From WisBusiness.com …
— Support for nuclear energy by Americans as grown significantly in the past three decades, a speaker at a UW-Madison conference on the controversial power source said Wednesday.
Likewise, opposition to nuclear power has dropped, said Ann S. Bisconti, a Maryland-based pollster who discussed her research at a Wisconsin Public Utility Institute gathering.
Bisconti, whose research was sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, said support by the public has grown from 49 percent to 64 percent since 1983, when she first conducted the poll. During the same period, opposition to nuclear power has dropped from 46 percent to 30 percent, Bisconti reported.
She said part of the reason is because Americans are concerned about global warming and view nuclear power as a relatively clean alternative.
— Madison-based Virent Energy Systems Inc. has launched a joint research and development effort with Shell to convert plant sugars directly into gasoline and gasoline blend components, rather than ethanol.
The collaboration could herald the availability of new biofuels that can be used at high blend rates in standard gasoline engines. Such a fuel could potentially eliminate the need for specialized infrastructure, new engine designs and blending equipment.
Virent’s trademarked BioForming platform technology uses catalysts to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules like those produced at a petroleum refinery. Traditionally, sugars have been fermented into ethanol and distilled.
— Madison and Brookfield rank among the “100 Best Places to Live and Launch” a new small business in a new report by CNNMoney.com and Fortune magazine.
The survey attempted to identify “towns with the best mix of business advantages and lifestyle appeal.”
Madison ranked 46th on the list and was described as a “vibrant college town” with an educated workforce. Brookfield ranked 72nd in the report and was described as a “charming suburb” that welcomes small businesses.
— A former State Bank of Cross Plains official has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for embezzling more than $500,000 over 12 years.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said that it’s unlikely anyone would understand what drove Jean Hosking to steal from the bank so consistently for so long, but she said it was a serious crime the bank could ill-afford.
The 62-year-old Mount Horeb woman admitted taking the money between 1994 and 2006. She told Crabb that she accepts full responsibility for the theft and is trying to get her life back on track.
The judge questioned bank procedures that allowed such a long period of embezzlement to go undiscovered.
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Metro-area jobs still dwindling: Metro Milwaukee lost jobs again in the latest 12-month period, signaling local fallout from the national economic downturn. The state Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that the four-county Milwaukee area lost 1,900, or 0.2%, of the jobs it had in February 2007. It was the fourth consecutive month of year-to-year job declines for the Milwaukee area – the first such skid since early 2004. “We have hit a point where we are certainly slow in terms of job growth,” said Eric Grosso, state labor market economist for the Department of Workforce Development. Wisconsin employment appears to have hit a snag beginning in the fourth quarter of 2007, after three quarters of “robust” job growth, Grosso said.
Virent, Shell extend pact: Extending a partnership that began last year, Madison-based Virent Energy Systems and oil giant Shell today announced a joint research and development effort to convert plant sugars directly into gasoline and gasoline blend components, rather than ethanol. The goal is to produce biofuels that can be used at high blend rates in standard gasoline engines, eliminating the need for specialized infrastructure, new engine designs and blending equipment. Virent’s BioForming technology uses catalysts to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules like those produced at a petroleum refinery. Traditionally, sugars have been fermented into ethanol and distilled.
Report ranks state’s health care 2nd in U.S.: Wisconsin ranked second in the nation in overall health care quality this year, losing the top spot to Minnesota in an annual report by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The state, which was No. 1 last year, consistently ranks among the top states in the country. “Overall, our state still did very well,” said Dana Richardson, vice president of quality for the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The federal agency uses a complex formula, based on 15 core measures of quality in treating common diseases, for the state scores. The measures are considered the most important and credible. Wisconsin’s overall score was 66.04 this year; Minnesota’s score was 66.96.
County reveals raft of new pension gaffes: Milwaukee County pension officials say they mistakenly overpaid former House of Correction superintendent Richard Cox and will seek a refund of more than $100,000 – one of 115 newly discovered pension payout errors. The disclosure comes in a new filing with the IRS that admits numerous systemic mistakes caused pension overpayments and underpayments from 1994 through the present. The county is seeking refunds in some cases. Necessary reviews of payouts were left undone and the county’s own pension laws were not followed in the various cases, says the IRS “voluntary correction” filing. It comes nine months after a Journal Sentinel investigation of county “buyback” pension benefits prompted a similar admission to the IRS.
More video providers apply for statewide franchise: Three more video service providers – CTC Telecom, S&K TV Systems and Western Wisconsin Communications – have applied for statewide cable franchises in Wisconsin, a consumer group said Wednesday. The providers join Charter Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable, AT&T Inc., CenturyTel and Comcast Cable, which have already applied for and received franchises from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, TV4US Wisconsin said. The cable and video service companies applied for a statewide video franchise under new legislation signed by Gov. Jim Doyle late last year. The law opens up Wisconsin’s cable market to competition by allowing companies to apply for franchises to operate in any municipality in any part of the state.
Doyle pushes clean energy: Initiative gains support from New North exec… Northeast Wisconsin is in a position to lead the nation in the development of wind energy technology, some business leaders say. “Wind energy is one of the targeted industries of the New North, and our region has an opportunity to be among the nation’s leaders in its production,” Jerry Murphy, executive director of the New North Inc., said. There are nearly three dozen businesses in the New North’s 18-county service area that can produce components for wind turbines. Murphy’s remarks follow those made by Gov. Jim Doyle, who was at The Boldt Co. headquarters on Wednesday discussing his Clean Energy Wisconsin initiative.
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TECHNOLOGY (back to top)
– API acquires patient classification software
– Facing up to digital TV divide
– GTC gets $100,000 grant for job training
– Piracy concerns raised in hearing
– TomoTherapy issues product challenge
– Sugar-fuel idea simmers
ECONOMY (back to top)
– New housing report fits a gloomy trend
– WSJ: Clear Channel’s buyout close to collapse
MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Illinois Tool Works to release earnings
LABOR (back to top)
– Milwaukee-area unemployment at 5.5 percent
– Appleton jobless rate up a bit
– Racine’s jobless rate rose in February
– For less-educated workers, good jobs will be harder to find
SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Green Bay meat market rebounds from fire
– Stocks retreat after report shows drop in orders of big-ticket merchandise
– Proposal is for lakefront condos, hotel, restaurant
– University project pushes donors’ limits
AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Wisconsin Young Farmers to Visit Washington D.C.
– State Dairy Herd Count Now Totals 13,918
– Cow/calf seminar set for April 3 in Marinette County
– Transit money could be rescued
– Northwest’s progress runs into turbulence
– Ice on Green Bay delays annual migration
– Shopko grand opening in Suamico begins Friday
– Saz’s to host Milwaukee Mile’s hospitality venue
– Marcus to buy seven Nebraska theaters
– Board approves VHS rule changes
– N.Y. county seeks to ban guns from Chippewa Falls company
– Power plant pays off for Port Washington
HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– New mental health center takes big step toward reality
– Rice Management drops bid for Franciscan Care
– Bikers, helmet advocates debate medical costs of injured riders to taxpayers
– Health care offers new challenge for Oshkosh man
– Rise in diagnoses of disabilities reported
FINANCIAL SERVICES (back to top)
– Contractors fend for selves when it comes to insurance
– Financial program to be held Saturday
– Panel backs arts facility for Garver mill
– ThedaCare’s ‘Party at the PAC’ planned
– Bank official gets nearly 3 years in prison for taking $500,000
– M Magazine merging editions
– Middleton Doll chief Bando says auditors ‘doubt’ firm’s future
BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Mike Ivey: Why not Madison-style South By Southwest?
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