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Business, civic leaders lobby in Madison

Greater St. Croix Valley Partnership teams met with legislators in Madison. (l-r) Cedric Ellingson of Bo's N' Mine, 67th Assembly District Representative Tom Larson, Patti Robertson of WESTconsin Credit Union, and Mike Stoffel of Ayers Associates.

More than 30 volunteers from Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties participated in appointments at the state capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 8, as part of the Greater St. Croix Valley Partnership Legislative Day.

The event coincides with the start of the annual Governor's Conference on Economic Development and several participants from the four-county region remained in Madison to attend the conference.

The Greater St. Croix Valley's four-hour distance to Madison makes it imperative to maintain ongoing contact and dialogue with state legislators from across the state.

"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, Wis. 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 members 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 legislative issues promoted by the Greater St. Croix Valley Partnership included: 

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 University of Wisconsin 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 Partnership's Legislative Day was sponsored by the Chambers of Commerce in Hudson, Menomonie, New Richmond, and River Falls; the county EDCs in Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix; UW-River Falls; and Momentum West.