Gov. Walker announces matching funds for Confluence Project - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Gov. Walker announces matching funds for Confluence Project

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Governor Walker revealed more details of his upcoming budget recommendations and it includes a big chunk of money for a big downtown Eau Claire development.

It's a lot of money, but not as much as confluence project developers were hoping for.

Developers had been requesting $25 million from the state to help build the $53 million performing arts center.

At a lunch with area leaders and those close to the project, Gov. Walker announced he would provide up to $15 million for the project. That would be contingent upon developers securing private donations for their portion of the project.

"We won't release those funds not only until those funds are matched but also we feel that the project is fully funded,” Walker said. “We want to use these funds like we have in the past to help raise the private funds needed for a given project.”

Project leaders had been waiting months to get a dollar figure on the Gov. Walker's support. They're happy to have the support of the governor but hoped it would be for the full request.

“The fact the governor has come out again in support of the project including $15 million in his budget means this project is alive it gives us something to build on,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt. “It's not everything we'd hoped but maybe with some improvement in the economy in the coming months and maybe the legislature will support this at a higher level."

Fundraisers for the project say they've just gone over the half way mark toward their fundraising goal of $13.5 million.

The fundraising coordinator said Wednesday's announcement wasn't a shock considering the state's budget crunch but that they had hoped the governor would go in for the full 25 million.

"Everything about the Confluence Project has been a challenging so far,” said Wallace Rogers. “Fifteen million dollars is a lot of money so I think we can over come it. I think it shines the spotlight a bit brighter on the local fundraising effort.”

Rogers said fundraising teams and developers will sit down soon to hash out a plan on how to move forward after the governor's announcement.

Chancellor Schmidt did say they have been working with architects to prepare for getting less than the requested $25 million but whether or not the project will be paired down or if they'll have to seek more donations hasn't been decided.

Rogers said they have a few large corporate donations they're hoping to be able to announce soon.

We also heard from Voters with Facts, a group opposed to the project, they say they are disappointed that the project could get any money from the state.

In a statement spokesman Dave Wood said "We think it is unfortunate this occurred. It will only increase our property taxes and it will raise the city and the county's debt."

Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) issued the following statement, concerning the announcement: "I am happy that the governor has chosen to include funding for the Confluence Project in his upcoming budget proposal. There are still a lot of steps that we need to take to make this project a reality, but I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this happen.”

Governor Walker will reveal his full budget proposal on February 3rd.


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Gov. Walker made a major announcement today about funding for the Confluence Project's Performing Arts Center.

In a release from the Governor's office it says that he will provide up to $15 million in matching state funds for the project, specifically, the arts portion of the project. 

Confluence Project fundraisers must raise their entire portion of the project cost before state money will be released.

Developers were hoping to receive $25 million from the state and raise $13.5 million in private donations.

We'll have more on this developing story on our evening newscasts.
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