(WisBusiness) THURS News Summary — 24 April 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— The state’s Workforce Development Department says unemployment rates in nine of Wisconsin’s 12 metropolitan areas dropped in March from February, while two saw increases and one experienced no change.

The Madison area had the lowest rate in March at 4.2 percent, though that was an uptick of one-tenth of 1 percent from February. Madison was followed by La Crosse at 4.7 percent, down one-tenth of a percent from February.

The Racine unemployment rate declined three-tenths of a percentage point, but remained the highest in Wisconsin at 6.6 percent. When the latest rates are compared to those of March 2007, two metro areas had lower rates this year, seven recorded higher rates and three saw no change in their rates.

See release:

— The Institute for Legal Reform, which is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ranks Wisconsin 24th in the country for its lawsuit climate in 2008. That’s down from No. 10 in 2007.

The state was ranked 23rd in 2006. Delaware was rated No. 1 for lawsuit climate in 2008, while West Virginia was ranked 50th.

The rankings were based on a national sample of in-house general counsel or senior litigators. Respondents were asked to give each state a grade of A through F in several areas. The ratings for Wisconsin included eight responses from the state.

The Wisconsin Association of Justice, representing state trial attorneys, dismissed the report as “phony” and took issue with the methodology, which it says has been debunked. The group also charged the report is “further proof that U.S. Chamber serves at the behest of elite corporate insiders.”

*See the ILR overview:
*See the individual rankings for Wisconsin
*See the WAJ release:

— Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc.’s fiscal second quarter net income dropped to $142.8 million, or 96 cents per share, from $729.3 million, or $4.45 per share in the same period a year ago.

Last year’s second quarter included profit from Rockwell’s discontinued power systems business of $622.2 million, or $3.80 per share.

The company’s total sales in the quarter grew to $1.4 billion from $1.2 billion a year earlier.

See story: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2008/4/23/#rockwells-earnings-plummet

— AT&T Inc. says its U-verse TV and Internet services are now available to more than 200,000 housing units in and around the Milwaukee, Racine and Sheboygan areas.

The growth of U-verse TV and the passage of the Wisconsin Video Choice Act have resulted in the creation of hundreds of new AT&T jobs in Wisconsin, the company said.

AT&T is currently seeking to fill 200 technician positions across the state, including openings in the northeast Wisconsin and south central Wisconsin areas. Additional information about the job opportunities is available at AT&T’s career site located at http://www.att.jobs.



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Press Releases
Applied Tech offers no-cost IT training
April 25 meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming has been cancelled
Boomgaard District” Chosen for South 27th Street Corridor Development
Dairyland to Preserve Bluffland on Mississippi River
Dedication Elevates Cleveland Youth to National Contest Winner
Governor Doyle Announces Expansion by Nestlé Purina PetCare Company
March 2008 Local Unemployment Rates Announced
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation Announces Increase to Quarterly Cash Dividend
More Than 200,000 Southeastern Wisconsin Customers Gain Video Choice With AT&T U-verse TV
New LGBT Business Group Forming
Premier Milwaukee Arts Center Shines Anew With LED Lighting Transformation by Philips
Smile! Lands’ End Can Now Print Your Favorite Family Photos on a Canvas Artwork Tote for Mother’s Day
UW’s Computing Research Prowess Brings Microsoft to Madison
UW-Madison Part of DOE-Funded ‘Microgrid’ Collaboration
UW-Madison Will Host Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge
Wisconsin Public Service and enXco Sign Wind Farm Sale Agreement
WPPI member River Falls again leads in use of renewable energy

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


Rockwell Automation reports quarterly sales up 17 percent: Rockwell Automation Inc. reported strong earnings Wednesday in its domestic and Asian markets, but its shares tumbled more than 9 percent amid missed expectations and concerns of a European slowdown. The Milwaukee-based company, which provides industrial automation equipment and services, had 31 percent growth in China and 18 percent growth in India, executives said during a conference call. Sales were also up 29 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but most of that growth came from acquisitions and favorable foreign-currency translation. Rockwell earned $142.8 million, or 96 cents per share, in the fiscal second quarter compared to $729.3 million, or $4.45 per share, in the year-ago period, the company said.

Fox River cleanup verdict challenged: Insurers may lose up to $75 million… Several insurance companies that lost a court case last month that could require them to pay Fox River cleanup costs assigned to the former Appleton Papers Inc. have filed a motion to have the verdict reversed or a new trial ordered. The insurance companies say four members of the jury had a conflict of interest, and that Brown County Circuit Judge Donald Zuidmulder erred on several rulings including his jury instructions. Columbia Casualty, Fidelity & Casualty Company of New York, and Continental Insurance filed the motion Monday. The jurydecided March 17 that the insurance companies are liable for damages that would be assessed to the former Appleton Papers Inc.

Bucyrus enters into preliminary agreement in China: Bucyrus International Inc. entered into a preliminary agreement Tuesday with Huainan Mining Industry Group for a possible joint venture in the Huainan mining area of China’s Anhui Province. The preliminary agreement lays groundwork for Bucyrus’ potential controlling interest in a joint venture for a new manufacturing plant that would initially build belt systems and armored face conveyors for resale on a preferential basis to Huainan Mining and to other third parties. The joint venture could eventually manufacture and sell additional underground mining equipment as well, Bucyrus said in a news release. “The first step in a resulting joint venture will extend our market coverage and provide us with a low-cost manufacturing base in China,” said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International.

State bankruptcies jump: Filings up nearly 30% as more residents succumb to mortgage crisis… Mounting mortgage misery, accumulated credit debt and higher consumer costs contributed to a 29.5% jump in bankruptcy filings in Wisconsin in the first quarter of this year, and attorneys and debt counselors say the situation is likely to get worse. People who were living on the edge financially with monthly mortgage payments they barely could afford now are tipping into insolvency as fuel and food costs rise, they say. “I think we’re just at the beginning of it,” said Claire Ann Resop, a bankruptcy attorney in Madison. “I think it’s going to be a couple of years.” There were 4,570 bankruptcy petitions filed in Wisconsin through March, up from 3,530 in the same span a year ago.

Magnetek aims to sell $16 million telecom business: Company failed to find a buyer for unit in 2005… Citing its intention to focus on more profitable, “core” businesses, Magnetek said Tuesday it plans to sell its telecom power systems unit. The company’s telecom solutions provide back-up power for wireless telecommunication facilities, according to the company’s Web site. The segment generated $16 million of the company’s total $103.8 million in sales during fiscal year 2007, the company said. In a statement, Magnetek said it intended to grow its power control and systems businesses, as well as pursue acquisitions that will boost its material handling, elevator and alternative energy product lines.

Wind farms proposed on water: 3 separate groups want to put turbines in Lake Michigan… Three developers are floating plans to erect hundreds of wind turbines in Lake Michigan as interest in the construction of wind farms surges around the country. The Lake Michigan plans are all in the very preliminary stages, and how they would be financed is unclear. The projects are being discussed as several state agencies have launched a study to determine the feasibility of erecting wind turbines on the two Great Lakes that border the state – Superior and Michigan. Interest in lake-based wind farms comes amid growing demand for renewable energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and calls for more home-grown energy.


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)
– Microsoft deal ‘a great win for UW’

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Stem cell experts: Results take time

ECONOMY (back to top)
– NewPage to release earnings May 13

– Bradley Center merger revisited

– Soybean scarcity puts tofu company on brink

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Plexus reports sharp gains

– Focus on diversity keeps Germantown Iron & Steel confident

– Lean manufacturing symposium May 7 at NWTC

LABOR (back to top)
– No end in sight for gender wage gap

– Appleton area unemployment drops

– Rock County jobless numbers shrink

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Frustrated owner considers pulling tobacco from store

– Green Bay, Pulaski businesses up for family award

INVESTING (back to top)
– Companies may sell investments door to door

– Neenah Paper reports 10-cent stock dividend

– Dow ends day up

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– DNR: Donation of land will boost wildlife habitat

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Wet field conditions make some area farmers nervous

– Dairyland Seed rolling out healthier soybean variety

– DNR seeks action against farmer after manure spill kills thousands of trout

– Cropp: Milk Production, Herd Expansions Continue to be Evident

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Dane County airport commits to environment

– How about 110 miles per charge car?

– Questions arise about Delta-Northwest merger

RETAIL (back to top)
– Green Bay-based dealer to sell guns at cost for 2 weeks

– Gas station owner shuts pumps for a day

– State backs off closing two Brookfield medians

REGULATION (back to top)
– Natural Resources Board approves fall deer hunt rules

– Ballast water vote expected

TOURISM (back to top)
– ZD Studios brings companies’ histories to life

– ‘Body Worlds’ could net $2M for Milwaukee Public Museum (2008/04/24)

– In the red, Rep revamps its season lineup

– Federal grant sought for Les Paul exhibit

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Utility lines downed in TR crash

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Fraud costs military health program $100 million-plus

– ‘Significant security hole’ in state’s senior citizen database

– House subcommittee approves funds for Green Bay veterans clinic

– CUNA Mutual Group and union make 4-year bargain

– Associated Banc-Corp will pay dividend

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Chancellor Shepard to leave UWGB

– Helping cities stay lean

– UWGB adjusts business administration courses

– Marcus completes $60M private placement

– Associated CEO: headquarters stays in Green Bay

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Carver Siewert: Roll credits for downtown dwellers, businesses not city bureaucracies

Media Partners
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Madison Magazine

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–ABC BUSINESS NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/
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