(WisBusiness) FRI News Summary — 8 Aug. 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— Midwest Airlines and Midwest Connect plan to lay off 40 percent of their staff and cut flights by the same amount to save money starting in September.

But turning the struggling company around will be difficult if the number of passengers on its remaining planes keeps falling.

Midwest Air Group Inc. announced Thursday that its passenger count for July dropped 21 percent — to 8,685 from 11,011 — compared to the same month last year.

See release:

— Northwest Airlines Corp. is writing off its $213 million investment in the partnership that owns Midwest Airlines, a step that shows it has lost confidence in the Milwaukee-based airlines’ future.

Northwest, which owns a 47 percent stake in Midwest Air Partners LLC, wrote off that investment during the second quarter, which ended June 30. Northwest disclosed the write-off in its latest quarterly financial report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

— The Madison Area Technical College will receive $390,000 from the state to train manufacturing workers and employees of small businesses.

The money will be used in 2009 to educate more than 700 workers at 20 companies. In announcing the grants, Gov. Jim Doyle said that the sluggish economy is hurting Wisconsin, which is why he believes the investment in worker training is needed.

Doyle also said he’ll try to include $1.5 million in his next budget to help workers who go to technical schools on a part-time basis.

— The Harris-Wisconsin banking company has notified state and local officials that it plans to lay off 27 employees at three Ozaukee Bank locations in Cedarburg and another 68 at the Merchants and Manufacturers Bancorporation location in New Berlin on Oct. 9.

The workers do not have bumping rights, but the company said they will be offered severance pay, outplacement services and other help in finding new jobs.

— Wisconsin remains in the Tax Foundation’s Top 10 for highest state and local tax burden, according to a new report.

The foundation found Wisconsinites paid 10.2 percent of their income to cover state and local taxes for 2008. That’s down from 10.4 percent in 2007, but the state still moved from 10th last year to a tie for ninth this year.

New Jersey was ranked the highest with 11.8 percent of income going toward state and local taxes, while Alaska ranked 50th at 6.4 percent.

*Read the full report:
*See Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden from 1977-2008:

— Kohl’s Corp. is reporting that sales at stores open at least one year declined 10.4 percent during July. The company said total year-to-date sales were up 2.6 percent over the comparable prior year period. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales decreased 5.6 percent.

Larry Montgomery, Kohl’s chairman and chief executive officer, said “July was a month driven by clearance sales of spring and summer merchandise. Our inventory levels in these clearance and transitional categories were significantly lower than last year, affecting sales results, but leading to improved gross margins. We enter the fall season well-positioned and able to react quickly to any improvement in sales trends.”

See the release:


WISBUSINESS LUNCHEON: Global Warming Task Force Co-Chairs
Tuesday, August 12, 11:45 am, The Madison Club

WisBusiness.com, The Madison Club and Madison Magazine present “The Madison Business Luncheon” on Tuesday, August 12, with featured guests Global Warming Task force Chairs Roy Thilly of the Wisconsin Public Power and Tia Nelson of the Board of Public Land Commissioners.

Learn more about the Global Warming Task Force: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/

Sponsored by Xcel Energy.

This event is open to the public, and the price for lunch is $19. Call the Madison Club to register at (608) 255-4861. The luncheon starts at 11:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.



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Press Releases
· $105 Million Settlement Reached in Power Plant Cooling System Dispute
· Aurora Health Care Employee Named YMCA Black Achiever of the Year
· Brookdale Announces Second Quarter 2008 Results
· Cygnus Business Media Partners With DirectoryM
· Disney Character Breakfasts for a Family of Four for FREE!
· Kohl’s July sales decline
· Lake Lawn Resort Receives Final City Council Approval for Next Phase of Development
· Midwest Air Group Reports July Performance
· National City Opens New State Headquarters in Downtown Milwaukee; Announces Plans to Expand Branch Network
· Schneider National Owner-Operators Now Paying Just $1.085 for Diesel
· We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric, Wisconsin Public Power Commit to Additional Environmental Initiatives
· Wisconsin Based K2 Sourcing Named as a Top Supply Chain Innovator by Leading Business Magazine
· ZBB Energy Corporation Announces Sales Distribution Agreement With New Age Energy, Inc.

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


Northwest writes off Midwest investment; Carrier expects $213 million to be loss, move hints: Northwest Airlines Corp. has written off its entire $213 million investment in the partnership that owns financially stressed Midwest Airlines, a sign that Northwest expects the investment to be a total loss. Although the move has no immediate impact on Midwest operations, it raises more troubling questions about the airline’s future. Midwest announced last month that it was dismissing 1,200 of its 3,000 employees, cutting flights to about 20 cities and taking other steps to avoid bankruptcy. Northwest, which bought a 47% share of Midwest Air Partners LLC in January, disclosed the write-off in its latest quarterly report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The move is “an ominous sign” for Oak Creek-based Midwest Air, said Marisa Thompson, an airline industry analyst with Morningstar Corp. in Chicago.

– Midwest passenger loads down in July

Jobless claims highest in 6 years; 455,000 people last week filed for unemployment: The nation’s jobs market sent a fresh cry of distress as the number of newly laid off people unexpectedly hit the highest level in more than six years, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The faltering economy and tight credit have forced companies to cut back, and as the job market shrinks, consumer spending may dwindle, too. New applications filed for unemployment benefits rose last week by a seasonally adjusted 7,000 to 455,000, the department said in its weekly report. That was the most since late March 2002, when the job market was struggling mightily to get back on its feet after the 2001 recession.

Federal disaster aid tops $67 million after summer storms: Federal agencies have poured more than $67 million of disaster relief into Wisconsin following heavy storms and flooding this summer. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday the money includes nearly $45 million from FEMA for housing and other individual needs. The rest was as low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA provided more than $22 million to homeowners, renters and business owners.

Rayovac, Remington shine; Spectrum loses : Madison-based Rayovac battery and Remington shaver and hair appliance sales staged a comeback in the April-June quarter, parent company Spectrum Brands said Thursday. But the Atlanta consumer products company recorded a net loss for its fiscal third quarter, primarily because of problems in its other two units: home and garden which includes Schultz garden soil and Cutter insect repellent and pet supplies, such as Tetra and Dingo products.

Unstable atmosphere: Survey finds state execs cool on climate change: Most Wisconsin business leaders do not believe climate change is a pressing problem, but many are taking steps anyway to make their operations more energy efficient, according to a survey of business executives statewide. Moreover, most business executives believe they are better suited to address environmental concerns than the government and favor financial incentives to encourage energy conservation, according to the survey results, which were expected to be released Aug. 8.

– Divided we stand: Milwaukee, Madison execs react in very different ways


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)
– Verizon completes purchase of Rural Cellular

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Mass.: Biotech biggies bash health-care gift-disclosure measure

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Small-business payrolls rebound in July; personal income and savings decline

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Officials ‘ecstatic’ about ship trials; Freedom piques pedestrian interest en route to testing

– Winning gold: Johnson Controls big part of Olympics

LABOR (back to top)
– Workers rally in mill’s support

INVESTING (back to top)
– Confessions of a Money Manager: Market’s roller coaster ride perplexes investors

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Pending home sales rise in June

– Doyle Gives Stewardship Grant To Protect Prairie, Farmland

– New Hotel Design Could Incorporate Madison Municipal Building

– Hotel, trails part of Neenah site plans

– Appleton: Deal could double PAC land holdings; Arts center might buy city-owned lot for parking

– Big bowling center planned for southeast side

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Exchange will track biomass; A Wisconsin nonprofit is looking to put the state at the forefront of the renewable energies market

– Emerald Ash Borer Found In 2nd Wisconsin County

– Black Earth valley scene reminds travelers how farming was and is

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Kocourek Automotive Group buys Ford dealership

– Plan to upgrade Highway 29 will cut access points

– Gas prices down 33 cents in three weeks

RETAIL (back to top)
– Retail in July warms slightly

– Bon-Ton’s July same-store sales up slightly

– Kohl’s same-store sales drop in July

– Miller Coors to advertise MGD 64 on dry-cleaning hangers

– Schlitz: 70 years of the Brown Bottle in Milwaukee

– Meet Roundys Chairman Bob in Oshkosh

– Local shoppers are switching to store brands

REGULATION (back to top)
– Tyson recall of 25 tons of chicken includes Wisconsin

TOURISM (back to top)
– Brat Days festival shows excellent turnout

UTILITIES (back to top)
– High oil, gas prices will turn up heat on energy costs this winter

– Firms try to conserve energy, increase profits

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Insurer seeks 1 million to become organ donors

– Harris Bank to lay off about 100 employees

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Racine Federated makes management moves

– Wausau Paper promotes executive

– Workshop to focus on human resources

Media Partners
Small Business Times
Madison Magazine

National Business Roundups ( back to top)
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–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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