Tuesday Trends sample: Meat producers rising, tribal casinos mixed and Joerns Healthcare falling
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Meat producers: Wisconsin's meat processors whose plants are inspected only by the state would be able to sell their products across state lines for the first time under a proposed rule initiated by Gov. Scott Walker last week. Walker directed the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to amend the administrative rule that currently bars that practice, taking advantage of a 2008 change in federal law. Previously, interstate meat sales could only occur through plants inspected by the U.S. Agriculture Department, while state-inspected plants could only sell within the state's borders. Walker says about 30 of the state's 275 state-inspected meat plants have already indicated an interest in joining the 145 USDA-inspected plants in Wisconsin that sell outside the state. He adds that the change would bolster the job and tax base in rural areas, and stresses there's no difference between food safety standards at the state and federal level. The state must receive approval from the federal government to make the change, while the proposed DATCP rule would face oversight from the governor and Legislature.
Tribal casinos: Cities from the Illinois border to the Lake Michigan coast see a slew of headlines on tribal casinos as developers look to move forward as they see a more promising climate for the projects in Washington. First, the Ho-Chunk tribe offers details of a proposed development near Beloit to the public, along with an existing compact that allows another Ho-Chunk casino, significant economic resources and historical ties to the area. There's likely to be significant pressure from developers and local governments who sense the potential for jobs in the economically hard-hit area. But observers warn that off-reservation casinos are still the exception to the rule, and some believe it's unlikely that Gov. Walker would sign off on such a project. Meanwhile, farther east along the state line, reports indicate that California-based KMD Consulting Services and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin are preparing another run at a casino in Kenosha, long targeted by the tribe for a facility on the site of the former Dairyland Greyhound Park. In Sheboygan, however, officials at city hall receive a torrent of phone calls in opposition to a potential casino development in the city's South Pier District. And in Milwaukee, the Forest County Potawatomi and Potawatomi Bingo Casino announce plans for a hotel next to the downtown casino.
Joerns Healthcare: The Stevens Point-based medical equipment maker announces plans to move most of its manufacturing to facilities in Arkansas, Texas and Mexico, drawing the ire of local officials who charge they offered generous incentives to keep the company in central Wisconsin. Joerns officials say the move will reduce costs and keep the company competitive with other firms who've relocated to China, and say some employees will remain in Stevens Point for product development and other services. But Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson says the move will cost more than 200 jobs, and state and local officials question the motives of CEO Mark Ludwig given the incentives on the table. Former CEO Raymond Nass joins the criticism, saying the company is still profitable and that the reason for the move comes down to "greed."