Next Generation of Business Leaders
Posted: January 24, 2014
The announcement late last week by JAMF Software Co-owner Zach Halmstad that he purchased the former Ramada Inn in downtown Eau Claire was a refreshing sign of everything that is right about our next generation of business leaders in the Chippewa Valley.
Instead of an older, wealthy individual giving back to the community, a 35-year-old entrepreneur stepped up and invested in the 123-room hotel that would have become an eyesore if nobody acquired the lodging property. After three failed attempts at sheriff's auctions, the future of the former Ramada looked bleak. But Halmstad, whose Pablo Properties is also developing the future headquarters of JAMF Software near Phoenix Park, went "all-in" and announced to the community that he is a supporter of downtown redevelopment.
It is my hope that Eau Claire County Board members who were on the fence about the proposed Confluence Project are swayed by Halmstad's actions. Not only has he invested in the former Ramada Inn, but his Pablo Properties is one of five investors in the former Green Tree Inn on Galloway Street. What looked hopeless a few months ago, now looks as promising as ever. To be honest, I'm envious of Halmstad.
►Governor Scott Walker's State of the State address this week to the Senate and Assembly highlighted two new proposed tax cuts: A property tax cut that would save the owner of a $150,000 home about $101; and a reduction in the lowest income tax bracket for individuals who earn up to $10,910, resulting in a tax cut of between $44 and $58.
Although Democrats are sure to debate the wisdom of cutting taxes in lieu of putting excess tax dollars in a "rainy-day fund ", Republicans are ecstatic that their constituents will embrace the thought of putting money back into taxpayers' pockets. As it turns out, Governor Walker is still putting funds in a "rainy day fund " in addition to the tax breaks.
I'm not sure why politicians would not embrace the thought that the people who vote for them would welcome tax relief. Maybe it's just another sign that partisan politics isn't getting any better.
However, in Representative Peter Barca's democratic response to the governor's speech, he did point out that Governor Walker has come nowhere close to fulfulling his commitment to add 250,000 jobs in his first term. And, Barca was right when he stated that the Republican legislature cut funding for technical colleges in the last biennium.
Despite the animosity, I'm hopeful that state lawmakers will realize that putting more money in taxpayers' pockets is a good thing.