(WisBusiness) WED News Summary — 17 Dec. 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— In its report on the assets and challenges for Wisconsin’s eight-county capital region, the “Thrive” regional development collaborative said the region compares favorably with other peer regions across the United States.

Economist Terry Ludeman, the study coordinator, on Tuesday told the members of Thrive’s Collaboration Committee that, “the capital region has no peer.” It topped the performance of its peer regions in establishing new businesses, and came in second in employment growth.

All is not perfect in south central Wisconsin, Ludeman cautioned, but he said, “we are extremely strong in the manufacturing sector,” and the region lost fewer manufacturing jobs since 2000 compared to other peer regions, using figures obtained by the U.S. Census.

Areas of concern included lack of ethnic and racial diversity, increasing numbers of children on poverty and low K-12 enrollment. The low number of K-12 enrollment means a lack of people are available to perform entry-level jobs.

Read more from the report: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=143799

— Newspaper chain Lee Enterprises, which owns a number of papers in Wisconsin and 22 other states, is delaying the filing of its annual report while it works to refinance and rework some of its debt.

In a letter sent to employees, Lee CEO Mary Junck explains the situation:

Because of worsening economic conditions, additional writedowns of intangible assets of Lee will be necessary. Also, our auditor, KPMG LLP, has informed us that it intends to issue a “going concern” opinion on Lee’s financial statements if our $306 million Pulitzer Notes debt has not been refinanced before our yearend financial statements are filed with the SEC in the next two weeks, even though that debt does not become due until April 2009.

These issues will create covenant problems under our various debt arrangements. We will be asking our lenders to waive the affected covenants in the short term, and we are also negotiating to extend or refinance the Pulitzer Notes as a longer-term solution. We are actively working with all parties and believe our lenders will help us get past these hurdles.

Read her entire letter http://www.wisbusiness.com/1008/081216leeltr.pdf

— UW System President Kevin Reilly and UW Board of Regents President Mark Bradley signed onto a letter with officials from 26 other public university systems urging the Obama administration to include higher education in any economic stimulus package for states.

The open letter, which ran as an ad by the Carnegie Corporation of New York in editions of the New York Times and Washington Post, argues that a capital investment of 5 percent of the economic stimulus package in higher education — about $40 billion — would create an avenue for the nation to climb out of its recession and re-establish its global competitiveness.

In addition, the letter suggests the administration, along with other leaders, develop a “twenty-year vision for educational attainment.”

“The United States has fallen from first place among nations to tenth in the percentage of our population with higher education degrees,” the letter states. “Without a vision for education transformation, we will continue to slide.”

*Read the letter: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/081216_Higher_Ed_Invest_Act.pdf

*See the list of signatories: http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/large/081216_Open_Letter_signatures.pdf



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Press Releases
· AG Van Hollen: Statutory changes allow State of Wisconsin Investment Board to make prudent investments from other than enumerated list, Van Hollen reasons in formal opinion
· AG Van Hollen: Wisconsin, 31 other states announce makers of Airborne settle charges of deceptive advertising for $7 million & agree to change marketing practices
· Dept. of Natural Resources: DNR acts to ensure Great Lakes shipping will continue in Wis.
· Dept. of Transportation: WisDOT seeks public comment on transportation plan
· Infinite Relationships, LLC: A unique program for helping relationships grow or repair will be available in the Madison area in January
· Platypus Technologies LLC: Richard S. Schifreen, Ph.D. joins company as president and CEO
· UW-Stevens Point: Researchers Guay and Singsaas receive $200,000 for ongoing biofuels research
· Wisconsin Better Business Bureau: Home Supply Cooperative of Wausau racking up complaints with Wisconsin BBB

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


Action to keep shipping active: A situation threatening to end the 2009 Wisconsin shipping season this week is resolved. The state Department of Natural Resources announced Monday afternoon the agency is filing paperwork with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a request for an extension to submit a water quality certification plan.

Doyle eyes new regulatory steps for construction projects: Gov. Jim Doyle says Wisconsin’s regulatory and approval process for construction projects may have to be streamlined if the federal government comes through with money to bolster the economy. Doyle presented President-elect Barack Obama’s staff with a list of $3.7 billion worth of roads, building and other public works projects that the governor says could start in Wisconsin within four months.

Regal Beloit, Mortgage IT plan layoffs: Regal Beloit Corp. has notified the state Department of Workforce Development of its plans to shut down its Neillsville plant between Feb. 10 and April 30, 2009. The plant closure will affect 37 workers. In addition, Mortgage IT Inc. has filed notice with the state that it plans to close its Middleton facility beginning Feb. 9, 2009. The closure will affect 72 employees. The company cited “severe economic conditions” as the reason for the mass layoff, which is expected to be permanent.

84 Lumber closes truss facility : Just over a year after opening, 84 Lumber on Monday closed its truss manufacturing facility in McFarland. The closing resulted in 28 people losing their jobs at the 32,000-square-foot facility. The company’s 24,000-square-foot retail outlet will remain open, said company spokesman Jeff Nobers.


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)
– Serious flaw in Internet Explorer endangers computers

– Fiserv acquires i_Tech Corp. for $40M

– Web is the latest tree lot

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Local scientist makes Time’s top 50 list

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Sun Prairie, state’s fastest-growing city, works hard to step out of Madison’s shadow

– Local employers ‘somewhat optimistic’ about 2009

– Johnson Controls girds for tough times

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Under new CEO, Dickten Masch embraces process improvement

– Joy Global leader confident in long-term demand

– Cargill purchases assets of Nebraska firm

LABOR (back to top)
– Should state employees retire by the end of the year?

– Near-million dollar payout comes as county reviews benefits

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Synergy Salon & Spa of Bellevue to close

INVESTING (back to top)
– Liquidated Overture fund had investments connected to Madoff scandal

– State investors duped by Madoff pyramid scheme seek legal recourse

– Johnson Controls withdraws 2009 guidance

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Foreclosure filings are up from 2007

– More WHEDA funds for King Drive project

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– New Process Now in Place to Help Cranberry Industry Expand

RETAIL (back to top)
– Best Buy 3Q profit sinks, offers staff buyouts

– Fresh Brands changing name to Piggly Wiggly Midwest

REGULATION (back to top)
– State settles suit against Airborne Health

TOURISM (back to top)
– Investor group pulling out of Milwaukee Mile

– Fed clears PNC deal for National City

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– CDI adds three executives

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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