(WisBusiness) FRI News Summary — 20 June 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— The Badger State’s unemployment rate for May fell to 4.2 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the April rate of 4.4 percent and one-half of a percentage point lower than the rate in May of 2007, state Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman announced.

By contrast, the national rate for May was 5.2, up 0.4 percentage points from April’s 4.8 percent, and up 0.9 percentage points from May 2007.

Gassman said she was especially encouraged by the improvement in construction and manufacturing, both of which showed increases in jobs in May for the third consecutive month.

From April to May, total Wisconsin non-farm jobs increased by 35,400 to nearly 2.9 million. Private sector jobs grew by 33,500, led by strong growth in the leisure & hospitality sector (11,500 more jobs) and the construction sector (8,700 more jobs). Manufacturing employment increased again last month with 2,100 more jobs.

See the DWD release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=129208

— Adjusted individual income tax collections for the month of May decreased by 4.4 percent over the previous fiscal year while total tax collections increased by 1.7 percent, according to figures released by the Department of Revenue.

From July of ’07 through May of this fiscal year, total general fund tax collections have risen by 2.4 percent over the previous fiscal year collections, and individual income tax collections increased by 2.2 percent.

See the DOR press release:

— General Motors has announced it will lay off 96 additional employees between August 25 and September 15 to meet production costs. Earlier this year, the company said it would end one shift and terminate more than 750 workers.

And several weeks ago, GM announced it would close the plant in less than two years because of sagging sales of gas-guzzling SUVs. The plant currently has a labor force of more than 2,500 workers. Hundreds more work for Janesville companies that supply the GM facility.

The state Department of Workforce Development officials say they are working to help GM workers and other auto-related workers in Janesville. The department will continue to expand on the work already in progress since the initial round of GM layoffs was announced this spring.

— The head of the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group said that presentations by state regulators at the group’s meeting in Milwaukee on Thursday show that those working on proposed regulations have been responsive to some of the needs of manufacturers, but concerns remain that they will increase costs.

Todd Stuart, executive director of WIEG, said rising fuel costs, large expenditures required by utilities, and regulations facing utilities have created the “perfect storm” for increased energy costs that will hurt the large industrial users of energy.

The group, which represents heavy industrial users of energy, heard from DNR Secretary Matt Frank and Public Service Commission Chairman Eric Callisto this morning regarding developing regulations. We Energies CEO Gale Klappa spoke this afternoon.

Frank discussed the proposed mercury rule, which would require a 90 percent reduction in mercury for large coal plants by 2015 or require a multi-pollutant reduction approach that would give a longer phase in for mercury reduction.

Stuart said the proposed mercury rule, which goes before the DNR next week, is more stringent than what federal guidelines require and threatens to boost energy costs.

Stuart said he agreed with some of Frank’s points about flexibility options for compliance, the need to regulate now rather than later and the concern over health issues, but the tighter restrictions the state wants could hurt the state’s competitiveness.

“I suspect we are not going to be very happy with this,” Stuart said.

— One of the nation’s most unique research tools, developed through the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, drew a crowd of curious scientists and biotech company representatives on the floor of BIO, the annual gathering of the world’s biotechnology industry.

Marshfield Clinic has assembled the genetic makeup of 20,000 volunteers — most of them from central Wisconsin — to compile one of the world’s largest human genetic data banks as part of its Personalized Medicine Research Project. The information in those data banks allows scientists to study how genetics and human diseases are related — and then better target treatments.

See more conference coverage from the WisBusiness BIO Blog:

— The UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation and MPP Group LLC have announced the completion of a license agreement for a series of compounds that may be useful in the treatment and control of alcohol addiction.

The family of compounds licensed by MPP Group LLC, a Wauwatosa-based biopharma company, appears to interact with certain neurotransmitters in the brain to block the euphoric effects of alcohol without inducing anxiety or sedation.

The compounds, developed by James Cook, UWM chemistry professor, also may be useful in treating other addictive behaviors or disorders. MPP Group and its partners and collaborators will develop the compounds to produce an FDA-approved therapeutic agent for the treatment of alcohol addiction, which affects about 17 million Americans.

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=129168

— Gov. Jim Doyle plans to survey Wisconsin communities affected by flood damage today.

He has planned an aerial tour of flood-damaged areas in Rock and Jefferson counties and a press conference in Fort Atkinson. Doyle will be joined by Wisconsin’s adjutant general, Brigadier General Don Dunbar, and local county officials.

— Fond du Lac, Iowa and Marquette counties are the latest to be added to the federal disaster declaration stemming from flooding.

The new additions announced by the governor’s office bring the total number of counties under the declaration to 15.

See the press release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=129227

In addition, workers affected by flooding in those three counties are now eligible for disaster unemployment assistance from FEMA.

See the DWD statement: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2008/0619_additional_dua_benefits_2.pdf

— The 28-mile portion of I-94 near Johnson Creek that has been closed since last week was reopened by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Thursday afternoon.

The reopening is made possible by the construction of crossovers near the Rock and Crawfish Rivers, allowing for one lane of westbound traffic and one lane of eastbound traffic along a five-mile stretch of freeway between Johnson Creek and Lake Mills.

See the press release:



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Press Releases
‘Great People. Great Place’: Fundraising Initiative Built Around UW-Madison’s Top Priorities
Adaptive Micro Systems Delivers Digital Billboard Deal for Less Than $100,000
Blackhawk Bancorp to Pay 73rd Consecutive Quarterly Cash Dividend Reports on Annual Meeting, Outlook for Second Quarter
Governor Doyle Obtains Disaster Unemployment Assistance for an Additional Five Wisconsin Counties
Graphic Communications Veteran Leads IGI
M&I Bank Provides Financial Relief to Wisconsin Flood Victims
Massachusetts Maintains Lead as Nation’s Top State in Technology and Science, According to Milken Institute
ONswitch signs with Ho-Chunk Nation
Penn State University, The Dickinson School of Law Helps Sonic Foundry Surpass 1000th Customer Mark
Research Symposium ‘Hear Our Voices’ to Focus on Cutting Edge Research in Audition and Spoken Language Development for the Deaf
S.S. Badger Offers Relief to Commercial Trucks Stranded by Road Closures
Schneider National Adds Three New Orientation Sites for Experienced Drivers
Sonic Foundry Unveils Mediasite 5.0, the Next Generation Lecture Capture Platform for Higher Education
State jobless rate falls
U.S. Treasury Urges Social Security Check Recipients to Switch to Direct Deposit as Record Flooding Continues
UWM Research Foundation licenses compounds to MPP Group for alcohol addiction
White Cap Real Estate Opens East Coast Branch

For these and more releases visit http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82


GM to lay off 96 more in Janesville by September: GM to lay off 96 more in Janesville by September… General Motors Corp. has informed the state it plans to lay off an additional 96 workers from its Janesville assembly plant by mid-September. The layoffs announced Thursday are in addition to the 756 workers who’ll be let go next month. That’s when the factory that makes trucks and other sport utility vehicles will scale back its production shifts from two to one. In a filing with the state, GM says the latest layoffs will occur in late August or early September. The auto maker also said Thursday that more than 18,000 employees across the nation have accepted buyout and early retirement offers. That includes 574 workers from the Janesville.

State jobless rate tumbles: Hiring boost seen in construction, manufacturing… Gains in manufacturing and construction jobs contributed to a lower statewide unemployment rate in May. The state Department of Workforce Development reported Thursday that May’s jobless rate was 4.2 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from April, and 0.5 percentage points lower than a year ago. “Wisconsin’s labor market showed continued improvement with lower unemployment and more jobs over the previous month,” Roberta Gassman, secretary of department of workforce development, said in a statement. “Particularly encouraging is the improvement in construction and manufacturing, both of which showed increases in jobs in May for the third consecutive month.”

Dane County considers smoking ban: Dane County officials are expecting less resistance to a public smoking ban proposed Thursday than Madison faced four years ago. But some critics are framing the issue in terms of local control, saying the county should butt out of town business. The county’s proposed public smoking ban would be similar to what Madison passed in 2004 after months of fierce debate. That proposal banned smoking in workplaces, including bars, restaurants and bowling alleys. The version proposed for Dane County — which is divided into cities, villages and towns — would affect the towns, which have about 80,000 residents. It wouldn’t apply to cities and villages because the county lacks jurisdiction there.

Schlitz finds its way back to Milwaukee, 1960s style: Classic 1960s formula to return with gusto to city next week… Dean Wonser was 9 when he tried his first Schlitz. It didn’t go down so well. His Cub Scout troop was attending a Brewers game at County Stadium, and Wonser’s father said he could have a sip of beer. Wonser managed to swallow a few big gulps before Dad yanked his cup back. A few innings later, he was in the fetal position on the bleachers, trying not to vomit in front of his pals. When Wonser turned 18, in 1980, he drank his first legal Schlitz, for years advertised as “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous.” But the stuff was watery and weak, leaving Wonser to wonder: “Gee, what was I waiting for all these years?”

Actuant reports 30 percent boost in profit: Energy, truck markets boosted earnings… Strong demand in the global energy and truck markets lifted Actuant Corp. to record sales and earnings for its third quarter, the company announced Thursday. The Butler-based diversified industrial company said those markets more than offset consumer-driven recreational vehicle retail and marine electrical markets, which weakened as the quarter progressed. Third quarter sales rose 15 percent to $445 million, reflecting growth from existing businesses, acquisitions and the weaker U.S. dollar, which benefitted its international operations. Excluding the impact of foreign currency rate changes and acquisitions, sales grew by 2 percent.

Harley temporarily stops production: Capitol Drive plant is closed this week, Tomahawk plant will close June 22-30… Harley-Davidson temporarily shut down its Capitol Drive plant this week as the company eases back motorcycle production. Company officials said the Tomahawk plant will be closed June 23-30, also to ease off production. Both production cutbacks were announced in April when Harley also said it was cutting 730 jobs, including hundreds at its Milwaukee headquarters and Wisconsin factories. Worldwide retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles fell 5.6% in the most recent quarter that ended March 30, compared with the same period a year earlier. Harley’s sales in the U.S. fell nearly 13% as consumers felt economic jitters and closed their checkbooks.


GREGG HOFFMANN: Contributor, WisBusiness.com

TOM STILL: President, Wisconsin Technology Council

JENNIFER SERENO: Senior manager, Wood Communications Group

STEVE JAGLER: Executive editor, Small Business Times

TOM BURZINSKI: IT executive and consultant

TECHNOLOGY (back to top)
– Sonic Foundry unveils next generation of its technology

– NewPage hopes to grow through research

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Edgar ethanol-conversion business fueled by air-quality concerns

– UWM licenses company to test, sell new alcoholism drug

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Premium gas sales tanking as fuel prices skyrocket

– Madison-area restoration companies can fix flood damage

– Leading economic indicators inch up, but weakness remains

– County a prime location for job growth

– Pieper buys Spring City Electric

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Fort Atkinson-based Spacesaver finishes expansion, adds jobs

– GM to halt major overhaul of pickups, SUVs

– DRS to spend $10.8M on Milwaukee plant

LABOR (back to top)
– GM says 18,657 took buyouts, early retirements

– Jobs drop since May 2007

– Schneider opens three new sites

– District, union agree on contract terms

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– State attracting more early-stage business investments

INVESTING (back to top)
– Report: Investment in state start-up companies up 43% last year

– Wausau Paper declares dividend

– Stocks end higher as oil falls sharply

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– AG’s spokesman: Building contract probe was mismanaged

– Dane County Board OKs sale of land in Verona

– Waupaca’s new green building result of community effort

– Developer hopes to have ‘aloft’ open in ’09

– Wisconsin Club spruces up with $2.2 million

– Developer late on bills, owes $3 million

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– State milk production rises in May

– No shortage of honey bees in Wisconsin — yet

– USDA estimates $15 million in damages to Rock County crops

– State Expects Much Lower Tart Cherry Crop This Year

– NASS Cheese Survey Prices Mixed

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– I-94 reopens for westbound traffic

– Dane County airport passenger decline continues

RETAIL (back to top)
– Villager Mall revamp plan panned, called not enough

– Flooding may hike grocery bills

– Fish fry prices are getting hard to swallow

– Sprecher Brewing sponsors Milwaukee Mile

REGULATION (back to top)
– Dane County smoking ban proposed

– Proposed bartending restrictions on hold pending equal rights review

– House panel approves AMT relief bill

– Kohl Lauds Boost Boost for Food, Flood Aid in Disaster Bill

TOURISM (back to top)
– Lake DuBay hosts national sailing race

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Towns’ water bills to soar

– Study: Lightning cited for WPS’ ’07 outage

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Aurora BayCare gets physical with new center

– Aurora Medical Center lauded

– Rx: Unleash forces of a free market

– UW Foundation fundraiser to help retain professors, relieve financial stress on undergrads

– Acuity liable in trademark case

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Big Ten Network, Comcast finalize deal; no quick Charter-BTN deal seen

– Success, preparation are linked, author tells Valley crowd

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– John Oncken: Last-minute buyers save Barney’s Utica Store

– Pete Bach: Health care provides stable work for downsized lawman

Media Partners
Small Business Times
Madison Magazine

National Business Roundups ( back to top)
–YAHOO FINANCE: http://finance.yahoo.com/
–CNBC BUSINESS NEWS: http://www.cnbc.com
–ABC BUSINESS NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/
–GOOGLE NEWS: http://news.google.com/news/en/us/business.html

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