(WisBusiness) THURS News Summary — 11 Dec. 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— Business, labor and civic leaders in Janesville say they’ve received positive feedback from GM leaders on their proposal to keep the automaker’s assembly plant open here.

But they acknowledge all their efforts may be for naught if Congress does not approve a $14 billion temporary bailout plan that would help keep GM afloat until early 2009. In Washington D.C. Wednesday evening, the House approved the proposal, but the emergency bailout remains in peril from Senate Republicans who oppose it.

Speaking at a Competitive Wisconsin board meeting, Tim Cullen — a former state Senate majority leader and a current Janesville school board member — said he hopes the plant will be retooled to produce fuel-efficient cars.

“Right now though, General Motors has other things to worry about,” said Cullen, who also served as a secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services. He leads the effort to keep GM in Janesville with former UAW Local 95 President Brad Dutcher. Cullen declined to detail any specifics of the plan presented to GM, which was crafted by a broad-based coalition that included business leaders, plus state and local officials and the UAW.

“If GM accepts it, we’ll reveal the details,” he told a questioner. “If not, it will never become public. We just don’t want people picking it apart now.’

Mike Sheridan, incoming state House speaker and another former UAW Local 95 president, said he believes the $120 million in annual savings offered by his union is a key part of the plan.

Read more on the plan: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.Iml?Article=143352

— The auto bailout passed the U.S. House with largely Democratic support and Wisconsin’s delegation split similarly except for two representatives who crossed party lines.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen voted against the bill because of his opposition to giving taxpayer money to Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus also owns NewPage Corp., which recently closed two paper mills in northeastern Wisconsin.

“I will not vote to give any hard-earned taxpayer money to Chrysler until Cerberus-NewPage sells our paper mills or runs them — enabling my friends and neighbors to have their higher-wage jobs back,” Kagen said in a press release.

See Kagen’s statement: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.Iml?Article=143325

On the flip side, Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, whose district includes Janesville, said he backed the bill in the hopes that “bankruptcy will be avoided in the near term and protections for retirees will remain intact.”

See Ryan’s statement: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.Iml?Article=143333

— Gov. Jim Doyle is in Washington, D.C. today to testify before the full House Appropriations Committee today on the state of Wisconsin’s economy and the need for an economic recovery bill.

In the prepared text of his remarks, Doyle says state budget deficits will “force states to consider damaging tax increases at a time when families’ ability to pay is most threatened.

“We recognize that we will have to make cuts, and we will make those difficult choices. But we can not allow our states’ revenue shortfalls to be an obstacle in our efforts to recover from this recession and move this country forward.”

Doyle has released a 22-page document outlining the infrastructure projects he will direct federal cash to if a stimulus package is approved by Congress and President-elect Barack Obama.

The list totals $3.7 billion in projects that could be under way within 120 days of passage.

See the WisPolitics Budget Blog for more: http://blogs.wispolitics.com/budget.html

— With the help of more than 6,000 state residents, a group of Wisconsin business, labor and policy organizations have joined forces to release a comprehensive plan they say would improve the fairness of Wisconsin’s tax system while preserving the quality of public services.

The plan, called the “Blueprint for Change,” calls for reducing the state’s reliance on the property tax as a mechanism for paying for governmental services and education while increasing reliance on “income-sensitive revenue sources” like sales and consumption taxes.

It also calls for a significant increase in the amount of investment capital available for economic development purposes — one component would be the development of a “State of Wisconsin Capital Mutual Fund.” The fund would allow state residents to allocate a small percentage of the income taxes they owe. The fund would provide venture capital and returns on the investments would be exepmt from state taxes.

The Blueprint for Change represents a collaborative effort by members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Wisconsin REALTORS ® Association, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin League of Municipalities and Wood Communications Group.

See the group’s press release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/1008/WIWay_PressRelease_Dec11_08.pdf

Read the Blueprint for Change: http://www.wisbusiness.com/1008/large/WIWay_Blueprint_Dec2008.pdf

— UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has appointed the dean of the university’s business school to head a task force to study the financial stability of the campus.

Mike Knetter, who has served as dean of the Wisconsin School of Business since 2002, will take on another post as an unpaid special assistant/liaison to the chancellor for long-term strategy and development.

With another budget crunch potentially cutting into state funding of the UW, Martin said Knetter will work on the long-term development of other sources of revenue. He will partner with, among other groups, the UW Foundation, the Wisconsin Alumni Association, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, University Research Park and the Office of Corporate Relations.

“The financial model for public universities has undergone significant change over time. Like our peers, we rely increasingly on private sources of revenue and the proportion of our budget that comes from private sources will increase over time,” Martin said in a statement.

See the press release: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.Iml?Article=143296



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Press Releases
· Wiscosnin Way: Wisconsin Way initiative releases Blueprint for Change
– See the Blueprint
· Dept. of Workforce Development: Governor Doyle announces additional assistance for dislocated workers at Kerry Group, Inc, Germantown
· MillerCoors: Annual New Year’s Eve MillerCoors Free Rides offered for area residents
· RedPrairie: Receives “Strong Positive” rating in leading analyst firm’s Retail MarketScope report
· UW-Madison: Martin names Business School dean to coordinate strategy, development
· UW-Madison: To create new ‘front door’

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


House OKs $14 billion for automakers; Senate may vote today: A $14 billion rescue package for the nation’s imperiled auto industry sped to approval in the U.S. House Wednesday night, but the emergency bailout remained in jeopardy from Republicans setting out roadblocks in the Senate. Democrats and the Bush White House hoped for a Senate vote as early as today and enactment by week’s end. They argued that the loans the measure authorized were needed to stave off disaster for the auto industry — and a crushing further blow to the reeling national economy.

Chase to cut 270 jobs in Milwaukee: Citing declining activity in home-equity lending, Chase bank said it will eliminate about 270 positions in its downtown Milwaukee home equity servicing center. The jobs will be eliminated by early February, Chase spokeswoman Christine Holevas said Wednesday.

Regional layoffs produce domino effect: The Menomonie 3M plant has emerged relatively unscathed from a wave of cutbacks announced at the company, but such news still has an impact on the region’s business climate, according to area professionals.

Wisconsin unemployment claims surpass 2007 total : With three weeks left in 2008, new filings for unemployment insurance benefits in Wisconsin have surpassed the total for all of 2007, according to a report from the state Department of Workforce Development.


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)
– Tetra Tech hired to clean up Fox River

– GroupCard awarded $250,000 Facebook grant

ECONOMY (back to top)
– LADCO cites area accomplishments, future challenges

– Bradley Foundation awards $14.5 million

– Survey: Most companies cutting legal costs

– Legal Action of Wisconsin struggles with funding loss

– UW business dean to lead search for private funding

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Burger Boat best in competition

– A. O. Smith reduces 4Q and 2008 forecast

– Actuant lowers fiscal 2009 estimates

– A.O. Smith, stockholder sign agreement

LABOR (back to top)
– Regional layoffs produce domino effect

– Car dealerships warn of layoffs without federal bailout

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Grand Chute taxi owner Chad Fiestadt fares well after leaving hotel job

– Independent video stores have beaten the odds time and again

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– New York Life plans new Appleton site
– Area home sales fall 30% in November

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– State Farm Groups Show Praise Over Vruwink Appointment

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Schneider National seeks to fill customer trucking needs in South

RETAIL (back to top)
– Office Depot Inc. closing stores

– Kohl’s expands MUDD brand’s presence

REGULATION (back to top)
– Church’s Chicken drops plans for North Ave. restaurant

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Plan would raise Wisconsin Public Service Corp. rates slightly or not at all

– Loomis Sayles spin-off emerges as LS Investment

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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