(WisBusiness) WED News Summary — 30 April 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— The nation’s utilities and their customers could save more than $70 billion over the next two decades if they took advantage of so-called “smart grid” technologies to reduce and control power use, according to an expert from the Department of Energy’s Northwest Lab in Washington State.

Speaking at a Wisconsin Public Utility Institute Conference on the UW-Madison campus Tuesday, Don Hammerstrom said the key to saving power, reducing the threat of blackouts and lessening the need to build more power plants is to apply modern information technology to the grid.

He said California and the Canadian province of Ontario are already adapting advanced technology to control their power systems. He predicted the widespread use of smart meters, thermostats and even appliances that can shut themselves off during high power demand surges.

See the full story at WisBusiness.com:

— Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp. is reporting first quarter net income of $123.2 million, or $1.04 per share, up from $100.9 million, or 85 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly operating revenues grew to $1.4 billion from $1.3 billion a year earlier.

Company officials credited a cold and snowy winter for pushing up electrical and natural gas usage across its service area in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. CEO Gale Klappa said electric sales were the highest for any winter quarter in the company’s history and its natural gas sales were the second highest for any quarter.

— The Three Rivers Bus Service has announced it will shut down its business in La Crosse beginning June 6 and lay off 74 workers. The company carries students for the La Crosse School District. None of the workers are represented by a union.

In Wauwatosa, Briggs & Stratton says it will lay off 27 employees starting in late June. The company is suffering from lagging sales. Some of the workers are represented by the United Steel Workers.

In other layoff news, the Newcomb Convalescent Center in Woodruff has told state and local officials that it will permanently close its operation starting July 1 and terminate 68 employees.

The Workforce Development Department said the facility has been sold to Avanti Health and Rehabilitation Center, LLC, which has agreed to interview and consider all interested Newcomb employees as it hires staff for the facility.

— Gov. Jim Doyle has returned from his trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland to meet with government and business leaders.

Doyle was accompanied on the trip by Chief of Staff Susan Goodwin, Department of Commerce Executive Assistant Chandra Miller Fienen and two security agents. See more on his business meetings at http://www.wisbusiness.com

— Two-thirds of state residents think Wisconsin is in bad times economically, with 23 percent of respondents in the latest Badger Poll saying the economy and jobs are the most important problem facing the state.

See the results: http://www.uwsc.wisc.edu/BP26PressRelease2_ECON.pdf




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
Alliant Energy to Present at the American Gas Association Financial Forum
Ball State University Taking the Pulse on Educating the Next Generation of Nurses
Broadwind Energy to Acquire Badger Transport
Eight High-Tech Companies from Midwest Region to Meet Investors at 10th Annual AeA Micro Cap Financial Conference
Harley-Davidson Encourages Women to Grab the Handlebars on Friday, May 2, for International Female Ride Day
Ladish Reports Net Sales of $117.2 Million for 1st Quarter 2008
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation Executives Exercise Options
MGIC Investment Corporation to Hold Special Shareholders Meeting
MGIC Mortgage Insurance Now Available Through LoanQuest(TM) From MortgageFlex(TM) Systems
Midwest Miles Program Earns Freddie Award for Best Customer Service Third Year in a Row
SAFC Hitech(TM) Expands Sheboygan Facility With State-Of-The-Art Manufacturing Cleanroom
Stratford businessman named to SBA Regulatory Fairness Board
Take Your “Rebate Retreat” in Illinois
The Manitowoc Company Continues to Deliver Record Sales and Earnings Performance
Wisconsin Energy Posts First Quarter Earnings

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


10 Wisconsin companies make 2008 Fortune 500 list: Ten Wisconsin companies are on the 2008 Fortune 500 list, published in the May 5 issue of Fortune magazine. American Family Insurance Group is the lone Madison company among the 2008 Fortune 500. It comes in at 352nd, down from last year’s position of 338th largest company. The rankings are based on corporate revenue. Three Illinois companies and one in California with large operations in the Madison area also made the list. They are Sears Holdings, parent company of Lands’ End, Dodgeville, at No. 45; Kraft Foods, parent of Kraft/Oscar Mayer, Madison, 63; Mattel, parent of American Girl, Middleton, 413; and Telephone & Data Systems, parent of TDS, Madison, 478.

Business groups sue DNR over proposed mercury rules: A group of business associations has filed a lawsuit demanding state pollution officials halt work on new mercury emission rules. The group includes Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the Wisconsin Utility Investors, and the Wisconsin Paper Council. They say they can’t tell how the rules will affect them because the state Department of Natural Resources never prepared a proper estimate of the rules’ scope. They want a judge to order the DNR to halt work on the rules until the statement is finished. Gov. Jim Doyle has asked the DNR to come up with rules that would slash power plant mercury emissions by 90 percent.

Union says many Kenosha Chrysler workers sign up to retire: A union official says more than 30 percent of workers at the Chrysler Kenosha Engine Plant are slated to retire this year under a buyout program from the firm. United Auto Workers Local 72 president Dan Kirk says 272 of the approximately 800 members of local have signed up. Kirk says the retirements are being phased in monthly rather than a sudden departure of all the workers. He says five people left in February, 39 in March and 34 so far in April. Plant manager Kevin Sell says the buyout was offered to everyone at the plant who is eligible for retirement, and employees had to evaluate their own financial and personal lives before making their decision.

Manufacturers fall after reports: First-quarter earnings of Ladish, Manitowoc unsettle investors Shares of two Wisconsin manufacturers slipped Tuesday after their first-quarter earnings rattled Wall Street. Ladish Co. shares dropped $2.78, or 8.4%, to $30.27, after hitting a two-year low of $26.89 earlier in the trading session. After the market closed Monday, Ladish reported that its first-quarter profit rose 4% to $6 million, or 41 cents a share, from $5.8 million, or 40 cents, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected a much higher profit of 57 cents per share on revenue of $128.4 million. Ladish attributed the shortfall to higher employment and energy costs, severe weather and rising prices of raw materials.

Poll: Two-thirds of Wisconsin residents think economy is in trouble: Record-high gas prices, increasing energy costs and fears about a national recession all have Wisconsin residents on edge. A poll released Tuesday reveals record-high concerns over the direction of the nation’s economy and the perception of how things are going in Wisconsin. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed in the UW Survey Center’s Badger Poll said they think Wisconsin is in bad economic times. Forty percent said they expected it to get worse over the next 12 months. Even more — 55 percent — said they expect the national economy to get worse over the next year.

Cities’ infrastructure could hit a dead end: New funding sources essential, institute urges… Milwaukee and 22 other metropolitan areas are “coasting on prosperity” while largely heading for a massive pothole because of a lack of planning and funding for roads, public transportation and other infrastructure, according to an analysis distributed Tuesday. Repeating recent calls of crisis over the nation’s deteriorating highways and bridges, the report from the Washington-based Urban Land Institute pushed for alternative funding sources to fill the shortfall in necessary infrastructure investment. None of them have gained much traction previously in Wisconsin, particularly toll roads, fees based on vehicle miles traveled and private partnerships in road construction and fee collections.


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)
– Google announces plans to open office in downtown Madison

– Google gets capital idea

– Number of video providers with statewide franchise to grow

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Beyond ethanol: Searching for the next viable green fuel

– Global warning: States must work together, development expert says

– Sigma-Aldrich unit SAFC Hitech expands in Wisconsin

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Asphalt prices surge

– Not just GM: Suppliers, rest of the local economy take hits

– Weyco reports sluggish quarter

– Wausau Paper swings to 1Q loss

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Manitowoc Co. reports 25 percent sales jump

– Bemis records 4 percent gain in first-quarter sales

– Magnetek reports $500,000 profit

LABOR (back to top)
– Little Chute could get bigger slice of Kraft pizza business

– More than 750 jobs expected to be lost as GM plant drops to one shift

– Milton teachers union makes a statement at rally, board meeting

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Hans Sewing & Vacuum to close

INVESTING (back to top)
– Dow closes day down

– MGIC to seek OK to issue more stock

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Milwaukee Center to be sold for $55 million

– Road to nowhere: Housing projects on indefinite hold

– Madison Library Board warms up to proposal

– ‘Impartial’ opinion sought on Younkers deal

– Big office tower changing hands

– Owner, city at odds over value of Waukesha land

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Spring planting rained out

– Conditions of area fields lagging behind recent years

– Reedsville Equity Sets Record Hay Sale in April

– National Guernsey Convention to be Held in Madison in June

– UW-Platteville to Host More Ag Marketing Workshops

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Report: Private funds, toll roads could ease burden on roads

– Still finishing last merger, US Airways CEO eyes next move

– Canadian National announces dividend

– 2nd bridge project delayed downtown

RETAIL (back to top)
– Waukesha Wal-Mart plan stays ‘on track’

– Wal-Mart tries to sell Muskego on new supercenter

– Cleveland’s Diner going Greek

– Stevens Point introducing ‘Nude Beach’ beer

REGULATION (back to top)
– Noise rules for Mifflin Street Block Party objected

– Senators seek ban on plastic chemical

– Lawmakers may combine Great Lakes pact, budget fix

– Lawsuit seeks data on mercury rules’ impact

TOURISM (back to top)
– Holiday may be hectic in Fox Valley

– Les Paul’s ‘House of Sound’ coming to Milwaukee

– Grafton asks businesses if hotel/conference center needed

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Water Utility shuts city’s Well No. 15

– Multinational energy group convenes here

– Energy experts visiting Wisconsin Alliant Energy facilities

– Wisconsin Energy profit up

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– Enrollment rises in BadgerCare Plus program

– Madison-area hospitalists are part of a growing, controversial trend

– Health care claims projected to rise

– Gundersen Lutheran to open Houston clinic

– SynergyHealth sells former St. Joseph’s campus

– Metavante raises full-year outlook

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Revamp county government, Lubar says

– GMR Marketing opens Beijing office

– M&I executives exercise options

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Mike Ivey: University Square eatery on hold?

– Tannette Johnson-Elie: Small firms feel big effects

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

(c)2008 WisBusiness.com.
All rights reserved. Reproduction or retransmission of this publication, in whole or in part, without the express permission of WisBusiness.com is prohibited. Unauthorized reproduction violates United States copyright law (17 USC 101 et seq.), as does retransmission by facsimile or any other electronic means, including electronic mail.