By Elizabeth Dohms
The hatefulness and sniping in Congress needs to stop.
That was the tone of the meeting between Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin Monday at the Chippewa Valley Technical College.
In addition to hearing from concerned constituents, Baldwin voiced her frustrations as a new member of the Senate.
She felt a lot of pride when the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 and other pivotal legislation.
"But that's all now stalled in the House, where I used to serve," she said.
"We don't need to have folks putting politics ahead of progress."
Charlie Walker, CCEDC president, said the conversation leaned on the importance of cooperation of all parties to move Wisconsin economies forward.
"It is up to us to educate (Sen. Baldwin) on all the things that we're working on," Walker said. "We stressed that partisan bickering has to be put aside; we need solutions to move forward."
Further emphasized was the importance of technology jobs, like those offered by TTM, Cray, SGI and other manufacturing businesses.
While at the CVTC campus in Chippewa Falls, Baldwin spoke with graduates from the program who described the manufacturing program, which includes electromechanical technology, machine tooling technics, welding, and several additional certificates.
"I'm very interested with regard to the Tech and the role that they play in helping people in the recession," Baldwin said.
Walker also talked Baldwin through the certification of the Lake Wissota Business Park, which is one of 13 sites in Wisconsin that are shovel ready. That means the site has sewer and water capacity and a majority of an environmental study has already been completed.
"I hope that the senator will continue to visit and learn and work with existing businesses to help them expand," Walker said.
Baldwin has been traveling the state during the August recess as part of her "Made in Wisconsin" state tour.
Her day-long visit to Chippewa Falls also included a stop at the Chippewa Falls Visitors Center. She was welcomed by representatives from the engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson, who updated her about the firm's new building plans and its design of the incoming roundabout.
"I'll have to tell you, some people look at construction and see traffic delays; I look at it and I see jobs," Baldwin said. "This is progress."
The roundabout is expected to be completed in October.
The new SEH building won't be finished until next year. Its current office houses about 60 employees.
"Our employees are very excited," SEH President Sam Claassen said. "We've been in an older building for awhile, and they're excited about being in downtown Chippewa Falls."
SEH's office will sit just across Bridge Street from the Empire Building, which the Chamber of Commerce will soon be calling home.
The Chamber has sent out bids for renovations that are due at the beginning of next month, Chamber President Mike Jordan said.
The current Visitors Center will most likely be demolished and that space will then become part of the riverfront park.
Jordan said visitors will be able to access Hwy. 124 north from the new building. Access from the old building will be cut off once the roundabout is completed.
The two floors occupy 4,000 square feet each. The second floor office space will be available for rent.