Confidence in Wisconsin, U.S. economy rises in survey

MADISON — Confidence in both the state and national economy rose between winter and summer in surveys of Wisconsin businesses.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s chamber, released summer survey results last week, stating that 81 percent of the 203 businesses leaders who took the survey rated the U.S. economy as strong or very strong. That was up sharply from 58 percent in the winter survey.

Survey respondents were also bullish about the state economy with 86 percent rating it as strong or very strong — up from 70 percent six months ago.

The worker shortage in the state is weighing on businesses — 61.5 percent of those surveyed said it is the top public policy issue facing Wisconsin, up from 51 percent in December.

A majority of those who responded to the latest survey — 55.5 percent — said they expect wages to grow above 3 percent in the next six months. That is the first time since the Great Recession that a majority has forecast that level of wage growth, according to a WMC news release.

C.S. Construction awarded for energy efficiency projects

C.S. Construction of Eau Claire won an award last week for its efforts to improve energy efficiency in building projects, including a group of duplexes on the city’s west side.

Last year the contractor made improvements to 107 duplex units in WestRidge Park to seal air leaks and boost insulation.

The estimated energy savings from the project is enough to power about 1,400 homes for a year, according to a news release from Focus on Energy.

The statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by utilities presented an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award to C.S. Construction on Wednesday at the company’s Eau Claire offices.

Local insurance claim firm is bought out by Mass. company

A Massachusetts service provider to insurance companies bought an Eau Claire-based firm in a similar line of business.

StrategicClaim announced last week that it is acquiring and integrating Harmon Solutions Group, including the latter company’s Eau Claire claim operations center and staff.

StrategicClaim provides first notice and resolution services and software to property and casualty insurance companies. Harmon Solutions Group specializes in auto glass claim management and first notice of loss solutions to insurers.

Short Takes

• An Eau Claire-based banker who deals in agricultural loans has been named to a board that advises a trade group representing bankers in the state. Tony Betley, a vice president and senior ag banking officer with Investors Community Bank, was recently appointed to the Agricultural Bankers Section Board of the Wisconsin Bankers Association.

• The Wisconsin Farmers Union recently hired Julie Keown-Bomar as the group’s executive director. Keown-Bomar previously worked for UW Extension in the Chippewa Valley in roles including family living education, regional director and co-director of the state’s 4-H program.

• RCU named Sheila Kohls as its new director of member service, which will include implementing new technology for the Eau Claire-based credit union’s call center and online banking systems. Kohls has more than 25 years of experience in information technology, and she previously worked for IDEXX before joining RCU in 2016.

• RCU hired Michael Dill to be the Eau Claire credit union’s new executive vice president and chief lending officer. Dill has more than 30 years of experience in financial services, most recently serving as senior vice president at TCF Bank of Plymouth, Minn.

• A three-day safety course for new or inexperienced mine workers will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 19 and 26 and Aug. 2 at 29 Pines, 5872 33rd Ave., rural Eau Claire. The MSHA Part 48 course costs $360. To register, call 715-944-9120 or email mark@cis-safety.com.

From staff reports