(WisBusiness) THURS News Summary — 6 March 2008

&From WisBusiness.com …

— Wisconsin foreclosure filings continue at escalated levels, according to newly released data compiled by ForeclosuresWI.com.

Badger State foreclosures in February totalled 2,800 and were up 34 percent over the same month in 2007, the company said. They have increased 70 percent over the last three years, rising from 12,311 in 2005 to 20,995 in 2007.

“These numbers are staggering,” said Robert Jansen, president of ForeclosuresWI.com.

“We expect foreclosures to remain at escalated levels well into 2008, with some experts not predicting a housing market recovery until 2010.” said Jansen.

Leading the state in the number of February filings, Milwaukee County foreclosures are over 33 percent higher compared to February 2007 (525 vs.393).

— Badger State business leaders often bemoan the lack of skilled, high-tech workers.

To help relieve that shortage, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman kicked off a new program today to train biotech employees.

The so-called Emerging Skills Partnership will train 60 workers and is being run by the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, explained Gassman, who spoke at Third Wave Technologies, a Madison molecular diagnostics firm.

See the full story at WisBusiness.com

— Wisconsin’s unemployment rate moved up in January, with the unadjusted jobless figure increasing to 5.5 percent, a gain of 0.9 percent over December.

According to local unemployment data released Wednesday, the Madison area had the lowest metropolitan unemployment rate for January at at 3.9 percent, followed by La Crosse at 4.7 percent. Racine had the highest rate at 6.6 percent. Overall, when the latest rates are compared to those of January 2007, four metro areas had lower rates this year, six recorded higher rates, and two saw no change in their rates.

The state unemployment rate was slightly above the federal figure of 5.4 percent. Last month, the Wisconsin unemployment rate trailed the national rate by 0.2 percent.

Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman called the rising jobless numbers “fairly typical” for this time of year. She cited the harsh winter weather, school breaks and the “usual dip in seasonal retail employment.

See release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=120019

Branko Terzic, a former member of the state Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has contributed a chapter on energy to a new book titled “The World Crisis: The Way Ahead After Iraq.”

See details: http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Crisis-Ahead-After-Iraq/dp/1845298705/

— The Rock Bottom Brewery’s location on Milwaukee’s Riverwalk will be the site of the Bronze Fonz statue of the popular “Happy Days” character.

Supporters announced the location of the life-size statue this afternoon.
The Fonzie will be erected on the south end of Rock Bottom’s outdoor seating area (on the west side of the river, just south of Wells Street) and set against the backdrop of the Milwaukee River.

See story: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2008/3/5/#the-bronze-fonz-will-be-located-at-rock-bottom-brewery




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Press Releases
Appleton to Release Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007 Financial Results
Fortune Ranks Johnson Controls #1 For Third Consecutive Year
Governor Doyle Seeks Nominations for Pulp and Paper Energy Efficiency Award
Governor Doyle Unveils Wisconsin’s New Brand Platform
January 2008 Local Unemployment Rates Announced
Milwaukee CFOs Forecast Increase in Second-Quarter Hiring
Sajan Innovates With Release of Language Translation Search Technology
Secretary Gassman Announces Grow Grant, Launches Training Initiative to Meet Demand for Skilled Workers in Biotech Industry
State foreclosure rate remains high
UW-Whitewater accepting nominations for Environmental Achievement Award
Wisconsin Energy Named One of the 15 Best Corporate Citizens by Corporate Responsibility Officer Magazine

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


GM-Janesville will have shorter shifts because of parts strike: More than 2,200 hourly workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Janesville will start working shorter shifts next week as a result of the strike at American Axle and Manufacturing, a key parts supplier. Because of a dwindling parts supply, GM-Janesville workers on both shifts will work five-hour shifts next week. Nearly 200 salaried employees are expected to report for a full shift, however. The Janesville plant makes Chevrolet Tahoes and Suburbans and GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicles. Five other GM assembly plants and another that builds GM vehicles under contract have been affected by the American Axle strike.

Thomson stem cell firm signs deal with Roche unit: A company formed by UW-Madison stem cell pioneer Jamie Thomson today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Roche Palo Alto, one of pharmaceutical giant Roche’s five research facilities, to test candidate drug compounds for cardiotoxicity, or damage to heart tissue. Under the agreement, Roche will supply Madison-based Cellular Dynamics International Inc. with two sets of 25 well-characterized drug compounds to validate CDI’s current toxicology products and services. CDI will test those compounds using human cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells in cytotoxicity and electrical physiology.

Smithfield Beef Group acquired by Brazilian company: $565 million deal makes JBS S.A. the largest U.S. meat processor… Employment and facility changes are not expected in the short term for a Green Bay meatpacker in the wake of its announced sale to a Brazilian company. Smithfield Foods and JBS S.A. on Wednesday announced the sale of Smithfield Beef Group — headquartered in Green Bay — for $565 million. “Final details of this agreement are still being worked on, but we understand that JBS plans to operate the group as a stand-alone entity, and it would seem that all the facilities and employees will be needed to keep operations running,” said Lyndsey Estin, a spokeswoman for the Smithfield, in a statement.

Madison posts net increase in jobs: Unemployment rate in Milwaukee area swells to 5.3%… Employment data the state released Wednesday showed a familiar tale of two cities. While employers in the four-county Milwaukee area had a net loss of 1,800 jobs in the last year, the Madison area gained 2,100. The Milwaukee-area unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in January from 5.1% the year before. Madison’s was unchanged at 3.9%, which, as usual, was the lowest among the state’s 12 metro areas. Preliminary data from the state Department of Workforce Development put Milwaukee among six state metropolitan areas with a net loss of jobs since January 2007.

Hospitals look to refinance debt load: Central Wisconsin hospital system officials are working to quell the effects of high interest rates paid on debt financed through bonds that are spiking as a result of the current U.S. economic climate. Ministry Health Care will have to find an extra $700,000 a month to pay increased interest on bonds used to fund the building of Saint Clare’s Hospital and for other projects until it can refinance its debt, said Steven Umland, the system’s chief financial officer. Aspirus is refinancing $45 million in bonds after one auction failed, triggering an 18 percent interest rate, said Sid Sczygelski, chief financial officer at Aspirus.


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)
– Regaining leadership in innovation

– Student’s solar vision

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Metronomes used in cardiac care

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Smithfield sold in $565 million deal

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Strike affects GM workers in Janesville

LABOR (back to top)
– Appleton area jobless rate up

– Milwaukee metro unemployment rises to 5.3 percent

– Unemployment picture not pretty according to state department

– American Axle says talks to resume with striking UAW workers

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Luxuries redux Specialty shop returns to State Street roots

– Rustic Rail reopens as Black Forest

INVESTING (back to top)
– Famous Footwear 4Q earnings drop

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Foreclosure filings climb higher from last year’s misery

– Developer asks for rezoning of Lied’s land

– Only 5 downtown condos have buyers in rare auction

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Wisconsin Grain Prices, Steer Prices Up

– Gypsy Moth Treatments Proposed For 13 Counties

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Dispute over bus stops may increase fees

– Carver Yacht Group wins Best of Year award

– DOT bumps highway resurfacing project back another year

RETAIL (back to top)
– Neenah grabs slice of Valley hotel scene

– Shopko announces new Iowa store

– Kohl’s to add Avril Lavigne juniors line

REGULATION (back to top)
– City pores over bartender license process

– Anti-smoking legislation ‘Basic democracy’ says Doyle

– Assembly approves fire-safe cigarettes

– State bill would ban wineries from selling to retailers

– Electrician Licensing Bill Signed into Law by Governor Doyle

TOURISM (back to top)
– Hey, express yourself, you’re in Wisconsin!

– Fonzie to have a new hangout

– Bowling board to meet Sunday

UTILITIES (back to top)
– WPS shut down 2 coal generators at end of ’07

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Legislature unlikely to pass health care reforms this year

– Children’s Hospital seeks new leader

– M&I names new mortgage banking officer

– Are credit unions true to their mission?

– Few people calling program that helps refinance loans

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Companies vie for business plan awards

– Mercury Marine execs take on more roles

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Eric Gwinn: Buzzworthy, or buzzkill?

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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