(WisBusiness) TUES News Summary — 22 July 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— About $8 million in grants the state gave to General Motors to boost worker training at its Janesville plant were tied to employment numbers the corporation has failed to maintain, which could give the state an opening to recoup the money, according to documents the state released through an open records request.

The Department of Commerce documents detail a $5.4 million grant package that requires the plant to stay at or above 3,300 hourly and salaried employees through Dec. 31, 2010. The automaker announced it will close the Janesville plant by 2010.

Published reports have pegged the plant’s employment at about 2,500 employees, though some sources have suggested it is significantly lower. A GM spokesman did not return calls seeking comment today.

Another grant worth $2.6 million that runs through the end of this year has similar criteria. The grants were provided to help the automaker with a planned $175 million overhaul to the plant and for worker training.

See story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=131647

— Workers at Mazomanie’s Synergy Web Graphics have been told by a court-appointed receiver that the company will be either be sold or closed within 60 days.

Synergy, a Minnesota-based high-volume printing company, employs about 125 workers in Mazomanie. In February 2007, it took over the former Sunny Industries printing plant that had declared bankruptcy and shut down several days before Christmas in 2006 and laid off 400 workers.

Synergy reportedly paid $7.8 million for the assets of Sunny Industries.

Dick Jones, a spokesman for the state Department of Workforce Development, said his agency had received a letter from attorney Michael Polsky, the company’s receiver, who said Synergy will close the plant and terminate employees by Sept. 19.

See story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=131627

— Milwaukee residents will have a chance to vote in November on an ordinance that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to workers, following a Common Council committee vote today.

If approved by the voters, the proposal would become law.

The ordinance came before aldermen following a successful petition drive by 9to5, National Association of Working Women. Under the state’s direct legislation law, the council must either approve the ordinance without alteration or place it on the November ballot. Committee members approved a measure to place it on the ballot and denied a resolution that would put the ordinance before the full council.

The ordinance would require employers to provide one hour of sick leave per 30 hours worked. Businesses with 10 or more employees would be required to pay up to 72 hours of leave, while those with less than 10 employees would be required to pay up to 40 hours of leave.

*See the proposed ordinance:

— Badger Meter Inc. is reporting record sales, earnings and earnings per share from continuing operations for the second quarter.

The Milwaukee-based company’s quarterly net earnings were a record $7.0 million, or 48 cents per share, up from $5.5 million, or 38 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The company’s net sales increased to $143.1 million from $114.8 million a year earlier.

See story: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2008/7/21/#badger-meter-posts-another-record-quarter


WISBUSINESS LUNCHEON: Global Warming Task Force Co-Chairs
Tuesday, August 12, 11:45 am, The Madison Club

WisBusiness.com, The Madison Club and Madison Magazine present “The Madison Business Luncheon” on Tuesday, August 12, with featured guests Global Warming Task force Chairs Roy Thilly of the Wisconsin Public Power and Tia Nelson of the Board of Public Land Commissioners.

Learn more about the Global Warming Task Force: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/

Sponsored by Xcel Energy.

This event is open to the public, and the price for lunch is $19. Call the Madison Club to register at (608) 255-4861. The luncheon starts at 11:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.



Use these links to jump directly to a news summary topic
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Press Releases
College of Engineering Will Sign Transfer Agreement with MATC
NASA Sends Wisconsin Teacher Joanne Zosel Back to School
New Midwest Airlines Schedule Retains Service to 32 Cities
Northwestern Mutual Foundation Honors 25 Top Volunteers
SBA Opens Additional Disaster Outreach Centers
Theory Meets Practice in Second Annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp
Transportation Researchers Evaluate Madison Metro Service

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


Johnson Controls buys Philadelphia firm: Johnson Controls Inc., of Glendale, said Monday that it has purchased PWI Energy, an independent global provider of energy and greenhouse gas management services in Philadelphia, for an undisclosed price. Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) said its ongoing strategy is to deepen and broaden the company’s operations in energy and greenhouse gas management services. The company, which provides facility management systems and services through its building efficiency division, provides a variety of energy and sustainability-related offerings. PWI Energy will be integrated into Johnson Controls’ Global Workplace Solutions business, which manages the real estate portfolios of global organizations with multiple facilities.

Workers struggle to navigate layoffs, uncertainty in tumultuous economy: Dyann Eding can’t tell you exactly what the economy is doing, but it sure feels lousy. A year ago, Eding lost her husband to a heart attack, widowing her with two young children. Now, with Midwest Airlines cutting 1,200 positions, Eding, 38, has to decide whether to exercise her 15 years of seniority and try to hang on, or leave and make room for one of her fellow flight attendants. “It does feel like there’s something very big going on, but I’m not sure what,” Eding said. … Last week, several iconic Milwaukee employers added to the dour employment news. Midwest Airlines is reducing its work force by 40%. Miller Brewing, after merging with Coors, is moving its headquarters to Chicago. Harley-Davidson reported a drop in quarterly income that it said would have been worse if not for earlier cuts of more than 700 jobs nationwide.

Midwest flights cut in Madison: Dane County Regional Airport will lose two of its six Midwest Connect flights a day in September, as the Milwaukee-based carrier slashes jobs and routes to save money amidst rising jet fuel costs. Midwest announced the flight cuts Monday, after announcing it would cut 1,200 jobs last week, about 40 percent of the airline’s work force. Dane County Regional Airport spokesperson Sharyn Wisniewski told The Capital Times Midwest will drop the daily non-stop flight from Madison to Kansas City, as well as one of the five daily flights from Madison to Milwaukee. “Passengers will still be able to get to Kansas City from Madison on Midwest, but will have to stop in Milwaukee first,” Wisniewski said. The cuts in service will take effect Sept. 8.

Soaring prices stunt builders: Some costs have doubled from year ago, report says… Builders who specialize in commercial construction are getting hammered by rising material costs — with little relief in sight — according to a new report from the Associated General Contractors of America, a Washington, D.C., trade group. Some costs have doubled from a year ago. Some construction projects also have been postponed or canceled because of the ailing economy and rising costs. “Surging prices for diesel fuel, asphalt, steel and other materials are clobbering construction budgets,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for the AGC, said Monday. The Producer Price Index for materials used in all types of construction, plus items such as diesel fuel, has surged more than 10% over the past 12 months.

Pact with tech college to boost UW-Madison engineering program: The College of Engineering and Madison Area Technical College (MATC) will sign an agreement Monday that will guarantee qualified MATC students admission to University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering programs. The UW System has approved a $60,000 grant for the engineering transfer program, the schools said Monday. The grant will be shared by the College of Engineering and Madison Area Technical College and will fund faculty development, advising and tutoring. “In every region of Wisconsin, business leaders will tell you they need more engineers,” UW-Madison College of Engineering dean Paul Peercy. “This transfer agreement with MATC shows high school students and others a straightforward path to an engineering degree.”

UW prof helps find link to Parkinson’s cause: A UW-Madison pharmacologist helped discover a connection between genetics of blood cells and brain cells in the cause of Parkinson’s disease that could lead to new treatments for the disorder. Parkinson’s, which affects as many as 1.5 million Americans, leads to higher levels of the alpha-synuclein protein in affected patients’ brains. The buildup of the protein creates a toxicity that kills dopamine-producing neurons and destroys nerves and muscles that control movement and coordination. The team — made up of Emery Bresnick, a professor of pharmacolgy at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and scientists from the Harvard University-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Ottawa — found that genetic mechanisms of blood cells also control a Parkinson’s disease-causing gene and protein.


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)
– Report: AT&T to modify broadband service options

– Appleton schools in line for tech grant

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Gundersen surgeons will get some help from robots

– Roche NimbleGen owner to buy out Genentech

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Schreiber Foods to close Rapids plant

– Industry mired in uncertainty

– St. Norbert, Marquette collaborate on economics program

– Midwest Airlines callers get constant busy signal

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Modine amends credit agreement

– Badger Meter 2Q profits up 29 percent

LABOR (back to top)
– State’s unemployment fund nearly drained

– Good wages available for grads

– Post-retirement benefits put squeeze on schools

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Business growth workshop July 31

INVESTING (back to top)
– Stocks open higher after Bank of America results

– Crude up on worries about Iran’s nuclear program

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– City votes to swap Nakoosa Trail land for Army property with Porchlight

– Capitol Square’s glassy US Bank Plaza set for an eco-friendly facelift

– Options open for riverfront property

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Soggy ending to Farm Technology Days doesn’t dampen family’s spirits

– State Fair Market Animal Sale to Accept Live Internet Bidding

– Fields Starting to Get Wet, Again, in Rural Wisconsin

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Midwest Connect drops two Madison flights

– Outagamie airport losing daily Midwest flight

– Midwest to ditch CWA

– Northwest Airlines adds nonstop flights from Milwaukee to L.A.

– ‘Jug handle’ design planned for Mineral Point/Junction roads

RETAIL (back to top)
– American Girl sales up 10% in second quarter

REGULATION (back to top)
– Planned bill targets Supreme Court decision on suits by homebuyers

– Required calorie counts not likely on Madison menus

TOURISM (back to top)
– Hilton Garden Inn proposed for John Nolen Drive

– Emergency tourism grants awarded

– Chasing tourism dollars

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Group launches campaign against power plant proposal

– Energy costs fuel Green Bay School District deficit

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Milwaukee’s medical helicopter service expands to Fond du Lac

– Hospitals aim for healthier food

– State committee’s proposal would tighten annuity sales rules

– La Crosse, Viroqua disaster offices to close

– IRS seeks Wisconsin veterans, senior citizens for stimulus checks

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Jefferson Wells hires Rockwell exec

– New CEO named at Lakeside Foods

– Local organizations form marketing partnership

– Smile big: Two-year degrees paying off

– High school students get a taste of business world

– Soggy summer has businesses rolling out the rain barrels

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Larry Avila: In bear market, investments the last thing you’ll want to see

Media Partners
Small Business Times
Madison Magazine

National Business Roundups ( back to top)
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–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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