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  • 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

  • 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.

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


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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.

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

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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

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

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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.

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

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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:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

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

  • 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


In the News

It’s Official: Eau Claire’s New Downtown Arts Center Has a Name
VolumeOne – February 16, 2018

Trio do­nate $5M, name art cen­ter
Leader-Telegram – February 16, 2018

Naming rights sold for Confluence Arts Center
WEAU – February 16, 2018

Naming rights to Eau Claire Confluence Arts Center unveiled
WQOW – February 16, 2018

Confluence Arts Center: Newly hired artistic director has big, splashy, intimate plans for center’s first season in 2018-19
Leader-Telegram – February 2, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Backstage look at Eau Claire’s Confluence Arts
WQOW – January 26, 2018

Sizable donation gifted to Eau Claire Confluence project
WEAU – January 11, 2018

Inside Eau Claire’s Confluence Arts Center
WEAU – December 20, 2017

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