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Momentum Chippewa Valley Set to Expand

For details, contact: Doug Mell, UW Stout Director of Communications, 715-232-1198,                                                   

AUG. 13, 2007--Menomonie, Wis.--The Board of Directors of Momentum Chippewa Valley, a regional economic development organization, has decided to expand its membership beyond the four counties it currently serves.

The board unanimously approved a resolution on Aug. 8, 2007, that invites other counties from west central Wisconsin to join the organization. The board also authorized the formation of a subcommittee to work on the details of the structure of the expanded organization, which will be renamed.

The board voted to consider a resolution at its October meeting on its new membership structure. Board members indicated they would like to have the new Momentum organization operating by the first of the year.

"This provides our whole organization with more resources and more opportunities for growth," said Jason Plante, director of marketing for Market & Johnson in Eau Claire, and a member of the Momentum board of directors. "The connection between the St. Croix Valley and the Chippewa Valley is a natural tie that brings everybody together."

Plante said it made sense for Momentum to be the vehicle for the regional effort "because we have a built-in history, experience and know-how to collaborate as a group."

The board was given a letter signed by University of Wisconsin-Stout Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, UW-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz, and Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bill Ihlenfeldt, which urged the board to consider expansion. The four education leaders met July 25 at UW-River Falls to sign the letter.

"You must have regional cooperation to drive the economy and to make a healthy state," said Sorensen, a member of the Momentum board. "You must have cooperation between the four (higher-education) schools in this region to make that happen.

"If you talk to anyone knowledgeable about economic development, it has to be on a regional basis," Sorensen added.

"West central Wisconsin is economically and strongly tied to the Twin Cities. What a great asset," said Ihlenfeldt, a former Momentum board member. "If we better recognize that as a region, we will profit from it."  

"We do have it all here," Betz said. "This reconfigured economic development structure will ensure that everyone realizes it and knows how to take advantage of the best our region has to offer."

Counties on or near the Interstate-94 corridor from Hudson to Eau Claire, Betz said, "have the capacity to propel Wisconsin forward through our exceptional educational institutions, a committed workforce, solid business leadership and an outstanding quality of life.

"By consolidating our remarkable intellectual, entrepreneurial and financial resources, we can make our region the place to be for any employer or potential employee who is seeking an ideal place to succeed both in their professional and personal lives," Betz added.

"The action by the board of directors marks a new era in economic development cooperation in this region of Wisconsin," Levin-Stankevich said. "Momentum Chippewa Valley is a highly recognized and respected organization. Expanding the membership to include additional counties in west central Wisconsin will facilitate even more powerful collaboration in a region that has long set the standard others are trying to emulate."

The four educational leaders said in their letter to the Momentum board that it was time for west central Wisconsin to embrace a regional approach to economic develop and to market the area as an entire region.

The board decided that it would be more efficient to use the existing Momentum structure as the basis for the new organization, rather than creating another level of bureaucracy.

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel," Sorensen said.  "The organization is there."

For many years, Sorensen said, Momentum Chippewa Valley has been "the gold standard for regional development in Wisconsin," and this proposal will build on that reputation.

The board has been discussing how to proceed on a regional basis for a number of months. The West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board also has been working on a regional model for many months. Richard Best, executive director of the Workforce Development Board, voted in favor of the expanded Momentum organization.

( Note: To see an interview with Chancellor Sorensen or to read a transcript of his remarks on this subject, go to .)


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:26 Central Daylight Time


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