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

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