Tuesday Trends sample: Vineyards rising, manufacturing mixed and jobs falling

Tuesday Trends sample: Vineyards rising, federal jobs proposal mixed and jobs falling

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Vineyards: Wisconsin experienced a warm, mostly dry summer in 2011, leading to a grape growing season that one state vineyard owner termed “once-in-a-lifetime.” In a state that’s often unpredictable for winemakers, this year has seen both good grape crop volume and quality. Botham Vineyards in Iowa County expects to harvest three to four tons of grapes per 10 acres of land — well above the average of two to three tons — while Wollersheim Winery calls this year one of its best seasons in 30 years of growing in Sauk County.


Manufacturing: A national network aimed at helping small and mid-size manufacturers — which includes two Wisconsin-based organizations — would take a cut under the Senate version of a federal spending bill. But one Wisconsin senator says that means manufacturing remains a priority in a dismal fiscal climate, while a Wisconsin manufacturing leader says he’s hopeful the money will eventually be restored. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership would receive a 6.25 percent cut to $120 million in the next fiscal year under the proposal, which U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl says represents a tough decision to keep the “vital program” afloat. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership in Madison and the Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center of Menomonie are part of the MEP’s 70-plus non-profits that target small manufacturers, and WMEP head Buckley Brinkman notes that the House version of the spending bill would keep funding at the current $128 million level. Brinkman adds that the MEP funding should be a priority over other programs that haven’t generated similarly positive results — including saving or creating more than 1,300 Wisconsin jobs.


Jobs: The latest monthly report from the state labor department isn’t good for the unemployment picture, as the Department of Workforce Development says the state lost 2,300 jobs in August and the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent. Those job losses included 800 in the private sector. DWD maintains the state is on a “positive path,” noting a monthly increase in manufacturing jobs and year-to-date job growth that outpaces the nation as a whole. Gov. Scott Walker, meanwhile, attributes the state slowdown to the national debate over increasing the debt ceiling. Democrats, meanwhile, pile on Republicans for a lack of session days this month, saying jobs issues are “too important a topic to wait another month and a half.”