(WisBusiness) WED News Summary — 28 May 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— A large number of Milwaukee business operators are unhappy with the Brew City’s business climate – with 62 percent of respondents stating they have serious problems with regulation – according to a new report from the Lakeland College Center for Economic Education.

The survey says the high cost of complying with government rules, inconvenience, and the perception that local governments are not helpful to business all threaten Milwaukee’s competitiveness when compared to four other cities.

According to the study, almost 19 percent of the Milwaukee respondents said they had considered moving their companies because of the city’s unfavorable regulatory climate. That was nearly 5 percentage points higher than survey results for Green Bay; 9 percent greater for the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill region in North Carolina; and 10 percent higher than Denver, Colo.

See release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=127196

— HSI Development Partners LLC, a Glendale-based real estate development and construction management company, has chosen Hunzinger Construction as the general contractor for what will be the largest project to date in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley Industrial Center.

The facility will be leased long-term to Derse Inc., a national company based in Wauwatosa that is known for making high-tech, large-scale exhibition booths. Derse plans to move its headquarters to the valley so that it can expand its operations and grow its workforce.

See story: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2008/5/27/#developer-selects-hunzinger-to-build-new-derse-headquarters

— The Joint Committee on Employment Relations voted 7-1 Tuesday to approve proposed contracts for represented and non-represented employees.

Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, was the only member to vote against the proposals. He said it was unfair that lawmakers were ready to give state employees more generous raises a year ago before the state’s budget problems emerged. The smaller raises now before lawmakers would cause morale problems and hurt efforts to hire and retain quality individuals, he said.

“I don’t think it’s the fault of our faculty or state employees that the Legislature failed to balance the budget,” Risser said.

Risser was the only committee member to comment on the contracts following today’s public hearing.

The contracts for nonrepresented employees generally call for a 1 percent general wage increase in July followed by a 2 percent increase in June 2009.

Read the Office of State Employment Relations letter on the pay plan for nonrepresented employees, some unclassified workers and elected officials:

— While acknowledging the tough fiscal times the state faces, UW System President Kevin Reilly wrote in a letter to lawmakers today that proposed raises would have a “uniquely negative impact on our faculty and instructional academic staff.”

Reilly wrote the boosts of 1 percent and 2 percent would “undoubtedly leave us further behind in the competition for talent with our peer states and their university systems.”

“Again, I understand and appreciate the significant challenges dictated by difficult economic times. I realize that all agencies, including the UW System, must do their part to help the state tighten its fiscal belt,” Reilly wrote. “However, I must point out that today’s decision on our unclassified pay plan will create new challenges for our public university at the very time that we are working to grow Wisconsin’s economy and increase per-capita incomes.”

Read the letter:

— Gov. Jim Doyle has signed the Great Lakes Compact in Milwaukee, calling it an “historic accord” that will “protect, preserve and improve” the Great Lakes “for generations to come.”

The compact sets standards for diversions of Great Lakes waters to communities that straddle the Great Lakes basin, bans future long-distance diversions and allows any governor in the region to veto diversions that do not meet the criteria the compact establishes. With Doyle’s signature today, Wisconsin joins four other states and two Canadian provinces in endorsing the compact. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan have yet to pass it. Should those states pass the compact, it would then move to Congress for final approval.

Doyle praised the bipartisan efforts of the Legislature and called the near-unanimous support the compact won a “remarkable thing.”

Doyle pointed to Georgia and Tennessee fighting over a “tiny slice” of the Tennessee River and to how the Aral Sea in Eastern Europe has nearly been drained to emphasize the importance of sound water management.

“It’s imperative that we keep the water here and not let it go to faraway deserts in other corners of the country,” Doyle said to applause from the nearly 100 spectators and public officials who braved a blustery northeast wind on a break wall outside of the Pier Wisconsin building for the ceremony.

After he signed the bill, a Milwaukee Fire Department boat fired a salute, sounded its horns and sprayed water in the harbor. Following his stop in Milwaukee, Doyle held another ceremony in Green Bay.

*Read the release:
*See the press release section for more reaction:

— Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson says his city is planning to move forward with its application for access to Lake Michigan water following Doyle’s signing of the enabling legislation.

Because its watershed drains outside of the Great Lakes basin, Waukesha needs approval to draw water from the lake. Under the compact, Waukesha can apply for an exemption, but it will have to return the treated wastewater back to the lake and meet other standards. Nelson said language in the compact allows Waukesha’s application to move forward, despite the compact not passing in all of the states yet.

Nelson said the application should be submitted in about six months, following a study about the best way to return the water to the lake. Nelson said Waukesha is “seriously considering” either using the Menomonee River or the Root River to do so. He said the city plans to submit a “model application” under the compact. In addition to the plan to return the water, Nelson noted Waukesha has enacted tough conservation measures such as banning daytime lawn sprinkling and charging residential customers progressively higher rates as their usage increases.

“I think we’re going to be a great role model for the compact,” Nelson said.

— Doyle said that during his trip to Canada last week he met with all of Canada’s premiers, representatives of businesses that have Wisconsin ties and toured hydroelectric power projects in Manitoba.

Doyle noted that several provinces were poised to stop using coal for power generation and solely using renewable resources.

“Canada is really positioning itself to create a lot of renewable energy,” Doyle said.

Doyle also said he spent time discussing the Great Lakes Compact and additional ways to protect the Great Lakes with premiers from Quebec and Ontario.

— Racine-based Modine Manufacturing is reporting a fourth quarter loss of $41 million, which is significantly greater than the $2.1 million loss it had for the same quarter last year.

The company, which makes automotive heat exchangers and parts for HVAC systems, said its net sales increased in the quarter to $478.5 million from $414.7 million. Included in its results are repositioning charges of $8 million in connection with the announced restructuring of its U.S. and European operations, as well as charges of nearly $19 million to its Korean operations.

See release:


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June 3, 7:45 AM at the Madison Club

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Press Releases
Downtown Revitalization Projects Receive Honors from Main Street Program at 20th Anniversary Celebration
Governor Doyle Signs Great Lakes Compact
HSI Development hires Hunzinger Construction to build largest Menomonee Valley project to date
Johnsonville Sausage Honored with President’s “E” Award for Export Excellence
Johnsonville World’s Largest Brat Fest to Sizzle and Set World Record
Kimberly-Clark Announces Price Increases for U.S. Consumer Products Businesses
Mickey’s Strikes Up Partnership With MMA Star BJ Penn
Midwest Airlines Announces Fee for Second Checked Bag
Midwest Airlines Announces Fee for Second Checked Bag
Modine reports 4th quarter loss
New Milwaukee LGBT Business Group Meets June 18
SBA’s Deadline to Apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is June 25
Second Unit at Port Washington Generating Station Reaches Commercial Operation
SPX to Host Industrial Products and Services Investor Day
Wisconsin Approves Great Lakes Compact
Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition Launches Statewide Radio Ad Campaign Today

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


Wisconsin falls from ranks of top 10 highest-taxed states for first time since 1980: For the first time in nearly a generation, Wisconsin has fallen out of the ranks of the top 10 highest-taxed states in the nation, two independent researchers have found. Measured as a share of the money residents earn, Wisconsin’s state and local taxes dropped to eleventh in the nation in 2006 — the latest year for which data are available — down from eighth in 2005 and sixth in 2004. The last time Wisconsin ranked out of the top 10 was in 1980. Didn’t notice? That might be because Wisconsin’s taxes actually rose slightly in the fiscal year ended in June 2006 but those of other states rose more quickly. That improved the state’s ranking even as taxes stayed fairly steady, the two analyses of recently released U.S. Census Bureau data found.

Metro business climate rated: 1 in 5 firms have thought of moving, survey finds… Nearly one in five businesses in the city of Milwaukee that responded to a survey said they have considered moving their business because of the regulatory or business climate. The 18.5% who considered moving compares with 8.5% in Denver, one of the other three metro areas surveyed by economics professors who conducted the study. The comparison is topical because Milwaukee and Denver are competing to host the corporate headquarters for a proposed merger of the brewing operations of Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co. and Colorado-based Coors Brewing Co. The study recommends the creation of a business regulatory advisory panel, made up of Milwaukee business leaders, who can review proposed regulations and advise government officials.

Grand Avenue has uphill climb ahead: Downtown mall seeks new identity as it loses national retail tenants… Daly’s Pen Shop is the just the kind of business that developers were looking for around 1980, when the Grand Avenue mall was planned. Locally owned, upscale and unique, it was the sort of store that would draw shoppers downtown, as they did in earlier days when Wisconsin Ave. was the premier shopping district. Fast forward to 2008, and Daly’s is one of a handful of high-end retailers still doing business at what is now called the Shops of Grand Avenue. “It’s because I’m the only fine-writing store in the state of Wisconsin,” said owner Brad Bodart, who bought Daly’s in 2001.

Report: InBev mulls buyout of SABMiller as back-up: Shares of Miller Brewing parent SABMiller plc rose in trading Tuesday days after reports arose that Belgium brewing giant InBev was considering buying SABMiller as a possible back up to a potential $46 billion buyout of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. SABMiller’s shares rose more than 8 percent in trading on the London Stock Exchange Tuesday after the Financial Times reported May 24 that the deal between Anheuser-Busch and InBev, the world’s biggest brewer by sales, was in the works but a SABMiller buyout remained a second option. SABMiller’s stock closed up nearly 7 percent. The report, citing a “person familiar with the situation,” said Leuven, Belgium-based InBev was looking at a merger with SABMiller as “contingency plan” in case it can’t close a deal with Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis.

Modine posts wider loss, reduces dividend: Modine Manufacturing Co. of Racine said Tuesday that it is reducing its quarterly dividend by 43 percent after reporting a $41 million loss for the fiscal fourth quarter. Modine, a manufacturer of thermal management systems and components, said the company incurred a loss largely because of charges resulting from a restructuring of North American and European operations and asset impairment of its operations in Korea. The company reported a net loss of $41 million, or $1.28 per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared with a net loss for the same period a year ago of $2.8 million, or 9 cents per share. Net sales increased 15 percent to $478.5 million from $414.7 million.

Northwoods trade decent: Northwoods’ businesses did not experience drastic downturns in sales this past Memorial Day weekend despite fears that gas prices and a sagging economy would keep tourists away, their operators said. The real question, they say, is whether business will remain steady through Labor Day weekend. Even as gas prices topped the $4 a gallon mark in Eagle River, Minocqua and St. Germain, businesses there saw their share of holiday weekend customers. More than 100 people a night frequented Chy’s Red Steer restaurant off Highway 51 in Minocqua, about the same as last year, its owner said. “I feel better knowing this weekend did as well as it did,” said Charlene “Chy” Karau, 66. “It bodes well for the summer.”

State casts Great Lakes Compact anchor: Nelson: Waukesha will seek diversions by year’s end… With more than 30 state and local leaders surrounding him and a ceremonious gunshot from a nearby schooner on the shore of Lake Michigan, Gov. Jim Doyle signed the Great Lakes Water Compact into law Tuesday, concluding – for now – one of the most hotly debated issues in recent history. By signing the compact, Doyle cleared the way for Waukesha to apply to purchase Lake Michigan water and preserve the resource within the region. Wisconsin joins Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Indiana and, in Canada, the provinces of Quebec and Ontario in approving the compact.

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)
– Sustainable Marshfield considers allowing electric vehicles

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Alliant unit completes wind farm in Michigan

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Consumer confidence gauge on fumes

– Europe slowdown could wreck earnings

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Invincible changes name, appoints new managers

– GM speeds up pickup truck production cut at Flint factory

– Modine reports record loss

– Total Comfort buys Lombard Electric, changes name

LABOR (back to top)
– Staffing agencies say high gas prices worry job seekers

– Simmons calls back laid off workers

– Lawmakers approve smaller raises for state employees

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SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Workshop focuses on financing a startup

– Survey: Small-business optimism at 5-year low

– Bodega decides to go smoke free

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INVESTING (back to top)
– Stocks higher after home sales data, lower oil

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– March of progress threatens Ice Age Trail

– New life proposed for Milwaukee Sign site

– Developer to redo housing proposal

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AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Weather pushes crop planting along, slows sprouting

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TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Will wider I-94 squash mass transit plans?

– New highs for gas prices in U.S.

– De Pere’s Trudell expands trailer services

RETAIL (back to top)
– Through thick and thin

– Cowboys to keep coming here for beer

– Area company develops a better finish for footballs

– Mothers scouring resale racks

– Johnsonville Sausage becomes D.C. United corporate sponsor

REGULATION (back to top)
– Is Wisconsin a winner in water compact?

– Mohican tribe mulls lawsuit against US Interior Dept.

– City considers taxing district

TOURISM (back to top)
– Rhythm & Booms will have plenty of bang

– Bronze Fonz on the move again

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Alliant looks to middle schools for replacement workers

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Family planning providers fear gag order

– New health care CEO seeks collaboration to cut costs

– Health plans to make costs more transparent

– Bonding plight leads WHPC to Milwaukee

– Fiserv adds ex-Intel marketing executive

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– University of Minnesota official Timothy Mulcahy quits running for UW-Madison chancellor

– Critics blast system that lets execs pay some Doyle expenses

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Dana VanDen Heuvel: Use online reviews to help fix problems

– Tannette Johnson-Elie: Classes offer edge to small businesses

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