(WisBusiness) TUES News Summary — 4 Nov. 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— UW-Madison Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin declared Monday that the university was a statewide economic driver that could do even more to foster small and big businesses alike during tough times.

Martin called the financial stress facing the state “unprecedented” but said that cutting the UW too much in the next budget would diminish the university’s stature and harm economic development in the long term.

“Given the massive investments that are being made in higher education around the world, including in this country, it will be very, very difficult to sustain and enhance our stature, but I think its absolutely necessary,” Martin said. “With relatively modest investment compared to what’s being made elsewhere, we can keep a university great that’s already great.”

See more from Monday’s WisBusiness luncheon with Martin:

— With the stock market swinging wildly in recent weeks and losing more than 20 percent of its value since the summer, these are trying times for pension fund managers.

On the last day of September, in fact, the value of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board’s (SWIB) holdings — which now total nearly $73 billion — fell by a whopping $3 billion. The next day, however, it gained some of that loss back.

Keith Bozarth, executive director of SWIB, said in a recent interview he believes the board’s long-term focus can manage the market’s volatility and that the SWIB may actually be able to scoop up bargains in the form of strong companies with distressed shares.

Bozarth said he believes the market will eventually bounce back and that Wisconsin public retirees shouldn’t worry about their pension checks because the fund is well-supported for many years into the future.

“There is no question about whether people will receive monthly checks or not,” he said.

The checks will be there, but after this interview with Bozarth came news that pension payouts to retired government workers could drop by 1 percent to 3 percent starting in May 2009. The final numbers, which will be based on overall 2008 performance, won’t be calculated until early in January.

See more in a new WisBusiness interview with Bozarth:

— Lorman Education Services has filed notice with the state about 50 permanent layoffs at its Eau Claire location effective Dec. 30.

See the company’s filing:

— In a surprise announcement Monday, Dairyland Power Cooperative officials said they have suspended plans for a coal ash landfill in Vernon County.

Officials said the cooperative instead will burn a modified coal blend that produces less byproduct requiring disposal at its Genoa plant.

Dairyland’s plans for a landfill had sparked opposition among many people in Vernon County. Groups opposing the landfill had been raising funds for what looked like an inevitable legal battle over the plans.

See full story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.Iml?Article=140755

— The Milwaukee-area’s second-largest bank, U.S. Bancorp, plans to join the ranks of big banks swapping preferred stock for capital under the U.S. Treasury Department’s financial rescue program.

The Minneapolis bank said Monday it has received preliminary approval for the sale of $6.6 billion of preferred stock and related warrants to the U.S. Treasury.

See story: http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2008/11/03/daily9.html



**NOV. 18: A post-election look at where the state economy is heading**

Discovery World


7:30-9 a.m.

Featuring: Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel, former Commerce Secretary Cory L. Nettles of Quarles & Brady, Competitive Wisconsin Director and former Commerce Secretary William McCoshen, state Sen. Ted Kanavas, a member of the Senate committee on economic development, and UW-Madison political scientist Ken Goldstein.

Moderated by Mike Gousha of the Marquette Law School and host of “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”

Presented by WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness in cooperation with Competitive Wisconsin, MMAC and Discovery World. Quarles & Brady is an initial sponsor of the event.

See details: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=139211




Use these links to jump directly to a news summary topic
Technology | Biotech | Economy | Manufacturing | Labor | Small Business | Investing | Real Estate | Agribusiness | Transportation | Retail | Regulation | Tourism | Utilities | Health Care | Financial Services | Management | Business Columns |

Press Releases
· Dairyland Power Cooperative: Dairyland suspends plans for disposal site
· Plum Creek: Plum Creek named to Dow Jones Sustainability World Index
· Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance: Number of E-85 pumps in Wisconsin to grow

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


GM sales tumbled 45% in October; Chevy Suburban sales down 70% : Consumer worries about keeping their jobs and the plight of their retirement plans kept them from buying cars last month, driving the U.S. auto industry into what one executive termed a “severe, severe recession.” The unusually steep drop – at least 32% industrywide – left Detroit executives searching for words to describe how bad it was. The words they chose: carnage, horrific, breathtaking and unprecedented. “Clearly we’re in a very dire situation,” said Mike DiGiovanni, GM executive director of global market and industry analysis.

AQS buys assets from ISO Insurance: AQS Inc., a Hartland provider of policy administration systems for commercial property and casualty insurance, said Monday that it has purchased the assets and personnel of the AscendantOne Policy Management Suite from ISO Insurance Technology Solutions of Nashua, N.H.

U.S. Bancorp will get $6.6B from bank-rescue plan: The Milwaukee-area’s second-largest bank, U.S. Bancorp, plans to join the ranks of big banks swapping preferred stock for capital under the U.S. Treasury Department’s financial rescue program. The Minneapolis bank said Monday it has received preliminary approval for the sale of $6.6 billion of preferred stock and related warrants to the U.S. Treasury.

Circuit City to close 155 stores: Electronics retailer Circuit City is closing 155 stores across the country, including one store in Milwaukee, but the two Madison stores are expected to remain open. The second-largest electronics retailer in the country behind Best Buy is closing about 17 percent of its 700 stores so it can return to profitability, according to a story Monday by the Associated Press.


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

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Mexican professors gain microbiology training, experience local culture in Marshfield

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Economy’s struggles felt by area car dealers

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Sand mines will benefit from new TexSand plant

– Oshkosh Corp.: 2009 may be weak

– Factory sector drops sharply

– Weyco 3Q profits, sales down

– Manufacturing index signs point to a recession

LABOR (back to top)
– Wisconsin Rapids School District considers short term borrowing to cover payroll until state aid is received

– QPS acquires Personnel Resources

– Ex-manager sues Midwest

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Without sale, De Pere’s Butterfly Books will fold its wings

– Underestimating the cost of business

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Point leaders discuss razing mall

– Development signals Hobart’s growth plans

– Veridian Homes held to expiring inclusionary zoning rule

– Milwaukee: Despite times, downtown area condos selling

– U.S. construction spending drops, but nonresidential gains

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Event raises funds for Fox Valley groups

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Business travel to drop 2.7 percent in 2009

RETAIL (back to top)
– WG&R closes 5 Milwaukee-area stores

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Energy co-op won’t need coal waste site

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Researching health plans now can pay off down the road

– St. Vincent Hospital to get oncology grant in Green Bay

– BLC Community Bank expands to Green Bay

– Northeastern Wisconsin phone scam targets Baylake Bank

– Fiserv acquires the Data Center from Compass Bank

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Raskind leaving National City after PNC deal closes

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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