(WisBusiness) TUES News Summary — 3 June 2006

From WisBusiness.com …

— General Motors announced this morning that it plans to close its Janesville assembly plant and three other facilities by the end of 2010.

Company officials said that that it will close four truck and sport utility vehicle plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico as surging fuel prices hasten a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles.

Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner’s announcement detailed company’s restructuring plans comes shortly before GM’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Wilmington, Del. Wagoner cited higher gas prices for a decline in demand for pickup trucks and SUVs for the planned closures. The Janesville plant produces large-sized SUVS.

See story: http://www.channel3000.com/news/16464398/detail.html

— Conn-Selmer Inc. has announced it will shut down its French horn manufacturing plant in Elkhorn within 60 days to improve production efficiencies. Roughly 70 people will lose their jobs when manufacturing at the facility is moved to Ohio.

The company said severance packages will be offered to Elkhorn employees and that some will be offered transfers to the Ohio plant. The company said it will incur charges of $1.3 to $1.7 million in connection with the plant closure. Conn-Selmer is a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments.

See the release:

— New Public Service Commission Chair Eric Callisto has selected Nate Zolik, chief legal counsel for Doyle, to replace him as executive assistant at the agency.

Gov. Jim Doyle elevated Callisto from EA to chair to replace Dan Ebert, who left the agency.

Zolik practiced law in New York prior to joining Doyle’s staff in 2004. He’ll join the PSC June 16, according to an e-mail Callisto sent to PSC staff this morning.

— Non-partisan legislative analysts say property taxes for the typical Wisconsin home went up 3.8 percent for 2007 over ’06.

That amounts to an increase of $105, according to an analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Property tax bills had much smaller gains the previous two years under state-imposed limits included in the 2005-07 state budget. The net increase for the typical bill for 2006 was $3 and $24 for 2005, according to the LFB.

The LFB estimate was based on a statewide average for tax rates applied to the state’s median-valued home worth $170,305. The LFB also estimated the value of that home increased 3.8 percent in 2007 compared to the year before. After the school tax levy and lottery and gaming credits were figured in, the bill on that home was $2,838 for 2007.

Gov. Jim Doyle loosened property tax limits for the 2007 bills in the two-year budget he signed last fall, citing the delay in reaching a deal. For this year, municipalities will be under a state-imposed limit of 2 percent or growth, whichever is greater.

Doyle budget director Dave Schmiedicke said the limits for the 2008 bills are expected to produce an increase of about $18 for the median-valued home.

“When you look at the four of those years together, it’s going to be some pretty tight limits in the growth on property taxes,” he said.

Because of the delay in reaching a budget agreement last year, lawmakers and the guv missed a deadline to pump additional state money into the school aid formula to ease schools’ reliance on property taxes. Instead, they put additional money into the school levy tax credit.

While that credit increased compared to the year before, it was offset partially by a drop in lottery and gaming tax credit payments, according to LFB.

Spokesmen for Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, didn’t return calls from WisPolitics by press time.



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Press Releases
Cassville’s E.J. Stoneman Coal Plant to be Converted to Burn 100 Percent Wood Waste
Chrysler LLC Has Immediate Openings to Hire Temporary and Part-Time Employees at Two Wisconsin Locations
Conn-Selmer to Close Elkhorn Facility
Direct Response Forum Publishes Agenda for Annual Conference
EPA: New Tool Will Help Keep More Great Lakes Beaches Open
Fortune 500 CEO: “You can be just as competitive here as anywhere else in the world”
Governor Doyle Signs State Employee Contracts Into Law
House Passes Baldwin Crane Conservation Act
Jeff Bailet, M.D., Appointed to American Medical Association’s Advisory Committee
Johnson Controls Increases Disaster Relief Assistance to China
Lake Mills Resident Joins the Next Generation of Business Leaders
M&I Bank Promotes Walt A. Buckhanan to Senior Vice President
MadiSUN Initiative Seeks to Double Madison’s Use of Solar Energy
Pro football legend and world champion puts a face on protecting brain cells and fighting the diseases of aging.
Regal Beloit Attends the KeyBanc Capital Markets’ 7th Annual Industrial, Automotive & Transportation Investment Conference
Serves as a Model for Responsible Energy Production and Fuels Debate over Proposed Plant
Statewide task force to inspect newly registered commercial motor vehicle companies’ compliance with truck safety regulations
TDS receives United WayAward for Volunteerism
The Manitowoc Company to Present at J. P. Morgan Basics & Industrials Conference
UW-Madison Students Design ‘Disaster’ for Wisconsin Rescue Training Facility
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Selects Autodesk 3-D Design Tools for Road and Highway Design

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


GM will shutter Janesville plant: General Motors was expected to announce today it will close its plant in Janesville in an effort to restructure production of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. First-shift workers were to learn of the decision at an employee meeting this morning. The Janesville plant, one of four GM plans to shutter, is scheduled to continue building Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes and GMC Yukon XLs and Yukons until December 2010. But whether the local plant lives that long is dependent on a large truck market that’s been hammered by high gas prices and other economic woes. The Janesville plant employs about 2,400 hourly and 200 salaried workers. Earlier this year, GM announced plans to eliminate the second shift and 756 jobs in Janesville starting in July.

Trucking company downsizes: WH Transportation Co. has plans to lay off 340 employees from its operations in Wisconsin, Ohio and Georgia, citing rising fuel expenses. The company, which expanded into the van freight business in the 1980s, will focus on delivering housing components for its sister companies Wausau Homes and Sterling Building Systems. In addition, it will deliver general flatbed freight for other customers. “Everyone’s costs, especially fuel, continue to increase, and the industry cannot raise rates sufficiently to cover the increases due to the national economic downturn,” Tom Schuette, the company’s co-owner, said in a news release. “The flatbed business is the best business for us to be in.” Schuette declined to elaborate Monday about the company’s decision to downsize, according to an employee at Wausau Homes.

Class-action suit filed against TomoTherapy: A 32 percent plunge in TomoTherapy’s stock price in April, after the Madison radiation therapy device maker announced substantially lower first quarter 2008 sales and revenue projections, has prompted an investor to file a class-action lawsuit. According to the complaint filed Friday in federal court: In February, Tomo reported a record $248 million in backorders for its multi-unit Hi-Art Systems, a 51 percent increase from the fourth quarter in 2006. Tomo also reported new sales orders of $92 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, a 25 percent increase from fourth quarter 2006. On April 17, Tomo disclosed that First Quarter revenues would fall 24 percent to $39 million and it would have First Quarter net loss of $0.12 per diluted shared compared to a net income of $0.12 a year ago.

Beef plant may move to Nekoosa: A cooperative that once sought to build a beef-processing plant in Wisconsin Rapids now has its sights on the Nekoosa industrial park. With 500 people seeking jobs after Domtar shuts down its Port Edwards mill by the end of this month, officials are looking at the possibility of allowing Quality Beef Producers’ Cooperative to build in the park. “We owe it to displaced workers to thoroughly investigate a company that would create 130 jobs in the community,” Nekoosa Mayor Gordon Freeman said. “If there’s a chance that this would help that situation, we really need to look at it.” While city officials have not yet found any negative aspects about the project, Freeman said the city will not sacrifice quality of life — no matter how big the business might be.

Report finds home prices up only in Milwaukee: Milwaukee was the only one of 25 major cities where home prices rose from year-ago levels, according to a monthly report from real estate data firm Radar Logic. Radar Logic measures housing prices on a per-square foot basis, and says prices in the Milwaukee area rose 2.8 percent in March from a year ago, to $115.24 per square foot. Radar Logic tracks 25 metropolitan areas. Prices rose only in Milwaukee and were unchanged in Charlotte, N.C. The report says year-over-year housing prices in New York City declined for the first time since it began tracking the market in 2000, falling 4.7 percent.

Taste of Rockies, Milwaukee-style: Coors Light could be brewed at Miller to cut shipping cost… Coors Light, which bills itself as refreshment “as cold as the Rockies,” could soon be brewed from water as cold as Lake Michigan. Miller Brewing Co. and Coors Brewing Co. officials confirmed Monday that Coors Light could be brewed at Miller’s Milwaukee brewery after the planned joint venture between the two companies becomes official. That move will create more work for the local brewery, which has about 800 employees. It also will cut shipping costs for Coors Light, which accounts for 72% of Coors Brewing’s sales volume. Other Coors brands also could be brewed in Milwaukee and at Miller’s five other large breweries in Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and California, Miller spokesman Pete Marino said Monday.

Monona smoking ban OK’d, will go in effect June 1, 2009: Monona will go smoke-free on June 1, 2009. The City Council voted 5-1 Monday night, with Ald. Jeff Wiswell dissenting, to ban smoking on that date in all indoor public places and workplaces. Monona becomes the seventh Wisconsin community to ban public smoking. Others include Appleton, Shorewood Hills, Menomonie, Madison, Eau Claire and Beloit. Ashland, Fitchburg, Janesville, Kenosha, Oshkosh, and Wauwatosa less broadly prohibit smoking in restaurants. A proposed statewide ban failed in the state Assembly in March. The Monona ban will include private homes where child care, adult day care or health care is provided.


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)
– Extreme Networks wins suit against Enterasys

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Madison grapples with green

ECONOMY (back to top)
– GM to close Janesville plant

– Aggressive tactics urged for city

– Going green seen as job aid

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– GM’s Wagoner may build more cars, fewer trucks as fuel soars

– Manufacturing shrinks for fourth month in a row

– Manufacturer plans shop groundbreaking

– Promise of gold nearer to reality

LABOR (back to top)
– Conn-Selmer to close Elkhorn plant

– Governor signs Wisconsin worker contracts

– Sub-Zero lays off 27 salaried employees

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– New African restaurant to open; “Sustainaburger” debuts

– Restaurant a family affair

INVESTING (back to top)
– Dow down on weak economy

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Questions being raised about lake ownership

– Housing market stable in Marshfield

– Prices for real estate rise over past year

– Foreclosure rate in area rises sharply

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Crop report: Warm days needed

– Milk Prices Heading Back Up During Dairy Month

– Wisconsin Commodity Price Changes Mixed in May

– Crop Report Shows Corn & Oats Nearly All Planted

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Gas cost down here, up nationally

– Fox Valley workers look to trim gas costs

– Federal government OKs eight lanes for I-94

– Commuter buses fill more seats

RETAIL (back to top)
– New Honda dealership in works on far east side

– State-of-the-art Copps opens in Manitowoc

– Bud distributor to promote Milwaukee Mile

REGULATION (back to top)
– U.S. companies to label beef bound for South Korea

– State property taxes up 3.8%

TOURISM (back to top)
– State’s scenic areas topic of seminar

– Point seeks new home for museum

– Three Rivers hotel gets warm reception

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Alliant buys 300 wind turbines from Vestas

– Cassville coal plant to convert to burning wood waste

– MGE aims to place wind turbine in Fitchburg park

– Electricity line project approved

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– State to launch senior care program

– Health organization to expand

– Public to have chance to comment on state Unemployment Insurance program

– UW System schools seeking money for vet benefits

– Fund changes name to Eagle Capital

– Analysts see JPMorgan Chase as suitor for Wachovia

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– James Steinhafel: Ex-president was devoted to family, its business

– Airport ‘Gateway’ project gets executive director

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Arlen Boardman column: America will have to find own relief from energy

– Mick Hager: ‘Big box’ stores may fall short in service

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