City mgr.: Non-profit organization to apply for Confluence funding

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Eau Claire's city manager is proposing to have a non-profit organization that hasn't been created apply for a non-state agency grant to fund part of the Confluence Project.

Russ Van Gompel made the remarks at an Eau Claire City Council meeting on Tuesday. He said a meeting he attended with representatives from UW-Eau Claire and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation gave him a basis for his presentation. Van Gompel said the group that he referred to as "Confluence Inc." would be a non-stock, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. It would receive input from the city, key donors, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Van Gompel said the structure of the group is still being created. He said the group would own the Community Arts Center, and that the "operational side of things" would rest with the Confluence Council. Van Gompel compared the concept of "Confluence Inc." to groups that own the Potosi Brewing Company, which is north of Dubuque, IA, and the Green Bay Packers.

"There are provisions on what you can do with the assets, and what you can do with the liabilities, and how that gets structured, and we'll have that same type of organization with this Confluence Inc.," Van Gompel said.

Van Gompel acknowledged that the organization could not be formed by September 12, which is the state's deadline for the application. He said he feels there is support for the Confluence Project from both candidates for governor, and "that will be part of the application process as we move forward."

If the application is not submitted by the September 12, the next time the project could apply for a grant would be in 2016. On Thursday, the UW-System Board of Regents reaffirmed its support for the Confluence Project. The application will request $25,000,000 in funding for the project, which has an estimated price tag of $50,000,000. On Wednesday Van Gompel told WEAU 13 News in an email message that "community members will be working in a collaborative approach to submit the grant application in the name of Confluence, Inc." He went on to say that the request can only be up to 50 percent of the project, and that the actual amount it would receive if the request is approved would be up to the governor and the state legislature. Van Gompel added that Confluence Inc. is expected to be created before the project receives any grant funds.

Van Gompel says the council would be asked about the concept of creating "Confluence Inc.," and whether it is a viable applicant for the non-state agency grant at its next meeting. The next legislative session for the city council is scheduled for September 9. Plans for the mixed-use building will be presented to the Eau Claire City Council at a meeting on September 8.

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