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Teams from the Greater St. Croix Valley Partnership met with legislators in Madison Feb. 8 during the annual Legislative Days. Left to right: River Falls businessman Cedric Ellingson, 67th Assembly District Representative Tom Larson, Patti Robertson of WESTconsin Credit Union, and Mike Stoffel of Ayers Associates. Submitted photo

Locals bridge legislative distance

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government River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A group of about 30 volunteers traveled from River Falls' home counties of Pierce and St. Croix, as well as Dunn and Polk counties, to the annual Legislative Days in Madison, when constituents from far western Wisconsin travel to the state capital and promote the priorities impacting their home area.

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Business and civic leaders volunteer to make the four-hour trek to meet with various lawmakers and raise awareness about the important home-area issues. The group forms the St. Croix Valley Partnership.

Legislative Day 2012 coincided with the start of the annual Governor's Conference on Economic Development, and several participants attending that remained in Madison to also take part in the annual dialogue session(s) with lawmakers.

"Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties are among the state's leaders in population growth," said William Rubin, executive director of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC). "The sustained growth creates opportunities and challenges that must be conveyed to our legislative delegation and key committee chairs. Pierce and St. Croix counties are included in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Statistical Area, the nation's 15th-largest metro area. Dunn County is part of the Menomonie Micropolitan Area, and Polk County will likely be the next area added to the Twin Cities metro region. Supporting our legislative priorities is mutually beneficial to the Greater St. Croix Valley and the rest of the state."

Volunteers met with legislators or their staff in teams of two or three. Appointments occurred throughout the afternoon. The final appointment was in the Governor's conference room for a meeting with a policy assistant.

The Greater St. Croix Valley Partnership promoted several priorities including:

Restoring the income tax reciprocity agreement with Minnesota

The terminated reciprocity agreement impacted commuting workers from Superior to La Crosse, including several thousand in the Greater St. Croix Valley where the economic engine of the Twin Cities creates job opportunities.

Connecting Rural Wisconsin with Broadband

The deployment of fiber into rural areas of the Greater St. Croix Valley creates economic opportunities for residents and businesses.

Support for I-94 corridor studies

WisDOT and several coalitions are conducting studies to address the transportation needs of Interstate 94, a major east-west corridor in the St. Croix Valley between the Twin Cities and Eau Claire MSAs and the Menomonie Mircopolitan Area.

Protecting Transportation Funds

A Constitutional amendment to protect transportation funds will ensure that scarce dollars are spent on maintaining existing infrastructure and building overdue projects.

Support for UW System Flexibility

Supporting flexible and distinctive campuses is an important initiative of the UW System and will benefit UW-River Falls and UW-Stout in the Greater St. Croix Valley.

The chambers of commerce in Hudson, Menomonie, New Richmond, and River Falls; the county EDCs in Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix; as well as UW-River Falls and Momentum West sponsor the partnership's Legislative Day activities.

Volunteers who traveled to Madison:

  • Patti Robertson, WESTconsin Credit Union, Hudson
  • Blake Fry, UW River Falls
  • Dean Van Galen, UW River Falls
  • Bill Rubin, St. Croix EDC
  • Ryan Sicard, St. Croix EDC
  • Paul Mayer, New Richmond Area EDC
  • Pete Kling, St. Croix County
  • Angela Popenhagen, Stevens Engineers
  • Daryl Standafer, St. Croix County Board of Supervisors
  • John Kleven, Chippewa Valley Technical College, River Falls
  • Laura King, Chippewa Valley Technical College
  • Roxane Molinari, Chippewa Valley Technical College
  • Steve Healy, Polk County, EDC
  • Chris Smith, Dunn County EDC
  • Kim Heinemann, Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Trudy Popenhagen, Xcel Energy
  • Paul Shafer, Amery EDC
  • James Hanke, Xcel Energy
  • Scott Jones, Royal Credit Union of River Falls
  • Robin Buck, Dunn County EDC Board
  • Mike Stoffel, Ayres Associates
  • Mark Huber, City of Prescott
  • Char Gurney, Regional Planning Commission
  • Beth Waldhardt, Regional Planning Commission
  • Terry McKay, ERA Muske Real Estate, River Falls
  • Tom Elbert, River Falls Industrial Center, River Falls
  • Kris Ainsworth, Shared Solutions, River Falls
  • Cedric Ellingson, Bo's N' Mine, River Falls
  • Rosanne Bump, River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Bill Warner, Pierce County EDC
  • Russ Korpela, New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Patrick Thompson, St. Croix County Administrator
  • Doug Mell, UW-Stout
  • Larry Dokkestul, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services.

For additional information, contact Jacki Bradham or William Rubin at St. Croix EDC, (715) 381-4383. Learn more about the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation at www.stcroixedc.com.

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