St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses/Individual for 2020

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St. Croix EDC Names Top
Businesses/Individual for 2020

Rob Kreibich, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the EDC’s selection of National Tactical Security (River Falls), Laptop Chips (Roberts-Baldwin), and Nolato Contour (Baldwin) as recipients of the 2020 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Patrick Thompson is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award, an occasional award presented to an individual or organization championing economic development through innovation actions, making St. Croix County an exceptional place for business, industry, and residents.

The companies will be honored during an online celebration scheduled for Thursday, February 25, 2021, starting at 5:00 o’clock p.m.

“These businesses represent the very best entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in St. Croix County,” said EDC President Rob Kreibich.

About the 2020 Honorees

Launched in May 2020, National Tactical Security (NTS) is the 2020 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years).  It was founded by business partners Dave Skinner and Troy Szotkowski, who also own and operate Applied Countermeasures Group, founded in 2015. NTS provided executive protection for clients who quickly and unexpectedly found themselves in harm’s way last summer as a result of unrest locally and around the globe. In just eight months NTS obtained security licensing in eight states where qualified security agents were hired. NTS provided security and consulting services for election campaigns and provide 24/7 services as needed.

Laptop Chips is the 2020 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). The company is a hardware recycler and parts supplier serving Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2010. Their clients span a broad range from Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and educational institutions, to small businesses, and even end users.  Services include computer recycling, asset disposition, data destruction in compliance with DoD 5220,22-M standards, reverse logistics, liquidating, and downsizing or facility closure. Laptop Chips was founded by Erik Salomonsen and operates facilities in the Villages of Roberts and Baldwin.

Nolato Contour is the 2020 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Nolato Contour is a precision plastic and silicone injection molding company that produces and supplies plastic components and finished medical devices to major medical and pharma companies in the United States. The company was launched in 2010 following Sweden-based Nolato Group’s acquisition of Contour Plastics in Baldwin, Wisconsin. The acquisition enabled Nolato to secure a North American scientific manufacturing foothold with medical technology companies. In September 2019 Nolato announced a major expansion totaling $18+ million in Baldwin, which resulted in the creation of new jobs and a corporate tax credit award from the state. Russ Steele leads Nolato Contour as its president and managing director.

Patrick Thompson is the recipient of the EDC Directors Award. He came to St. Croix County as its first county administrator in 2011 and served in that capacity until August 2020 when he accepted a similar position in Winnebago County, Illinois. Thompson led several initiatives in St. Croix and the EDC appreciated his strong support and advocacy for economic development.

Event Details

This is the 27th 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 2020 Unemployment

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Month Eight of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s November Unemployment Rate is 4.3%

On December 23rd, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary November 2020 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 4.3%, which is lower than the final rate of 4.7% for both October and September. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.0%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from October to November declined or stayed the same in 65 of the 72 counties. The rates ranged from 2.9% in Lafayette to 10.3% in Menominee. 

Preliminary unemployment rates declined in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from October to November. Rates ranged from 3.2% in Fitchburg to 7.3% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in November include Lafayette (2.9%), Kewaunee (3.1%), Calumet (3.2%), Clark (also at 3.2%), and Green (3.3%). Menominee County had the highest rate in November at 10.3%, followed by Forest (8.4%), Iron (8.3%), Bayfield (7.3%), and Adams (also at 7.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 4.3%, November’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 3.9%, while Pierce reported 4.0% and Polk came in at 5.0%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The November 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 3.9%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 4.2 % and September’s final rate of 5.9%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.7% in November 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in November was estimated at 5.0%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 6.0% and September’s final rate of 5.4%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.5%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in November was estimated at 4.4%,  which is lower than October’s final rate 4.6% and September’s final rate of 5.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for November was estimated at 6.7%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 6.9% and September’s final rate of 7.9%. The November rate represents the seventh straight month the U.S. rate has declined. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.5%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for November was 66.9%, which is lower than October’s final rate of 67.4% and September’s final rate of 67.4%. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.9%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in November was estimated at 61.5% which is lower than October’s final rate of 61.7% but higher than September’s final rate of 61.4%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.2%. 

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

Benchmark Conversation Recording

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Recording of Benefits Benchmarking Conversation with Linda Skoglund

An informative conversation on benefits benchmarking with Linda Skoglund, managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company was held on Tuesday December 15, 2020. You can rewatch the Zoom event by clicking the link here until December 29.  If you have any additional questions, please reach out to Amber Richardson at arichardson@jacounter.com, or you can reach her at JA Counter 715-246-8063.

Now in its tenth year, the Western Wisconsin Benefits Benchmarking survey was recently completed by JA Counter.  In addition to the usual benchmarks around benefits, the JA Counter team identified themes found within the survey as well as emerging trends employers will see in the upcoming year(s). Those themes include the ongoing talent shortage driving the need to effectively communicate culture as a top priority, with increasing trends in employer innovation to offer a Total Rewards style benefits package valued by employees in all stages of life and career.

October 2020 Unemployment

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Month Seven of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s October Unemployment Rate is 4.5%

On November 25th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary October 2020 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 4.5%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 4.7% and August’s final rate of 6.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.6%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from September to October decreased in eight (8) of the 72 counties over the month. The rates ranged from 3.1% in Clark to 14.3% in Menominee. 

Preliminary unemployment rates declined in three (3) of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from September to October. Rates ranged from 3.6% in Fitchburg to 8.6% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in October include Clark (3.1%), Pepin (also at 3.1%), Kewaunee (3.2%), Lafayette (also at 3.2%), and Taylor (also at 3.2%). Menominee County had the highest rate in October at 14.3%, followed by Forest (10.4%), Iron (8.0%), Milwaukee (7.6%), and Adams (7.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 4.5%, October’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 3.9%, while Pierce reported 4.0% and Polk came in at 4.5.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The October 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 4.2% which is lower than September’s final rate of 5.9% and August’s final rate of 7.8%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.5% in October 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in October was estimated at 5.7%, which is higher than September’s final rate of 5.4% and August’s final rate of 6.3%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.5%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in October was estimated at 4.6%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 5.9% and August’s final rate of 7.4%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for October was estimated at 6.9%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 7.9% and August’s final rate of 8.4%. The October rate represents the sixth straight month the rate has declined. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.6%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for October was 67.2%, which is lower than September’s final rate of 67.4% and  August’s final rate of 65.6%. 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 October was estimated at 61.7% which is higher than September’s final rate of 61.4% and the same as August’s final rate of 61.7%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.3%. 

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

EDC Hosts Conversation with Linda Skoglund

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EDC Hosts Benefits Benchmarking Conversation with Linda Skoglund on December 15th

Please join St. Croix EDC on Tuesday, December 15th starting at 11:00 for an informative conversation on benefits benchmarking with Linda Skoglund, managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company.

Now in its tenth year, the Western Wisconsin Benefits Benchmarking survey was recently completed by JA Counter.  In addition to the usual benchmarks around benefits, the JA Counter team identified themes found within the survey as well as emerging trends employers will see in the upcoming year(s). Those themes include the ongoing talent shortage driving the need to effectively communicate culture as a top priority, with increasing trends in employer innovation to offer a Total Rewards style benefits package valued by employees in all stages of life and career.

Join the discussion with Linda Skoglund on JA Counter’s local and national benchmarking results as well as how employers are rising to the challenge to offer unique benefits to attract and retain their workers.

About Linda Skoglund

Linda is the managing partner of JA Counter, an Alera Group Company. An insurance industry leader, she is responsible for the agency’s strategic direction and continued growth. She oversees JA Counter’s employee benefit and consulting practice while managing the organization’s vision, direction and client relationships.  Linda 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.

RSVP to nita@stcroixedc.com for the Zoom link to ensure your place at the meeting.

EDC Hosts Conversation with Scott Hodek

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EDC Hosts Conversation with Scott Hodek

On Thursday, December 3, 2020 starting at 11:00 a.m., please join St. Croix EDC for an interactive conversation with Scott Hodek, Chief, Office of Economic Advisors, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a game changer on many fronts, including unemployment, workforce trends, labor force participation, and consumer spending. Mr. Hodek will present timely information on current economic conditions and realities, along with potential solutions for the St. Croix Valley, State of Wisconsin, and United States.

RSVP to nita@stcroixedc.com for the Zoom link to ensure your place at the meeting.

Nominations Open for 2020 Business Of The Year

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Nominations Open for 2020 Business of the Year

2019 Business of the Year Honorees include (l to r) Suzanne and Pablo Sotelo, Gallery 77 (Emerging Business of the year); Tim Westby, TurnKey Corrections / Three Square Market (Business of the Year); S. Mark Tyler (EDC Directors Award); John Knutson, Catalyst Sports Medicine – now Catalyst Powered by TCO (Small Business of the Year); and Scott Jones, St. Croix EDC President (2019-2020)

St. Croix EDC is accepting nominations for its 2020 Business of the Year awards program.

Categories include:
-Emerging Business of the Year (a start-up business that has operated in St. Croix County for five or fewer years);
-Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees); and
-Business of the Year (30 or more employees)

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

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

Criteria include:
*Recent Noteworthy Accomplishments: i.e. milestone anniversary, physical plant expansion, new product line, increases in employment,   sales increases, pollution control advances, new training programs, export sales, or any other significant advances.
*Contributions to Enhance the Community:
*Contributions to community projects, service to area youth, education programs, and other efforts to increase the quality of life in the area.

The honorees will be announced in January and recognized at an event in mid-February. The format of the event is yet to be determined.

A nomination form and guidelines can be obtained by clicking here or contacting Nita Dusek at nita@stcroixedc.com or (175) 381-4383. The deadline to submit is Friday, December 18, 2020 at the close of business.

September 2020 Unemployment

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Month Six of COVID-19:
St. Croix County’s September Unemployment Rate is 4.8%

On October 21st, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary September 2020 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 34 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s September rate was estimated at 4.8%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 6.3% and July’s final rate of 7.8%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 2.6%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from August to September decreased in all 72 counties over the month. The rates ranged from 2.6% in Kewaunee to 12.8% in Menominee.

Preliminary unemployment rates declined in all of Wisconsin’s 34 largest municipalities from August to September. Rates ranged from 3.5% in Oshkosh to 8.4% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in September include Kewaunee (2.6%), Clark (2.8%), Lafayette (also at 2.8%), Taylor (2.9%), and Calumet (3.1%). Menominee County had the highest rate in September at 12.8%, followed by Forest (10.9%), Iron (8.2%), Milwaukee (7.3%), and Jackson (also at 7.3%).

St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Dunn counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 4.8%, September’s preliminary rate in Dunn is 3.6%, while Polk reported 4.5% and Pierce reported 4.6%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The September 2020 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 6.0%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 7.8% and July’s final rate of 8.2%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 2.5% in September 2019.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in September was estimated at 5.4%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 6.3% and July’s final rate of 7.1%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 3.4%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota in September was estimated at 6.0%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 7.4% and July’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 September was estimated at 7.9%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 8.4% and July’s final rate of 10.2%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 3.5%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for September was 67.3%, which is higher than August’s final rate of 65.6% and July’s final rate of 64.9%. 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 September was estimated at 61.4%, which is lower than August’s final rate of 61.7% and the same as July’s final rate of 61.4%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 63.2%.

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

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.