VentureHome-Eau Claire picks class of ‘21

EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire-based seed accelerator announced the six fledgling businesses it will help grow this year through a five-month program.

VentureHome-Eau Claire, a nonprofit startup hub that provides resources to local entrepreneurs, announced last week the business ventures comprising its new cohort and the founders behind them:

• Eco Fighter; Brandon Pessman.

• Green Fleet; Bill Lobner.

• Life Sciences and Biotech; Tiffany Hoage.

• ParityBlu LLC; Sam Fitzhenry, Max Bossert, Logan Ickert and Nick Hersperger.

• Stone Story; Shannon Camlek and Kris Johnson.

• Vacation Docks LLC; Patrick Rebman and David Mullen

Out of a pool of 17 applicants, a panel of local business professionals chose these six for its program that provides multiple free services.

The entrepreneurs will get a membership to downtown Eau Claire coworking space CoLab, guidance from a network of entrepreneurs and industry experts, advice from legal, marketing and financial professionals, and access to UW System technologies and scientific experts.

The five-month program culminates with a pitch day where the entrepreneurs present their business plans to a group of investors and VentureHome partners.

Last year was VentureHome-Eau Claire’s inaugural year, which also featured six local entrepreneurs. That first cohort saw successes including securing funding, receiving grants, making industry connections and forming new partnerships, Ann Rupnow, director of entrepreneurship at UW-Eau Claire, said in a news release.

Downtown Eau Claire Inc. names new leaders

EAU CLAIRE — The nonprofit organization that promotes and supports downtown Eau Claire businesses appointed new leaders to its board of directors this month.

Disa Wahlstrand, vice president at architectural and engineering firm Ayres Associates, was elected chairwoman of Downtown Eau Claire Inc.’s board of directors.

Mike Dill, executive vice president-chief lending officer at Royal Credit Union, will serve as the DECI board’s vice chairman.

The two were elected to the positions during DECI’s Feb. 3 meeting of its board of directors, according to an electronic newsletter from the organization.

Other board leaders who will continue to serve as officers:

Treasurer: Rachel Kjos from software company Jamf.

Secretary: Emilu Starck of legal firm RuderWare.

Chair appointee: Aaron Brice of design and merchandise company Ambient Inks.

Lunda Construction gets DOT kudos for bridges

BLACK RIVER FALLS — Lunda Construction won accolades from the state Department of Transportation in annual awards that recognize road and bridge construction projects.

The Black River Falls firm took home two of the six awards presented by the state agency during the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association Contractor-Engineer Conference, which was held virtually in late January.

Lunda received the Excellence in Large Structures Award for a multi-year project that replaced the Highway 82 Point Bluff Bridge over the Wisconsin River in Adams and Juneau counties. A DOT news release stated the project was done without the need for a long detour and it was completed early and under-budget.

Replacing a stone culvert built in 1884 with a new bridge over Allen Creek in Jackson County won Lunda the Excellence in Small Structures Award. The new bridge improves the ability of the creek to flow under U.S. 12, according to the DOT, and the project was completed on-time and within its budget.

Another Black River Falls contractor, Hoffman Construction, won the DOT’s Excellence in Grading Award for reconstructing a county road in Kenosha County and improving two intersections along it.

Eau Claire EDC gives yearly award to WIN

EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp. recognized a local communications company with the 2020 Paragon Economic Impact Award.

WIN Technology, which is based on Eau Claire’s south side, provides bandwidth to companies through its fiber optic network, operates two data centers, owns cloud-based webcasting platform Perigon and offers managed IT services.

“WIN Technology, through their hard work to upgrade and expand their vast fiber-optic network, has kept up with and supported the increased demand for internet and mobile bandwidth,” Brandon Riechers, CEO of award sponsor Royal Credit Union, said in a news release.

The Paragon award is presented annually to an Eau Claire County business in recognition of ways that company supports and enhances the community through economic development.

Symposium explores industry’s response to COVID

MADISON — Wisconsin business leaders, UW System employees and students are invited to attend a virtual symposium later this month that will include a presentation on how manufacturers responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, an online presentation will present stories of how businesses and public universities innovated when the pandemic struck, including the redirection of resources to make personal protective equipment.

The symposium will continue at 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on both Feb. 24 and 25 with topics involving UW System students and faculty.

On Feb. 24, undergraduate students working in materials science and manufacturing will present their research and projects.

The symposium’s final day will discuss best practices that UW System faculty can use to collaborate and teach in an era of remote learning.

The symposium is free, but registration is required by Wednesday by going to

The Regional Materials and Manufacturing Network along with WiSys is presenting the three-day symposium.

Short Takes

• EAU CLAIRE — Spectrum, the brand owned by cable company Charter Communications, opened a new store this month on Eau Claire’s south side. The Spectrum store, 4058 Commonwealth Ave., is where customers can go to add or manage services including internet, TV, mobile communications or landline phones as well as buying or exchanging equipment.

From staff reports