It was an honor yesterday for me to join other community and business leaders from the region for the Chippewa Valley Rally in Madison, where we had the opportunity to talk with our area legislators about economic, education, infrastructure and other issues important to our region.
The day was an important one for us to build and strengthen partnerships, with community leaders giving our lawmakers important feedback about the impact of our state's laws, policies, regulations and economic initiatives.
A high point for the day was Governor Scott Walker's announcement to our group that he will include $15 million in funding for the Confluence Project in his 2015-17 state budget proposal. Given the challenges of our next biennial budget, I am very pleased to see that support for the Confluence is being put forward by the governor to our legislators. (See today's Leader-Telegram coverage of the governor's announcement.)
As I've said many times, the Confluence Project is a shining example of how partnerships can result in great achievements that no single partner could accomplish on its own. Governor Walker's announcement is an important step forward for UW-Eau Claire and our public and private partners on this important project for our university, community and region. It means that we are on a continued path to realizing a state-of-the-art arts center that will serve UW-Eau Claire, the Chippewa Valley and all of northwest Wisconsin.
This project is a game-changer for downtown Eau Claire, as demonstrated by the investments already made in the JAMF building and Haymarket Landing, and the reinvestment in the Lismore Hotel, Green Tree Inn, new apartments and other projects.
The Confluence Project community arts center will be a catalyst for continued economic development in the region and will provide the university and regional businesses a competitive advantage in terms of their ability to recruit and retain top talent —especially younger talent.
With the powerful combination of state money, local money and philanthropy, we will build something truly special for UW-Eau Claire and the community.