My goal if elected to the Eau Claire City Council is to work to shape Eau Claire into a leader for startups & innovation, to promote our city as a place where college graduates can stay for professional and family opportunities, to encourage more green spaces and ``people`` spaces that build community, and to be a voice for equality for all people who call Eau Claire home.




Wisconsin is last in Entrepreneurship. Eau Claire can change that – and lead the way.

For years, Wisconsin has been last in the nation when it comes to startups and creating new business. With our state lagging behind in startup activity, Eau Claire has an opportunity to position itself as a leader for startups and innovation.

Creating an entrepreneurship culture in Eau Claire can’t be a top-down effort lead by local government. Instead, it should be a grassroots effort encouraged and supported by local government in every way possible, as the long-term benefits of fostering innovation in our community will have tremendous impact on our growth over the next decade.

Key Entrepreneurship Initiatives

  • Network and work to unite different entities involved in the Eau Claire entrepreneurship community toward the common goal
    • Educational groups, including the UWEC & CVTC Entrepreneurship programs
    • Non-profits, including the Eau Claire EDC, SCORE, and Western Dairyland
    • Events and programming, including One Million Cups, Musky Tank, and co-working spaces
    • The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce
    • Investors/Incubators/Accelerators, including the Chippewa Valley Angel Investors, Chippewa Valley Innovation Center, and the Eau Claire SBDC
    • Private entities, including businesses, entrepreneurs, and mentors
  • Encourage development of the startup community through ongoing startup events above and beyond Startup Eau Claire Week. Centralize information on these events for ease of attendance.
    • Free to public learning with a low-pressure, open environment
    • Empower people to make connections, share ideas, learn about opportunities, and be inspired
    • Funding created by sponsorships and/or creation of public funds endowment to reserve space, pay for larger events, and bring in larger speakers.
  • Create a unified identifier for public awareness that demonstrates credibility, continuity, and alignment between these different efforts
  • Ensure effectiveness through a 2-year study of these events, including surveys of attendees attitudes and startup activity



Innovation and great-paying jobs give people a reason to stay in Eau Claire.

Nestled between major metros of Minneapolis and Madison, Eau Claire continues to face challenges with regards to brain drain. A high percentage of students choose to leave the area after graduation rather than settle here. People leave the area because of perceptions of limited diversity and opportunity, and lower comparative wage scale.

Brain drain IS preventable when a community works to improve wages and opportunities, as well as providing innovations and family environments not available in larger urban centers.

Studies have shown that retaining these graduates and encouraging migrants to return can have a boost on the economic vitality and diversity of an area. Businesses will benefit by the availability of additional skilled labor, and their families will benefit from shorter commute times, lifestyle opportunities, and being able to raise children in a family-positive community.

Improving opportunities and wages, particularly for skilled positions, will have an overall positive impact on businesses and the community alike.

Key Initiatives to Reduce Brain Drain

  • Encourage entrepreneurship, venture capital, and working with business to maximize creation of higher-paying technology-based skilled jobs.
  • Study cost/benefit of potential innovations that could serve as differentiators to larger cities, such as free public Wi-Fi, open data initiatives, and green energy.
  • Partner with CVTC and UW-EC to promote business opportunities, family amenities, natural spaces, pedestrian areas, cost of living, and arts/culture unique to the Eau Claire and greater Chippewa Valley area.
  • Continue to encourage and support projects with the potential to increase entertainment opportunities and draw in performing artists, such as the Pablo Center.
  • Work with economic development leaders to study wages and provide a wage recommendation report to local businesses.



A responsible community protects its most vulnerable citizens, and now is the time to act.

Over the past two years, the Department of Justice under Donald Trump has attacked a key protection of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII prevents employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. In past court rulings, sexual orientation and gender identity have also qualified for protection under the definition of “sex.” It is this definition the Trump Administration is working to change, instructing the DoJ to work to remove protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, which would make it legal to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, or transgender.

While Wisconsin 111.31 includes protection for sexual orientation, additional city-level protections would extend that, and could add protections for gender identity and gender expression, which are not protected by current Wisconsin state law.

Let’s show Wisconsin that Eau Claire is making strides to ensure LGBTQ and minority rights, and that we don’t believe it should be legal to dismiss an employee simply for being LGBTQ.

Key Equality Initiatives

  • Protecting people from discrimination isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a human rights issue. Governor Kasich’s actions in Ohio prove this: Read more about his executive order here.
  • Creation of a citywide ordinance protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination and termination, particularly related to gender identity and gender expression.
  • Our community will stand out in Wisconsin as a model community for diversity and equal rights.


Junior Achievement

JA in a Day | STEAM Sponsorship

2014 - Present

Evercode Foundation

Vice President, Non-profit Coding Camp


The Confluence Project

Member / Marketing, Pro-Confluence Committee: Voices for Growth

2013 - Present

2016 - 2017

Eau Claire Area EDC

Startup48 Sponsor/Mentor/Judge | Ideas Challenge Judge (2018)


United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley

Marketing Committee Member


Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce

Member | Sponsor/Presenter, Social Media & Marketing Conference

Eau Claire Needs a Socially and Fiscally Responsible City Councilwoman.

As an entrepreneur who believes the best business is one that strengthens its community, Laura uniquely understands Eau Claire’s need to balance social progress with business interests that will shape Eau Claire’s future.


About Laura Benjamin »