Forward Analytics – Dale Knapp

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A Conversation with Dale Knapp of Forward Analytics

Dale Knapp
Director, Forward Analytics

An interactive conversation with Demographer Dale Knapp of Forward Analytics, Focusing on Demographic Trends Impacting Businesses in Western Wisconsin was held on Wednesday October 7, 2020. You can view and/or download the recording here until November 7, 2020, the slides from the presentation here, and the information he referred to here.

Dale publishes research and analysis on a variety of economic and public policy issues facing the State of Wisconsin. He has written extensively on Wisconsin school finance, the state economy and demographics, and state fiscal health. Prior to joining the Wisconsin Counties Association and Forward Analytics, Dale spent almost 18 years with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Forward Analytics is a Wisconsin-based research organization that provides state and local policymakers with nonpartisan analysis of issues affecting the state. The mission of Forward Analytics is to use the best data available to highlight challenges facing the state, and to assist policymakers in understanding that data so they can make informed policy decisions.

Forward Analytics was created in 2018 and is a division of the Wisconsin Counties Association.

Recent research publications from Forward Analytics include The Rural Challenge, Depopulation and its Economic Consequences; and Economic Activity in a Pandemic: Wisconsin Taxable Sales in March and April.

2nd Round of “We’re All In” Grants

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Additional $100 Million Investment in Small Businesses and Economic Stabilization Announced

Includes second round of We’re All In Grants and investments in tourism, entertainment, and cultural venues

On October 6th, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced more than $100 million in investments aimed at providing additional economic stabilization for small businesses and communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement includes a second round of WEDC’s We’re All In Grants plus stabilization programs to support the lodging and tourism industry, live music and performance venues, cultural non-profits, and privately-owned movie theaters.

“Small businesses, including the tourism and lodging industries, are the backbone of our Wisconsin communities,” said Gov. Evers. “That’s why we’re investing another $100 million in businesses and communities across our state.”

$50 million is reserved for We’re All In Grants, an economic development grant program launched by Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) this summer. Statewide, more than 26,000 businesses received the grants, but many continue to face economic challenges from the pandemic. We’re All In applications open at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, October 19th and close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 2nd. As with the previous round of WEDC grants, the awards will not be made on a first-come, first-served basis. Businesses that received funds under the first round of grants, as well as the Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant program, are also eligible for the second round. Priority will be given to businesses that have not previously received funds from either of the first two programs, those with ethnically diverse ownership, and those in the hardest-hit sectors, such as restaurants and taverns, hair and nail salons and barber shops, and other services. The grants will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue in partnership with WEDC. Learn more about the program and apply at www.revenue.wi.gov.

$20 million of the $100 million is for the state’s lodging industry. The investment provides the lodging industry with emergency resources to navigate a reduction in travel and cover the cost of implementing additional public health best practices as the pandemic continues.

$15 million is included for live music and performance venues. Music venues were among the first small businesses to close and may be among the last to fully re-open.

$10 million will support privately-owned movie theaters, which have not been spared the financial strain felt by movie theater companies.

$10 million is included in additional support for non-profit cultural venues, bringing the total investment to $15 million.

$4 million of additional investments is included for destination marketing organizations and tourism drivers, bringing the state’s total investment to $12 million.

All of the efforts are funded through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).

Additional details will follow.

August 2020 Unemployment

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Month Five of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s August Unemployment Rate is 6.3%

On September 23rd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary August 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s August rate was estimated at 6.3%, which is lower than July’s final rate of 7.8% and June’s final rate of 9.8%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.0%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from July to August decreased in 71 of the 72 counties. The rates ranged from 3.5% in Lafayette to 18.9% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates decreased in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from July to August. Rates ranged from 4.9% in Fitchburg to 10.1% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in August include Lafayette (3.5%), Taylor (3.6%), Clark (3.7%), Kewaunee (3.8%), and Richland (4.1%). Menominee County had the highest rate in August at 18.9%, followed by Forest (14.2%), Iron (10.6%), Milwaukee (8.9%), and Jackson (also at 8.9%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 6.3%, August’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 4.7%, while Polk reported 5.6% and Pierce reported 5.9%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The August 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 7.9%, which is lower than July’s final rate of 8.2% and June’s final rate of 9.2%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.9% in August 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in August was estimated at 6.2%, which is lower than July’s final rate of 7.1% and June’s final rate of 8.6%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in August was estimated at 7.4%, which is lower than July’s final rate of 7.6% and June’s final rate of 7.6%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for August was estimated at 8.4%, which is lower than the final rate of 10.2% for July and June’s final rate of 11.1%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for August was 65.4%, which is higher than July’s final rate of 64.9% but lower than June’s final rate of 65.8%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in August was estimated at 61.7%, which is higher than July’s final rate of 61.4% and June’s final rate of 61.5%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.2%.

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

Craft Brewery Day 2020

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EDC Proclaims September 24 as Craft Brewery Day in St. Croix County

At its September meeting, the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board of directors unanimously proclaimed Thursday, September 24, 2020 as Craft Brewery Day in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

The EDC will recognize six micro-breweries in the county with proclamations signed by the board president and executive director. The breweries are Rush River Brewery (River Falls), Pitchfork Brewery (Town of Hudson), Oliphant Brewery (Somerset), Bobtown Brewhouse & Grill (Roberts), and Hop & Barrel (Hudson). The proclamations will be mailed to the breweries. A special, in-person delivery to one of the breweries has not been ruled out.

The proclamation points out craft breweries provide significant opportunities for community and economic development. In many cases, breweries renovate and occupy underutilized or vacant commercial space, sometimes providing additional sparks for other businesses to invest in nearby properties. Breweries are tourist destinations and become a community gathering spot or a place to enjoy local music and food.

Statewide, craft breweries make a big impact. They contribute around $9 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year, along with 62,000+ jobs and $2.5 billion in wages and benefits.

Like many businesses, breweries have felt the impact of the economic downturn. Owners used creativity and offered curb pick-up service for cans and growlers to go. Brewers and owners continue to help one another by answering questions and offering assistance.

The EDC asks residents to consider a pick-up order or in-person stop at taprooms on September 24th, recognizing the importance of social distancing and commonsense health practices.

Whether enjoying a lager, pilsner, pale ale, IPA or stout, please do so responsibly.

For questions or comments, please call St. Croix EDC at 715.381.4383.

July 2020 Unemployment

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Month Four of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s July Unemployment Rate is 7.7%

On August 26th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary July 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s July rate was estimated at 7.7%, which is lower than the final rate of 9.8% in June and May’s final rate of 13.9%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.1%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from June to July decreased in all 72 counties from June to July. The rates ranged from 4.1% in Lafayette to 18.3% in Menominee. 

Preliminary unemployment rates decreased in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from June to July and. Rates ranged from 5.5% in Fitchburg to 11.2% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in July include Lafayette (4.1%), Taylor (4.2%), Clark (4.3%), Kewaunee (4.6%), and Richland. Menominee County had the highest rate in July at 18.3%, followed by Forest (15.1%), Iron (12.0%), Douglas (10.1%), and Milwaukee (9.9%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 7.7%, July’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 5.9%, while Polk reported 6.7% and Pierce reported 7.4%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The July 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 8.2%, which is lower than June’s final rate of 9.2% and May’s final rate of 10.1%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 3.1% in July 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in July was estimated at 7.0%, which is lower than June’s final rate of 8.6% and May’s final rate of 12.1%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in July was estimated at 7.7%, which is lower than June’s final rate of 8.6% and May’s final rate of 9.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for July was estimated at 10.2%, which is lower than the final rate of 11.1% for June and May’s final rate of 13.3%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for July was 64.9%, which is lower than June’s final rate of 65.8%, and May’s final rate of 66.6%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in July was estimated at 61.4%, which is lower than June’s final rate of 61.5% but higher than May’s final rate of 60.8%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.0%. 

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

Workforce Housing Conversation

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A Conversation on Workforce Housing in the St. Croix County Valley

An interactive conversation with three panelists discussing workforce housing and workforce housing needs in the St. Croix Valley was held Tuesday August 25. The event was recorded – click here to view it.

Powerpoint presentation slides can be downloaded here. They have been combined into one file.

Panelists include: Susan Badtke, Robyn Thibado, and Georgina Tegart

Susan Badtke is an associate planner with the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. The commission serves Barron, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, and St. Croix counties and provides intergovernmental planning and coordination for the physical, social and economic development of a defined region. 

Robyn Thibado is the Associate Director of West CAP, a community action agency serving Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties. The mission of West CAP is to take action against poverty by developing the social and economic assets of low-income families and their communities and by working to create a more just and sustainable society.

Georgina Tegart is the executive director of the Community Foundation of Dunn County. Their mission is to connect people who care with causes that matter to enrich the quality of life in Dunn County, now and for future generations. A recent initiative is Home Sweet Menomonie which combined public, employer and private contributions to create a no-interest, partly forgivable loan for down payment assistance to employees of participating businesses who wish to own homes within the City of Menomonie. 

Sponsored by St. Croix EDC’s Workforce Development Committee

River Crossing Turns Three

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River Crossing Turns Three

On August 2, 2017 several thousand people along with local, state, and national dignitaries, helped open the St. Croix Crossing, a joint project between the Wisconsin and Minnesota transportation departments.

Happy third birthday, St. Croix Crossing!

The project endured a long history, some say going back to the 1970’s; others saying going back to flooding in the early 1950s, or just about 20-years after the lift bridge opened in downtown Stillwater, Minnesota in 1931. Over time, the term ‘historic’ was used to describe the lift bridge. It became functionally obsolete and needed replacing.

The new crossing was constructed over a protected river, the St. Croix, under the watchful eyes of critics and supporters.

It took an executive order by one U.S. President and a signature on federal legislation by another President to make the project a reality.

In September 2002, President George W. Bush issued an executive order to speed up federal environmental studies of major transportation projects throughout the U.S. The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) created a list of high priority transportation projects slowed by reviews and legal disputes. Replacing the lift bridge was among the first ten or so projects on the national list.

The environmental streamlining process brought numerous agencies and organizations together in a facilitated process in hopes a consensus could be reached on replacing the lift bridge. Between June 2003 and July 2006 a stakeholder group met at the Stillwater, Minnesota city hall to find common ground and solutions. The group recommended a bridge design and corridor about one mile south of the lift bridge.

In November 2006, the Federal Highway Administration issued its Record of Decision, meaning all project studies and reviews were complete, putting the new river crossing project in line for future funding and construction. Public comment of the Record of Decision remained open for 180-days. Near the close of comments, a lawsuit was filed.

Additional environmental reviews were done by the National Park Service (NPS), one of the participants in the stakeholder process. NPS recommended that no bridge be constructed over the St. Croix regardless of location or design because of the its protected qualities under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. How to obtain an exemption to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was outlined by NPS.

An effort to secure the exemption soon started in Washington, D.C. It was first approved by the U.S. Senate and then by the House of Representatives. President Barack Obama signed the legislation in March 2012.

The Minnesota DOT immediately commenced work on test borings into bedrock beneath the river bottom. Those test results gave prospective bridge construction bidders valuable details on conditions and stability. By ice-out in 2013, the construction project got underway, and in mid-2017, the project was substantially completed and ready to open.

If one bridge opens, another would close. The historic lift bridge in Stillwater closed simultaneous to the opening of the St. Croix Crossing. In June 2020, the rehabbed lift bridge opened as a recreational amenity for walkers, runners, and bicyclists to enjoy. Multi-use paths in Wisconsin and Minnesota connect the old lift bridge to the new crossing downstream, creating a nearly five mile loop.

Happy birthday, St. Croix Crossing. Welcome to a transformed use, historic lift bridge. Both are outstanding amenities in the St. Croix Valley of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

June 2020 Unemployment

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Month Three of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s June Unemployment Rate is 9.8%

On July 22nd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary June 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s June rate was estimated at 9.8%, which is lower than the final rate of 13.9% for May and April’s final rate of 16.1%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.4%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from May to June decreased in all of the 72 counties, but increased for all year-over-year. The rates ranged from 5.7% in Lafayette to 20.0% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates decreased in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from May to June and increased in all year-over-year. Rates ranged from 6.8% in Fitchburg to 12.8% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in June include Lafayette (5.7%), Clark (6.1%), Taylor (6.2%), Richland (6.3%), and Green (6.6%). Menominee County had the highest rate in June at 20.0%, followed by Forest (18.5%), Iron (14.2%), Jackson (13.2%), and Douglas (12.0%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 9.8%, June’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 7.9%, while Polk reported 8.6% and Pierce reported 10.1%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The June 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 9.2%, lower than May’s final rate of 10.1% and the same as April’s final rate of 9.2%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 3.3% in June 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in June was estimated at 8.5%, which is lower than May’s final rate of 12.1% and April’s final rate of 13.6%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in June was estimated at 8.6%, which is lower than May’s final rate of 9.9% and April’s final rate of 8.7%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for June was estimated at 11.1%, which is lower than May’s final rate of 13.3% and April’s final rate of 14.7%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for June was 65.7%, which is lower than May’s final rate of 66.6% and April’s final rate of 65.5%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in June was estimated at 61.5%, which is higher than May’s final rate of 60.8% and April’s final rate of 60.2%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.0%.

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

COVID 19 Loan

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St. Croix County Creates COVID-19 Small Business Loan Program

On July 14th, St. Croix County, Wisconsin announced the launch of its COVID-19 Small Business Loan Program. It was created to help businesses in the county currently experiencing unanticipated financial pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

$500,000 was allocated to the loan relief fund by unanimous action at the July 7th county board of supervisors meeting.

Eligible businesses can request $5,000 to $10,000.

Loan proceeds can use be used to help with rent/mortgage payments, commercial utilities, preexisting purchase orders (placed prior to June 15, 2020), payroll expenses, and modifications and/or upgrades related to adjusting business practices due to COVID-19.

Loan applications are accepted from July 14 through September 10, 2020.

Learn more and obtain a link to the application at https://www.sccwi.gov/958/Small-Business-Loan.

May 2020 Unemployment

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More COVID Realities: St. Croix County’s May Unemployment Rate is 13.8%

On June 24th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary May 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s May rate was estimated at 13.8%, which is lower than the final rate of 16.1% for April and March’s final rate of 4.0%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.8%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from April to May decreased in 69 of the 72 counties, but increased year-over-year in all counties. The rates ranged from 7.0% in Taylor to 31.2% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates decreased in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from April to May and increased in all of them year-over-year. Rates ranged from 8.2% in Fitchburg to 17.5% in Superior.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in May include Taylor (7.0%), Clark (7.2%), Green (8.4%), Lafayette (also at 8.4%), and Vernon (8.8%). Menominee County had the highest rate in May at 31.2%, followed by Forest (21.7%), Iron (19.0%), Douglas (17.8%), and Adams (17.1%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 13.8%, May’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 10.3%, while Polk reported 12.4% and Pierce reported 13.7%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The May 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 10.4%, which is higher than April’s final rate of 9.2% and March’s final rate of 3.1%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.7% in May 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in May was estimated at 12.0%, which is lower than April’s final rate of 13.6%, but significantly higher than March’s final rate of 3.1%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in May was estimated at 9.9%, which is higher than April’s final rate of 8.7% and March’s final rate of 2.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for May was estimated at 13.3%, which is lower than April’s final rate of 14.7% but higher than the final rate of 4.4% for March. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.6%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for May was 66.6%, which is higher than April’s final rate of 65.5% and March’s final rate of 66.4%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in May was estimated at 60.8%, which is higher than April’s final rate of 60.2% but lower than March’s final rate of 62.7%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.9%.

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

COVID-19 Presentation

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St. Croix County Public Health and EDC Team Up on COVID Topics for Businesses

On June 25th, St. Croix EDC partnered with the St. Croix County Health Department to present information on the COVID-19 pandemic to business and industry.

Kelli Engen, from the St. Croix County public health office and public health supervisor Laurie Diaby presented timely information to around 50 people through the Zoom meeting platform.

Slides from the event can be downloaded here and the recorded, 60-minute presentation can be viewed or downloaded here.

Additional information on COVID can be found at www.sccwi.gov/covid19. A data dashboard, including reported cases by census tract, confirmed cases, recovered cases, negative tests, and reported death(s) can be viewed can be viewed at this website.

“We’re All In” Deadline Extended

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“We’re All In” Deadline Extended

The deadline for the “We’re All In” program has been extended. The new deadline is Friday, June 26 at 11:59:59.

Update: As of this afternoon (6/24/20) we have had 2,244 applications from the Momentum West Ten-County Region. Breakout by County:

500         Eau Claire

367         St. Croix

310         Chippewa

265         Barron

209         Dunn

201         Polk

156         Pierce

110         Clark

73           Rusk

53           Pepin

St Croix County Public Health and EDC – COVID 19 Zoom Session

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St Croix County Public Health and EDC – COVID 19 and Start-up Practices for Business and Industry

St. Croix County Public Health and St. Croix Economic Development Corporation want to support organizations and businesses
as they reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Please join us for an interactive meeting with SCC Public Health Administrator Kelli Engen and SCC Public Health Supervisor Laurie Diaby. They will answer your questions and provide information on the following:
• The most current St. Croix County Covid-19 data
• What to expect when someone tests positive
• Review recommendations for safe operation

12:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Via Zoom

RSVP to Nita Dusek, St. Croix EDC, at nita@stcroixedc.com or (715) 381-4383. Meeting instructions & link are provided below.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/5365799293?pwd=MXFHekhiR1FONGl4dW40TTFiWmhiUT09
Meeting ID: 536 579 9293
Password: 354822
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“We’re All In” Application Deadline Extended to Tuesday, June 23rd

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We’re All In Application Deadline Extended to Tuesday, June 23

Wisconsin small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify for grants administered through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Grants range from $2,500 to $30,000 and are designed to assist businesses with 20 or fewer employees assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.

WEDC recently announced the EXTENSION of the deadline to submit applications. Online grant applications may be submitted starting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, June 15th, through the NEW deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23rd.

The application is posted at www.wedc.org/WAI-Small-Business-Grant and includes program details, frequently asked questions, and application checklist.

For more information, businesses are encouraged to contact their respective town, village, or city hall, or chamber of commerce, or St. Croix EDC at (715) 381-4383 or bill@stcroixedc.com.

Applications Open on June 15, 2020 for “We’re All In” Small Business Grants

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Applications for “We’re All In” Small Business Grants Open on June 15, 2020

The state’s lead economic development organization, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), will begin accepting online applications for its We’re All In small business grant program at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, June 15, 2020. The application process ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 21st.

Governor Tony Evers announced the $75 million small business grant program in mid-May. It was largely funded by federal dollars received by Wisconsin through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed and signed into law in late March 2020.

The cash grants will assist Wisconsin’s small businesses with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages, and inventory.

An estimated 30,000 businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees will qualify for the $2,500 grants.

Businesses may apply for the grants if they:
-Were in business as of February;
-Are Wisconsin-based and for-profit.
-Employ 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, including the owner.
-Have more than $0 but less than $1 million in annual revenues.

National chains are ineligible unless the businesses are third-party franchises.

Agriculture industries and landlords covered by other CARES Act-funded programs are not eligible. These are crop production, animal production or aquaculture, and lessors of residential buildings and dwellings

More information can be found at wedc.org/WAI-Small-Business-Grant.

Unemployment After COVID-19

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COVID Realities: St. Croix County’s April Unemployment Rate is 17.8%

On May 27th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary April 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s April rate was estimated at 17.8%, which is substantially higher than the final rate of 4.0% for March and February’s rate of 4.8%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.5%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from March to April and year-over-year increased in all 72 counties. The rates ranged from 9.7% in Lafayette to 26.2% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates increased in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from March to April as well as year-over-year. Rates ranged from 9.9% in Fitchburg to 21.1% in Superior.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in April include Lafayette (9.7%), Clark (10.0%), Kewuanee (10.2%), Taylor (10.9%), and Dane (11.3%). Menominee County had the highest rate in April at 26.2%, followed by Iron (also at 26.2%), Bayfield (24.1%), Burnett (23.5%), and Douglas (23.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 17.8%, April’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 12.3%, while Pierce reported 17.4% and 17.7% in Polk.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The April 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 9.2%, which is higher than the final rate of 3.1% for both March and February. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.9% in April 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in April was estimated at 14.1%, which is significantly higher than March’s final rate of 3.1% and February’s final rate of 3.5%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in April was estimated at 8.1%, which is significantly higher than March’s final rate of 2.9% and February’s final rate of 3.1%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for April was estimated at 14.7%, which is significantly higher than March’s final rate of 4.4% and February’s final rate 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 66.6%, which is higher than March’s final rate of 66.4% but lower than February’s final rate of 66.9%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in April was estimated at 60.2% which is lower than March’s final rate of 62.7% and February’s final rate of 63.4%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 62.8%.

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

Wisconsin Establishes $75 Million Small Business Grant Program

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Wisconsin Establishes $75 Million Small Business Grant Program
Businesses in Wisconsin with 20 or Fewer Employees Can Qualify for $2,500 Grants

(Released Monday, May 18, 2020)

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will establish a $75 million grant fund to help businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Tony Evers’ announced the program, entitled We’re All In, in a press release distributed Monday morning, May 18, 2020.

An estimated 30,000 businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees will qualify for the $2,500 grants.

These cash grants will assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages, and inventory.

We’re All In was largely by federal dollars received by Wisconsin through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The governor’s office promised more details later in May.

WEDC will begin accepting grant applications in June.

Read more here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIGOV/bulletins/28c2d0c (link to Ever’s press release).

COVID-19 and Small Business Assistance

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COVID-19 and Small Business Assistance

Updated March 23, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues to negatively impact business and industry.

In Wisconsin, it is a rapidly-changing landscape, given restrictions on public and private mass gatherings of ten (10) or more people as well as the mandatory 5:00 p.m. closure of bars and restaurants (except for take-out orders), school closures, and the strong encouragement of remote working, etc. These are dramatic steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

To assist small businesses incurring losses due to the crisis, action is underway on several fronts, including the Governor’s office and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the state’s lead economic development organization.

On March 20, 2020 the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved Governor Tony Evers’ request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. As a result, severely impacted Wisconsin businesses can access targeted, low-interest loans through the SBA. The loans provide necessary working capital for businesses to operate until normal obligations resume. Businesses can use the loan funds to satisfy payment obligations in which they are unable to meet due to the COVID-19 disruption. Each business may qualify for up to $2 million. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for for-profit businesses and 2.75 percent for non-profits. Repayment is deferred for four months and the term is determined by the business’s ability to repay, with long-term options up to 30-years.

Business and industry may apply online at the SBA’s website, https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela . It is a three-step process, Eligible Disaster Areas (Wisconsin is confirmed), Apply Online (requires the set-up of User Name and Password), and Check Application Status.

On March 17th, WEDC’s board of directors met and approved $5 million in funding for its special program known as Small Business 20/20 (SB20/20). SB20/20 will provide grants of up to $20,000 to targeted businesses with no more than 20 employees to cover rent and to meet payroll expenses, including paid leave (including sick, family and other leave related to COVID-19). WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes announced the program. The grants will be deployed by WEDC partnering with state’s 23 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) because CDFIs have pre-existing relationships with many of these small businesses.

Secretary Hughes’ announcement and outline of SB20/20 can be found here
https://wedc.org/blog/wedc-announces-targeted-grants-to-small-businesses-suffering-losses-due-to-coronavirus-emergency/

The link to WEDC’s summary of SB20/20, including downloadable program information can be found here
https://wedc.org/programs-and-resources/small-business-2020/

Summary

As always, business and industry are encourage to utilize advisors like banks and credit unions, accountants, attorneys, local and county EDCs, and chambers of commerce.

St. Croix EDC can be reached at (715) 381-4383 or by email at bill@stcroixedc.com.

2019 Traveler Spending Up

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2019 Traveler Spending Up in the Greater St. Croix Valley
State’s Tourism Spending up 2.6% to $13.67 Billion

2019 traveler spending in St. Croix County increased to $119.6 million (up +1.6% from 2018) according to an annual analysis released May 4th by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The 2019 traveler spending in St. Croix resulted in total business sales of $197.6 million, reflecting a +2.4% increase from 2018. This spending supported an estimated 2,073 jobs in the county (up +1.8% from 2018) and generated $14.8 million in state and local tax revenues (up +1.05% from 2018).

Statewide, travelers spent an estimated $13.667 billion in 2019, a +2.62% increase from 2018.  Total business sales from tourists in Wisconsin were estimated at $22.223 billion (a +3.02% increase from 2018).  Tourism and traveler-supported employment in Wisconsin in 2019 topped the 200,000 milestone for the first time and was estimated at 202,217 jobs (a +1.58% increase from 2018). Tourism also provided the state with tax revenues of $1.61 billion in 2019 (a +1.79% increase from 2018).

The traveler spending news for 2019 comes ahead of the challenges faced by Wisconsin’s tourism sector in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

St. Croix, Polk, Pierce, and Dunn counties comprise the Greater St. Croix Valley. Visitor spending in 2019 for the 4-county region was estimated at $299.1 million compared to $292.0  million in 2018 (a +2.43% increase). 2019 spending in the Greater St. Croix Valley includes St. Croix’s estimated $119.6 million, $95.4 million in Polk, $53.3 million in Dunn, and $30.8 million in Pierce. Because of the Greater St. Croix Valley’s close proximity to the Twin Cities metro area, many visitors from Minnesota enjoy day trips to the Valley and return to their homes without incurring lodging expenses. Local overnight stays would greatly increase traveler spending in the Greater St. Croix Valley.

Total business sales from travelers and visitors to the Greater St. Croix Valley in 2019 were estimated at $491.6 million compared to $477.9 million in 2018 (a +2.87% increase). Business sales per county include $197.6 million in St. Croix, $143.5 million in Polk, $93.0 million in Dunn, and $57.5 million in Pierce.

Tourism-related employment in the Greater St. Croix Valley for 2019 was estimated at 4,601 jobs (up +2.15% from 2018) and include 2,073 in St. Croix, 1,172 in Polk, 892 in Dunn, and 464 in Pierce.

2019 state and local tax revenue attributable to visitors and travelers in the Greater St. Croix Valley was estimated at $34.5 million (up +1.77% from 2018) and includes $14.8 million from St. Croix, $9.7 million from Polk, $6.5 million from Dunn, and $3.5 million from Pierce.

Milwaukee is the state’s top county for visitor spending estimated at $2.192billion. The other counties in the Top 10 include Dane ($1.361 billion); Sauk ($1.145 billion); Waukesha ($847.9 million); Brown ($717.9 million); Walworth ($584.5 million); Outagamie ($375.2 million); Door ($374.4 million); La Crosse ($281.4 million); and  Rock (263.6 million).

Tourism is one of Wisconsin’s top three industries along with manufacturing and agriculture.

For additional information, or to read the 2019 Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin go to http://industry.travelwisconsin.com/research/economic-impact and select the topic: “County Total Impact”.

March 2020 Unemployment

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Ahead of the Pandemic, St. Croix County’s March Unemployment Rate at 4.2%

On April 22nd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary March 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s March rate was estimated at 4.2%, which is lower than the final rate of 4.8% for both February and January. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.1%.

The one-month delay in data reporting is not indicative of Wisconsin’s current economy and labor market.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from February to March declined in all 72 counties. The rates ranged from 2.2% in Dane to 7.1% in Burnett.

Preliminary unemployment rates decreased in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from February to March. Rates ranged from 2.0% in Madison to 5.2% in Racine.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in March include Dane (2.2%), Ozaukee (2.6 %), Calumet (2.7%), La Crosse (2.8%), and Marathon (also at 2.8%). Burnett County had the highest rate in March at 7.1%, followed by Bayfield (6.7%), Iron (6.6%), Adams (6.5%), Menominee (6.1%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 4.2%, March’s preliminary rate in Dunn and Pierce was also estimated at 4.2% while was Polk at 5.8%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The March 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 3.4%, which is higher than the final rate of 3.1% for both February and January. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 3.6% in March 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in March was estimated at 3.4%, which is lower than the final rate of 3.5% for both February and January. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in March was estimated at 3.1%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.2% and January’s final rate of 3.3%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.2%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for March was estimated at 3.5%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.6% and the same as January’s final rate. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.8%

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for March was 66.8% which is lower than the final rate of 66.9% for both February and January. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.0%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in March was estimated at 62.7% which is lower than the final rate of 63.4% for both February and January. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.0%.

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