Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends.
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Green jobs: The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics issues its first comprehensive report on the nation’s green economy, and finds that 59,000 Wisconsinites are among the 3.1 million employed in green jobs nationally. Observers say the numbers show the green industry — comprised of jobs tied to waste management, pollution control and clean energy technology — is not a small one, highlighting that it apparently now employs more people in Wisconsin than the paper industry, long considered one of the state’s flagship industries. The study also showed manufacturing accounted for the largest portion of green jobs in Wisconsin. One part of the state’s green sector, meanwhile, gets a boost after the federal Commerce Department enacts duties on Chinese solar panel manufacturers. The tariffs — most of which will be assessed at 3.6 percent — were lower than those sought by domestic manufactures, who have accused Chinese firms of receiving unfair and illegal subsidies. But an attorney for those companies — which includes Milwaukee-based Helios Solar Works — calls the announcement a good first step. Observers note more penalties could stem from another phase of the complaint against Chinese companies alleging they’ve illegally dumped panels in the U.S.
Clintonville: It hasn’t been a good week for the roughly 4,600 residents of the Waupaca County community, who were forced to deal with mysterious booming noises and shaking throughout the week. But what eventually was determined to be a series of small earthquakes did provide an unexpected boost for the city’s modest tourism industry after national media outlets picked up on the story. Local officials say restaurants and hotels had a good week and that any little bit of publicity for a small town helps. Though the town is still abuzz and the mayor is planning to print t-shirt commemorating the event — “I Survived the 1.5” — there are signs things are starting to get back to normal. The finding of the 1.5-magnitude earthquake means the noises are less of a mystery, while calls to the city’s police department over the sounds have reportedly slowed considerably.
Maple syrup: In a normal Wisconsin spring, the state’s maple syrup producers would be just starting to tap their trees for the sap harvest. But this month has been anything but normal, with a record heat wave causing trees to bud already in many parts of the state — a phase that prevents farmers from collecting any more sap and prematurely ends syrup season. Many small producers have been cut out of the season entirely, while some others, fearing an early season, started tapping trees last month. Even those, however, have generally only been able to produce a fraction of their normal harvest. Observers don’t expect a widespread price increase, noting that larger producers have increased their taps of trees and that the supply from a good season last spring has partially carried over. But sellers that rely more on small, local producers — such as farmers’ markets and specialty shops — could see more of an impact on price.