WED AM News: Launch of controversial streetcar project even has some skeptics thinking about the economic development potential

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— Milwaukee has for years been listed among the largest American cities without easy-on, easy-off urban rail transit. But that ends Friday when the city officially opens the initial 2.1-mile line for “The Hop,” the new downtown streetcar system.

The Hop will be winding through downtown Milwaukee, carrying bus and Amtrak riders from the Intermodal Station in the city’s Third Ward neighborhood, past familiar downtown sites like the Milwaukee Public Market, City Hall, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Cathedral Square Park, to the city’s Lower East Side, just a few blocks from Veterans Park along Lake Michigan.

The first year of fares will be free to all riders as part of a 12-year, $10 million sponsorship agreement with Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. After the first 12 months, the expected fare will be $1. Eighteen stations dot the route, with the streetcars expected to arrive every 15 minutes from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

“This week is going to show the naysayers that this is a really modern mode of transportation for a city like Milwaukee,” said Rodney Ferguson, CEO/GM of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Milwaukee has a long history with streetcars. The earliest, dating back to 1860, were horse-drawn cars on rails. In 1890, an electric streetcar system was formed through the Milwaukee Electric Railway Company (later, We Energies); it eventually served all of metro Milwaukee on 190 miles of track. Eventually the company chose to take out the tracks, and the streetcar system came to an end in 1958.

The new streetcar system will officially get underway on Friday at noon with a kickoff event centered around Cathedral Square Park, with activities planned along the route to introduce riders and the downtown Milwaukee community to the new $128 million project that includes federal grants and local tax incremental financing.

“We’re very excited, and we remain very hopeful,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a longtime champion of the project. “Our goal all along has been to connect people and connect places. This is both a transportation project and an economic development project.”

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— Exact Sciences’ third-quarter revenue grew 63 percent from the same time last year, according to the latest financial report from the Madison-based company.

The number of colon cancer tests performed grew by 49 percent over the same period.

Third-quarter revenues were $118.3 million, and about 241,000 people were screened with Cologuard.

“We are enthusiastic about our partnership with Pfizer and launched Cologuard to their internal medicine team in early October,” added Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences. “We look forward to working with such a tremendous partner in the fight against colon cancer.”

The company is seeing positive change around several factors, such as revenue per test and cost to the company per test. Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, Exact Sciences anticipates revenues up to $440 million for the year. That’s up from a previous expectation of up ho $430 million.

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— Phoenix has broken ground on its Fitchburg neutron imaging center, which will offer radiation testing, X-ray imaging and other services.

“This commercial neutron imaging center, the first non-reactor facility of its kind, is another indicator that Wisconsin’s technology sector is at the forefront of several growing industries including medical and industrial imaging,” said Phoenix President Evan Sengbusch.

The facility will cover 10,000 square feet, on the same site as the company’s 50,000-square-foot corporate headquarters. According to a release, Phoenix is planning to hire 50 more employees in the next several years to meet rising demand for its accelerator systems.

Phoenix recently delivered an accelerator to SHINE Medical Technologies of Janesville, where it will be used to produce a crucial medical imaging agent.

The company plans to open the Phoenix neutron imaging center in 2019, enabling detailed internal scanning of solid objects. Those plans are supported by a recent $12 million funding round.

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— UW-Madison researchers are creating a product to reduce body fat and boost bone density, using a protein derived from whey.

Glycomacropeptide, or GMP, is being investigated as a possible dietary supplement for women, who are at higher risk for bone issues due to osteoporosis.

According to an info sheet from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, no foods or dietary supplements have yet been shown to increase “bone mineralization, content or density.” WARF is seeking commercial partners to fill that gap in the market.

It’s noted on the info sheet that the product would be easily digestible and free of lactose.

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— The state collected a record 66,100 pounds of unneeded medication at the recent Drug Take Back Day, according to a release from Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office.

That’s enough to fill up three semi-trucks, the release shows. And since 2015, the state Department of Justice has collected and disposed of over 470,000 pounds of medications.

The DOJ has also purchased over 2,300 doses of overdose-reversing naloxone nasal spray, which will be given to 223 law enforcement agencies. Starting in January of this year, all state patrol officers have been trained to use naloxone.

According to Wisconsin State Patrol Colonel Charles Teasdale, officers have used the medicine to revive 15 people, including one officer who was exposed to fentanyl, an extremely powerful opioid.

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— UW Health is hiring Frederic Ransom as the new president of UW Hospitals for the Madison region in December.

Ransom currently works as chief operating officer at Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, where he’s worked since 2014. That medical group has over 11,000 providers at 100 medical facilities, mostly in northwestern South Carolina.

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A.O. Smith had ‘issues’ with product launch at Lowe’s, still expects $14M in sales through deal

EatStreet announces significant Wisconsin expansion

Barrett takes his first ‘Hop’ onto city’s new streetcar

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– Crop report: Farmers finally getting back into the fields


– Wauwatosa eyeing 100 acres along Mayfair Road for redevelopment

– Industry employment up year-over-year in all Wisconsin metros in September


– WCTC plans supply chain, customer service programs

– National DHIA offers scholarships to vet students


– Businesses affected by flooding could get no-interest loans


– At regional conference, Woo works to clear up misconceptions about Foxconn


– GE’s new CEO said timing of GE Healthcare spinoff could change; spokeswoman says it’s still on track

LABOR ^top^

– Milwaukee Athletic Club warns of layoffs ahead of renovation project on historic downtown building


– Milsco finding growth away from motorcycles

– Twin Disc making room in Racine with two new facilities


– Spang leaves MPS for VJS Construction in Pewaukee

– Ecommerce biz Geneva Supply buys Delavan HQ for $4 million

RETAIL ^top^

– Target closing Greenfield store in February

SPORTS ^top^

– Milwaukee Bucks seeking sponsors for arena Mezzanine Club, Panorama Club


– We Energies buys property for substation at 3rd Ward apartment site

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