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Local firm co-founded by alumnus pledges $500,000 for Confluence community arts center

March 13, 2013
 20130214_Zach_Halmstad
Zach Halmstad
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Jason Wudi

EAU CLAIRE —JAMF Software has pledged $500,000 to support the construction of a new community arts center at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire.

The community arts center is the centerpiece of the public-private partnership known as the Confluence Project, a project that also includes plans to construct a commercial/retail complex and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student housing at the downtown site.

The $500,000 pledge announced today would help fund the construction of, and give JAMF Software naming rights associated with, the community arts center's 250-seat black box theater.

"We're very proud to support a community arts center in Eau Claire," said Zach Halmstad, JAMF Software co-founder and a 2004 UW-Eau Claire music graduate. "Because the benefits of the arts are difficult to quantify, many communities are supporting them less and less. I'm excited to see our city embrace this project, and I think it speaks volumes about the character and quality of our community. We have a bright and exciting future, and the Confluence Project is a huge step forward for us."

The pledge was announced today (March 13) during a news conference at the State Theatre in downtown Eau Claire.

"We are very grateful for JAMF Software's early commitment to the Confluence community arts center and our goal to create a transformational opportunity for Eau Claire's downtown," said George Stroebel, a member of Blugold Real Estate LLC, which is part of Confluence Project partner Haymarket Concepts LLC. "Their generous financial commitment provides a renewed sense of energy, while their confidence in the project's future is contagious."

The support for the Confluence Project community arts center is an extension of JAMF Software's commitment to a vibrant future for downtown and the city of Eau Claire, said Jason Wudi, chief cultural officer for JAMF Software and a 2001 UW-Eau Claire management information systems graduate.

JAMF Software and Commonweal Development Corp. also recently announced a proposed plan for construction of a 65,000-square-foot JAMF Software office building on Riverfront Terrace in Eau Claire's Phoenix Park neighborhood. The company's desire to build there is directly related to the plans for the nearby construction of the Confluence Project, Wudi said.

"Many of us grew up here, went to school at UW-Eau Claire, and are raising our families in this community," Wudi said. "We see the downtown as the best place to help develop the rich experiences the Confluence Project will bring — all while maintaining a wonderful proximity to the services, businesses, housing and outdoor activities within walking distance of our workplace. We believe that the Confluence Project and our commitment to quality office facilities downtown will help attract and retain a top-talent pool. We are excited to see and be part of the continued growth of the thriving downtown community."

JAMF Software, which develops and sells management software for the Apple platform, has rented offices in downtown Eau Claire for five years. Its Eau Claire operation has grown from four employees in 2008 to 94 employees today, and the company expects that number to grow to 150 or 200 by the end of 2014. The proposed Riverfront Terrace building could hold up to 380 employees.

Founded in Eau Claire in 2002 and now headquartered in Minneapolis, the company currently has a total of 178 employees at its locations worldwide (including New York City; Cupertino, Calif.; Amsterdam; and Hong Kong). Thirty-five percent of JAMF Software employees are UW-Eau Claire graduates, and the company also maintains a strong internship program with UW-Eau Claire.

The JAMF Software commitment to the community arts center is conditional upon the successful acquisition of state, city of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County funding, as well as the approvals needed for the construction of the Confluence Project.

Members of the Confluence Project public-private partnership are Haymarket Concepts LLC, composed of Market & Johnson Inc., Commonweal Development Corp. and Blugold Real Estate LLC, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation; the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council; and UW-Eau Claire. The city of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County also are potential partners in the development.

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