It was 25 years ago this past Mother's Day that I moved to Eau Claire from my hometown of Lake Villa,IL. I remember when high school friends visited me in the summer of 1987 and asked when I planned to move back home. My response was, "I plan to stay here the rest of my life ". At the time, my friends laughed. Now, years later, I know the comment will prove true.
I was conversing with a former Illinois resident the other day who felt the same way. We both spoke fondly of visiting Chicago and rooting for our favorite professional sports teams, but we also knew what so many Wisconsinites seem to take for granted: Things here are special. The people are friendly, the weather is mostly comfortable and the employees have a good work ethic.
Over the past 25 years, the area has experienced many positive changes. The North Crossing was a significant upgrade, but it doesn't compare to the traffic improvement created by the Highway 53 Freeway. Downtown Eau Claire is becoming vibrant again and much of the Chippewa Valley economy is showing signs of improvement.
When conducting phone interviews with out-of-towners for stories, I often tell other small business owners how nice things are in the Chippewa Valley. I am often asked what attracted me to West Central Wisconsin. In short, my reply is "The people". It sounds simplistic, but it's true.
RANDOM THOUGHT: Keep an eye on how the government will treat online retailers. Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican from Iowa, has endorsed federal legislation giving states more freedom to collect sales taxes from online or catalog retailers operating out of state. Congressional action is needed to reverse a U.S.Supreme Court decision that prevents states from collecting sales tax on such purchases.
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