(WisBusiness) MON News Summary — 22 June 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— Thanks to the building surge of new power plants and transmission lines during the past few years, Wisconsin should have plenty of power for the steamy days of summer.

That’s the assessment of Eric Callisto, the new head of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, the agency that regulates water, power and telecommunications utilities in the state. He replaced Dan Ebert, who resigned last month to look for a new job.

“Ten years ago, we were facing brownouts and potential blackouts,” he told WisBusiness.com recently. “But we have built the facilities we needed to build. Wisconsin is in a good place. And we also can rely on the regional transmission grid if things get really tight.

“But I take great comfort that this commission has approved needed infrastructure investment that will take us through the hot days of July and August,” he said.

See story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=129390

— The waters are receding, but the impact from this month’s floods continues to be felt in numerous ways, including some that affect business in Western Wisconsin and elsewhere.

First is the issue of dams. There are 88 in the state, and several were compromised or threatened by rising waters. Of course, the most dramatic was on Lake Delton. Once it was breached, the lake turned back into a stream, stranding several businesses that are dependent on it being a lake, not a stream.

Western Wisconsin also has a lot of dams because of its preponderance of streams and rivers rather than natural lakes. In fact, Vernon County has 22 of the state’s 88 dams. Several of those have been endangered, necessitating costly repairs, detours and other disruptions of business and people’s lives.

The state fund for maintaining and fixing dams essentially is broke. So, how the work on these structures will be paid for is in question.

See Gregg Hoffmann column at http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=202

— Spacesaver Corp. has finished a 45,000-square-foot, $7.5 million expansion of its plant in Fort Atkinson.

Spacesaver – a division of Green Bay-based KI that manufactures mobile storage and filing systems, steel shelving and other products – is adding 20 new jobs at the facility, bringing the total number of workers at the plant to 508.

The company said the new space is being used largely to produce the recently introduced new XTen Mobile High-Bay Storage (MHBS) system. The 30-foot-high movable XTend systems are specifically designed for academic libraries and a host of commercial and government applications where there is a need for a means to store and retrieve archived media off-site – and free up onsite space.

— Midwest Airlines plans to furlough a dozen of is gas-guzzling MD-80 jets, reduce its nonstop flights and lay off employees because it is struggling under the soaring coast of fuel.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Timothy Hoeksema said the airline will also seek wage roll-backs from workers and is also trying to renegotiate contracts with vendors and get new deals from creditors. Company officials say they have not ruled out a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filing.
The airline considered such a move five years ago, but was able to avoid it. Under Chapter 11, the company would reorganize its finances under court supervision.

— GE Healthcare has begun laying off workers in Waukesha, a company official confirmed Friday. The company would only say the number is less than 400. GE has 3,000 employees in Waukesha County and 7,000 around the state.

A spokesman said the market for diagnostic imaging equipment is lagging, in part, because reimbursements from the federal government for some diagnostic imaging procedures have been reduced.




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Press Releases
Governor Doyle Announces Creation of Largest Patient Database in Wisconsin
Governor Doyle Obtains Disaster Unemployment Assistance for an Additional Four Wisconsin Counties
Help for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
Midwesterners Issue Call to Action on Reform
Nestle Waters North America Contributes to Midwest Disaster Relief Effort
Sonic to host Penn State webinar
The Crop Insurance Industry Provides Reassurance to Farmers Impacted by the Midwest Floods
UW-Madison Grad Student to Meet Nobel Laureates
Verizon Landline Network Weathering Historic Floods, Severe Storms in Midwest
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Takes Agriculture’s Message to Washington D.C.

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


GE cuts Waukesha work force: Diagnostic unit has been hampered by 2007 Medicare law… GE announced large-scale layoffs in its health care unit Friday, with most coming from its Waukesha-based diagnostic imaging segment. Company spokesman Brian McKaig declined to give an exact number of affected employees, saying only that it was “less than 400.” The news is a blow to the work force of Waukesha County, where GE is one of the largest employers. Prior to the staff reduction, GE Healthcare had about 3,000 employees at its Waukesha campus, where its diagnostic imaging business is headquartered, McKaig said. The company has roughly 7,000 employees throughout the state. The health care unit has struggled financially of late, posting a 17 percent slide in earnings during the first quarter of 2008, after 3 percent drop in profit during fiscal 2007.

Study: Janesville GM closing could result job loss of 9,000: A new analysis shows the closing of General Motors in Janesville could result in the loss of nearly 9,000 jobs and nearly half a billion dollars in labor income. The study — by Steven Deller, a University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension professor and community development economist — used employment numbers from 2007. It doesn’t take into account the 574 employees who will leave the plant under a recent special attrition program, and it doesn’t factor in wage and benefit extensions workers have in their national labor contract. “It’s just a snapshot in time, a look at the local economy with the plant and without the plant,” Deller said. “It’s a worst-case scenario.”

Wis. companies sell more products to Africa: Wisconsin companies are selling more and more products to Africa. “We are seeing increases” in exports to African nations, said Mary Regel, director of the bureau of investment and export in the state Department of Commerce. Regel helped lead a Great Lakes business mission to South Africa last year. “Their economy is growing. They are looking to buy products from the U.S.,” she said. And the shrinking value of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies is proving to be a boon. “We’re more competitive than we may have been in the past,” Regel said. Last year, the state sold $140.7 million worth of products to South Africa, a 40 percent increase from 2006.

State’s airports wait and wonder: Mergers, service cuts may change travel options… Joe Zoeller flies every six weeks or so because of his job as an Appleton-based account manager for Cisco Systems Inc., so he’s painfully aware of his declining choices. Zoeller flies out of Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin’s fourth-busiest airport. He recalls the convenience of being able to leave Appleton and arrive in Cincinnati by 9 a.m. That early arrival was a big help in getting Zoeller’s day off to a good start. Over the past two years, airlines have been trimming flights, and now the earliest arrival on that service is closer to 10 a.m. Not a big difference to some, but a chunk out of a business day.

Drought, freeze kill most of Wis. tart cherry crop: Door County cherry growers have little to harvest this year after a drought and cold winter weakened their trees. Some orchard owners are forgoing the harvest altogether, saying the money they’d earn wouldn’t cover the cost of picking the fruit. “I was out counting the other day, and I don’t even think I have maybe a couple pounds on each tree,” said Tom Sayer, who owns Cherry Lane Orchards in Forestville. “It’s really bad.” Wisconsin is expected to produce only 200,000 pounds of tart cherries this year, down from 10.4 million last year, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Several other top cherry producing states also expect a smaller crop due to bad weather.

Kewaunee Fabrications workers’ strike drags on: Union pursues better offer from Oshkosh Corp. … There appears to be no end in sight to the six-week-old strike at Kewaunee Fabrications. The membership of the Boilermakers Local 487 voted 186-52 Wednesday to reject the second proposal from the company, a subsidiary of Oshkosh Corp. Oshkosh Corp. is the parent of Pierce Manufacturing, which has facilities in Grand Chute and the Town of Menasha. “The big argument was over insurance again,” said Boilermakers Local 487 President Russ Castro after the vote. “They didn’t budge on the insurance.” Union officials said that the only real difference in the company’s second proposal was in the length. It called for a four-year term instead of three.


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)
– Wiley named interim director of Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

– Milwaukee Wi-Fi is a no-go for now

BIOTECH (back to top)
– USDA Awards Funds for Renewable & Efficiency Energy Projects

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Madison to Africa

– Minister: Saudi Arabia can increase oil production

– Packers’ profits less than hoped

– Engineering MU’s future

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Long-time auto town successful in altering automaker’s course

– Creative Converting expansion under way

– Northern Engraving to close plant

– North Side engineering firm relocating to Doerflinger building downtown

LABOR (back to top)
– Petitioners press city to require paid sick days

– Creating workplace harmony

– Green jobs, climate change are focus of town hall meeting

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Development center will host business counseling in Sturgeon Bay

INVESTING (back to top)
– Investors shunning region’s bank stocks

– Manager betting on more remodeling in long run

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Shopko to auction excess land to create revenue

– Stores, homes still planned for former greyhound racetrack

– Developer: Fulton Square project will go forward

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– State farmers asked to report crop failures

– Ag Secretary Nilsestuen Tours Flood-Damaged Farms

– Farm Bureau Takes Message to Washington D.C.

– Produce farmers scurry to replant

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Midwest Airlines will park inefficient planes

– Council to decide fate of wrap-around bus ads

– Transit expansion proposed in West Salem

– Residents rail against train idea

RETAIL (back to top)
– Web site created for local food dealers

– Goodwill opens store on West Mason Street in Green Bay

– Miller signs three-year State Fair sponsorship

REGULATION (back to top)
– Ashwaubenon TIF proposal’s unique uses tax the norm

– Data: Welfare not unduly abused by area minorities

– Despite lack of compliance, legislators seek more use of ignition interlocks

TOURISM (back to top)
– Art museums deal with attendance issues after new expansions

– Allouez’s Heritage Hill lets visitors step back in time

– Milwaukee’s Discovery World honors Les Paul

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Flooding forces sewage into rivers

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Program may target health issues

– Patients seek health care reform

– Aurora Health Care takes top honors at event

– BadgerCare swells post-expansion: Most new enrollees would have qualified under former income limits

– Medical care pricing a tangled web

– Free public workshop on fighting foreclosure

– Helping down-and-out former NFL players

– Credit counselors, lenders can help home owners avoid crisis

– Thrivent Financial opens Menasha office

– Aid to Wisconsin Residents Already Passes $1 Million

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Local team lining up for meeting with GM officials

– Meetings to help develop Downtown plan

– Backup care is a perk that helps workers, employers

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Ray Unger: Confessions of a Money Manager: What Tiger and Rocco can teach us about investing

– David Yeghiaian: Survival through strategy, execution

– John Van Driest: Branding: Force multiplier when product has a difference

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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