(WisBusiness) TUES News Summary — 15 July 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— General Motors Corp. said this morning it will lay off salaried workers, cut truck production, suspend its dividend and borrow $2 billion to $3 billion to weather a severe downturn in the U.S. market.

GM said the moves will raise $15 billion to help cover losses and turn around its North American operations.

See story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080715/ap_on_bi_ge/gm_restructuring

— Former UW-Madison baseball player and law school grad Pepi Randolph sees his three years as president of Forward Wisconsin as good preparation for expanding the business reach of the Potawatomi tribe.

“What I’m doing here is kind of a continuation of what I did at Forward,” said Randolph, vice president for the national sales and marketing department of the Potawatomi Business Development Corp.

“I’m really kind of the connect-the-dots guy for the PBDC,” said Randolph, who traveled to India last month looking for opportunities for the tribe’s architectural design firm. He noted that Glendale-based Johnson Controls has nine offices and more than 450 employees in India.

See story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=131044

— The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will receive $300,000 in federal funds to help establish a research and business mentoring facility to promote the area’s freshwater and water-related industry, part of the school’s Great Lakes WATER Institute.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, said the money for the project was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee late last week. Kohl made the announcement Monday at the Water Summit II, a meeting of Milwaukee freshwater business leaders, experts, scientists and researchers, along with members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and Milwaukee 7.

“The freshwater industry holds tremendous promise and potential for the city of Milwaukee, and the surrounding area, in terms of economic and job growth,” Kohl said. “With these funds, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a freshwater research leader, can help establish this new facility that will help businesses grow and secure the city’s place as a global capital of this vital industry.”

See the release:

— The summit was titled “Our Water Innovation Economy: Growing a Blue Business in a Green World” and featured a keynote address by Frederick Dubee, senior adviser with the UN Global Compact Program.

Dubee told the roughly 200 attendees Milwaukee has “tremendous potential” to be a hub of a set of networks around the world that will provide an opportunity to share research between other people, cities, regions and governments interested in freshwater research, education and business.

Dubee said a goal of the UN is to make sure that all 6 billion people in the world have access to clean water and sanitation and discussed how problems in one part of the world can affect things globally.

Milwaukee’s goal to become a global capital for freshwater research, economic development and education and its participation in the Global Compact Cities Program “is a clear indication that Milwaukee has understood the reality and the value of interdependence,” Dubee said.

— During a panel discussion following Dubee’s address, DNR Secretary Matt Frank said the state is at a crossroads with water today that is similar to about a century ago, when the state made a conscious decision to focus on dairy.

Frank noted that Wisconsin is located on two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River and has many companies that work in the areas of environmental protection, water quality and water conservation.

“We have really a great base to build on,” Frank said.

Commerce Secretary Jack Fischer said the state is no longer competing with Iowa, Michigan or Illinois, but “we truly are competing with regions of the world.”

Fischer said Wisconsin is able to be competitive due to its quality workforce, competitive business costs, a thriving life sciences sector and top research facilities.

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago discussed the importance of creating a facility to showcase the work of the university’s WATER Institute and the need for researchers to have a new research vessel.

Santiago, who is ending his fourth year as chancellor today, admitted he has not yet achieved his goal of increasing the university’s size, has built no new research facilities and has yet to have hired substantially more faculty in science and engineering.

“I’m fortunate that this is a community that is very patient,” Santiago quipped.

“What we have done more than anything else is espouse a vision,” Santiago said, reiterating his goal to turn UW-Milwaukee into a research university focused on biomedical engineering, advanced manufacturing, health and public health, and water.

“We are moving an initiative forward that I believe will capture the imagination of many, many others and the resources will come. In many respects, what we’ve been doing the last four years is the hard part, it’s changing culture. It’s getting people to see things a little differently. It’s getting the university aligned with the business that is coming together.”

— Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp is reporting net income of $47.4 million, or 37 cents per share, for the second quarter of 2008, down from $75.8 million, or 59 cents per share, for the second quarter of 2007 and down from net income of $66.5 million, or 52 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2008.

For the first half of the year net income was $113.8 million, or 89 cents per share, down from net income of $149.2 million, or $1.16 per share for the first half of 2007.

The company said that its provision for loan losses increased to $59 million during the second quarter, up from $23 million during the first quarter. Net charge offs were $37 million for the second quarter, compared to $16 million for the first quarter.

See story: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2008/7/14/#associated-bank-reports-lower-net-income-on-housing-related-loan-losses



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Press Releases
Aurora St. Luke’s Named to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospital Rankings
EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service Express Concern over Alliant’s Proposed Coal Plant
Green Bay Speaks; Entire City Surveyed; Wants Favre Back, But Should He Start?
Johnson Controls and IBM Develop Software Solution to Help Data Center Management
Kohl Directs $300,000 to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Boost Freshwater Industry
Legal Aid Offices in Midwest Helping Clients Displaced by Flooding
Planet Updates ID System for 78-Year-Old Globe Company
Research Apprenticeship Program Offers an Early Taste of the Field of Medicine
Rural Wisconsin high school students get hands-on learning experience with human embryonic stem cells from top UW–Madison researchers
SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center Opens in Vernon County, Wisconsin
Scattered Nature of Wisconsin’s Woodlands Could Complicate Forests’ Response to Climate Change
Using Mediasite for Lecture Capture Found to Enhance Student Performance at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

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


Midwest Airlines to cut 1,200 jobs: Tina Swenson was 20 when she started working at Midwest Airlines as a ticket agent before eventually taking to the skies as a flight attendant. But, after 16 years at the airline, Swenson on Monday was looking at the “help wanted” ads. She may be among the 1,200 employees at Midwest Air Group Inc. who will be losing their jobs by mid-September. “Jobs are hard to find,” said Swenson, whose boyfriend also works at Oak Creek-based Midwest Air, which operates Midwest Airlines and the Midwest Connect regional carrier. That’s especially true for airline positions. On Monday, Midwest became the latest carrier to announce major job cuts, as soaring prices for jet fuel, coupled with a drop in air travel, puts airlines in a squeeze. The industry’s response has been to cut unprofitable routes, and that means fewer pilots, flight attendants, ground crews, mechanics and other employees.

Wisconsin banks remain sound, experts say: IndyMac Bank probably won’t be last financial institution in the U.S. to fail this year as the housing slump drags on, industry experts say, but they don’t foresee banks in Wisconsin going under. Although the earnings and stock prices of many Wisconsin-based banks are taking their lumps during the prolonged downturn in residential real estate, banks here generally had stayed away from subprime mortgage lending. In addition, Wisconsin hasn’t had the kind of extreme real estate market volatility that has undermined property values and collateral in places like California, Arizona and Florida, they said. “I don’t see any potential failures,” John E. Rickmeier, president of IDC Financial Publishing Inc., a Hartland firm that analyzes the soundness of financial institutions nationwide, said of Wisconsin banks.

Corn crop bouncing back from storms: Wisconsin crops continue to recover from heavy summer rains, at least in some parts of the state, according to the weekly Crop Progress Report. “Corn continued to show improvement with the average corn height reported at 45 inches, and just starting to tassel,” this week’s report said. Corn in some counties — such as Dane where 6.53 inches of rain fell last week, and Rock which was also hard hit by rain — reported more flooding in fields. Still, corn conditions were reported as 3 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 53 percent good and 17 percent excellent across the state. The heavy rains mean most all areas of the state report adequate or surplus soil moisture conditions, with 3 percent reporting moisture content very short and 13 percent short, while 84 percent report adequate or surplus moisture conditions.

Tomo Therapy spinoff to delve into proton technology: Compact Particle Acceleration Corp. to focus on reducing devices’ size… TomoTherapy Inc. has spun off a separate company to handle development of a new system that could dramatically change the business of radiating cancer tumors. Compact Particle Acceleration Corp. was formed in April to bring to market a proton therapy system based on a technology developed at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The system would be small enough to fit into a standard radiation room rather than the football field-sized facilities required by the few existing proton therapy centers in the U.S. Compact Particle already has raised money from angel investors and hopes to complete a $13 million funding round by the end of September, said Shawn Guse, the spinoff’s chief executive officer and TomoTherapy’s general counsel.

Exports boost Koss sales, but profits sag: Stereo headphone marketer Koss Corp. said a 39 percent jump in shipments to Europe led a fourth-quarter sales increase of 10 percent, but the firm’s net income declined 11 percent because of rising expenses. Milwaukee-based Koss (NASDAQ: KOSS) said Monday afternoon that net income was $1.3 million, or 34 cents per share, compared with $1.4 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter ending June 30 was $12.2 million, compared with $11.1 million in the same quarter a year ago. “We are extremely pleased with the sales performance of the final quarter of our fiscal year,” said president and CEO Michael Koss. The shipments to Europe helped make 2008 the second best revenue year in the company’s history, Koss said.


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)
– Software company Ipswitch expands Madison offices

– Companies plug into video conferencing

– Apple sells 1 million 3G iPhones in first three days

– DISH set to launch 17 new HD channels

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Biofuels plan wins grant

– Now vs. ’69: Technology explodes down on farm

– Farm Technology Days Kicks-Off in Brown County

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Gas prices keep going up

– Anheuser-Busch agrees to sell to InBev for $49.9B

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– General Motors to announce more cuts

LABOR (back to top)
– Midwest to cut 1,200 jobs

– TNT Crust settles hiring case

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Foodies go crackers for Potter’s

– Shop is a shade different than modern

INVESTING (back to top)
– Stocks open higher on plan to aid Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– La Crosse banker: Mortgage lending crisis has minimal local impact

– Nine Eau Claire homes for $1 each

– Cousins Center sale to Stritch in works

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– State farmers can join carbon credit program

– Wisconsin Tops Nation in Mink Pelt, Kits & Number of Farms

– Arlington Dairy Research Facility Dedication Set for July 30

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Midwest job cuts shouldn’t affect Dane County airport

– Austin Straubel to get funding for work

– UW wants custom bus shelters at a cost of $10,000 a piece

– Temporary train bridges proposed for flood control project

RETAIL (back to top)
– Best Buy opening kicks off big-box boom here

– Site plan for state’s first Sonic approved

– Shorewood residents to get reusable shopping bags delivered at home

REGULATION (back to top)
– Middleton council may decide on smoking ban

– Madison facing tough budget cuts; layoffs, programs cuts possible

TOURISM (back to top)
– Fundraising effort hopes to get a railway museum in North Freedom back on track

– Harley-Davidson Museum draws crowds for grand opening weekend

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Hearing set on nuclear report

– Residents cope with well contamination

– State wants input on surface water quality

– Milwaukee called upon to launch water initiatives

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Campaign pushes for health-care reform

– Hospital president lauds DeBakey for surgical advances

– Mental health move too costly, report says

– Fannie-Freddie rescue plan puts taxpayers on the hook

– Official says Wisconsin banks safe

– Housing, real estate woes sink Associated’s 2Q profit

– Flood disaster registrations increasing

– What if your bank fails?

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Spectrum brands terminates sale of pet unit

– MSOE to expand Waukesha degree offerings

– Stepp: More government control is not the answer to Fannie-Freddie struggle

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Arlen Boardman: Investors should be ready to face long bear market

Media Partners
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National Business Roundups ( back to top)
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–ABC BUSINESS NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/
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