Thank you to all who participated in the 2022 Oktoberfest in the Capitol!


2022 RECAP



The Chamber had a successful and informative virtual Oktoberfest in the Capitol this past week! 

We had a variety of State Department leaders in attendance, which included Dept. of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, Dept. of Administration Assistant Deputy Secretary Olivia Hwang, Dept. of Workforce Development Deputy Secretary Pamela McGillivray, and Dept. of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dan Hereth. 

Topics and La Crosse area issues brought to the attention of State legislators and officials included: 


Dept. of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson

The Childcare session and discussion showcased the Chamber’s request for support for incentivizing childcare owners and workers. Throughout the conversation, Secretary Amundson shared that focusing on the workforce side of the Childcare issues would be a priority for their department. It is likely that programs, policies, and funding directly from the Department will come in the form of retaining the current employees/workforce in childcare. 


Dept. of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson

In the Transportation section Secretary Craig Thompson noted the importance of the variety of transportation in our area – river, roads, airport, and trails for recreation. Secretary Thompson suggested there will be continued funding towards projects in all types of transportation methods. A large portion of the session was spent advocating for a balanced approach concerning Electric Vehicles (EV). The Chamber encourages thoughtful and careful consideration when building out the infrastructure needed for EVs within the State of Wisconsin. Throughout the discussion, Secretary Thompson made it known the first and most important policy that will come soon concerning EV will be how the infrastructure is funded at the State level.  

UWL Prairie Springs Science Center Phase II

Dept. of Administration Assistant Deputy Secretary Olivia Hwang

In the UWL Prairie Springs Science Center Phase II section there was discussion around the current science building, Cowley Hall built in 1960, being outdated and not up to code on safety requirements to accommodate the learning needs of today. The project will continue to attract and adequately educate students for S.T.EM. (science, technology, engineering, math) careers that are essential both locally and statewide. The session included testimonials and support from the La Crosse area business community, including Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System, and JF Brennan.  

Inflation and higher construction costs have impacted the budgeting, but maintenance also becomes more costly and problematic as buildings get older. The Chamber urged Dept. Of Administration Assistant Deputy Secretary Olivia Hwang to encourage approval for funding of the project in coordination with the Joint Finance Committee’s Biennel Budget. Hwang understood the importance of the project for our Region and recommended we continue to advocate for the project being included in the Biennial Budget because crucial decisions for budget planning are being made now through mid-November. She also recommended we continue to lean on collaborating as a community for growing State investment into the UW-La Crosse campus.  


Dept. of Workforce Development Deputy Secretary Pamela McGillivray

Dept. of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dan Hereth

In the Workforce session there was discussion around all industries still experiencing labor challenges and shortages post-pandemic. The population of Wisconsin is projected to decline by 5% in the next 10 years, so it is important to know the resources and ways to fill hiring needs. The Chamber encouraged support at the State level for continued funding of Department of Workforce Development (DWD) programs and credentials/licensing programs with the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). DWD Deputy Secretary Pamela McGillivray suggested companies continue to investigate labor groups such as veterans, people with varying abilities, justice-involved individuals, and under skilled employees as this will be a priority moving forward. Both McGillivray and DSPS Secretary Dan Hereth encouraged companies to also focus on investing into training and upskilling the local workforce. DSPS is continuing to grow and serve the Wisconsin workforce, and data shows licensing is up 100% over 6 years.   

Thank you to all who participated and attended! 

Thank you to our Advocacy Sponsors!