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  • Symbolic Ground-Breaking for Downtown Eau Claire’s Biggest Project Ever

    Nov 12, 2014

    Reprinted by permission from Volume One:

    Original Article

    by Tom Giffey photo by Community for the Confluence


    After two and a half years of planning, public debate, political campaigning, demolition, and preparation, ground was broken – at least symbolically – on Tuesday for the first phase of the Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire.

    “Since May of 2012, we have been slogging through this project, and today is a time to celebrate,” City Council President Kerry Kincaid told a crowd of several hundred people crammed into the lobby of the State Theatre. A few minutes later, Kincaid and a dozen other business, university, and community leaders donned hard hats and grabbed shovels to pose for photos in front of a massive image of the soon-to-be-built Haymarket Landing.

    The $25 million project, the most expensive in downtown Eau Claire’s history, will include a combination of retail and commercial space on the first floor with five stories of apartments above. It will be built in the recently demolished block of South Barstow Street overlooking the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers. The privately built Haymarket Landing is intended as a companion to a $50 million Confluence performing arts center slated to be built next door. (The performing arts center is a joint project of UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council.)

    A fresh blanket of snow prevented a literal groundbreaking, so as they have at many points in the arduous process of bringing the Confluence Project into reality, supporters had to turn to alternate plans, bringing the ceremony indoors. Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, one of the project’s partners, noted that the snowfall was symbolic of the many twists and turns the project has taken.

    Haymarket Landing is being built by Haymarket Concepts, a partnership composed of Commonweal Development, Market & Johnson, and Blugold Real Estate, a UWEC Foundation subsidiary. While the 119 apartments at Haymarket Landing will be marketed toward college students, as well as others who might want to live downtown, the facility will be privately owned and operated. The apartments will help alleviated the shortage of on-campus housing, said UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt. “We think this location is going to be perfect,” he added.

    Paul Kohler, chairman of the board of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, told the audience that projects like this one – which involve collaboration among businesses, the university, and local government – are the face of future community development. “This is a game-changer, not just for downtown, but for the whole Chippewa Valley,” he said.

    In a press release, Dan Clumpner of Commonweal Development noted that property tax revenue generated by Haymarket Landing will help fund the performing arts center and an adjacent public plaza. “This groundbreaking marks the beginning of a win-win-win for the overall Confluence Project and a continued downtown Eau Claire comeback,” he said.

  • Fundraising Effort Organized and Underway

    September 23, 2014

    Barlands and Bauers to co-chair Confluence fundraising campaign

    The philanthropy drive to raise private funding for the Confluence Arts Center in downtown Eau Claire has reached almost 40% of its fundraising goal or more than $ 5 million in commitments and gifts.

    Tom and Jill Barland and Gerald and Meghan Bauer are co-chairing the fundraising campaign.  The Confluence Campaign aims to secure the $13.5 million for the Confluence Arts Center.  The Barlands, long-time community leaders, were among the first large contributors to the campaign.  The Bauers represent an impressive group of young local entrepreneurs who are also making substantial philanthropic commitments to the project.  The Barlands and the Bauers say they are pleased with the progress the campaign has made so far securing charter members for the “50 with 50 Campaign” and “The 40” fundraising groups, but say that a substantial effort still needs to be made the coming months:

    “There are many opportunities for anyone who wants to support the Confluence Project.  We’ll aggressively promote them between now and the end of the year.  To ensure our successful progress through the non-state agency grant process for the state-funded portion of the project’s funding, we have to show substantial support in the community,” Confluence Campaign co-chair Jill Barland said.  “The community has demonstrated its support for the arts center with our voices and our votes.  Now is the time to show that we’ll put our money into it as well.”

    Former city council president and county planning and development director Wallace Rogers has signed on as campaign coordinator.  He will provide day-to-day leadership and management support for the fundraising effort.  He is also writing several grant applications and requests for funding that are being submitted to regional and national charitable foundations that support performing arts, downtown revitalization, and economic development projects.  Rogers says he expects to make several gift announcements in the next few months.

    Confluence Campaign
    Tom and Jill Barland

    Gerald and Meghan Bauer

    Five fundraising campaigns

    The Confluence Campaign has launched five fundraising campaigns: individual donations; corporate pledges; foundation grants; text-to-give and crowd-funding challenges; an employee challenge program sponsored by an expanding list of local businesses. Naming opportunities are also being offered at the regional arts center and for public places adjacent to the center.

    If you are interested in making a gift to the Confluence, contact the Confluence Campaign or the Eau Claire Community Foundation. If you are interested in getting involved in the philanthropy drive, contact Wallace Rogers.

    Wallace Rogers
    Rogers & Associates
    315 Riverfront Terrace, Suite 102
    Eau Claire, WI 54703

    Sue Bornick, Director
    Eau Claire Community Foundation
    306 S. Barstow Street, Suite 104
    Eau Claire, WI 54701


  • Community for the Confluence Call to Action!



    Speak out in support of downtown development 

    The Eau Claire City Council on Monday, September 8 at 7:00 p.m. will be seeking public comment on an amendment necessary for downtown development to move forward, and a resolution in support of the creation of a non-profit entity that will own the Confluence Arts Center. The following items are included in the September 8, 2014 agenda:

    3. Public Discussion on the adoption of an amendment to the Project Plan for TID #8, Downtown Development Area and the creation of TID #10, South Barstow Confluence Project.

    4. Public Discussion on a resolution supporting the creation of a non-profit entity to submit a non-state agency grant application and own “The Confluence” Arts Center as part of a project located in Downtown Eau Claire.

    The complete Eau Claire City Council September 8, 2014 agenda can be read at: 2014-09-08_Monday_City_Council_Packet.pdf

    Your voice does make a difference

    Eau Claire City Council representatives want to hear your comments. If you can’t attend tonight’s meeting, please email your comments to the City Council. They need to know lots of people support the Confluence Project, so every email is very important. Emails in your own words and expressing your own passions for the Confluence Project and development of downtown will make a difference.,,,,, ,,,,,,

    The Confluence Project invests local government, philanthropic, private and state dollars to create a project that no single entity could do alone. The project connects the UW-Eau Claire campus with the community and has the potential for significant economic development impact now and in the future.

    Thank you for taking the time to speak out in support of downtown development.

  • SUCCESS! Resolution in Support of Confluence Project


    The UW System Board of regents have passed a resolution instructing UW System President Ray Cross to work with the state Department of Administration to implement the Confluence Project. State funding for the Confluence Project will be requested through the non-state agency grant program in the 2015-2017 state biennial budget.

    UW System statement on Confluence Project:

    The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today reaffirmed support for the UW-Eau Claire Confluence Project as part of the resolution recommending UW System 2015-17 capital budget projects.

    The resolution directed UW System President Ray Cross or his designees to work with the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Administration to implement the project.

    Gov. Scott Walker announced his support for the Eau Claire Confluence Project on June 23 and reaffirmed that support Tuesday, Aug. 19.

    “Based on my decades of experience in business, real estate and community leadership, I understand the power of the public-private partnerships,” explained Regina Millner, vice president of the Board of Regents.  “They create jobs and stimulate the creation and expansion of other businesses. They directly and indirectly improve a region’s quality of life.

    “The Confluence Project will turn a blighted industrial parcel into a vibrant, job-creating center of activity,” she continued. “It will provide multiple benefits to the community and provide immediate and long-term benefits to the region’s economy. It will also leverage private-sector and philanthropic investments.

    “We are both competitors and neighbors with our friends across the Mississippi in Minnesota,” Millner said. “The Confluence Project will provide educational, social and cultural benefits for both states, though its economic benefits will be most realized here in Wisconsin. This project is consistent with the UW universities’ historic role and the economic influence they provide in their communities and across Wisconsin. I believe its many benefits justify moving forward.”

    The Confluence Project leverages local government, philanthropic, private and state dollars to create a project that no one of these partners could do alone. The project more closely connects the UW-Eau Claire campus with the community and region its serves and has the potential to have significant economic development impact now and in the future.

  • Become one of the 6,000 to donate in 60 days



    Join Coming Together, a coalition of donors with an important Confluence Arts Center challenge — raise 6,000 donations in 60 days. This is a unique opportunity to show widespread support for the Confluence Project AND secure a $100,000 challenge grant by our Sept. 17 deadline.

    Imagine the possibilities of a collaborative living-learning environment that builds creative connections with the surrounding community. The Confluence Project is committed to supporting a healthy, vibrant downtown. University students, faculty and Eau Claire residents will benefit from new sources of social and cultural engagement that meld the university and community in novel ways.

    It doesn’t require incredible wealth to join Coming Together and help meet the challenge. Donations of any amount qualify toward the match. You can donate right now by simply texting ECARTS to 501501, and a one-time $10 contribution will be added to your cellphone bill or deducted from a prepaid balance. You can text to donate up to three times each month — every individual text donation counts toward the challenge!

    If you want to make a tax-deductible donation larger than $10, please go online, or call Ben Richgruber, executive director, Eau Claire Regional Arts Council at 715-832-2787

    The clock is ticking with only 34 days and 14 hours to go. Please share your support of the Confluence Arts Center with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter, and ask them to become one of the 6,000 contributors.

    Thank you!

  • Another Step Closer to the Good Life

    August 5, 2014

    UW-Eau Claire announces major gift in support of new event and recreation center

    Reprinted from UW-Eau Claire News Release

    The UW-Eau Claire Foundation is thrilled to announce the largest outright gift to the Foundation in its nearly 60-year history. Blugold alumni John and Carolyn Sonnentag, through their philanthropic foundation, have pledged approximately $10 million in land and money to develop a multipurpose events center that would accommodate at least 7,500 people and replace Zorn Arena as UW-Eau Claire’s largest events venue. The Sonnentag Foundation has committed to transfer ownership of 21 acres along Menomonie Street in Eau Claire to Blugold Real Estate, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. The 21 acres currently are owned by County Materials Corp., the Sonnentags’ third-generation family-owned concrete manufacturing company. “Words cannot adequately express the gratitude we feel for the Sonnentags’ generosity in making this gift that will have such a significant and transformative impact both for UW-Eau Claire and for our region,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. “The goals of both the university and the citizens of Eau Claire to bring a large events venue to our community are one very large step closer to being realized thanks to the Sonnentag Foundation and the generous spirit of John and Carolyn Sonnentag.”

    Through their foundation, the Sonnentags, of Mount Dora, Florida, and formerly of Marathon City, Wisconsin, also have pledged a significant monetary contribution in support of the new events center. The Sonnentag Foundation gifts are being recognized as contributions to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation’s Power of Possible campaign, a comprehensive campaign to raise $60 million in support of people, programs and places at UW-Eau Claire by Dec. 31, 2016, during the year of the university’s centennial celebration.

    To learn more about the Sonnentags’ gift and future plans for the site, go to the news release.

    Ben Richgruber, executive director, Eau Claire Regional Arts Council: “This is great news for the Eau Claire community, we are fulfilling the goals stated in the Clear Vision study and echoed by Eau Claire County residents in the The Good Life: A Cultural Direction for Eau Claire County. When I served as co-chair on the Clear Vision committee, we all firmly believed there was an immediate need for both a cultural arts center and a large capacity event center. Eau Claire can and should have both the Confluence Arts Center and the County Materials Event and Recreation Complex. Bravo! UW-Eau Claire and the Sonnentags for your vision and commitment to Eau Claire.

  • Why do we keep pushing to improve the quality of life in Eau Claire?

    July 22, 2014

    It’s for the love…

    In February, we received an email after a Confluence Project fundraiser from Lisa Aspenson, owner of Mona Lisa’s Restaurant. She wrote with excitement about the impact of the Confluence Project on the city she loves. How she felt a pulse in the city of what could be – an energy flowing up from the rivers through the coffee shops, the farmer’s market, local businesses and along the bike trails.

    Lisa’s email inspired us. It created a bond amongst Confluence volunteers working to overcome challenges. We succeed in April, and the momentum has continued to build. We made a video to honor Lisa’s steadfast confidence in the Confluence Project, and her inspiration that continues to ring true today.

    We made a video to answer the question: Why do we keep pushing to improve the quality of Life in Eau Claire? Its for the love.



    Now is the Time to Donate

    It doesn’t require incredible wealth to make a donation to the Confluence Project. Donations of any amount send an important message of support to state government leaders in Madison making decisions on funding the project.

    You can donate right now by simply texting ECARTS to 501501, and a one-time $10 contribution will be added to your cell phone bill or deducted from a prepaid balance.

    You can donate up to three times each month – every individual donation counts! Let your voice be heard in Madison!

    If you want to make a tax deductible donation larger than $10, please go online to, or call the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council at 715-832-2787.

    Please join us today in support of the Confluence Project: text ECARTS to 501501 or donate online at

    Thank you!


    Text message donations: a one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Donor must be age 18+ and all donations must be authorized by the account holder (e.g. parents). By texting YES, the user agrees to the terms and conditions. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Donations are collected for the benefit of the EauClaireArts by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Message & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to short code 91011; text HELP to 91011 for help.

    Provided By: Connect2Give Logo

  • Coming Together $100,000 Challenge Grant

    July 21, 2014

    Help Us Meet the Challenge

    Community for the Confluence is thrilled to announce Coming Together, a $100,000 challenge grant in support of the Confluence Arts Center. The new campaign, initiated by a coalition of donors, utilizes social media and text-2-give mobile to raise 6,000 donations in 60 days.

    Make your donation now by simply texting ECARTS to 501501, and a one-time $10 charge is added to your cell phone bill or deducted from a prepaid balance.

    You can donate up to three times each month – every individual donation counts toward the 6,000 goal.

    If you want to make a tax deductible donation larger than $10, please go online to, or call the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council at 715-832-2787.

    The 6,000 donation challenge is approximately 10% of the population of the greater Eau Claire area and greater than the number of signatures which placed the referendum question on the ballot in April. This is a unique opportunity to show broad support for the Confluence Arts Center as state government leaders in Madison make important decisions on funding the project.

    Please join us today in support of the Confluence Arts Center: text ECARTS to 501501 or go online to

    Thank you!


    A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Donor must be age 18+ and all donations must be authorized by the account holder (e.g. parents). By texting YES, the user agrees to the terms and conditions. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Donations are collected for the benefit of the EauClaireArts by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Message & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to short code 501501; text HELP to 501501 for help.
    Provided By: Connect2Give Logo
  • Demolition of buildings at Confluence Project site to begin the week of July 7, 2014

    July 8, 2014

    News release from Commonweal Development

    Eau Claire, Wis. – Haymarket Concepts, LLC has awarded a contract to complete demolition of the buildings located at the site identified for the Confluence Project to Alliance Steel Construction from Superior, WI. This company was selected as the demolition contractor following a systematic request for proposals and bid process. The following buildings are slated for demolition: Market Square Building, Farmers Store, and the buildings located on the west side of South Barstow from the Eau Claire River to Eau Claire Street. Demolition is scheduled to begin the week of July 7th and may take five to six weeks to complete.The Mixed Use Building site will be ready for the construction of the residential/commercial building early this fall with completion scheduled for June, 2016. The disturbed areas of the arts center site will be filled, seeded and maintained as grass until construction begins on that phase of the project.

    Much of the building material is being salvaged or recycled. Where possible, items with architectural significance have been saved for re-use. Significant attention will be given to the removal and disposition of hazardous building materials to assure compliance with all safety and environmental regulations.

    Haymarket officials said “that while the buildings are a safety hazard and need to be removed, this is significant as it launches a major strategy designed to revitalize the South Barstow Business District.”

  • Your Story to Tell – Jason Jon Anderson


    July 3, 2014

    by Scott Morfitt, CftC blogger

    Quite simply, if Eau Claire is going to get top-caliber performing acts, we need a new theater.  Many of us have seen Ben Richgruber’s video tour of the State Theatre and understand that though the theatre has it’s charm, it cannot meet the requirements of large scale touring acts.

    To get a good perspective on what top tier acts require from performing arts centers I interviewed Jason Jon Anderson.

    Jason holds an MFA in Lighting Design and has spent the last seven years as UWEC’s Event Production Coordinator before being promoted to Assistant Director of Conferences, Marketing and Technology.  On top of that in 2012, Jason joined the Bon Iver team as the Production Manager.

    I couldn’t think of anyone better to answer my questions on what will make this these theatre spaces something that will be valuable to the community.  (Note: The interview below is abridged, if you would like to Jason’s full answers you can click here)

    Scott Morfitt: When you were working with Bon Iver on their tour, you got to enter a wide mix of event spaces.  From a production standpoint what are a few of the basic things needed to successfully run a top-tier show?

    Jason Anderson: When selecting a production venue to host national touring act there are a range of things that are looked at. Some of which take into account the need to have a population density large enough to ensure at least the possibility of a sold-out performance.

    Knowing what the profit margins should be for a nation touring show; capacity needs to be around 3000 for a music concert (this could be achieved if the orchestra level had removable seating that would allow the entire first floor to be standing room only) And 1250-1500 fixed seating for theatrical style shows

    SM: Why are these things so important to a production?

    JA: Tours work on a commodity of scale and need to not operate in a manner that generates revenue. In order for national music tours to stop in Eau Claire as opposed to continue to other larger market cities the Confluence needs to hold enough people to make it a profitable venture for a tour to stop.

    Rigging capacities for modern tours is paramount. The ability for a tour to know that they can use their rigging motors to hang the audio systems, video walls and lighting trusses just as they would in any venue ensures that tours can stop.

    Modern accommodations such as catering, lounge spaces, dressing rooms, production offices and wireless internet are the exception. Remember that these spaces serve as tour members’ homes for the day. If it feels like home they will want to come back with this tour or a future/different tour.

    SM: What do you see as the potential for the theatre spaces in the Confluence Project?

    JA: I believe it is only limited to its’ designers/managers imaginations. The mainstage venue should be able to hold concerts for the community’s symphony’s, jazz bands, and theatrical groups. It must be designed to accommodate national theatrical and music concert tours.

    The thrust stage  should be designed to accommodate national and international tours (London’s Globe tours). It will serve as a replacement to Kjer and a modern Riverside Theatre and it will also provide an additional performance space for the ECCT and Theatre Guild.

    The Black Box theatre should serve as a laboratory experimental space that can easily be converted to host backstage music concerts, new     musical reviews, dance performances, art gallery installations and as a gala reception space.

    SM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

    JA: As much as any modern city needs a performing arts center for artistic growth. Eau Claire needs to replace Zorn arena. The need for a large gathering space that can host athletic, commencement and civic engagements in the capacity of 7k-11k people is required. Much as Lacrosse has the Lacrosse Center Eau Claire needs a large Arena.

    We want to hear your Story to Tell. Please contact Scott at

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

  • Governor Walker Supports the Confluence Project

    June 23, 2014

    Governor Walker announces support of the Confluence Project at Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon

    “With this project you’ve got a great partnership with the private sector, the public sector coming together. So I’m here today to tell you that I support going forward with this project,” said Gov. Scott Walker.

    Governor Walker went beyond expressing support to stating that should the Regents not approve a $25-million pledge toward the community arts center there are other state options available to make sure the project moves forward.

    “It would help UW-Eau Claire, it would create a civic destination, it would help the downtown area, it would help the arts and it would be good for development,” Walker explained. “We think the state can play a role in leveraging the other resources from the local and private sector.”

    For further coverage of this historic announcement go online to WQOW and WEAU.


  • New Community for the Confluence video needs YOU!

    May 30, 2014

    We need your help on Monday, June 2 at the Davies Center

    We recently began filming a new Community for the Confluence video starring – Eau Claire!

    Earlier this year, after a Confluence fundraiser, we received an email from a local business owner titled “morning thoughts.” The email generated a wave of excitement amongst all the volunteers at Community for the Confluence. One of the CftC social media volunteers stated emphatically, “we need to do something with this!”

    Here is the email that continues to inspired us:

    “It’s an amazing morning, as a native of Eau Claire, this is the first time I woke up feeling this incredible pulse of downtown in my blood! Very exciting times!

    Let’s build a tour for Eau Claire County and any doubtful petitioners.

    …a night with restaurants bursting at the seams with concerts goers anticipating the show at the newly opened venue… Awaking at hip hotel to sip a morning cup of joe before a run on the trail as I contemplate which one of the many launch sites to drop in on the river… There’s a great art opening at the gallery across the street to check out before heading to the concert in the park for night .. We’re going to stay an extra night and either hike or bike on the Chippewa River Trail … Should we check out the other hotel tonight….and head to that restaurant on Water Street …

    … Feel the pulse??

    Oh my god this is exciting…

    I’m looking forward to being part of the movement with all if you progressive minds! This IS our town. Thank you.”

    This email inspired us to create a new video about our community. A vision of what we cherish and value. A day in the life dream of our children, families and friends; of how exceptional Eau Claire is and will continue to be as we embrace growth and new opportunities.

    Filming has begun across the city – at the downtown cleanup, Farmers Market, along the river trails, at local restaurants and hotels and in the parks. Justin Vernon has agreed to provide the film’s soundtrack.

    Now we need your help.

    On Monday, June 2 from 10:00 a.m. to Noon, we will be filming at the UW-Eau Claire Davies Center. We need YOU to be there as members of the community. Just wear casual clothes, comfortable shoes, and bring along a few friends. All ages are welcome to participate. Stay as long as you can, and leave when you must.

    Meet us on Monday, June 2 at the Davies Center Information Desk at 10:00 a.m. Film director Don Bryne of The Post House and assistant director Scott Morfitt will guide you through the scenes. No special acting skills are necessary – we just need you to be yourself.

    We look forward to seeing you on Monday, June 2, 10:00 a.m. at the Davies Center. Thank you.

  • Zach Halmstad featured in Forbes Insight Profile Series

    May 19, 2014

    JAMF Software Founder talks about Confluence Project

    In the recent Forbes “Insights Profiles” series, Zach Halmstad, Founder and Co-CEO, JAMF Software mentions the importance of the Confluence Project to the development of “a viable and vibrant downtown.” Following is a selection from the article. The full interview, written by  Bruce H. Rogers, can be read at

    Zach Halmstad

    Zach Halmstad, Founder and Co-CEO, JAMF Software

    As the company began to catch on and opened its first office in Eau Claire in 2007, Zach came to the realization that the future of JAMF would also require working to create a better future for Eau Claire. “When we looked around town, we decided that we wanted to be in the downtown area, which has certainly seen better days, but we thought that we could play a part in its revitalization.  We now have about 150 people in downtown Eau Claire,” says Halmstad.  His focus on the downtown development of the city got him involved in the Confluence Project that is a combination of state, county and city development funds, along with private investment from corporations and donations from private individuals–all coming together to revitalize the city in a way that none of those groups could do on their own. The project is a combination of a living learning center for the university as well as performing arts center for the university and the community.  JAMF itself committed a half a million dollar pledge to that project. The new JAMF office being built is just a few blocks away from the project.

    “We think that the Confluence Project is partly about supporting the arts and partly prompting economic development in our community, specifically our downtown area.  The facility we are building will hold up to 300 employees, as we continue to grow in downtown Eau Claire.  Beyond that, to prove out the economic development model, I’m also involved in a group that has purchased the largest hotel in downtown Eau Claire.  We are doing a complete renovation of that one, and we made a significant investment into another hotel downtown.  Those two projects are bringing 130 new hotel rooms to our downtown area that currently has none. They’ll also include a handful of bars, a restaurant, a coffee shop and a number of other small businesses.  We’re putting all the resources that we have to continue the revitalization of our area,” says Halmstad.

    Creating a viable and vibrant downtown is all part of Zach’s and JAMF’s efforts to attract and retain world-class talent to the area. While the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire attracts a skilled and diverse talent pool, most leave to go to Minneapolis, New York, Colorado and Silicon Valley to pursue their career dreams. “You see it all the time and a lot of that is really cultural.  While I really love the city that I’ve grown up in and have been given so many great opportunities by our community, I think we can be better. This is really about bettering our community. It’s very important for me to have a positive culture for our employees to live and work in. I also think that there’s a critical mass that we need to get to. It’s not just about JAMF, cultural opportunities are for everyone in our community,” concludes Halmstad.

  • Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce


    May 13, 2014

    Letter from Bob McCoy

    It’s been over a month now since the decisive pro-Confluence results in the April election. Those strong majorities confirm public support for the Confluence Project’s importance to the future of Eau Claire. They create valuable momentum towards completing the local funding share.

    But the vote was just one step, and there are still several key decisions that need to be made.

    Right now, the next big milestone on which you can have the most impact: Help affirm the state funding that is needed to make up UW-Eau Claire’s portion of the project.

    Here’s what you can do: Contact Governor Scott Walker, Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch, and your own local legislators to encourage them to support the state’s commitment to the Confluence Project.

    Tips for making an effective contact:

    Type of contact:
    • The most impact would be a letter printed and mailed on your company letterhead.
    • If that isn’t possible, any contact you make will be helpful – a personal letter, e-mail, or phone call.

    What you can say:
    Rather than a “form letter,” a simple, short statement in your own words will be the most effective. It just needs to include three things:

    1. Start by saying you support the Confluence Project and the state funding for UWEC’s share of it.

    2. Give one or two reasons. You don’t have to make every argument, just pick one or two key points that are most relevant to you that address the reasons the state/UWEC should be part of the project. Here are some:

    • It’s a unique collaboration between the University and the Community
    • It saves money on construction and operating costs vs. doing separate venues
    • It avoids unnecessary duplication of facilities
    • It helps spur private development as a public-private partnership
    • The community decisively showed local support in the April 1 election
    • Private donations will make up a significant part of the local share (and if you’ve donated, mention it)
    • Being part of the Confluence will be more cost effective for the University than building on campus

    3. Thank them for their consideration and ask them to publicly support the state commitment.

    Contact information:
    Governor Scott Walker, 115 E Capitol, Madison WI 53702; 608-266-1212;
    Mike Huebsch, Secretary of Administration, 101 E Wilson St, Madison WI 53703; 608-266-1741;
    • Contact your own State Senator and State Representative: If you’re not sure who that is, click here and enter your voting address, then scroll down to “your state elected officials.”

    What else you can do:
    • Ask 3 or 4 friends and colleagues to do the same thing
    • Share your correspondence with us, including replies you receive. (Send to Scott Rogers, our Governmental Affairs Director: )

    More information:
    • The Chamber’s Fact Sheet: The Confluence Project: What it is and why the Chamber supports it (updated since the election)

    Your letters really will made a difference. Send yours today.

    Bob McCoy, President & CEO
    Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce

  • Your Story to Tell – Benny Haas

    May 13, 2014

    by Scott Morfitt, CftC blogger

    As many of us have heard the Confluence Project will bring a wide variety of national and regional entertainment to our community. For me, this in and of itself is amazing.

    The opportunity to get to see a wide variety of talent which I would normally have to drive to Minneapolis to see will also mean a huge savings in my own travel expenses. For a guy who lives in downtown this is pretty awesome.Also, this means Eau Claire has the potential to be a hub for west central Wisconsin residents. For local business owners the tourism dollars that this will bring is a necessity.


    To get a first-hand take on what this means I sat down with Benny Haas, owner of Pizza Plus and Benny HaHa, to get his perspective on why this project is vital.

    Scott Morfitt: How do you think the Confluence Project will help downtown Eau Claire?

    Benny Haas: I believe the Confluence Arts Center will help build on the reinvention of downtown. It is one more thing downtown can do to engage and bring a sense of community. People are looking for an experience, so if downtown can offer entertainment, great food and shopping – downtown will only grow.

    We currently see an increase in our business when State Theatre shows are playing. We can only imagine that an increase in capacity, as well as attracting bigger shows, will have a direct increase on our business as well as others.

    Scott Morfitt: Do you think this will create opportunity for businesses outside of downtown Eau Claire?

    Benny Haas: If the new Arts Center is able to bring in bigger shows people will stay overnight in local hotels and perhaps shop and make a mini-vacation out of it. With many of our hotels outside of downtown this will mean more business for the greater Eau Claire area.

    Scott Morfitt: You are part of 40 Under 40, a group of young entrepreneurs who have pledged money to this project once everything is approved. Where can I find out more about this?

    Benny Haas: You don’t have to be under 40 to make a contribution, so anyone can join the group. There is a donate page on the Community for the Confluence web page, which has the 40 Under 40 pledge form. Or you can contact Ben Richgruber at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council.

    Scott Morfitt: Why do you think support from younger Eau Claire residents is vital to the Confluence Project?

    Benny Haas: I think we need a cohesive group of support from all age groups. But I think it goes farther when the younger generation stands up and states what they want, and are willing to financially get behind it as well – no matter what amount, big or small.

    We want to hear your Story to Tell. Please contact Scott at

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

  • Community Questions

    April 29, 2014

    What’s Your Question?

    Recently, we began updating the web site to better address regional and state questions about the Confluence Project. The “Common Questions” web page is now “Community Questions.” Many community members have engaged in the Confluence Project by attending public discussions, voting, educating others, offering feedback, and most importantly, asking tough questions to ensure that this project is a success.

    On the Community Questions web page you can read through questions submitted online by community members. In addition, the web page has links to Confluence Project related articles and a research white paper from 2009 that came out of the Clear Vision planning process.

    We want to know what questions, comments or ideas you have about the Confluence Project. Please submit your questions to: We will send your questions to the appropriate representatives to get an answer, email you the answer, and post your question/answer on the Community Questions web page.

    Please limit your questions to two sentences. This is an opportunity to learn more about the project, and express your ideas for the project. We hope all community members will continue to participate in the discussion.

  • New Blog “My Story to Tell”

    It’s Your Story to Tell

    April 25, 2014


    by Scott Morfitt, CftC Featured Blogger

    In the first “My Story to Tell” blog I talked to you about what an amazing art scene Eau Claire has.  This is because of the the intense focus on collaboration and placemaking which this scene intrinsically brings to the community.

    This collaboration between people is why I think the Confluence Project is an amazing opportunity for Eau Claire.  It has the potential to use this creative synergy to build something that gives the people of this region an amazing space to celebrate the arts.

    With this in mind the next few blog posts I write will feature questions and answers with some of these people and why they believe that the time is now for this amazing asset to the community.

    I will not just be interviewing the people we classically think of as “artists” (though they will be featured too); business leaders, politicians, sound and light professionals, and community leaders will share their views on why this is so great.

    While I have a list of some key players to interview, this project is about bringing many diverse perspectives to the table.  So, if you want to be included please email me at

    This project is about celebrating collaboration and I believe that is why it is important that many voices make “My Story to Tell” a story about how we all worked together to build something special.

  • My Story to Tell

    March 30, 2014

    In our new blog series “My Story to Tell,” we asked residents to share their stories about living in Eau Claire and participating in the region’s arts community. We want to tell your stories. Please share your personal experiences as a community arts volunteer, independent musician, artist or actor, educator or parent with children engaged in the arts – even as a member of the audience, as an admirer of the arts you have a story to tell. Please write to us at Thank you.

    Eau Claire resident Scott Morfitt begins the series talking about the strong connection between the University and local community arts groups who thrived on working together.

    Collaboration: Eau Claire’s Biggest Asset

    by Scott Morfitt

    I moved here from Minneapolis in 2006.  While I lived there I worked at record stores and coffee shops and was able to be a part of some amazing “scenes”.

    When, I say that word “scene” I mean different groups of other people interested in various genres of music, independent filmmakers, writers and all sorts of other artists and philosophers.  It was simply amazing, but one thing I always noticed is that these various scenes didn’t have much cross over.  That is to say I wouldn’t expect my punk friends to be connected with some of my other artist friends.  It’s not that anyone had any sort of animosity towards one another; there was so many people in these scenes that branching out just wasn’t a necessity.

    That was the single largest difference I noticed when being welcomed into the music and arts community in Eau Claire.  Because of the size and the strong connection between the University and arts here the scene here really was a community who thrived on working together.

    What that has produced is amazing examples of collaboration between people of broad interests.  It makes me feel so consistently blessed to be able to sit down at a table and be with musicians, visual artists, professionals and other community members and talk about ideas for making this community better.

    It’s that spirit of collaboration that I think makes the Confluence Project an amazing potential asset for this community.  The intersection of the arts and University has already created the vibrant arts community we have today.  By getting students deeper ingrained into this community and giving them opportunities to work with industry professionals and equipment will build this community even stronger.

    There are many other valid and interesting reasons for this project, but the center of it is always making this innovative and community-minded arts scene stronger.

  • 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


In the News

Fill-in lead: Jason Jon Anderson is confident he’s right person to step in to lead Confluence Arts Center to its destiny as centerpiece of revitalized downtown Eau Claire
Leader-Telegram -November 3, 2017

UWEC Grad Will Hit Ground Running as Confluence Arts Center Director
VolumeOne -June 29, 2017

Ashley Furniture makes $25,000 donation to Confluence Arts Center
WQOW -February 20, 2017

Ceremonial start of the Confluence Arts Center construction
Leader-Telegram – October 7, 2016

Xcel donates $250,000 to Confluence Project
Leader-Telegram – May 17, 2016

Xcel Energy announces $250,000 donation to Confluence Arts Center
WEAU – May 17, 2016

Confluence plans clear final hurdle

WEAU – Mar 22, 2016

Eau Claire City Council to vote on arts center design
Leader Telegram – Mar 22, 2016

Public meeting held for Confluence Arts Center
WEAU – Mar 22, 2016

Arts center, UW-EC plans reach City Council
Leader Telegram – Mar 19, 2016

Plan Commission approves arts center site plan
Leader Telegram – Mar 15, 2016

Confluence Project: Open bids, closed meetings
Leader Telegram – Mar 9, 2016

Transfer of Confluence property made
WEAU – Mar 8, 2016

Confluence Arts Center board hires auditing firm, construction manager
Leader Telegram – March 8, 2016

Arts center transparency touchy subject
Leader Telegram – Feb 17, 2016

This is what’s possible when we pull together
Leader Telegram – Feb 10, 2016

Stakeholders release Confluence Arts Center Plans
WEAU – Feb 9, 2016

Confluence fundraising at $11.5M

Leader Telegram – Feb 6, 2016

Confluence Project performing arts center design unveiling nears

Leader Telegram – Feb 6, 2016

Arts, cultural scene helps attract business

Leader Telegram – Jan 31, 2016

Confluence offer too good to miss

Leader Telegram – Dec 18, 2015

Students pledge $50,000 toward Confluence

Leader Telegram – Dec 18, 2015

Time winding down for Confluence fundraising campaign

WEAU – Dec 16, 2015

Eau Claire Confluence project receives big donation

WQOW – Dec 14, 2015

Confluence Arts Center campaign receives two additional pledges

WEAU – Dec 4, 2015

Council Inks Confluence Agreement

Volume One – Nov 25, 2015

Confluence Arts Center gains three new pledges

Leader Telegram – Oct 12, 2015

County reaffirms $3.5M in funding for Confluence Project

WEAU – Sep 15, 2015

County Board OKs $3.5M for Confluence with contingencies 

Leader Telegram – Sep 15, 2015

Local county commission approves resolution to pledge $3.5M to arts portion of Confluence Project

WQOW – Aug 11, 2015

New Eau Claire TIF district eyed to fund downtown upgrades

Leader Telegram – Aug 1, 2015

Arts center fundraising needs final push

Leader Telegram – July 19, 2015

Confluence funding moves forward

WEAU – Jul 13, 2015

Behind-the-scenes lobbying saved state funding for Eau Claire performing arts center

Leader Telegram – May 29, 2015

Rep. Bernier & Sen. Moulton discuss funding for Confluence

WEAU – May 29, 2015

If funding secured for project, developer hopes arts center can be completed by end of 2016

Leader Telegram – May 29, 2015

State funding restored for Confluence Project

Milwaukee Business News – May 28, 2015

Joint Finance about-face great news

Leader Telegram – May 27, 2015

Mason Trust Pledges $100k to Confluence Performing Arts Center

Volume One – Apr 13, 2015

Big Orange Crane

Volume One – Apr 1, 2015

Construction Company Pledges $250K Toward Eau Claire Arts Center

WPR – Mar 30, 2015

Eau Claire city leaders ask legislators to back Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – Mar 23, 2015

TIF used as intended in downtown

Leader Telegram – Mar 16, 2015

Candidates differ over $5 million city pledge to Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – Mar 12, 2015

Commonweal Pledges $100K to Confluence Arts Center

Volume One – Mar 10, 2015

Confluence Project 50 for 50 campaign met, expanded, renamed

WQOW – Mar 10, 2015

A tale of two cities, with one difference

Leader Telegram – Feb 15, 2015

Nationally known musicians to donate to Confluence

Leader Telegram – Feb 12, 2015

Art crawl raises money for Confluence Project

WEAU – Feb 7, 2015

It’s third and goal for arts center effort

Leader Telegram – Feb 2, 2015

Bipartisan regional support seen for Confluence in Legislature

Leader Telegram – Jan 31, 2015

Consultant: Arts center would increase development, jobs

Leader Telegram – Jan 28, 2015

UWEC Professor explains the economic impact of Confluence Project

WEAU – Jan 29, 2015

UPDATE: Walker’s budget will include $15M for Confluence

Volume One – Jan 28, 2015

Walker’s $15M pledge for Confluence cheers supporters

Leader Telegram – Jan 28, 2015

Gov. Walker announces matching funds for Confluence Project

WQOW – Jan 28, 2015

Confluence arts center fundraising nears halfway mark

Leader Telegram – Jan 15, 2015

Confluence Project claimed the No. 1 spot on the Leader-Telegram’s list of top local stories for the second year running

Leader Telegram – Dec 29, 2014

Gov. Walker wants to make sure plan for Confluence Project ensures success

WEAU – Dec 17, 2014

Construction underway at Confluence Project’s ‘Haymarket Landing’

WQOW – Dec 16, 2014

Panel favors pedestrian bridge over Eau Claire River

Leader Telegram – Dec 11, 2014

Put your money where your heart is

Volume One – Dec 11, 2014

Turning a New Page

Volume One – Nov 27, 2014

Art Center Design

Leader Telegram – Nov 25, 2014

Court deadlines set in suit related to Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – Nov 19, 2014

Haymarket Landing a huge step forward

Leader Telegram – Nov 16, 2014

Northwestern Bank pledges $100,000 to Confluence Project

Chippewa Valley Business Report – Oct 22, 2014

Confluence Project development agreement released

WQOW – Oct 10, 2014

Commission approves Confluence Project’s mixed-use building

Leader Telegram – Sep 24, 2014

Leaders named for Confluence Campaign

Leader Telegram – Sep 22, 2014

Confluence project fundraising effort organized and underway

WEAU – Sep 22, 2014

More buildings dismantled to make way for Confluence Project

WEAU – Sep 19, 2014

City Votes to Support Confluence Non-Profit

WEAU – Sep 9, 2014

Downtown demolition draws spectators to sidewalks

WQOW – Aug 26, 2014

UW System regents verbally back Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – Aug 21, 2014

City leaders react to Confluence Project funding changes

WEAU – Aug 20, 2014

Regents consider new way for Confluence funding

Chippewa Herald – Aug 18, 2014

Hotel renovations would aid Confluence funding

Leader Telegram – Aug 17, 2014

Confluence Project alive due to public-private partnership

Chippewa Valley Business Report – Jul 28, 2014

Confluence fundraising effort begins

WEAU – Jul 25, 2014

The Confluence: It’s still up to you

Volume One – Jul 23, 2014

Governor Walker speaks in support of the Confluence Project

Volume One – Jun 23, 2014

Inside the ‘Black Box’

Volume One – May 15, 2014

Taking next steps as Confluence Project moves forward

Leader Telegram – May 7, 2014

Area lawmakers need to push Confluence

Leader Telegram – April 10, 2014

The Confluence Project Wins Big

Volume One – April 2, 2014

Referendum results final, Confluence Project finish line still a ways off

WQOW TV-18 – April 2, 2014

WPR Covers Confluence Project

Wisconsin Public Radio – March 31, 2014

Donors pledge $675K to Confluence, put total over $5M

Volume One – March 27, 2014

Long-term View Needed in Arts Center Decision

Leader Telegram – February 2, 2014

Confluence Referendum Wording Concerns UW-EC students

Leader Telegram – January 31, 2014

Local Meeting with State Arts Board Leaders Addresses Strategies for Thriving

Leader Telegram – January 28, 2014

Confluence Project Developer Reacts to County-Wide Referendum

WQOW TV-18 – January 22, 2014

County Board OKs Confluence Funding, but Only if Referendum is Held

Leader Telegram – January 21, 2014

New Group Supporting the Confluence Project Targets Young Entrepreneurs

WQOW TV-18 – January 16, 2014

Confluence Referendum Petition Verified; Council Action Possible This Month

Leader Telegram – January 10, 2014

Chamber President Urges Members to support Project

Leader Telegram – January 9, 2014

Walker Should Like The Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – June 23, 2013

Will This Venue Work?
Volume One Magazine – May 22, 2013

Zach Halmstad announces $500,000 gift from JAMF Software

JAMF Software – May 20, 2013

JAMF Software Pledges $500,000 to Confluence Project

Volume One Magazine – Mar. 13, 2013

UWEC Student Senate gives $50,000 and their support [PDF]

UW-Eau Claire Student Senate – Nov. 19, 2012

UW Regents approve concept [PDF]

Capital Planning & Budget Committee – Oct. 4, 2012

RCU gives $1,000,000 to Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – Sep. 19, 2012

Stars Align For Confluence Project

Leader Telegram – May 23, 2012

Businesses React To Place For Downtown Dormitory And Arts Center

Leader Telegram – May 16, 2012

$85 Million “Confluence Project” coming downtown

Volume One Magazine – May 15, 2012