FRI AM News: Canadian talent initiative grants 24,000 visas in past two years; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Ellen Sexton, CEO for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin

— A new Canadian initiative to bring in skilled tech workers from all over the world has granted about 24,000 visas in the past two years. 

Doug Robertson is president and CEO at Venn Innovation, a technology association in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. He describes the skills initiative as a “global talent stream for skilled occupations in shortage, and for employers with unique talent needs.” 

As chairman of the board of directors for the Technology Councils of North America, he addressed attendees of the 2019 TECNA Summer Conference in Madison this week. 

“It’s really quite striking,” he said. “In a population that would otherwise be shrinking — because we’re not making as many babies as we are dying — immigration is a pretty important piece of the economic puzzle.” 

The Canadian TECNA talent initiative was first piloted two years ago and was recently made a permanent feature of the country’s immigration system. Robertson explains it included some changes to work permit exemptions for certain workers, making it easier for companies to hire desirable employees before they’re snapped up elsewhere. 

In the past two years of the program, more than 1,100 Canadian companies have used the global talent stream, Robertson said. And about 16,000 family members have come along with those recruited through the program. 

About 25 percent of the workers came from the United States, though the majority came from India. 

Canadian employers using the talent stream have committed to creating 48,000 jobs and more than 12,500 paid co-op positions, and have dedicated more than $113 million to skills development and training, according to Robertson. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Ellen Sexton, CEO for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin. 

She discusses a housing support program UHC is piloting with a goal of reducing health care costs for some of its “most complex” Medicaid members. The program is covering all housing costs for 12 individuals with some of the highest costs and utilization numbers, many of whom were previously homeless. 

These individuals are housed throughout Milwaukee County and were able to choose the area they wanted to live. The program was launched last summer in partnership with the Milwaukee County Housing Division, which helped locate housing for participants. 

“Think about somebody who has diabetes; they have to keep their insulin at a certain temperature,” Sexton said. “It’s pretty hard to do that when you’re living out of a shelter, or living out of your car.” 

In the past year, the program has significantly reduced the number of emergency room visits and inpatient hospital stays for participants, according to Sexton. She said several people have “graduated” from the program, and others are seeing marked improvements in their lives. 

Some of the participants require intensive case management, with several being paid daily visits. 

“We’re setting goals for them, whether it be health, maybe in the area of education, jobs, things like that,” she said.  

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— Both GOP and Dem lawmakers in Wisconsin are seizing on the latest federal GDP numbers, which show the state’s real GDP growth hit 2.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. 

That’s after real GDP growth in the state held at 2 percent in the previous three quarters. 

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he’s impressed with the growth, tweeting “Reforms of the past 8+ years are paying big dividends.” 

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, attributes the increased growth to the state’s new leadership.  

“Thanks to @GovEvers efforts to connect the dots, Wisconsin’s economy is turning around and we are already seeing positive results!” she tweeted. 

See the report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis: 

See Krug’s tweet: 

See Shilling’s tweet: 

— In response to the recent lawsuit filed by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Enbridge says it’s open to potentially rerouting a pipeline that passes through 12 miles of tribal land. 

The tribe filed suit in federal court earlier this week in hopes of removing the pipeline from part of the 125,000-acre reservation in northern Wisconsin. The lawsuit alleges the 66-year-old oil and natural gas pipeline, called Line 5, is on the verge of spilling its contents into the surrounding environment. 

In a release, the Canadian company says it’s “surprised and disappointed” by the lawsuit. 

“Over the years we have been successful in establishing trust along our pipelines based on respect for the environment and the unique cultures of tribal communities.” said Brad Shamla, vice president of U.S. operations for Enbridge. “We look forward to our discussions continuing with Bad River to that end as well.”

The tribe is claiming that easements for the pipeline expired in 2013, while the company says the “vast majority” of easements through the reservation don’t expire until 2043. In a statement, the company says the easements in question “affect only a small fraction” of the 12 miles of Line 5 that pass through the reservation. 

“Enbridge has considered rerouting Line 5, and as discussed with the Bad River Band, remains open to this option as a solution,” the statement says. 

Shamla says Enbridge’s main focus is the “safe operation of our pipeline system.” 

“Maintenance along Line 5 is essential to safe operation, and we’re pleased that the Band has committed to continuing to support our maintenance activities,” he said. “We are open to continued collaboration to address the Band’s concerns while we explore options to route the line outside of the Reservation.” 

See the latest comments from Enbridge: 

See an earlier story on the lawsuit: 

— Rep. Jimmy Anderson has unveiled a bill that would increase funding for spinal cord injury and paralysis research in Wisconsin. 

The bill, which aims to create what Anderson called the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program, would provide $10 million per biennium in grants for individuals seeking further research into their injuries and rehabilitative equipment to improve their mobility. 

The Fitchburg Dem is confined to a wheelchair. He said his bill stands out among similar legislation, because it bridges the gap between researchers and individuals living with paralysis. 

“It’s unique in that it actually brings in input from people with spinal cord injuries to say, ‘This is what my life is like. (These) are the things that I need. And so (these) are the kind of proposals and research that we would like you to do,'” Anderson said during a Capitol press conference yesterday. 

He noted that a similar proposal didn’t make the cut for this year’s state budget but said increased funding for spinal cord injury research has been discussed. 

“This isn’t a partisan issue. This is an issue about finding a cure to paralysis that’s going to benefit hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country. I know we could do this right here in Wisconsin,” Anderson said. 

See the release:

— A Vermont company called Marathon Health is expanding in Wisconsin, adding its ninth health and wellness center in Wauwatosa for Milwaukee-based manufacturer Briggs & Stratton. 

Employees of the company and their families can access primary care, physical therapy, lifestyle coaching, health assessments and other services at the center. 

The center opened July 17 with two nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a certified diabetes educator, a medical assistant and a physical therapist. 

“Our expansion throughout the state with manufacturing and retail trade employers provides additional opportunities to empower patients to engage in their own health and lead healthier lives,” said Jerry Ford, chief executive officer of Marathon Health. 

Marathon Health caters to a handful of other companies in Wisconsin, including manufacturer PPM Technologies and Kwik Trip. 

See the release: 


# Where DNC found 16,000 hotel rooms in Milwaukee

# Xcel uses drones to inspect 485 miles of Wisconsin transmission lines

# First statewide native mussel survey in 40 years shows mixed results

# Wisconsin GDP grew 2.9% in first quarter



– Organic Valley rolls out ultrafiltered milk: 50% more protein, 50% less sugar


– Wangard fields calls as work starts on Sussex business park


– Concordia University unveils Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center


– Milwaukee Air & Water Show to take off this weekend


– Milwaukee creating its own Green New Deal


– Fiserv expects $22 billion First Data deal to close next week


– Game cafe Hangout MKE nears opening on Milwaukee’s east side


– Nick Turkal, Jim Skogsbergh suggested eliminating co-CEO system at Advocate Aurora

– Teenagers who reported vaping receive treatment for lung damage at Milwaukee hospital


– Milwaukee aldermen back proposal seeking to raise pay of downtown service workers


– Rockwell expecting sales decline fueled by global trade uncertainty

– Trade concerns hit Rockwell Automation customers


– Tenant improvements to new GRAEF HQ expected to begin Aug. 1

– Mixed-income 111-unit family and senior apartment complex proposed for north side–unit-family-and-senior-apartment-complex-proposed/article_fae4784b-3432-52ee-ab8f-db8e236cdee2.html


– The Latest: Midwest meeting yields no new approaches to CWD


– Bucks Foundation commits more than $300,000 to community organizations


– Iron Horse Hotel withholds 25% of rooms from DNC, citing below-market rates


– Nearly all power restored after weekend storms, but full restoration could take several days


– Kurt Bauer: Congress must ratify the USMCA


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Enbridge: Committed to working with Bad River Band

Tax the Rich: Bus Tour joined by elected officials and local activists 

Fox Cities Chamber: Announces Calkins as June Ambassador of the month