Review of 2014
Posted: November 14, 2014
I remember when I was trying to write this editorial five years ago - the local economy was in shambles and I wanted to make a concerted effort to write about the positive things that were about to happen in the Chippewa Valley. It wasn't always easy, though. Even when I tried not to perpetuate the negative, there really wasn't much to discuss that was good for the area economy.
However, that is not the case as we wind down to the end of 2014.
As I drive by the River Prairie development every day, I am reminded of the potential that all four quadrants of the Highway 53 bypass have. As Woodman's continues to develop their new grocery store in the southwest quadrant, there is an abundance of activity in the northwest quadrant. That's where there will eventually be a Kwik Trip, a WESTconsin Credit Union and a myriad of other offices, restaurants and probably a motel.
The southeast quadrant is almost fully developed with the new OakLeaf Surgical Hospital, the Chippewa Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine facility and Northwoods Therapy clinic and the future development of the Grace Lutheran Foundation campus. On the northeast side, there are two professional buildings so far with room to grow.
Another development that occurred this week could probably be considered a blow to the local economy. The closure of the Kmart Store in Eau Claire is horrible for the employees affected by the corporate decision. But if we looked at the potential positives that could result from this announcement, and considering that the owners of the Kmart building include Commonweal Development and Consumers Cooperative Association of Eau Claire, there could be a lot of good things that will come of this.
I doubt we'll see a new Mega Foods grocery store in the space now occupied by Kmart, but that doesn't mean the current ownership won't recognize the building's valuable location and take advantage of other opportunities.
The recent expansion by Plank Enterprises into the former Riverside Machine & Engineering facility in Chippewa Falls is another example of how the local economy continues to move forward in a positive direction. The continued redevelopment of downtown Eau Claire is exciting as well as the expansion of the Gordy's County Market chain throughout Western Wisconsin.
There are a number of things to be thankful for in the Chippewa Valley. I'm thankful that, more often than not, there are positive things to write about in this weekly newsletter.