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Leaders Rally from The Valley

MADISON, Wis. – The Chippewa Valley region is home to some of the world’s leading technologies used in the development and manufacturing of semiconductors to mass storage devices to supercomputers used by NASA and the federal government. The area’s companies have a world-class reputation among computer scientists and engineers. However there are many Wisconsin legislators that are unaware of the impact that region’s businesses and higher education programs are having on the state’s economy.

Business, government and education leaders from four Chippewa Valley counties boarded a bus Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 5:30 a.m. to travel to Madison to take part in the “Chippewa Valley Rally.” The event, now in its 10th year, attracted 82 enthusiastic participants who were prepared and organized to educate and increase state politicians’ awareness about the need for future state investment and economic development in the Valley.

The group met with members of the state Senate and Assembly includeding Sen. Mary Panzer, R-West Bend, and House Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo. Secretary of Commerce Cory Nettles and Secretary of Transportation Frank Busalacchi held extended listening sessions with members of the Chippewa delegation. Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton will meet with the delegation on Thursday morning.

“We have tremendous opportunities in the state for a knowledge-based economy,” Nettles said in an afternoon breakout session. “Your area has tremendous opportunities for information technology.”

The Chippewa Valley region has a long tradition of building world-class technology companies. In 1972, Seymour Cray Jr. put Chippewa Falls on the map by launching Cray Research.
The group spent the day with politicians discussing issues ranging from high-speed rail service and regional airport expansion to the expanded recognition of the Chippewa Valley as a core part of Wisconsin’s knowledge-based economy.

Some of top companies in the technology industry including Cray, Silicon Graphics, 3M, Silicon Logic Engineering, Phillips Plastics and Hutchinson Technologies industry all have a significant presence in the Chippewa Valley. Local leaders would like to establish a Western Wisconsin Center for Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship.

The region would like to be known as Wisconsin’s leading region for nanotechnology education and company formation in much the same way that Madison has become known for advancements in the biosciences.

The Chippewa Valley Technical College will offer a new associate degree program in nanotechnology starting September 2004. The college plans to work closely with the University of Minnesota as well as University of Wisconsin-Madison on this program. CVTC President Bill Ihlenfeldt has proposed 80,000-square-foot incubation center at CVTC’s Gateway Campus that would house emerging nanotechnology firms.

“We already have over 30 students who have expressed interest in applying to the program before we have opened up admission” Ihlenfeldt said.

The delegation is seeking both state and federal support for the further development of the regions technical college and universities, which have a leading reputation for training students to work in the polymer technology industries. The UW-Eau Claire was named one of the top public colleges by U.S. News and World Report in 2004. The computer science program at UW-Eau Claire is recognized as one the top programs in the Upper Midwest and often receives national recognition. These three learning institutions have formed unique partnerships to grow and recruit new technology industries by helping to educate and create a highly trained workforce for the region’s businesses. The schools currently offer training and entrepreneur programs as well as technology transfer services to area manufacturers, entrepreneurs and technology companies.

The Chippewa Valley delegation was comprised of local leaders in including Ihlenfeldt, Royal Credit Union President Charles Grossklaus and Bob Meyer, dean of the College of Technology, Engineering and Management at UW-Stout. Event organizer Darcy Way, director of Momentum Chippewa Valley, was joined by event co-Chairs Linda Clark, Xcel Energy and Jackie Pavelski, representing the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased with the involvement of the executive branch in our meetings,” Way said. “We came to Madison and communicated the Chippewa Valley message in terms of economic development, and that message was well received by the politicians and the members of the legislature.”

A few of WTN's Chippewa Valley articles:
Eau Claire Manufacturer Drives Your PC
Eau Claire Pulls Together, Forms Million-Dollar Technology Loan Program
Silicon Logic Engineering Ramps Up Custom Chips
Chippewa Valley Embraces Nanotechnology
Chippewa Valley Draws Defense Dollars
Cray Rides Again

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