The Economics of Art

Retired professor discusses economic impact of community arts center


Photo by Sam Martinez

Dr. Brady Foust shares his presentation on the economic benefits of the Confluence Project at Fanny Hill Resteraunt on Wednesday. His presentation was part of the “Let’s do Lunch” series hosted by the Alumni Association.

Story by Sam Martinez, Staff Writer

Public-private partnerships like the Confluence Project will attract brainy jobs and private investment to Eau Claire’s downtown area, a former professor told a group of alumni and community members Wednesday.

The UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association hosted professor emeritus Brady Foust at

Fanny Hill restaurant along with a crowd of  about 50 community members and alumni for the Association’s ongoing “Let’s do Lunch” series.

Foust, a former Eau Claire geography professor, said the confluence project will fuel downtown investment and help Eau Claire attract more “brain-based” jobs and companies in the future.

Foust, who has 40 years experience in

academic and private sector research, said Eau Claire needs to invest in the Confluence Project to encourage growth and avoid stagnation in downtown Eau Claire.

“The Confluence Project concentrates educational, environmental and cultural infrastructure into one dough,” Foust said.

Foust said the city can expect private companies to invest at least three times the amount put into the project in developing businesses around it.

For the $45.3 million put into the project, Faust said “there is no question in my mind” Eau Claire will see at least $135 million privately invested in the area.

Foust said the Confluence Project will be another step

in attracting companies similar to JAMF Software in Eau Claire. He said companies like JAMF bring money into the city, which employees will then spend in the community.

JAMF is a “brain-based” company that requires an intelligent and innovative workforce, he said. These employees leave and form similar companies in the area.

“(Foust) had a lot of confidence in the project idea of attracting additional revenue through commercial

interactions,” alumnus Ray Kondrasuk said.

Sue Bornick is the executive director of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, an organization that collects donations for the Confluence Project and other community projects.

“(Foust’s presentation) brought to light what the confluence project can really be for our community,” Bornick said.

Foust said public-private partnership built landmarks like the Erie Canal or Lambeau Field.

“Public-private partnerships are an American tradition,” Foust said. “This is the American way of doing things.”