Briefcase 5/7/17

posted May 7, 2017 12:00 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Leader-Telegram staff

Momentum West revives trade group

A dormant organization that helped local companies navigate international trade issues has been revived by Momentum West.

The regional economic development corporation that covers 10 western Wisconsin counties, including Eau Claire, Dunn and Chippewa, is rebooting the Northern Wisconsin Trade Association.

The trade association had been formed at UW-Eau Claire in the 2000s and sponsored programs and information sessions that aided area companies involved in international deals. However, that group had been dormant in recent years, until Momentum West recently decided to continue its work.

The revived association’s first event will be a pair of panel presentations and a networking event on Wednesday, June 7, in Menomonie.

Feedback from the revived association’s inaugural event will help shape programs the association hosts in the future, said Momentum West’s executive director Steve Jahn.

Dubbed the International Trade Forum, the event is scheduled for 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Price Commons building on the UW-Stout campus.

One panel presentation will be on legal and currency issues for companies involved in international trade, followed by an explanation of assistance available from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The second panel will include area businesses including Nordson EDI to discuss their experiences as an exporter.

Networking time will follow the two panel presentations.

Registration costs $25. Those interested in attending can register online at tinyurl.com/​mcgatrb.

For more information on the International Trade Forum or the revived associaiton, call Momentum West at 715-874-4673 or email info@momentumwest.org.

Cooperatives will merge in October

Three rural cooperatives have decided to merge in October, creating a larger service area that will include the Chippewa Valley.

Cedar County Cooperative of Elk Mound, Lakeland Cooperative of Ridgeland and United Ag Cooperative of Almena recently held votes on the merger, gaining 64½ percent approval of the ballots cast.

The consolidation is scheduled for Oct. 1, creating a larger cooperative that will have a projected $180 million in annual sales, according to a joint news release from managers of all three current cooperatives.

The new cooperative’s service area will stretch about 200 miles from Ashland to areas south of Eau Claire and Menomonie. Customers as far away as Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be served, as well.

A name for the consolidated cooperative, an office location and general manager are yet to be decided, according to the April news release.

Shareholders in each cooperative will have dollar-for-dollar equity in the new company, the news release noted.

The new cooperative’s products and services will include agronomy, grain, fuel, feed, convenience stores, repair shops, farm equipment and a few restaurants.

Local InnovateHER applicants sought

A local contest for female entrepreneurs will provide the opportunity for the winner to compete in the national InnovateHER: 2017 Innovating for Women Business Challenge.

Western Dairyland Community Action Agency is hosting the local contest to select a semi-finalist to submit to the nationwide business challenge.

Area women are invited to submit their business plan and a two- to three-minute video by Friday, May 19, to karman.briggs@wdeoc.org for consideration in Western Dairyland’s contest.

InnovateHER, a program of the Small Business Association, is seeking entrepreneurs who will create a product or service that has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, has potential for commercialization and fills a need in the marketplace.

Winners of local contests will have their entries forwarded to the SBA, which will pick 10 finalists and announce their names on July 31. Those finalists will pitch their idea to expert judges with the hopes of winning cash prizes of up to $40,000 for the first-place winner.

CCF touts record start to FY ’17

ALTOONA — The owner of Citizens Community Bank reported 38 percent earnings growth in the quarter that ended March 31 when compared to the same three months in 2016.

Citizens Community Bancorp reported $934,000 in GAAP earnings for the recent quarter, which amounts to 17 cents per diluted share, the company stated in a news release.

Earnings from the same quarter in 2016 were $675,000 for the company, which is 13 cents per diluted share.

Earnings for the first half of the company’s current fiscal year are up 23 percent over the same months in 2016.

“We achieved record earnings for the first six months of fiscal 2017, fueled by 15 percent year-over-year growth in loans and a 12 percent increase in deposits, primarily as a result of the Community Bank of Northern Wisconsin acquisition,” said Stephen Bianchi, president and CEO.

Eau Claire marks development week

Economic development will be celebrated this week by a series of events from Monday through Saturday in Eau Claire.

Several regular events for members of the business community are planned this week, including a few networking and social gatherings sponsored by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, but there are some special events, too.

The Chippewa Valley Job Fair will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, 3456 Craig Road, and there will be a 4 to 6 p.m. reception at Chippewa Valley Innovation Center, 3132 Louis Ave.

The week ends with a 3 to 5 p.m. discussion of Eau Claire’s creative economy on Saturday at The Oxbow Hotel, 516 Galloway St.

Other events planned during the week include tours of businesses and open houses at organizations with services that provide help to companies.

For a full calendar of events, go to eauclaire-wi.com/​EDW2017.

Luncheon will teach office ergonomics

Ergonomics in the office will be the topic of a noon presentation on Tuesday, May 30, at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, 101 N. Farwell St.

Occupational therapist and ergonomic specialist Carla Berscheit will explain the basics of setting up an ergonomic workstation, proper posture, features to seek in office chairs and the new trends and gadgets in her field. Since 2012, Berscheit has run Ergo Insight, a local business that helps companies with office and industrial ergonomic challenges.

Attending the luncheon costs $20 for chamber members and $40 for nonmembers. To register, go online to tinyurl.com/​kwsscu9 or call 715-834-1204.

Short Takes

• MADISON — An Eau Claire company won an award in recognition of finishing 100 or more energy-efficiency building improvement projects last year.

Eau Claire Insulation, 1125 Starr Ave., is among four Wisconsin companies presented last month with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Performance with Energy Star Century Club Award.

• A Mondovi insurance professional who works with local independent insurance agencies in Wisconsin won recognition from a trade group for maintaining her certification for 10 years.

The Austin, Texas-based Society of Certified Insurance Counselors bestowed the honor on Sandra Froystad, who works for Selective Insurance Company of America, for the decade-long accomplishment.

• Eau Claire-based RCU won a trade association award for its marketing and business development achievements in the credit union industry.

The Credit Union National Association’s Marketing and Business Development Council gave a Diamond Award to RCU for a series of brief question-and-answer educational videos and a print advertising campaign for Black Friday promotions.

From staff reports