News & Upcoming Events

  • Confluence Arts Center Reaches $5 Million in Pledges

    Support Pledges for Confluence Arts Center Total More than $5 Million

    March 27, 2014

    In response to a $250,000 challenge match issued by Charter Bank in mid-February, additional commitments of $425,000 have been pledged over the past six weeks in support of the proposed Confluence Project community arts center in downtown Eau Claire.

    Charter Bank announced Feb. 14 that it would match, up to a total of $250,000, any new pledges of $25,000 or more made by March 31 in support of the Confluence arts center. The following pledges have resulted in a response that far exceeds the challenge amount:

    • $100,000 from Justin Vernon of the award-winning musical group Bon Iver;
    • $100,000 from Northwestern Bank; and
    • $225,000 in personal commitments from several individuals who wish to remain anonymous.

    The recent pledges significantly boosted the amount of committed private support for the arts center, the centerpiece of the Confluence Project, a proposed revitalization of property commonly referred to as the “Haymarket Site” at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. The project is a public-private partnership that also seeks to construct a privately developed commercial/retail and apartment complex suitable for university student housing on the site.

    “We’re very pleased to see such positive and generous response to Charter Bank’s matching gift challenge of $250,000,” said Paul Kohler, president of Charter Bank. “The commitments from businesses and individuals demonstrate the broad base of support for the Confluence community arts center and hopefully add important momentum to the philanthropy expectation for the center. When all areas of our community work together on a common goal, we can accomplish tremendous things.”

    Jerry Jacobson, president of Northwestern Bank, said the bank’s board was unanimous in its support of the pledge for the community arts center.

    “We believe this project is great for all of the Chippewa Valley, not just Eau Claire and the university,” Jacobson said. “Everyone in the region will benefit and for many, many years. This is an investment in the future, and that’s what we here at Northwestern Bank are all about. It’s a pleasure to be a part of something so transformational.”

    With these latest commitments, more than $5 million has been pledged toward the Confluence Arts Center as part of the $13 million in philanthropy identified for the $50 million facility.

    For more information about philanthropy efforts in support of the Confluence Project, contact Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, at 715-836-5180 or, or Ben Richgruber, executive director of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, at 715-832-2787 or, or visit

  • Do You Have a Question About the Confluence Project?

    You Have Questions – We Have Answers

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

    Opposition to the Confluence Project continues to state, “there are unanswered questions.” We continue to respond, “please, ask us your questions.” While the opposition is busy making statements, we are working to answers your questions. Following are two questions recently emailed to Community for the Confluence, and answered by Confluence Project developers Dan Clumpner, Principal, Commonweal Development Corp and Dan Market, CEO, Market & Johnson, Inc.:

    Question: “All this material I read only ever talks about “the Developer”.  Who is this character exactly, and what are the projected returns “the Developer” will be expecting?”
    - asked by Ryan O’Connor

    Answer: “The Developer is Haymarket Concepts, LLC which is a special purpose entity created for the development of the Confluence Project. Its members are Blugold Real Estate, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Market & Johnson and Commonweal Development. Haymarket has funded all project expenses to date including site acquisition, various studies, architectural design, legal and financial consultants.  While Haymarket, and only Haymarket, has all the risk associated with funding this work, its only financial expectation is that the entity be reimbursed for its project expenses and a nominal interest charge (3%/yr) for the advanced funds. The reimbursement would occur when the project is complete.

    Blugold Real Estate’s involvement in this project is through the Foundation’s responsibility to provide benefit to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Given the university’s involvement in this project, Blugold Real Estate’s expectation is a finished project that will meet the university’s needs and to recoup its share of direct expenditures.

    Like any other service provider or sub-contractor, Market & Johnson will be compensated for project management services. Their contract for the arts center will be subject to procurement rules of the State of Wisconsin and subject to audit upon completion. The construction delivery system and the contract form is essentially the same as was used for the Eau Claire County jail project. That project was completed on time and under budget. We seek similar results for this project as our budget will be finite and the schedule crucial.  The contract relationship with M&J on the mixed use building is the same as with the arts center, even though the State is not involved that project.

    As with M&J, Commonweal expects to be compensated for their development services and will also be subject to State procurement rules, oversight and audit. A stakeholder who had a fiduciary responsibility to assure the reasonableness of Commonweal’s compensation sought an independent opinion from a national public accounting firm experienced with development contracts and private/public partnerships.  We were told that that firm confirmed that Commonweal’s compensation is less than what they would expect other developers to charge for similar services.

    The developer’s motivation for this project is doing the right project for the community and for the university. The partners expect to be treated fairly; nothing more.”
    - answered by Dan Clumpner, Principal, Commonweal Development Corp.

    Question: “This looks like the buildings will be right on the river, what are the risks of flooding? I really would like a response before April 1st so I can make an informed decision.”
    - asked by David Leifer

    Answer: “Thank you for contacting us about your question as it relates to the potential flooding at the Confluence site. Hopefully I will be able to clarify for you what will transpire.

    First let me state, where I state “flood plain” below, I am talking about the “100 year flood plain elevation”, which basically means the highest elevation we should expect to see water elevations approximately every 100 years.

    Currently at the Confluence site a majority of the open parking area (the plaza area) is within the flood plan area. However, to give you a reference point, the southeast corner, right at the corner of Eau Claire Street and Graham Ave, this area is out of the flood plain.

    In order to build on these sites we are obligated to first bring the current elevation up out of the flood plain, have FEMA come in and confirm that we have in fact brought the site out of the flood plain, and then we can begin construction on the foundations, lower parking areas and etc.

    I can tell you that the actual floor of the parking garage will be below the flood plain elevation, but the entrance to get in that garage will be above the flood plain. We will be waterproofing the exterior walls of this area, installing drain tile and a pumping system around this foundation for the unlikely event that the water does get that high. This is typically completed on any major structure with parking below the ground elevation, many times simply to keep out ground water. But let me restate, the entrance to any lower parking area will safely be above flood plain elevation. All of the first floor elevations of the balance of the project will be well above the flood plain elevation as well.

    To give you a real life example of what the above all means, the RCU and JAMF buildings sites were once within the flood plain area. Both sites we brought out of the flood plain prior to construction. Although RCU does not have any basement area, the JAMF building does have a partial basement, protected similar to what I described above. As an additional point of interest, all of the apartment buildings in the new Phoenix park area have parking below their structures, but again, the entrance is above the flood plain elevation.”
    - answer by Dan Market, Market & Johnson, Inc.

    We look forward to answering your questions about the Confluence Project.
    Please email your questions to:
    Ask your questions and be an informed voter on April 1st.

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  • Western Wisconsin Building & Construction Trades Council Supports Confluence Center Project

    “WWBCT President Announces Trades Council Will Ask Union Members to Vote in Support of Confluence Project”

    Monday, March 24, 2014



    On Friday, March 21, in a letter to the Eau Claire City Council, Terry J. Hayden, WWBCT president announced, “that in support of this project, we are contacting all of our union Building Trades members throughout Eau Claire County & City and are asking them to vote on April 1st to support the Eau Claire Confluence Center.”

    Hayden states that the “building of this new Confluence Center is expected to create a significant number of construction jobs in our area, many of which we hope will be filled by the highly skilled union members of the Western Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades.”

    He closes the letter with the statement that, “this Confluence Center Project will not only create the construction jobs we seek, it will play a key role in the redevelopment of downtown Eau Claire and the long term economic growth for our community.”

    The complete WWBCT letter to the Eau Claire City Council is available at WWBCT Letter.

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  • Confluence Facts and Figures

    “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

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  • Q&A LIVE Lunch Session

    “The Arts as an Economic Catalyst? Outrageous!”

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    You are invited to attend our first Q&A LIVE Lunch with guest speaker Kevin Miller, executive director of Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts (THELMA) on Thursday, February 27 at 11:30 a.m. in the Volume One Gallery! Q&A LIVE Lunch is a spin-off from our YouTube Q&A Sessions addressing relevant topics on arts and culture as a generator of economic vitality in our community.

    Miller will present his keynote address, “The Arts as an Economic Catalyst? Outrageous!” about arts and culture development in downtown Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Miller provided the vision and leadership for a multimillion dollar expansion transforming THELMA into a major regional arts destination. This dynamic development in downtown Fond du Lac has been a catalyst for new business and recreation opportunities, and provides unparalleled access to arts and entertainment. After the presentation, Miller will answer questions about THELMA, the importance of arts and culture to quality of life, and the economic vitality of Fond du Lac’s revitalized downtown.

    Take Time to Have Lunch with Us
    After Miller’s presentation complimentary food and beverages will be available for guests who RSVP before Noon on Wednesday, February 26 - simply click the RSVP link, and email us the names of people attending the February 27 Q&A LIVE Lunch session – and enjoy a free lunch!

    Space is limited, please RSVP today.

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  • Let Your Voice Be Heard – Join Voices for Growth!

    VFC-LogoWe’re Back!

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Sign up today at the Voices for Growth.
    Help them Get Out the Vote on April 1st.

    Did you miss us? We missed you, but we’ve been busy preparing for the long haul. Our mission to educate and advocate is still on course to provide you with the FACTS not the misleading interpretations of a radical group trying to disrupt local government. We have interviewed city officials, talked to county business leaders, and listen to the dreams of our community’s talented children looking forward to a creative future – in Eau Claire not Minneapolis.

    At a recent Eau Claire City Council meeting people came forward to state they were not given comprehensive, accurate information when asked to sign a referendum petition. UW-Eau Claire students have stated they signed the petition just to get the petitioner to stop bothering them. Basically, the people gathering signatures had no factual understanding of the “referendum for a referendum” and resorted to stating, “it will raise your taxes.” For crying out loud, we’ll tell you one more time petitioners: the City’s investment in the Confluence Project DOES NOT RAISE YOUR TAXES!

    Yet, the radicals continue to propagate myths without telling the whole story, without considering the entire economic impact and public benefit of the Confluence Project. If you simply consider the public benefits of the City’s investment in the North Barstow section of Tax Increment District 8 – Phoenix Park, the Farmer’s Market, and the expansion of housing and commercial businesses – you can see the future benefits of the Confluence Project. The bottom line folks – if you invest in nothing you get…nothing. Which could be what they want. Keep the status quo. Maybe better jobs and economic growth for our community threatens their livelihood and power.

    As a successful local entrepreneur has stated: enough of this crap. It’s time to for us to move forward and do exactly what the petitioners want: Let the People Vote!

    Sign up today at the Voices for Growth. Help them Get Out the Vote on April 1st.

    We’ll be here to tell the truth about tax increment financing, the public benefits of investment in economic growth, and how other communities have turned the revitalization of their downtown into jobs and revenue for an entire region. Check out the sidebar announcement of Kevin Miller’s upcoming presentation at Downtown Eau Claire’s Annual Awards Banquet – this is the future and the time is now for Eau Claire to make history.

    Until our next communication, please take a minute to sign up at Voices for Growth – Let Your Voice Be Heard!

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  • Support Continues to Build!

    eau-claire-logoEC Chamber Board of Directors Unanimously Endorses the Confluence Project

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Community for the Confluence support continues to build throughout regional businesses and community groups. Last Sunday, the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce as part of the greater Confluence community,  sponsored a full page advertisement in the Leader Telegram. The advertisement coincided with the Chamber’s publishing of a one-page fact sheet for its members. The Chamber, as part of a county-wide effort, is working to support this “unique opportunity to meet a variety of community needs in a cost-effective manner, while at the same time building upon the increased economic vitality of downtown Eau Claire.”

    The Chamber’s fact sheet is a succinct communication tool anyone can use to talk about the project with friends, family, colleagues and co-workers. It sufficiently defines the Confluence Project and its impact on “creating economic vitality and meeting community needs.” Please take a moment to download the Chamber’s handout and share it all over town!

    Confluence_Project – What it is and Why the Chamber supports it

    In addition to the unanimous resolution of support passed by the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, three other leading business groups have announced support of the Confluence Project. The North Barstow/Medical Business Improvement District, South Barstow Business Improvement District and Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. have issued letters in support of the project.They join the hundreds of business and thousands of community members who believe the Confluence Project is “an integral piece of our future economic growth.”

    We applaud the efforts of the Confluence community working to improve the quality of life for all residents through economic development, job growth and revitalization of downtown Eau Claire.

    Stay up-to-date on Confluence events and progress on Facebook and Twitter.


  • New YouTube Q&A Session Videos!

    qa_sessionsTuesday, January 21, 2014

    New Videos Talk About the Importance of Local Government and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to the Project

    The Community for the Confluence YouTube channel has uploaded two new videos featuring Q&A comments by Nick Meyer, owner, publisher and editor of Volume One, and James Hanke, Economic Development and Community Service Manager at Xcel Energy. Nick provides insight into the importance of the Confluence Project to economic development in Eau Claire County, and the role of government in support of the arts. James explains how Tax Increment Financing (TIF) will fund the City of Eau Claire’s investment in the Confluence Project. Click here to watch the new videos.

    Please take five minutes and watch these informative videos – share them with friends, family and co-workers. Thank you Nick and James for your insight and expertise helping us inform the community about key aspects of the Confluence Project.

    Stay up-to-date on Confluence Project events, news, and more great videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel and sharing the videos with your friends and family who want to see this project move forward!

    YouTubeIconSubscribe to our YouTube Channel:

  • Community for the Confluence is on YouTube!

    confluence-videoFriday, January 15, 2014

    New Video Answers Key Questions About the Confluence Project

    The Community for the Confluence now has a YouTube channel! We’ve compiled some great information about the Confluence Project, including an informative overview that answers a lot of great questions about the Confluence Project.

    You’ll also see a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the State Theatre from Eau Claire Regional Arts Council Executive Director Ben Richgruber, and clips from the press conference where JAMF Owner Zach Halmstad, local musician Justin Vernon, and UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt speak about the future of Eau Claire and the importance of the Confluence Project.

    Watch for more great videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel and sharing the videos with your friends and family who want to see this project move forward!

    YouTubeIconSubscribe to our YouTube Channel:

  • Make Your Voice Heard TODAY!

    ecc_courthouseContacting Eau Claire County elected officials is vital right now!

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Speak up in support of funding the Confluence Project. The Eau Claire County Administration Committee voted to contribute $3.5 million to the project.  On January 21, the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors will vote on the Administration Committee’s recommendation to fund $3.5 million to the project. Let the Board of Supervisors know the Confluence Project should be funded directly with their votes.

    The Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors want your input. They need to know LOTS of people support the Confluence Project. We ask you to take two minutes right now, and email your support to the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors. A complete list of Eau Claire County Board of Supervisor email addresses is at the bottom of this newsletter. There is an option for Outlook users with email addresses separated by semicolons.

    If you want help writing your email, we can help – go to Communtiy for the Confluence Tools and Resources. Copy and paste the text from the appropriate designation – Eau Claire Resident, Non-Resident or Alumni- into your email program. Copy and paste the “All the Email Addresses” listing from the lower left column – there is an option for Outlook users with email addresses separated by semicolons. Use the Subject line “I Support the Confluence Project” and send!

    Your support today is extremely important to the future of the Confluence project. If you haven’t done so already, please add your name to the list of supporters at Thank you for speaking up and letting your voice be heard!

    Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors Email Address:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    For Outlook Users – Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors Email Address:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

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  • Speak Up at Eau Claire County Meeting

    Please join us on Tuesday, January 7 to support the Confluence Project.

    Monday, January 6, 2014ecc_courthouse

    Bring a friend and speak up for our community’s future at the Eau Claire County Committee on Administration public hearing on Tuesday, January 7 at 4:30 p.m. Say YES to committing $5 million to the Confluence Project and the revitalization of downtown Eau Claire.

    The Confluence Project development partners will introduce an updated economic development impact report that reflects changes since the Rogers & Associates Economic Impact Report was provided last year.  If you are available to attend and speak, we encourage you to do so.

    This Tuesday is the time to speak up, because the Committee on Administration meeting agenda includes consideration of resolution to help fund construction of “The Confluence” Community Arts Center/Discussion-Action! The January 9 Committee on Finance meeting will not have public comments, and the January 21 County Board of Supervisors meeting will only allow 30 minutes of public comment.

    Now is the time to speak up!

    Please join us on Tuesday, and say YES to the Confluence Project. And, spread the word via email, Facebook, or any way possible.

    Eau Claire County Committee on Administration meeting
    Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.
    Courthouse – Room #1301/1302
    721 Oxford Avenue
    Eau Claire, WI

  • UW-Eau Claire Student Senate Absolute Support

    Friday, January 3, 2014UWEC Student Senate

    On behalf of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, Bryan Larson, Student Body President and Jacob Wrasse, Director Intergovernmental Affairs sent the following letter in support of the Confluence Project to the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors.

    “As representatives of the over 10,000 students attending our university, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Student Senate wishes to convey absolute support for the Confluence Project.

    One of the major priorities of UW-Eau Claire is shaping students that aren’t just members of the university, but of the community as a whole. The Community Arts Center would provide a golden opportunity for partnership between community groups and our student population. This center would be a major asset for the university’s recruitment efforts and a chance to bring in not only students who participate in the performing arts, but also those who value living in an arts-rich area. Our data shows that this is a majority of potential applicants.

    Additionally, the Confluence Project is an opportunity for the county to join the groundbreaking collaboration between the City of Eau Claire, UW-Eau Claire, the State of Wisconsin, and countless local organizations and individuals. By promoting this project, you are investing in the viability of your largest city’s downtown and its ability to bring in an estimated 75,000 patrons from outside the county in its first year of operation alone. This investment in Eau Claire County’s future is a bold move in an unprecedented economic atmosphere that will allow our area to prosper for decades to come.

    The Confluence Project could raise the standard of performing arts in Eau Claire County and add vigor to the already beautiful downtown, which will be enjoyed by citizens and students alike. The Student Senate asks you, as stewards of our county’s collective future, to add your support to this already strong collaboration and invest in economic prosperity.”

    UWEC Student Senate Letter of Support to Eau Claire County

  • Visit Eau Claire’s Support for Confluence Project

    main-logo-vec2Thursday, January 2, 2014

    The Visit Eau Claire Board of Directors has unanimously approved the following Position of Support for the Confluence Project:

    Visit Eau Claire enthusiastically supports the development of the Confluence Project as a positive asset for the City of Eau Claire. The Confluence Project will foster the growth of our city and county through economic development, increased tax base, downtown revitalization, enhanced tourism, cultural/artistic investment, and advanced educational opportunities.

    Visit Eau Claire is supportive of relocating its offices to the location of the Confluence Project, and is willing to contribute up to $50,000/year for full occupancy costs to the project in return for the agreed upon 5,000 square feet of leased office/visitor center space.

    The core mission of Visit Eau Claire is to market the Eau Claire Area for tourism promotion and development in a way that is highly likely to generate overnight stays. As such, Visit Eau Claire will allocate a minimum of $25,000 per year for an initial three years (once the performing arts center opens) to a Visit Eau Claire marketing campaign, featuring the Confluence Project and its programming. Visit Eau Claire will also continue to contribute to the growth of City of Eau Claire room tax revenues by focusing its efforts on generating new room tax for the City.

    The new strategic partnership with UWEC for facilities use, along with the opening of Holiday Inn Eau Claire South I-94 this year, provides new facilities inventory to promote, resulting in significant opportunities for new hotel room bookings. A new arts center would be another important pillar in the destination’s tourism product; targeted marketing of this project to out-of-area visitors will allow the overall room tax generated for the City to grow, thereby providing new room tax funds to the City.

    Visit Eau Claire looks forward to being involved in the advocacy of this important City project, and will continue to offer tourism-based information and expertise as needed throughout the process.

    Visit Eau Claire Confluence Support 2013

  • Fact Check – Eau Claire County Return On Investment

    Fact-Check-countyWednesday, December 18, 2013

    Eau Claire County will Directly Benefit Economically from Arts Center

    It is estimated Eau Claire County will realize an additional $140,000 in sales tax in the first year of the arts center operation, and an estimated property tax revenue increase of more than $750,000 from the overall project after five years.

    Arts Center Direct Impact – First Year

    • More than 186,000 patrons – 40% from outside County
    • $1.08 million in organizational expenditures
    • $3.55 million in audience expenditures
    • 4.6 million in total economic impact (without multipliers)
    • 141 Total FTE Jobs (supported by audience and organization expenditures)
    • 40 Direct FTE Jobs (directly supported by arts and culture nonprofits)


    Property and Sales Tax Revenue to Eau Claire County

    Operating under revenue caps, local governments must rely on growth in property and sales taxes to sustain current programs and to address new needs. While property tax growth related to this project will be considerable, performing arts centers typically are excellent generators of sales tax.

    Property Tax Impact

    • Overall property tax revenue to County year one – $200,505
    • Mixed use building is projected to generate more than $500,000 taxes annually
    • Eau Claire County property tax increase after 5 years – $769,653

    Sales Tax Impact

    • Annual direct local sales tax revenue accrued to Eau Claire County – $20,286
    • Applying the Confluence Project’s 6.9 multiplier to the Center’s equipment, professional services and supplies purchases, annual county sales tax revenue increases by $139,974 during the Arts Center’s first full year of operation
    • State sales tax revenues will increase $1,399,740. Some of that money will return to Eau Claire as state-shared revenue


    Shared Funding is Effective and Efficient Use of Public Resources

    Significant community projects are considerably more difficult to accomplish today. Funding partnerships assure broad and sustainable community support. Shared services and shared resources is fast becoming the new normal; it is more efficient government and it is the right thing to do.

    The Arts Center will Help Promote Conventions and Tourism

    It has been suggested that as much as 30% of typical convention activity could be accommodated in the proposed arts center. Visit Eau Claire has been hindered by lack of facilities; this project will help.

    The Confluence Project is an Important Resource to Attract and Retain Business

    Several recent publications note the importance of cultural and entertainment assets in economic development efforts. Zach Halmstad, JAMF Software’s founder recently stated that the vibrance of the Barstow redevelopment and anticipation of the Confluence Project is considered an employee perk just as significant as their 401(k) and health plans. This is the new paradigm in economic development, and the Eau Claire area is well positioned to compete in this new business development marketplace.


    The Good Life:  A Cultural Direction for Eau Claire County

    “As we move forward we should capitalize on the unique identity of downtown Eau Claire, built on the confluence of two scenic and historically interesting rivers, to bring about social and economic change – the change residents are still clamoring for three decades after the downtown revitalization efforts began in Eau Claire.”

    Only one question on The Good Life survey directly asked respondents about downtown Eau Claire: “Please indicate the degree to which you agree with the following statements…A vibrant arts district in the downtown city of Eau Claire is important.”

    87% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. This unsolicited attention and consideration from survey respondents – no matter where in Eau Claire County they live – suggests the importance of downtown Eau Claire to cultural life of the city and county.


    Let Your Voice be Heard!

    Contacting your elected officials is an important part of this process. They need to know LOTS of people support the Confluence Project, so every email is very important. Please take a moment to email the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors. Ask them to collaborate with the City and support the Confluence Project with a $5 million investment. Not sure what to say? Sample emails are available at Tools & Resources.

    Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors Email Addresses:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Email Addresses separate by semi-colon for Outlook Users:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

  • Fact Check – Confluence Project Funding

    Get the Facts on Tax Increment Financing

    December 10, 2013


    Citizen comments in opposition to the Confluence Project have stated concerns about funding the City’s capital contribution.

    “I believe the project will not pay for itself and will only temporarily increase the tax base,” submitted via email to Eau Claire City Council by Lisa Herrmann.

    “In my opinion this is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars for a project that will not generate dime one hard revenue for the City,” submitted via email to Eau Claire City Council by Carl Vande Vrede.

    In order to answer these, and other concerns, lets first look at Tax Increment Financing (TIF).


    What is a TIF District?

    TIF districts are one of the few remaining economic development tools local governments can use to attract new business, invest in infrastructure and rebuild blighted areas. A tax increment is the difference between the amount of property tax revenue generated before TIF district designation and the amount of property tax revenue generated after TIF designation.

    Only property taxes generated by the incremental increase in value of the TIF district are available for TIF projects—such as Phoenix Park and the Confluence Project. Tax rates do not change when a TIF district is designated. TIF funding for capital improvements, when structured as proposed for the Confluence project, DOES NOT increase general fund spending or taxes.


    TIF Districts Do Not Reduce Tax Revenues to Schools, Parks

    Also, TIF districts do not reduce tax revenues to other taxing bodies such as schools. Taxes collected on properties included in the TIF at the time of designation continue to fund schools, parks, libraries and other taxing districts and are not reduced by the creation of a TIF district. Only taxes from future development projects—which would not happen with out TIF funding—go to re-pay the funds advanced to complete the TIF eligible projects.

    Make sense? Alright, now lets look at Confluence Project funding.


    Confluence Project Funding and TIF Districts

    The Confluence Project will be developed in Tax Increment District 8 (TID 8). The City’s share of funding the Community Arts Center (CAC) is $5 million, and TID eligible expenses necessary to  develop the Mixed Use Building (MUB) site are $5.9 million.

    The City’s capital contribution through TID 8 is proposed to  fund “up front” the $5 million CAC investment and $3.3 million of the MUB infrastructure.

    This is accomplished with approximately $2 million in funding available from the existing TID 8, and the balance from an overlay district that includes the Confluence site. The Confluence MUB is valued at $25 million yielding an estimated property tax payment of $588,000 annually. This guaranteed tax payment will fully fund the repayment of the City’s capital contribution to the arts center AND the mixed use building.


    Developers, Not Taxpayers, Are Responsible for Creating Increased Tax Revenues Through Development

    TID 8 is proposed as a “Pay-As-You-Go” concept. This means the $2.6 million balance of the contribution to the MUB infrastructure will not be paid until tax revenues  are generated by future development within the TID area. This places the risk of TID revenue performance on the developer, not the taxpayer.


    Long-Term TIF District Tax Revenues Will Benefit Other City Services

    Once TID 8 fully funds the City’s Confluence investment, the TIF district’s tax revenues benefit other taxing bodies. At the end of the TIF, all the tax revenues generated by the revitalized downtown property go to underlying taxing bodies, which provides an ongoing tax revenue increase for schools, parks, libraries and other bodies without raising taxes.

    The fact is the Confluence Project will rejuvenate a blighted area, generate new economic development downtown and increase City tax revenues without raising property taxes!

    Choose Growth for Eau Claire.

    • Support the Confluence Project through the City of Eau Claire’s online forum E2C2.
    • Email your support to Eau Claire City and County representatives.

    Thank you.


    Next Week: Fact Check – Local Share of Operating Expenses

  • Support the Confluence Project on E2C2!

    Join the Conversation on the City of Eau Claire’s Online Forum

    December 3, 2013

    The City of Eau Claire, through its online forum Eau Claire Electronic Conversation (E2C2), is asking residents to answer the question: What do you think about the Confluence Project?

    In October, the City Council adopted a resolution to pledge $5,000,000 to the Community Arts Center portion of the Confluence Project, which includes a mixed-use building for commercial/retail space and university housing. The City’s question addresses the entire Confluence Project, not just funding of the Community Arts Center.

    Please take a few minutes right now to answer the question at
    As a Community for the Confluence, it is important that everyone’s voice be heard. The City’s E2C2 survey is a great opportunity to express your opinion on the Confluence Project.

    Once you have registered, you will have the opportunity to answer three question-comments regarding the Confluence Project:
    1. Are you in favor of the Confluence Project?
    2. If you wish, please add an explanation.
    3. Do you have any concerns with the project?

    Comments made by registered participants can be reviewed under the General Public section. City officials plan to incorporate E2C2 comments into their decision-making process.

    Please go to and let your voice be heard! As of Tuesday, December 3 at 3:00 p.m., there were only 41 comments in general public responses. If we speak up as a Community for the Confluence, we can elevate this conversation into the hundreds, into the thousands!

    Please share the E2C2 link with friends, family and co-workers. Thank you!

    Stay up-to-date on Confluence events and progress on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Community for the Confluence’s Outreach in Support of Arts Development


    UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I concert at Mondovi High School

    December 2, 2013

    Community for the Confluence in collaboration with the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will present the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I in concert on Tuesday, December 10, 7:00 p.m. at Mondovi High School, 337 N Jackson Street.

    The concert is part of Community for the Confluence’s community outreach in support of arts development throughout the Chippewa Valley. UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz Ensemble I will celebrate American Big Band music with selections from Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, the Dorsey brothers and Duke Ellington. 

    Tickets are $3.00 general admission, available for purchase at the door the night of the concert. Mondovi Band Boosters will be selling refreshments, and space will be available for dancing.

    UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz Ensemble I is a six-time winner of Down Beat’s “Best College Big Band” award and has been nominated for a Grammy twice. The New York Times has called UW-Eau Claire jazz program one of the most “well regarded in the country.”

    “The Big Band Era was one of the most memorable musical eras in American history,” said Robert Baca, Director of Jazz Ensemble I. “It was a time when swing was the thing. The Big Bands – Benny ‘The King of Swing” Goodman, The Dorsey brothers, Glenn Miller, and a host of others – they had people doin’ the Lindy Hop in every ballroom and dance hall across America. Now a generation is discovering that excitement of big band jazz.”

    Please join us for a musical journey celebrating the songs, events and people of the Big Band Era. For more information, contact Community for the Confluence at 715-832-2787 ext. 101 or by email to

  • Why it is Important for You to Attend the Pep Rally

    Building Momentum as a Community Gathered Together

    November 22, 2013

    You may ask yourself: why is it so important for me to attend the Confluence Pep Rally? We have busy lives—kids, work, shopping, laundry, volunteering—and it’s Thanksgiving week with family coming for dinner. One hour is precious time to catch up or get ahead.

    This is exactly why we need you at the Pep Rally. We can’t lose another minute building momentum in support of the Confluence Project. Your voice—the voices of your friends, family, co-workers—must be heard above the hubbub of opposition. As a group, as a community gathered together, the truth will be heard loud and clear!

    Opposition to the Confluence Project isn’t just trying to stop this singular project. They want “any physical construction of any municipally financed (in whole and in part) project which includes a building planned for dramatic, musical, or artistic performances, requiring a capital expenditure…of one million dollars or more” to be submitted for public vote as a binding referendum. Thus placing a strangle hold on arts facility development in the City of Eau Claire.

    As a Community for the Confluence, we stand together for economic development through arts and culture. Eau Claire is blessed to have a diverse and innovative arts community. Our elected City representatives understand how to use economic development tools to build an arts district within a tax increment financing (TIF) district. Your co-workers, friends and family probably don’t understand the economic dynamics of tax increment financing, or that TIF districts do not increase taxes. Our elected representatives do understand how a TIF district can be used to fully fund the City’s capital expenditure for the Confluence Community Arts Center.

    Bring them to the Pep Rally, together let’s show broad, diverse support for the arts. Let’s talk about how the Confluence Project will help grow and sustain our innovative arts community. How the University and the City are making an investment in the rejuvenation of our downtown.

    Take an hour out of your day, buy the arts a beer and enjoy the camaraderie of Community for the Confluence. Together we can make this unique public-private opportunity to revitalize downtown happen now. Come to the Pep Rally!

    Community for the Confluence Pep Rally
    Tuesday, November 26, 2013
    5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

    State Theatre
    316 Eau Claire Street
    Downtown Eau Claire

  • It’s Time to Rally for the Confluence!

    First Ever Community for the Confluence Pep Rally

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    tshirt-buttonYou’ve signed up, emailed and followed the progress of the Confluence Project. Now it’s time to rally for the Confluence as one BIG group! It is time to present the many faces of the Confluence Project, the multitudes who support and participate in the Chippewa Valley’s innovative arts community.

    Join us at the State Theater on Tuesday, November 26 at 5:00 p.m. for the first ever Community for the Confluence Pep Rally!

    Mark your calendar, because we need a little face time with YOU! Special guests, live music and a Community for the Confluence group photograph. Opponents of the Confluence Project have stated there isn’t broad, diverse community support for the project. We need EVERYONE to come to the State Theatre to prove the naysayers are wrong. Come to the Community for the Confluence Rally, and show your support for the future of the arts in the Chippewa Valley.

    Wear your Confluence blue, bring your co-workers, friends and family BE SEEN in support of the Confluence Project. Don’t miss this event! Come early, come late, but come to the rally!

    Community for the Confluence Pep Rally
    Tuesday, November 26, 2013
    5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    State Theatre
    316 Eau Claire Street
    Downtown Eau Claire


  • Why Eau Claire County should invest in the Confluence Project

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    Now that the City of Eau Claire has pledge $5 million to the Confluence Project, it’s time for the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors to help do what no single entity or constituency can do on its own. An investment of $5 million from Eau Claire County will secure the future of the project, the revitalization of downtown, renewed job creation, and an innovative arts community across the region.

    The Community Arts Center at the Confluence represents different things to different people:

    • To UW-Eau Claire, it is an opportunity to support its academic mission in an area of strength
    • To the arts community, it’s a home from which to grow and prosper
    • To many area residents, it’s a quality of life issue
    • To employers, it’s a tool to recruit and retain employees
    • To local government, it’s an economic development initiative
    • To all, it’s a demonstration of the power of collaboration

    Why should Eau Claire County support this project?

    Currently, city and county governments have state-imposed limits on the amount of increased property taxes they can collect annually. Local government must rely on tax base growth to sustain current programs and address new challenges. Eau Claire County’s $5 million share of the Community Arts Center will result in a $77 million investment in the community. Which will generate additional property, room and sales tax revenues for the City and County.

    Eau Claire County is highly dependent on what happens within the City of Eau Claire:

    • More than 50% of the County’s property tax base is within the City
    • An overwhelming majority of activities that generate sales tax happen within the City
    • High percentage of existing jobs are located within the City
    • Projected job growth is expected to occur within the City

    Value of operational collaboration between County and City has been demonstrated across the nation.

    The product of collaboration is the efficient and responsible use of government resources. The new economic development standard is based on a merging of State, County, City and private resources to achieve growth. It is essential for Eau Claire County to join with the City and State to invest in the extraordinary potential of the Confluence Project.

    Let Your Voice be Heard!

    Contacting your elected officials is an important part of this process. They need to know LOTS of people support the Confluence Project, so every email is very important. Please take a moment to email the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors. Ask them to collaborate with the City and support the Confluence Project with a $5 million investment. Not sure what to say? Sample emails are available at Tools & Resources.

    Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors Email Addresses:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Email Addresses separate by semi-colon for Outlook Users:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;