counties had unemployment rates increase.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December include Lafayette (1.9%), Green and Dane (2.0%), and Calumet and Sheboygan (2.1%). Iron had the highest rate in December at 5.4% followed by Adams (5.3%), Bayfield (4.8%), and Polk and Burnett (4.6%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.5%, December’s preliminary rate for Polk was at 4.6% and Pierce was at 3.5%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The December 2023 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.4% which is higher than November’s rate of 1.9%, and lower than October’s rate of 2.9%. The unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was 2.8% in December of 2022.

Nearby Washington County in Minnesota reported a preliminary rate of 2.1% in December, while Dakota County, MN reported a rate of 2.2% and Chisago County, MN had a rate of 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in December was estimated at 3.3%, which is the same as November and higher than October’s final rate of 3.2%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Minnesota in December was estimated at 2.9%, which is lower than November’s rate of 3.1% and October’s rate of 3.2%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for December was estimated at 3.7%, which is the same as November’s final rate and lower than October’s final rate of 3.9%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.5%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for December was estimated at 65.9%, which is the same as November and higher than October’s rate of 65.8%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 64.6%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in December was estimated at 62.5%, which is lower than November’s rate of 62.8% and higher than October’s rate of 62.7%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.3%.

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

2023 Business Of The Year Banquet Details and RSVP

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You are invited to celebrate the 2023 Businesses of the Year and Directors Award Recipient for St. Croix County, and meet the new Executive Director, Melissa Meshke. Click on the invitation below to be taken to Eventbrite to RSVP and purchase your tickets.

FREE TICKETS ARE BASED ON MEMBERSHIP LEVEL. THEY ARE LISTED ON THE INFO PAGE AND UNDER FAQ’S ON EVENTBRITE.

Meet Melissa Meschke, St. Croix EDC’s newest Executive Director

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Meet Melissa Meschke, St. Croix EDC’s newest Executive Director

Jan 16, 2024 – by Jack White, Star Observer

St. Croix Economic Development Corporation’s Bill Rubin retired from his post as Executive Director after 27 years of working in economic development. EDC tabbed Melissa Meschke to replace Rubin.

Meschke, who starts the new role Jan. 25, lives in New Richmond. Recently, she’s worked as an Economic Development Outreach Manager for University of Wisconsin System Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship for over two years.

Before that, she was the Director of the Small Business Development Center at UW-Stevens Point for around four years. “So I’ve known the area for a long time. I love living here. I love raising my kids here,” she said.

Meschke has also helped run a marketing company and winery, in addition to working in small business consulting prior to taking this new job.

The Star-Observer spoke with Meschke about what she brings to the table pertaining to the Executive Director role: why she wanted to take it in the first place and how she will go about replacing Rubin’s wealth of experience.

Disclosure: Rubin used to write guest columns for the Hudson Star-Observer. Note: this interview has been edited for style, conciseness and clarity.

Q: How do you think your [past experience] will translate into this different role where you’re trying to amplify these businesses on a broader level?

A: Especially [since] I’ve been working in Wisconsin, I’ve really worked to build a really broad network of resources. I pride myself on being able to answer the phone and being able to direct that person to the needed resources that they have. My work has brought me all across the state and all different levels of rural and urban — small business, big business — economic development and everything in between. So I think my experience as well as my network is going to be very beneficial in the role that I’m taking on.

Q: Going to the economy now, unemployment is low. St. Croix EDC reported in late December that St. Croix County’s November unemployment numbers went to 3.1%, down compared to revised final rates from the previous two months. But that’s sometimes hard to reconcile with public opinion. What would you tell people now about the current state of the economy, generally?

 

A: In general, the labor market is tight, which expresses that the Wisconsin economy is very strong. A strong employment equals a strong economy. But it is a struggle for our businesses to find the employees that they need. So we’re seeing a lot of work in the innovation space: a few people are playing with automation all the way into artificial intelligence to look at the jobs that they have and look for innovative opportunities. I think we also focus a lot on making St. Croix Valley a great place to live and to raise a family and bring people to the area with the great quality of life we have here. We’ve got great amenities. We’ve got great events to bring people to the area.

Q: What are you doing before starting the new job in late January?

A: I am working my other job up until the day before. And I’ve already become involved with St. Croix EDC. I’ve attended some meetings. Made some phone calls. Set up some contacts. A lot of people have already reached out and put things on my calendar. I’m very much the type of person to hit the ground running. I am available to talk pretty darn soon here.

My [Economic Development Outreach Manager] role right now… at U-Wisconsin Systems, is convening and ecosystem building in the entrepreneurship-led economic development space. I do statewide outreach, statewide convening, statewide resources building for entrepreneurship, but on a broader level I think I’ve been brought in to a lot of conversations that are more generally speaking about economic development not just entrepreneurship-led economic development.

Q: What did you like about this current role that you’re in?

A: I really love meeting people. And I think that this position I’m in now has led to me getting a lot of opportunities to really get to know people from all across the state in various roles in economic development. I just really like hearing what everybody does and seeing the big ecosystem picture. I’ve tried mapping it — it’s virtually impossible to map. But I’ve made a lot of connections and connected a lot of dots over the last several years in this space. I just love hearing what people do and connecting those dots for people is really invigorating for me.

Q: This position opened up because of Bill Rubin retiring. What was your relationship with him like? 

A: When I moved to St. Croix County two and half years ago, I had reached out to Bill just as a local, economic-type resource, looking for opportunities to get involved with the county. I really, really enjoyed Bill. It’s a lot to step into a position that has been held by somebody else for 27 years. I’m excited for that challenge. But Bill has actually reached out and welcomed me and wished me well, which I really appreciated.

Q: Will your role here be similar to what Bill did or will it be different?

A: I bring a different skill set. I bring a different network. I bring a different view of things, just from my background and moving around the state and working on these different levels of, not only entrepreneurship myself, but small business consulting and economic development. I think I’ll put my own flavor into it and I don’t think I can define that at this point.

Q: You mentioned earlier things on your calendar already. Are there any things you want to tell people about?

A: Our 31st annual business awards program will take place on February 22nd at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course at 5 [p.m.]. (Register for the banquet here.)

Q: Any future goals as of now?

A: I’ve got a lot of learning to do and a lot of connections to make. On this local level, looking at the towns and cities and municipalities that we serve in this county. Just building those relationships and looking at the picture is going to help me really understand what my goals should be. I want to serve the county in the best way that I can. I don’t think I’ve set clear goals yet, but I really am looking forward to learning and understanding the direction of this position as I get into it.

St. Croix EDC Honors 2023 Businesses & Individual

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St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses & Individual for 2023

Krista Paulus, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of Barbell Coffee LLC (City of River Falls), Aves Studio (Town of Troy), and Ciranda (City of Hudson) as recipients of the 2023 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

The EDC Board of directors also named William (Bill) Rubin as the recipient of the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization championing economic development through innovative actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents.

The companies and Mr. Rubin will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 22, 2024, at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course, 163 Radio Rd, River Falls, WI starting at 5:00 o’clock p.m. with check-in, networking, and cash bar.

“The 2023 winners demonstrate the varied and unique attributes of St. Croix County businesses,” said EDC President Krista Paulus. “Barbell Coffee is making its mark with organic single source coffee beans, roasted to order. Aves Studio is known throughout the world for their products used in manners as varied as taxidermy to coral reef restoration. Ciranda is an employee owned company committed to corporate giving, volunteering and sustainability. Former EDC Executive Director, William (Bill) Rubin left his fingerprints on many projects in St. Croix County during his twenty seven plus years in economic development. It is with pride and gratitude that I congratulate each of these nominees on winning this year’s awards.”

About the 2023 Honorees
Barbell Coffee LLC is the 2023 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The company was founded by Ender Gocmen in 2020 and registered with the state on 3/12/21. Barbell is a small batch specialty coffee company that offers the key features of :a) small batch; b) single origin; and roast to order. Barbell offers both signature series coffee and seasonal coffee throughout the year. The company’s differentiator is its use of both single origin and specialty grade beans that are roasted to become premium coffees. Barbell is also an e-commerce business. They do not have a retail location, but actively seek out retail (wholesale) accounts. They offer subscriptions for their products where consumers can select the coffee type, roast level, amount, and delivery frequency (ground shipped or local pickup). Learn more at www.barbellcoffeeco.com.

Ave’s Studio is the 2023 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). Aves offers over 40 types of clay and mache products and ships to resellers in 38 countries. Their products are used in museums such as the Smithsonian, to Hollywood special FX artists, for taxidermy, and at zoos, aquariums and theme parks, among other uses. They are also used in coral reef restoration projects as their clay is waterproof, non toxic and doesn’t crack, shrink or peel. Learn more at www.avesstudio.com.

Ciranda is the 2023 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Founded in 1994 by Brazilian-born Hans Friese, together with his wife, Joan, Ciranda has been the premier North American provider of certified organic, non-GMO and Fair-Trade food ingredients. In 2017 Ciranda’s founders transferred company ownership into the hands of the employees, and makes yearly contributions of stock or cash to the ESOP on behalf of their employee owners. They are also committed to donating a portion of their net income both domestically and globally each year. In FY23, Ciranda donated over $45,000.00 domestically. Some of the recipients include: St. Croix Valley Food Bank, Hudson Hospital Foundation, Grace Place Shelters, Hudson Backpack Program, River Valley Charities and Somerset Food Pantry. Ciranda is fully committed to sustainability and economic fairness for all. Learn more at www.ciranda.com.

About WiIliam (Bill) Rubin
William (Bill) Rubin enjoyed a 27.5 year career as the Executive Director of St. Croix EDC from 1996-2023. Many projects led by St. Croix EDC revolved around the core strengths of marketing and communications, business retention, expansion, recruitment, new business start-ups, workforce development, and legislative advocacy. Rubin helped plan the St. Croix Valley’s inaugural legislative day in Madison. It is now an annual event and the St. Croix Valley is well branded among legislators and state agencies. Rubin worked hand in hand with John Soderberg in advocating for the approval of the St. Croix River Crossing. Along with others, their work started in early 1997 following a determination by the National Park Service that the proposed new bridge had a detrimental impact on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Following years of work, the new crossing was approved in 2012 and opened in 2017. Many hands touched the project, but the effort is attributed to Mr. Soderberg and Mr. Rubin.

Event Details
This is the 31st business awards program conducted by St. Croix EDC. The event is open to the public but reservations are required. Watch the Trending News on the EDC website to purchase your tickets.

About St. Croix EDC
St. Croix EDC was established in 1994 as a public-private business league that operates as the independent economic development arm of St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Reflective activities include marketing and communication, business retention, business expansion, business recruitment, new business incorporations, workforce development, and advocacy on behalf of business and industry. Initiatives taken by St. Croix EDC help improve the business climate of St. Croix County, allowing businesses, large and small, to grow and prosper.

For more information, contact Nita Dusek at (715) 690-2110.

St. Croix EDC Welcomes New Executive Director

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St. Croix EDC Welcomes New Executive Director

St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melissa Meschke as its new Executive Director, effective January 25th, 2024.

In this role, Meschke will lead the organization’s efforts to foster economic growth and development within St. Croix County. With a strong background in entrepreneurship, economic development, marketing and ecosystem building, she brings a wealth of valuable experience to this role. Meschke has been a resident of St. Croix County for over two years, has children in the New Richmond School District and is involved locally with various volunteer roles.

“We are thrilled to welcome Meschke to our team,” said Krista Paulus, President of St. Croix EDC. “Her passion for St. Croix County and economic development, as well as her extensive network of economic development professionals statewide, makes her the ideal candidate to guide our organization into a new era of growth and prosperity.”

Meschke expressed enthusiasm about joining St. Croix EDC, stating, “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead St. Croix EDC. I look forward to working collaboratively with the Board of Directors, community partners and the businesses in the county to build on the successes of the organization and drive sustainable economic development in the St. Croix Valley region.”

Meschke holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from UW- Eau Claire and holds both her Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and Entrepreneurship Development Professional (EDP) certifications from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and has over a decade of experience in economic development and entrepreneurship.

Welcome Melissa!

November 2023 Unemployment at 3.1%

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St. Croix County’s November Unemployment Rate
Stays The Same At 3.1%

On December 27, 2023, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary November 2023 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s November rate was estimated at 3.1%, which is lower than October’s revised final rate of 3.2% and September’s final rate of 3.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.7%.

DWD said November 2023 unemployment rates decreased in 50 counties, increased in 12 counties, and were unchanged in 10 Wisconsin counties over the month; year-over-year rates decreased in four Wisconsin counties, remained unchanged in seven of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and increased in the remaining 61 counties. Current rates range from 1.8% in Lafayette to 4.9% in Menominee.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates in November include Lafayette (1.8%), Green and Dane (2.0%), Iowa and Kewaunee (2.1%). Menominee had the highest rate in November at 4.9% followed by Adams (4.4%), Iron (4.4%), Forest (4.3%), and Milwaukee (4.2%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.1%, November’s preliminary rate for Polk was at 3.8% and Pierce was at 2.9%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The October 2023 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 1.9%, which is lower than October’s rate of 2.9% and September’s rate of 2.7%. The unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was 2.4% in November of 2022.

Nearby Washington County in Minnesota reported a preliminary rate of 1.7% in November, while Dakota County, MN reported a rate of 1.7% and Chisago County, MN had a rate of 2.1%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in November was estimated at 3.3%, which is higher than October’s final rate of 3.2% and September’s final rate of 3.1%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Minnesota in November was estimated at 3.1%, which is lower than October’s rate of 3.2% and the same as September’s rate of 3.1%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.0%.
The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for November was estimated at 3.7%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 3.9% and September’s final rate of 3.8%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.6%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for November was estimated at 65.9%, which is higher than October’s rate of 65.8% and September’s rate of 65.7%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 65.8%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in November was estimated at 62.8%, which is higher than October’s rate of 62.7% and the same as September’s rate of 62.8%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.2%.

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