“Bob McCoy Comments on Unprecedented Opportunity for Collaboration”
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
This morning Bob McCoy, President & CEO, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce sent the following message to Chamber members. He addresses “the unprecedented opportunity to leverage assets from the university, city and county governments, local non-profits and private development” to continue the growth of businesses and job opportunities in downtown Eau Claire.
“A glance out our windows here at the Chamber is all it takes to be reminded of one of the most compelling benefits of the proposed Confluence Project: Continuation of the job-creating growth that has already begun around Phoenix Park. We see cranes and other construction activity along Riverfront Terrace, including the multi-million dollar JAMF Software building now under construction. You can’t miss the real investments being made in an area that was once a community eyesore.
Yet it’s more than the sense of community pride. The numbers speak for themselves, with more than $30 million (and growing) in increased tax base values in the Phoenix Park area as a result of previous public-private partnerships and use of Tax Increment Financing.
Any discussion of the facts surrounding economic development today must recognize the new realities of attracting high-quality talent to live and work in our community. The leaders of JAMF Software tell us that a vibrant downtown is a more important recruiting tool than talking about 401k benefits. Workers today are “now deciding where they want to live before they decide what they want to do,” noted City Council Member Eric Larsen in a recent Volume One column, where he connected these national trends to what’s happening in Eau Claire.
In the Confluence Project we have the unprecedented opportunity to leverage assets from the university, city and county governments, local non-profits and private development to extend what’s already been happening. The public investments that are the subjects of the referendums on April 1 are critical, but appropriately small shares of the total. The city and county portions of $5 and $3.5 million towards the performing arts center are wise capital investments that make possible a project of over $70 million. Increased tax base, sales tax receipts, room nights in local hotels, tourism, talent recruitment and other spin-off economic growth will provide a return on investment that future generations with thank us for.
There are more numbers than I can cover in a brief e-mail. If you still have questions, see our one-page summary of the project and its benefits. Sure, it’s a complex project. But the facts and answers are available. Take some time to read the resources we’ve provided…and be sure to cast an informed vote on April 1.”
– Bob McCoy, President & CEO, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce