Free Tuesday Trends sample: Federal contracts rising, AirVenture mixed and economic outlook falling

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Federal contracts: A trio of Wisconsin companies get a boost from federal contracts. First, a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will utilize hybrid power systems from Odyne Systems in Waukesha and lithium-ion batteries from Johnson Controls in Glendale. The power systems are designated for 120 electric work trucks owned by public utilities and municipal electric companies. Then, Pierce Manufacturing Co. — part of vehicle maker Oshkosh Corp. — announces it will produce P-19 Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps as part of a $192 million contract. The vehicles will be manufactured at Pierce’s Menasha plant beginning this month.


AirVenture: Officials with the Experimental Aircraft Association say a demand for $500,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration to cover air traffic control costs at the annual AirVenture event amounts to holding the air show hostage. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton says the 2013 event will go on even if the group must pay the fee to maintain safety for the week-long show, which draws thousands of aviators and spectators to Oshkosh each summer. The fee, however, is not set in stone, according to the area’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac. He argues the FAA would need congressional authority to administer such such a charge after six decades without fees, adding the House Transportation Committee has previously only backed fuel taxes or other user fees that would be “fair and easy to administer.”


Economic outlook: The latest economic outlook index compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia puts Wisconsin’s forecast at second-worst in the country. The index, which ranks states’ six-month forecasts according to the Philadelphia Fed’s monthly indicators, showed Wisconsin as one of just five state economies expected to contract during that span. North Dakota, Alaska, Louisiana and Wyoming — the lone state below Wisconsin — were the others. The Walker administration argues that any report utilizing monthly estimates should be viewed with scrutiny, and points to a series of other indicators they say point in Wisconsin’s favor. Critics, however, argue the forecast is just the latest to show Wisconsin lagging the rest of the country in recovering from the Great Recession.