Wisconsin State Journal Profile Dives Deep on Eau Claire, Banbury Place

Mike Paulus, Lauren Fisher, photos by Janae Breunig

Eau Claire's Banbury Place via the
Eau Claire's Banbury Place via the "S Bridge."

On July 14, the Wisconsin State Journal dedicated more than 3,500 words to the story of Eau Claire’s economic comeback and artistic endeavors, pointing to a number of developments helping to make it all happen. The profile stands out against the many other articles on Eau Claire we’ve seen over the past five years because it takes a much deeper dive than the usual tourism pieces, and rightfully recognizes ideas and people who’ve been in play for well over a decade.

Sure, you’ll see the usual references to Justin Vernon, the Pablo Center, and other big, important developments of the past 10 years. But as the article details, it’s taken heartfelt effort on behalf of hundreds, if not thousands, of Chippewa Valley doers to get the city on track for improvement.

Prominently featured was the impact of Banbury Place, which serves as a home for hundreds of small local businesses, studios, artists, and more:

“One of the most vibrant and colorful places in the complex is building 13 that had been used as a hardware warehouse and parts facility for the tire plant. The building is now home to several studios for a wide range of artists, a coffee shop, art gallery and Forage, an event space and commercial kitchen that opened in 2016.”

It’s great to see Banbury and its residents get the attention they deserve. The sprawling complex has really been one of the city’s workhorses as far as artistic and entrepreneurial efforts are concerned. The article does a good job tracing the property's historic economic significance to what it is today – and the people who make it so.

Artisan Forge Studios gets its own call-out for similar efforts to house and inspire local artists and entrepreneurs.

“Across town, a similar concept is growing in a former International Truck repair shop. The 33,000-square-foot Artisan Forge Collective was created by Greg Johnson, a metal artist and fabricator, in 2015. The building is home to 51 artists, a coffee shop and hair salon. The idea of the business is to provide studio and gallery space for artists with Johnson's staff marketing and selling the artwork for the artists.”

Other shout-outs include the Lismore Hotel, The Oxbow and The Lakely, Jamf Software and Zach Halmstad, and the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, as well as area artists both established and up-and-coming.

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