May 2022 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s May Unemployment Rate is 2.5%

On June 22nd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary May 2022 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s May rate was estimated at 2.5%, which is lower than April’s final rate of 3.0% and the final rate of 3.5% for March. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.4%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from April to May decreased or stayed the same in 66 of the 72 counties. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The current rates range from 1.9% in Lafayette to 7.0% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates from April to May decreased or stayed the same in 13 of Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 35 cities. Rates ranged from 1.9% in Fitchburg to 4.9% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in May include Lafayette (1.9%), Clark (2.1%), Green (also at 2.1%), Calumet (2.2%), and Dane (also at 2.2%). Menominee had the highest rate in May at 7.0%, followed by Iron (5.6%), Forest (5.3%), Bayfield (4.9%), and Adams (4.6%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 2.5%, May’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 2.7% and Polk’s rate was 3.2%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The May 2022 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 1.6%, which is higher than the final rates of 1.5% for April and 2.6% for March. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 3.8% in May 2021.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in May was estimated at 2.9%, which is higher than the final rate of 2.8% for both April and March. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.1%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for May was estimated at 2.0%, which is lower than the final of 2.2% for April and the final rate of 2.5% in March. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for May was estimated at 3.6%, which is the same as the final rate for both April and March. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 5.8%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for May was estimated at 66.5%, which is the same as the final rate for both April and March. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.7%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in May was estimated at 62.3%, which is higher than the final rate of 62.2% for April but lower than the final rate of 62.4% for March. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.6%.

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

Double Digit Traveler Spending Increase in 2021

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Greater St. Croix Valley Has Double Digit Traveler Spending Increase in 2021
State’s 2021 Tourism Spending Rises +31 Percent to $12.85 Billion

Traveler spending in St. Croix County increased from $90.3 million in 2020 to an estimated $113.3 million in 2021 (a +25.4% increase) according to an annual analysis released June 8th by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The total economic impact from travelers in St. Croix was also up, rising from $158.1 million in 2020 to $188 million in 2021 (up +18.7%). Spending from travelers and tourists supported an estimated 1,836 jobs in the county (up +5.1% from 2020) and generated $12.8 million in state and local taxes (up +12.4% from 2020).

Statewide, travelers spent an estimated $12.85 billion in 2021, an increase of +31.1% from 2020. The total economic impact from tourists in Wisconsin during 2021 was estimated at $20.9 billion (an increase of +21% percent from 2020). Tourism and traveler-supported employment in Wisconsin in 2021 increased +7.9% to 169,707 jobs. Tourism also provided the state and local units of government with tax revenues of $1.39 billion in 2021, up from $1.16 billion in 2020 (an increase of +19.1%).

Despite the increases in 2021, traveler and tourism spending is below pre-COVID levels of 2019.

St. Croix, Polk, Pierce counties comprise the Greater St. Croix Valley in Wisconsin. Visitor spending in 2021 for the region was estimated at $241.0 million compared to $197.5 million in 2020 (a +21.5% increase). 2021 spending in the Greater St. Croix Valley includes St. Croix’s estimated $113.3 million, $96.3 million in Polk, and $31.4 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 three counties and return to their homes without incurring lodging expenses. Local overnight stays would greatly increase traveler spending in the Greater St. Croix Valley.

The total economic impact from travelers and visitors to the Greater St. Croix Valley in 2021 was estimated at $383 million, compared to $330 million in 2020 (a +16.1% increase). Impact per county includes $188 million in St. Croix, $125 million in Polk, and $47 million in Pierce.

Tourism-related employment in the Greater St. Croix Valley for 2021 was estimated at 3,359 jobs (up +7.38% from 2020) and includes 1,836 in St. Croix, 1,097 in Polk, and 426 in Pierce.

2021 state and local tax revenue attributable to visitors and travelers in the Greater St. Croix Valley was estimated at $25.0 million (up +12.6% from 2020) and includes $12.8 million from St. Croix, $8.9 million from Polk, and $3.3 million from Pierce.

Milwaukee is the state’s top county for visitor spending, estimated at $1.77 billion in 2021. Other counties in the Top 10 includes Sauk ($1.48 billion); Dane ($1.05 billion); Waukesha ($740.1 million); Brown ($632.7 million); Walworth ($594.5 million); Door ($423.0 million); Outagamie ($312.2 million); Vilas ($268.7 million); and La Crosse ($262.6 million).

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

Read the interactive summary from Tourism at https://www.industry.travelwisconsin.com/research/economic-impact/.

Total Reward Strategies Zoom recording

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Total Reward Strategies

On Wednesday, June 8, 2022, Linda Skoglund, Managing Partner and Alicia Schwartz, Benefits Consultant at JA Counter, an Alera Group Company held a conversation on total rewards strategies.

You can watch the recording here until July 8, 2022. You can download the presentation slides here and the 2022 Benchmarking Overview here.

In this one hour conversation, Linda & Alicia discussed trends regarding benefits, compensation and company culture and how enlightened employers are differentiating themselves from their competitors.

April 2022 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s April Unemployment Rate is 3.0%

On May 25th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary April 2022 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 3.0%, which is lower than the final rate of 3.5% for March and February’s final rate of 3.4%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from March to April decreased or stayed the same in 63 of the 72 counties. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The current rates range from 1.9% in Lafayette to 7.7% in Iron.

Preliminary unemployment rates from March to April decreased or stayed the same in 33 of Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 35 cities. Rates ranged from 1.8% in Fitchburg to 5.0% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in April include Lafayette (1.9%), Dane (2.0%), Green (also at 2.0%), Calumet (2.1%), and Fond du Lac (2.3%). Iron County had the highest rate in April at 7.7%, followed by Menominee (7.0%), Bayfield (6.6%), Forest (6.5%), and Burnett (5.8%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.0%, April’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 3.1% and Polk’s rate was 4.5%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The April 2022 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 1.5, which is lower than the final rate of 2.6% for March and February’s final rate of 2.4%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.1% in April 2021.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in April was estimated at 2.8%, which is the same as the final rate for March and lower than February’s final rate of 2.9%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for April was estimated at 2.2%, which is lower than the final rate of 2.5% in March and February’s final rate of 2.7%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.5%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for April was estimated at 3.6%, which is the same as the final rate for March and lower than February’s final rate of 3.8%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.0%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for April was estimated at 66.5%, which is the same as the final rate for March but higher than the final rate of 66.4% for February. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.7%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in April was estimated at 62.2%, which is lower than the final rate of 62.4% for March and February’s final rate of 62.3%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.7%.

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

Total Rewards Strategies

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Total Rewards Strategies

 Linda Skoglund (l), Managing Partner and Alicia Schwartz (r), Benefits Consultant at JA Counter, an Alera Group Company.

Please join St. Croix EDC on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 starting at 10:00 a.m. for an informative conversation on total rewards strategies with Linda Skoglund, Managing Partner and Alicia Schwartz, Benefits Consultant at JA Counter, an Alera Group Company.

REGISTER HERE

In this one hour conversation, Linda & Alicia will discuss trends regarding benefits, compensation and company culture and how enlightened employers are differentiating themselves from their competitors. 

Program attendees will learn what’s working in organizations that are winning the war on talent relative to compensation, career paths, communication and culture. 

Attend this session to learn what your current and prospective employees are looking for and how you need to think differently about communicating your value proposition.

REGISTER HERE

About Linda Skoglund
Linda is the managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company. As an insurance and benefits industry leader, she is responsible for the agency’s strategic direction and continued growth. Linda oversees JA Counter’s employee benefit and consulting practice while managing the organization’s vision, direction and client relationships. She has specialized expertise in areas of benefits consulting, regulatory compliance, benefits administration and insurance product design.  She is the lead benefit consultant for large employer groups, specializing in the public sector.

About Alicia Schwartz
As a Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC®), Alicia provides leadership and guidance to employers on benefit selection, total reward strategies, and the implementation and administration of benefits.  Alicia’s goal is to be an extension of an organization, working to strategically plan and develop a world-class total rewards package that meets the needs of the organization and their employees.

St. Croix EDC Hosts Competitive Wisconsin June 7th

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St. Croix EDC Hosts Competitive Wisconsin June 7th

St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will host James Wood of Competitive Wisconsin for a lunch presentation on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at the at the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center, 1091 Sutherland Avenue, River Falls, Wisconsin, from 11:30 a.m. (check-in and networking) to 1:15 p.m. The program begins at promptly at 12:00 p.m.

REGISTER HERE

Wood is the strategic counsel to Competitive Wisconsin. He will present insights to address eight areas of need and opportunity related to the most pressing systemic challenges faced by locally elected officials, employers, and community/regional leaders in recruiting and retaining the workforce in order to: a) support and grow the economy; b) pay for essential public services; and c) secure Wisconsin’s future.

Competitive Wisconsin’s eight key areas include early care and education, broadband access, workforce housing, transportation, energy, health care, rural resurgence, and community quality of life and opportunity.

Attendance is limited to the first 50 individuals and a complimentary lunch will be served. To ensure an accurate meal count, please RSVP HERE through Eventbrite or Nita@StCroixEDC.com by the close of business on Friday, June 3rd.

About Competitive Wisconsin Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. (CWI) is a unique nonpartisan consortium of agriculture, business, education, government and labor leaders in Wisconsin who work together to focus attention on the state’s competitiveness. CWI’s mission is to improve the economic climate of Wisconsin in order to encourage the expansion of existing businesses and enhance the potential of developing and attracting new businesses. Learn more at www.Competitivewi.com.

2022-23 Directors and Officers Elected at Annual Meeting

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2022-23 Directors and Officers Elected at Annual Meeting

St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) held its Annual Meeting at Northwood Technical College in New Richmond, Wisconsin on Tuesday, May 10th.  A slate of officers for 2022-2023 and two new board members were elected, along with the re-election of five directors. Three county supervisors also joined the board for the first time in accordance with EDC bylaws.

Aaron Sundeen, Director of Project Development at Derrick Building Solutions, (New Richmond, WI area) was elected Board President. He has served on the board since 2019 and replaces Angela Popenhagen who completed her term as President. She will continue to serve on the board and the executive committee as Past President. 

Krista Paulus, Relationship Manager, Commercial Banking, Security Financial Bank (River Falls, WI branch), was elected First Vice President.

Susan Yohnk Lockwood, Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and New Richmond Campus Administrator, Northwood Technical College (New Richmond, WI), was elected Second Vice President. 

Marina Onken was 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.

Aaron Sundeen, Steve Gossel, Susan Yohnk Lockwood, Marina Onken, and Kim Rock were re-elected to the board. Each will serve a final three-year term, ending in May 2025.

Tom Aaby and Tom Loonan were elected to three-year terms on the board. Aaby is Vice President of Business Development with OEM Fabricators (Woodville, WI) and Loonan is an attorney with Eckberg Lammers. He practices civil municipal law and business law. Eckberg Lammers has offices in Hudson, Wisconsin and Stillwater, Minnesota.

Carah Koch, Paul Berning, and Mark Carlson from the county board of supervisors were appointed to the EDC board earlier in the month. 

The board of directors accepted the 2021 financial review from Jason Zahradka, CPA of Guinn, Vinopal & Zahradka, LLP. 

The board honored Popenhagen, Jones, and Kelly at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting.

St. Croix County and EDC Promote National Small Business Week

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St. Croix County and EDC Promote National Small Business Week

Photo Caption: (l to r) EDC President Angela Popenhagen, County Board Chair Bob Long, and EDC Executive Director Bill Rubin display a proclamation before the start of the May 3rd county board meeting. The proclamation was signed by Popenhagen and Long to recognize May 1-7, 2022 as National Small Business Week for the benefit of business and industry in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Popenhagen and Long called on county residents to reflect on the importance of the week and help celebrate small business achievements in their respective communities.

About Small Businesses
-There are an estimated 32.5 million small businesses in the U.S., including more than 461,500 in Wisconsin and 2,300 employer establishments in St. Croix County. Estimated employment of employer establishments in St. Croix is 32,280. The number of employer establishments in Pierce County is estimated at 780, which employ 7,100 persons. The number of employer establishments in Polk County is estimated at 1,120, which employ 14,125 persons.

-99.9 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are small businesses

-61.2 million people in the U.S. are employed by small businesses

-46.8 percent of U.S. employees are employed by small businesses

March 2022 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s March Unemployment Rate is 3.5%

On April 20th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary March 2022 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 3.5%, which is higher than February’s final rate of 3.4% and January’s final rate of 3.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.5%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from February to March decreased or stayed the same in 62 of the 72 counties. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The current rates range from 2.3% in Dane to 6.5% in Iron.

Preliminary unemployment rates from February to March decreased or stayed the same in 25 of Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 35 cities. Rates ranged from 2.0% in Fitchburg to 5.0% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in March include Dane (2.3%), Calumet (2.4%), Ozaukee (2.5%), Sheboygan (2.6%), and Waukesha (also at 2.6%). Iron County had the highest rate in March at 6.5%, followed by Bayfield (6.4%), Forest (6.3%), Adams (also at 6.3%), and Burnett (6.1%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.5%, March’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 3.8% and Polk’s rate was 4.9%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The March 2022 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.5%, which is higher than the final rate of 2.4% for February but lower than January’s final rate of 3.0%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.3% in March 2021.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in March was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 2.9% and January’s final rate of 3.0%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for March was estimated at 2.5%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 2.7% and January’s final rate of 2.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.7%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for March was estimated at 3.6%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.8% and January’s final rate of 4.0%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.0%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for March was estimated at 66.5%, which is higher than the final rate of 66.4% for both February and January. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.6%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in March was estimated at 62.4%, which is higher than February’s final rate of 62.3% and January’s rate of 62.2%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.5%.

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

February 2022 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s February 2022 Unemployment Rate at 3.5%

On March 30th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary February 2022 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s February rate was estimated at 3.5%, which is higher than the final rate of 3.3% for January and 2.2% for December. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 5.1%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates increased from January to February in 70 of the 72 counties. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The current rates range from 2.3% in Dane to 6.6% in Adams.

Preliminary unemployment rates from January to February decreased or stayed the same in 12 of Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 35 cities. Rates ranged from 2.0% in Madison to 5.2% in Racine.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in February include Dane (2.3%), Calumet (2.5%), Ozaukee (also at 2.5%), Sheboygan (2.6%), and Winnebago (also at 2.6%). Adams County had the highest rate in February at 6.6%, followed by Forest (6.5%), Burnett (also at 6.5%), Bayfield (also at 6.5%), and Menominee (6.4%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.5%, February’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 3.8% and Polk’s rate was 5.2%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The February 2022 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.4%, which is lower than January’s final rate of 3.0% and the same as December’s final rate of 2.4%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.6% in February 2021.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in February was estimated at 2.9%, which is lower than January’s final rate of 3.0% and December’s final rate of 3.1%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for February was estimated at 2.7%, which is lower than January’s final rate of 2.9% and December’s final rate of 3.0%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.9%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for February was estimated at 3.8%, which is lower than January’s final rate of 4.0% and December’s final rate of 3.9%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.2%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for February was estimated at 66.4% which is the same rate for both January and December. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.5%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in February was estimated at 62.3%, which is higher than January’s rate of 62.2% and December’s rate of 61.9%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.5%.

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

St. Croix EDC Honors 2021’s Top Businesses and Individual

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St. Croix EDC Honors 2021’s Top Businesses and Individual 

On February 24th, St. Croix EDC honored its 2021 business of the year winners and recipient of its Directors Award during an event conducted on an electronic meeting platform. 

Honorees include Aster Beverage (City of New Richmond), Alms Creative (City of Hudson), and Indue (Town of Hudson) as recipients of the 2021 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

Ruthie Johnston received the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization for championing economic development through innovation and actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents. 

Angela Popenhagen, the EDC’s 2021-22 President, served as the event’s emcee.

About the Honorees:

Aster Beverage: The company was formed in late 2020 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Watt Beverage, Inc. and commenced operations in New Richmond last year in a previously vacant facility in the city’s business park. Aster operates as a beverage manufacturer specializing in ready-to-drink and ready-to-serve functional beverages, hard and nonalcoholic sparkling products, and as a contractual co-packer for other beverage companies. The co-packing partners are local, regional, and national operations. The company is led by Tom Meyer and a number of partners who have ownership interests in Big Watt Beverage and the limited liability company which own the real estate and capital equipment at 1280 Madison Avenue.

 Alms Creative: Alms is a full service video production agency with over 25 years of experience in all phases of production. Based in Hudson, Alms Creative is owned and led by William (Bill) Alms. The company was launched in 2013 and used Alms’ passion of storytelling with nonprofit organizations as its foundation. Alms and staff rely on their respective keen eyes and focus to produce authentic awareness and content for clients. In late 2021, Alms Creative was awarded two Gold Marcom awards for marketing and communication excellence. Bill Alms serves as an alderperson on the Hudson Common Council and represents constituents in the city’s second district.

Indue: Indue is an industrial flooring company that installs and manufactures polyurethane concrete coatings, concrete polishing, and decorative floors. Indue provides these flooring services to companies in the food industry sector throughout the upper Midwest, east central and southern U.S., as well as Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. Reflective customers include Mead Johnson, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Incorporated, and American Crystal Sugar. The company has been in St. Croix County since 2004 and has grown from five employees in 2000, to 20 in 2004, and to over 100 including the associates in a Michigan sales office. Indue is led by Tom Scanlan.

EDC Directors Award

Ruthie Johnston is the CEO of Croix Gear and Machining in Hudson. Her story is one of opportunity within a tragedy. In 2010, Ruthie’s husband Mark unexpectedly passed away. Ruthie was not involved in the family’s manufacturing business, but was thrust in the leadership role of running the company. Although not prepared, she stepped into the CEO role of then-named Marine Associates. From Day One, she asked her leadership team for assistance and grew into the role of the leader. The company name was changed to Croix Gear to more accurately reflect the manufactured products. Numerous metrics and goals were introduced along with a 23,000 square foot addition in 2016. Through the efforts of Ruthie and her leadership team, Croix Gear continues to prosper. The company’s tagline is Precision with Purpose. Her success is testament to learning and adapting.

Each of the winners received a plaque from the EDC as well as a Legislative Citation from the State Senate and Assembly, and numerous congratulatory letters from state, federal, and local officials.

The 28th annual awards event was sponsored by 32 organizations.

For more information contact: (715) 381-4383 William Rubin bill@stcroixedc.com or Nita Dusek nita@stcroixedc.com.

December 2021 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s December Unemployment Rate at 1.9%

On January 26th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary December 2021 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s December rate was estimated at 1.9%, which is higher than the final rate of 1.6% for November and is the same as October’s final rate of 1.9%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.3%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates stayed the same from November to December in 12 of the 72 counties and increased in the remaining 60. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The rates ranged from 1.3% in Lafayette to 4.3% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates from November to December declined or stayed the same in 26 of Wisconsin’s 34 largest cities and increased in the remaining eight. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 34 cities. Rates ranged from 1.2% in Madison to 3.3% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December include Lafayette (1.3%), Calumet (1.4%), Dane (also at 1.4%), Fond du Lac (1.5%), and Grant (also at 1.5%). Menominee County had the highest rate in December at 4.3%, followed by Iron (4.1%), Forest (3.8%), Adams (also at 3.8%), and Bayfield (3.7%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 1.9%, December’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 2.1% and Polk’s rate was 2.8%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The December 2021 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.5%, which is higher than November’s final rate of 2.2%, but lower than October’s final rate of 2.6%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.5% in December 2020.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in December was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than November’s final rate of 3.0% and October’s final rate of 3.2%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in December was estimated at 3.1%, which is lower than November’s final rate of 3.3% and October’s final rate of 3.5%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 4.7%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for December was estimated at 3.9%, which is lower than November’s final rate of 4.2% and October’s final rate of 4.6%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for December was estimated at 66.4% which is the same rate for both November and October. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 65.5%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in December was estimated at 61.9%, which is the same as the final rate for November and higher than October’s final rate of 61.6%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.5%.

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

Top Businesses Announced

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St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses/Individual for 2021

Angela Popenhagen, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of Aster Beverage (City of New Richmond), Alms Creative (City of Hudson), and Indue (Town of Hudson) as recipients of the 2021 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

Ruthie Johnston is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization championing economic development through innovation and actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents.

They will be honored during an online celebration scheduled for Thursday, February 24, 2022, starting at 5:00 o’clock p.m.

“The 2021 honorees represent the very best of business and industry in St. Croix County,” said EDC President Angela Popenhagen. “Each possess unique characteristics that sets them apart as leaders in their respective fields,” she added.

About the 2021 Honorees
Aster Beverage is the 2021 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The company was formed in late 2020 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Watt Beverage, Inc. and commenced operations in New Richmond last year in a previously vacant facility in the city’s business park. Aster operates as a beverage manufacturer specializing in ready-to-drink and ready-to-serve functional beverages, hard and nonalcoholic sparkling products, and as a contractual co-packer for other beverage companies. The co-packing partners are local, regional, and national operations. The company is led by Tom Meyer and a number of partners who have ownership interests in Big Watt Beverage and the limited liability company which own the real estate and capital equipment at 1280 Madison Avenue.

Alms Creative is the 2021 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). It is a full service video production agency with over 25 years of experience in all phases of production. Based in Hudson, Alms Creative is owned and led by William (Bill) Alms. The company was launched in 2013 and used Alms’ passion of storytelling with nonprofit organizations as its foundation. Alms and staff rely on their respective keen eyes and focus to produce authentic awareness and content for clients. In late 2021, Alms Creative was awarded two Gold Marcom awards for marketing and communication excellence. Bill Alms serves as an alderperson on the Hudson Common Council and represents constituents in the city’s second district.

Indue is the 2021 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Indue is led by Tom Scanlan. The company has been in St. Croix County since 2004 and has grown from five employees in 2000, to 20 in 2004, and to over 100 including the associates in a Michigan sales office. Indue provides flooring services to companies in the food industry sector throughout the upper Midwest, east central and southern U.S., as well as Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. Reflective customers include Mead Johnson, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Incorporated, and American Crystal Sugar.

Ruthie Johnston is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award. She is the CEO of Croix Gear and Machining in Hudson. Her story is one of opportunity within a tragedy. In 2010, Ruthie’s husband Mark unexpectedly passed away. Ruthie was not involved in the family’s manufacturing business, but was thrust in the leadership role of running the company. Although not prepared, she stepped into the CEO role of then-named Marine Associates. From Day One, she asked her leadership team for assistance and grew into the role of the leader. The company name was changed to Croix Gear to more accurately reflect the manufactured products. Numerous metrics and goals were introduced along with a 23,000 square foot addition in 2016. Through the efforts of Ruthie and her leadership team, Croix Gear continues to prosper. The company’s tagline is Precision with Purpose. Her success is testament to learning and adapting.

Event Details
This is the 28th business awards program conducted by St. Croix EDC. The online event is open to the public but reservations are required. Additional details on connecting to the event will follow.

About St. Croix EDC
The 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 William Rubin or Nita Dusek at (715) 381-4383.

November 2021 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s November Unemployment Rate at 1.6%

On December 22nd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary November 2021 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s November rate was estimated at 1.6%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 1.9% and September’s final rate of 2.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.0%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates declined from October to November in all 72 counties and declined in all counties year-over-year. Sixty-one counties experienced record low unemployment for the month. The rates ranged from 1.2% in Lafayette to 4.1% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates declined from October to November in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest cities and declined in all of the largest cities year-over-year. Rates ranged from 1.4% in Madison to 3.3% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in November include Lafayette (1.2%), Calumet (1.4%), Dane (also at 1.4%), Green (also at 1.4%), and Kewaunee (also at 1.4%). Menominee County had the highest rate in November at 4.1%, followed by Forest (3.2%), Iron (3.1%), Bayfield (3.0%), and Adams (also at 3.0%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 1.6%, November’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 1.7% and Polk’s rate was 2.0%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The November 2021 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.2%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 2.6% and September’s final rate of 2.9%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.0% in November 2020.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in November was estimated at 3.0%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 3.2% and September’s final rate of 3.4%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in November was estimated at 3.3%, which is lower than the final rate of 3.5% for October and September’s final rate of 3.7%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 5.0%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for November was estimated at 4.2%, which is less than the final rate of 4.6% for October and September’s final rate of 4.8%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.7%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for November was estimated at 66.4%, which is the same as the final rate in October but lower than September’s final rate of 66.5% for September. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 65.5%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in November was estimated at 61.8%, which is higher than the final rate of 61.6% for October and September. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was also 61.5%.

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

Tourism Department Awards Grant

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Tourism Department Awards Grant for World Fat Bike World Championships

New Richmond, Wisconsin Will Host World Championships January 28-30

Photo: Julie Fox (left of center) presents APEX Cycling with a Joint Effort Marketing grant to assist with hosting the 2022 Fat Bike World Championships in New Richmond, Wisc. in late January

On December 16th, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (Tourism) presented a $10,150 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant to Apex Cycling, Inc. to assist with hosting the 2022 Fat Bike World Championships, scheduled for January 28-30 at the New Richmond Golf Course (New Richmond, Wisc.).

The original World Championships originated in Crested Butte, Colorado and the seventh annual event moves to New Richmond in 2022.

The 2022 World Championships is hosted by the Big Ring Flyers cycling club in partnership with the City of New Richmond and New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce. Over 200 riders, along with families and friends are expected to attend this event. Beyond the races, there will be exhibitions showcasing local businesses, tourism, industry leaders and local food and beverages, live music events, a brewery tour and more.

“Wisconsin is a great place for a biking adventure, and it’s no wonder with our abundance of natural beauty and pristine trails,” said Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers. “Fat biking ensures that biking can be enjoyed 12 months of the year in any weather. This event will show off the vast natural wonder of northern Wisconsin, not to mention awesome bikes — many of which are manufactured right in our state.”

Tourism in Wisconsin is a $17.3 billion industry that supports more than 157,000 jobs. It is crucial to the state’s economic recovery and success.

JEM grants are just one of the tools in Tourism’s toolbox to partner with organizations and nonprofits around the state that use innovation and creativity to bring visitors and dollars to their community.

In fiscal year 2021, the Department funded 45 JEM projects, awarding $1,130,000 million statewide. JEM grant funds are available to nonprofit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s
first-year advertising and marketing costs and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining.

Learn more about the 2022 Fat Bike World Championships at https://fatbikeworlds.org/

Learn more about the Big Ring Flyers cycling club at https://bigringflyers.com/

Learn more about Tourism’s JEM grants at
https://www.travelwisconsin.com/industry/industry-resources/grants/joint-effort-marketing-jem-grant-program/

October 2021 Unemployment

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St. Croix County’s October Unemployment Rate is 1.9%

On November 24th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary October 2021 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s October rate was estimated at 1.9%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 2.3% and August’s final rate of 3.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.0%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates declined from September to October in all 72 counties and declined in all counties year-over-year. The rates ranged from 1.6% in Lafayette to 5.1% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates declined from September to October in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest cities and declined in all of the largest cities year-over-year. Rates ranged from 1.7% in Madison to 4.2% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in October include Lafayette (1.6%), Taylor (also at 1.6%), Calumet (1.7%), Clark (also at 1.7%), and Kewaunee (also at 1.7%). Menominee County had the highest rate in October at 5.1%, followed by Forest (4.1%), Milwaukee (3.5%), Iron (also at 3.5%), and Adams (also at 3.5%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 1.9%, October’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 1.9% and Polk’s rate was 2.2%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The October 2021 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.6%, which is lower than the final rate of 2.9% for September and August’s final rate of 3.5%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 5.3% in October 2020.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in October was estimated at 3.2%, compared to September’s final rate of 3.4% and August’s final rate of 3.9%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.8%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in October was estimated at 3.5%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 3.7% and August’s final rate of 3.8%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 5.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for October was estimated at 4.6%, compared to September’s final rate of 4.8% and August’s final rate of 5.2%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.9%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for October was estimated at 66.4%, which is lower than the final rate of 66.5% for September and August. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 65.5%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in October was estimated at 61.6%, which is the same as September’s final rate but lower than August’s the final rate of 61.7%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was also 61.6%.

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

Local Businesses Recognized During Apprenticeship Week

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Local Businesses Recognized During Apprenticeship Week

St. Croix EDC presented several businesses with a proclamation for their role in supporting apprenticeship programs. Top to bottom,  left to right – Nolato Contour, WESTconsin Credit Union in River Falls, Kinnic Health and Rehab in River Falls, WESTconsin Credit Union in Baldwin, and Countryside Plumbing and Heating.

St. Croix EDC helped recognize the important contributions of local businesses during National Apprenticeship Week, November 15-21, 2021, with stops at Nolato Contour (Baldwin), WESTconsin Credit Union (Baldwin and River Falls branches), Kinnic Health and Rehab (River Falls), and Countryside Plumbing and Heating (New Richmond). The EDC presented each business with a proclamation to highlight their role in hosting, training, and mentoring apprentices.

Apprenticeships are a proven model that provides training and a built-in pipeline for workers to secure solid careers across the nation and in the St. Croix Valley. They give employers the opportunity to develop and train their future workforce and apprentices earn wages while they learn.

Youth Apprenticeships integrates school-based and work-based learning to instruct students in employability and occupational skills. Registered apprenticeships are a post-secondary education, like a college or university. Registered apprentices learn only a portion of their skills in a traditional classroom and receive most of their training on-the-job working for a local employer.

For more information on prospective youth or registered apprenticeships, businesses are asked to contact their respective school district or technical college.

Scott Hodek Presentation

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Scott Hodek Presentation

On Tuesday, November 16th, Citizens State Bank and St. Croix EDC hosted an informative conversation with Scott Hodek, Chief, Office of Economic Advisors, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

For business and industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a game changer on many fronts including federal programs, unemployment, workforce trends, labor force participation, and consumer spending.

Mr. Hodek presented timely information on current economic conditions and realities, leading to potential solutions locally, regionally, and across the U.S.

You can download the slides from his presentation here.