Chippewa Valley’s Time to Shine

 

Every year, I look forward to January because I know that I get a chance to meet with enthusiastic people from the district who care deeply about our community and want to see it thrive. The 24th annual Chippewa Valley Rally happened in Madison on January 31st and it was wonderful to see how many cheerleaders for the Chippewa Valley made the trip down this year.

 

The Chippewa Valley Rally first started in 1994 as a way to connect community representatives and local business leaders from Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie with legislators, state agency leaders and the governor. The Rally gives participants a chance to show state officials in Madison who might not know much about the area what makes the Chippewa valley so great. Another important part of the Rally is identifying what areas could be strengthened with help from the state and letting state officials know.

 

After Rally participants made the long bus trip down Highway 94, they were treated to a luncheon with good food and even better speakers. Governor Scott Walker stopped by the Rally and said a few words about the Wisconsin Career Creator initiative that he is proposing. This initiative will focus on improving training and educational opportunities in high demand fields. Workforce development is one of the main focuses for the Rally because there are a lot of jobs that need to be filled, especially in the health sector and trade professions in our area, but there are not a lot of qualified individuals to fill them, so building up the workforce in the our area is important.

 

When the luncheon ended, everyone wearing a blue and grey scarf with “Chippewa Valley Rally 2018” made their way around the Capitol where they met with many officials and legislators from all parts of the state. This year, the big issues that people chose to discuss with us centered on developing the workforce, a long term solution for transportation funding, access to fast internet, and the quality and affordability of education. Their presentation of the issues showed how connected each issue is to the others and the importance of addressing them all as soon as we can.

 

After the meetings with state officials, everyone crossed the street to the Park Hotel where there was a wonderful reception. A number of legislators from around Wisconsin attended and met with the Rally participants. The group of over a hundred people included young and old from all types of businesses and careers. Food and beverages were served, including a nod to my hometown brewery Leinenkugels with bottles of Grapefruit Shandy and Canoe Paddler at the bar. I got to chat with many people that I already knew and also met a flock of new people who made it their goal to represent everything good about the Chippewa Valley.

 

While these issues have been on the Legislature’s radar for a while, talking to constituents who deal with these issues on a daily basis provide more insight and new information that further emphasizes the need to address workforce development, education, the broadband shortage and transportation at a state level. It is also a great opportunity to show my colleagues how dedicated and hardworking our area is. The Chippewa Valley Rally and every participant make me proud to represent the Chippewa Valley.