Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends.
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Cranberries: The state’s cranberry growers, in conjunction with the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Cranberry Marketing Committee, announce a projected harvest of 4.9 million barrels for the fall of 2013, which would represent an increase of 5 percent over the 2012 harvest. The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association says this year’s late spring, favorable summer conditions and well-timed rain appear set to produce a “healthy and plentiful crop” that — pending good weather over the next four to six weeks — would lead the nation in cranberry production for the 19th consecutive year. The cranberry industry has an estimated annual economic impact of $300 million in Wisconsin, though producers are looking to drive up demand amid a series of strong seasons and increased supply from Canadian harvests.
Kenosha casino: The Menominee Indian Tribe’s long-sought casino on the site of the former Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha gets a big boost as it wins approval from the federal government, but now it has to gain approval from Gov. Scott Walker as well. In announcing its decision, the Bureau of Indian Affairs says the Menominee satisfied the criteria to allow gaming on the property if acquired by the tribe — showing that it would be both in the tribe’s best interest and not a detriment to the surrounding community. BIA officials also say the tribe demonstrated both a need for economic development and a historical connection to the location. The approval sets up an effort from both sides of the issue to lobby Walker, who must approve the casino within one year for the project to move forward. The tribe says it would give the historically poor Menominee “an economically self-sufficient future,” while Kenosha officials join the tribe in touting millions in projected revenue and more than 3,300 potential jobs. A coalition is also lined up against the project, however, including the Forest County Potawatomi Community and Milwaukee officials, who are concerned about the Kenosha casino’s impact on the downtown Potawatomi Bingo Casino. Walker, for his part, says he has three criteria for approving off-reservation casinos: no new net gaming, support from the community, and consensus among the state’s 11 sovereign nations. That third point could be difficult for the Menominee to overcome considering the staunch opposition to the project raised by the Potawatomi.
Real estate values: The latest report on Wisconsin’s real estate market suggests it is stabilizing, but the value for privately held property dropped again last year. The state report pegged the total equalized value in Wisconsin at $467.5 billion, down almost $3.6 billion from the year before. That 1 percent drop followed a 3 percent decrease the year before, but the state Revenue Department said there were some bright spots. The value of manufacturing property increased 3 percent and commercial property 1 percent, both due to new construction. But the state is still a long ways from the peak of $514.4 billion in 2008 before the housing market dip. That year, residential property was valued at almost $371 billion. This year, it was $328.7 billion.