CCEDC dues up for a vote in Abbotsford
Sheila Nyberg, the head of economic development and tourism in Clark County, gave Abbotsford’s city council a short refresher course last week on everything that her organization does to promote business development in the area.
The city has not yet paid its annual dues to the Clark County Economic Development Corporation and Tourism Bureau for 2020, and before voting to do so, the council wanted to hear from Nyberg. She spoke at a July 22 committee of the whole meeting.
The CCEDC is a private, non-profit organization that acts as both a tourism bureau and a business promoter for all of Clark County — and parts of Marathon County in municipalities like Abbotsford that are divided along county lines.
“We don’t want a customer or a community to feel that there is a Mason-Dixon line,” she told the council, referring to serving areas that happen to be partially in Marathon County.
Nyberg said the CCEDC has an annual budget of around $150,000, about twothirds of which comes from the county government. Each municipality within the county is also asked to pay $1.50 per resident as annual membership dues.
About 100 county businesses also contribute monetarily and with volunteer hours to help the CCEDC do its work.
In exchange, Nyberg said the CCEDC provides information about every community in the county to businesses looking to locate here and companies trying to recruit new employees. This includes information about the industrial parks in every city and village, she said.
A semi-annual visitors guide is used to promote Clark County tourism and its quality of life to potential business owners and employees, Nyberg said.
The CCEDC also sends out surveys to employers every spring and fall, asking them how many job openings they have available and how many they expect to add in the next six months.
When it comes to recruiting businesses and helping establish new ones, Nyberg said the CCEDC does most of its work behind the scenes, working confidentially with entrepreneurs to create business plans and line up financing.
The CCEDC partners with several other organizations to provide this help, including the Regional Business Fund, the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center and the Clark County Workforce Council, which tries to match high school and college students with businesses looking to hire. On the tourism end, the CCEDC sponsors three annual events: an annual tour of local greenhouses, the Spring Into the Arts tour (which has been moved to the fall this year), and the Harvest Moon Tour in September and October.
Council members had a few questions for Nyberg about how exactly the CCEDC benefits the city of Abbotsford.
Ald. Lori Huther, the guidance counselor at Abbotsford High School, said her students don’t normally participate in the annual bus tour sponsored by the CCEDC that takes them to see potential work places throughout the county.
“If the bus tours were revolving around businesses in this area, we’d be involved, but we’re not going to put kids on a bus to ride for an hour or two to go check out businesses that are on the other side of Clark County,” she said.
Nyberg noted that local companies, such as DI, Inc. in Abbotsford, Loos Machine in Colby and Meyer Manufacturing in Dorchester have been included in some of the past bus tours.
Ald. Frankie Soto asked Nyberg if the CCEDC ever promotes new business in one community over another.
Nyberg said they never take a business lead away from a city.
“That’s confidential and stays there,” she said.
When asked for specific examples of how the CCEDC has assisted Abbotsford, Nyberg said they helped Dan Hannula buy the local Decorator Industries plant and turn it into DI, Inc. when the parent company wanted to close it in 2011.
Ald. Roger Weideman, however, wanted to know if the CCEDC was responsible for any start-ups or relocations.
“You haven’t brought in new business to us, have you?” he said. “These businesses were here and expanded or got bought out, but have you brought in any new business to the city of Abbotsford?”
Nyberg mentioned A-Team Machine, a business that got its start in Abbotsford’s industrial park, as one example.
Ald. Dale Rachu, who has previously worked with the CCEDC as the former mayor, said the non-profit is not exactly responsible for recruiting new businesses, but it is the main resource for companies considering Clark County.
Nyberg agreed with this assessment.
“Large or small, we serve them all,” she said.
Under the $1.50 per resident formula, Abbotsford owes the CCEDC just under $3,400 for its 2020 membership.
City administrator Dan Grady said the city did budget the full amount for this year’s dues, but at a meeting back in March, he and Voss were concerned about room tax revenues coming in short due to COVID-19. (Since late last year, 30 percent of the room tax revenue has gone into the city’s general fund).
Voss said the council will vote on paying the dues at its next meeting on Aug. 3.
_ Grady told the council that Bankers’ Bank of Madison submitted the lowest bid for a $2.1 million general obligation bond issued earlier this month to finance several street projects in the city. The interest rate is 1.726 percent, well below the estimates provided by the city’s financial advisor, Sean Lenz. The city will end up paying about $376,000 in interest if it takes the full 20 years to pay it back.
_ DPW Craig Stuttgen said the city will need to spend some money on repairing the wiring and replacing the conduits on several street lights along Spruce Street, but the public works budget has enough money to cover the expenses.
_ After touring the city’s parks at the start of last week’s meeting, council members presented Stuttgen with a list of repairs they would like to see at each park. Stuttgen said he will get price estimates for the council to consider at its next meeting.
_ Utility operator Josh Soyk told the council that the city’s retired assistant DPW, Al Uhlig, was able to save the city thousands of dollars in underground boring costs by showing him a pull box located in between two wells near the Abbotsford schools campus. The city had been planning to dig down to a conduit connecting the wells, but after reading about it in the newspaper, Uhlig showed Soyk where the pull box was so the problem could be fixed without needing to bore underground.
To show appreciation, council members said they would like to vote on buying Uhlig some kind of gift, such as a newspaper subscription, at their next meeting.
_ The council voted to purchase $10,178 in equipment from Computer TR in order to replace internet air fiber antennae at multiple city facilities that is no longer working. Computer TR’s quote was $787 cheaper than one from RACK Industrial in Wausau.
_ The council voted to have the city hang on to an old office copier so it can be used by the public works and utilities departments. The city will pay E.O. Johnson $350 for the machine, plus a small per-page “click rate” to cover any future service calls.
_ The council decided to keep the vending machine at city hall running without paying to replace its compressor, which means that only food not requiring refrigeration will be sold.