Tuesday Trends sample: Defense contracts rising, economic optimism mixed and Talgo falling

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Defense contracts: A pair of state-based companies officially receive orders for some $275 million in purchases under existing contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. First, Eau Claire manufacturer National Presto announces its Alabama-based subsidiary AMTEC Corp. received an option order from the department for $81 million in ammunition products as part of a five-year contract for 40 millimeter supplies. Then, Oshkosh Corp. announces an order from the Army for 2,500 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles trucks worth $294 million as part of its own five-year contract. The new order is set to be completed by February of 2014, the company says. Oshkosh officials also say the company has advanced in the competition for a Defense contract for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. The bid could be worth up to $20 billion.


Economic optimism: The inaugural Wisconsin Economic Scorecard — a new quarterly poll conducted by the UW-Milwaukee Center for Urban Initiatives, WUWM radio and WisBusiness.com — finds some optimism among state residents, but also shows many have been affected by a slowly recovering economy. The survey — conducted late last month — measures perceptions of the health of Wisconsin’s economy as well as personal economic circumstances of Wisconsin residents. It found that nearly half of Wisconsin residents expect Wisconsin’s economy to improve over the next year, a majority say their personal financial situations are fair or good, and a majority expect their finances to stay the same or improve. But nearly half also say they’ve experienced at least one personal financial problem in the past six months, and nearly half also say they’ve decreased spending on non-necessities during that time period.


Talgo: The Spanish train manufacturer notified unions last week that up to 35 jobs at its Milwaukee facility will be eliminated beginning June 3, with the rest of its 80-person workforce on the city’s north side potentially to follow. The June layoffs derive from the state’s decision to decline federal funding for additional passenger rail, cutting Talgo’s projected production for the state. But Democrats also decry the recent decision by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee to reject $2.5 million in bonding toward building a maintenance facility for the trains in Milwaukee. They say up to 30 additional Talgo jobs at the maintenance facility could be at stake, reiterating that the already-purchased train sets would simply be mothballed in favor of continuing to run Amtrak trains between Milwaukee and Chicago. Republicans have charged back that the state shouldn’t spend any more than it already has on the trains.