New group supporting the Confluence Project targets young entrep - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New group supporting the Confluence Project targets young entrepreneurs


Eau Claire (WQOW) - After verbally supporting the Confluence Project, a group of young entrepreneurs is pledging to put their money where their mouth is.

A pledge to promote and a pledge to pay: a new group in Eau Claire is throwing its support behind the Confluence Project. 

"40 under 40 is a targeted program for those entrepreneurs and young people that want to make a difference in their community. The 40 under 40 specifically is for gifts of about $10,000. When those 40 people are all committed, that total is going to be matched," State Theatre Executive Director Ben Richgruber says.

It will be matched by the seven founders of the group, including Justin Vernon and Zach Halmstad, who just bought the former Ramada Inn in downtown Eau Claire.

"We're big supporters of The Confluence Project and we saw a need for it so we kind of put our money where our mouth is. Not only to financially back the Confluence to help it come to fruition but also to encourage young entrepreneurs to come together. I've done the $10,000 initially so we'll go from there," says Benny Haas, a downtown business owner and co-founder of 40 Under 40.

40 under 40, along with the Confluence Council, plans to target downtown businesses who they think will benefit the most.

"The YouTube video was just put online last night. People that are wanting to get some answers from a lot of questions that are coming around the community. This sets it out in a relaxed, easy way to comprehend. It's the first video, there will be several others to help enhance the questions that will come out," Haas says.

The group is hoping to start a domino affect among their generation.

"Downtown in itself has been trying to rejuvenate itself but just kind of missing that one big spark to combust and bring it about," Haas says.

So far, the seven founding members have pledged to donate $10,000 each, as well as seven others.  The project has drawn opinions from all corners of Eau Claire and beyond. 

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