FRI AM News: Energy producers account for $20 billion economic impact; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Manuel Altuzar, owner of Globaltranz Consulting

— An advocacy group backed by utilities and trade groups in the state is touting the $20 billion annual economic impact associated with Wisconsin energy producers. 

Fair Rates for Wisconsin’s Dairyland was created in 2015 with funding from organizations such as Alliant Energy, We Energies and WPPI Energy, as well as Dairyland Power Cooperative, the Wisconsin Building Trades Council, the Wisconsin Laborers District Council and others. 

“FRWD was put into place to help educate the public about the energy needs or challenges of Wisconsin,” said Kathi Kilgore, who’s been the group’s executive director since March. “Also for the men and women working for utilities, or as part of the trades that build new plants or solar arrays.” 

A new report from the group aims to shed light on the importance of the energy production sector to the state’s economy. In a recent interview, Kilgore noted the sector’s economic output exceeds $17.7 billion and associated labor income is around $2.7 billion. 

Both of those figures incorporate direct effects, as well as indirect and induced impacts. 

“It’s an eye-opening number,” Kilgore said. 

On top of the over $20 billion figure for total economic impact, the report shows that energy producers pay more than $1.14 billion in taxes to state and local governments each year. That number includes payments made by municipal utilities, which aren’t taxed like other utilities. 

The report also highlights the impact of energy producers and their employees in other sectors, estimating they have a $214 million impact on the health care sector. Their impact is estimated at about $61 million on full-service restaurants, $124 million on retail stores, $192 million on real estate, and nearly $56 million on professional, scientific and technical services. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Manuel Altuzar, president and owner of Globaltranz Consulting, an agricultural staffing agency based in Madison. 

The company got its start in 1996 as a translation and interpretation services provider and has since grown to offer consulting for dairy and swine farmers, as well as other producers. It now has marketing services as well and consults with businesses expanding to Spanish-speaking areas outside of the country. 

Globaltranz Consulting is active in 17 states and Altuzar recently told that Missouri is his next target for expansion. 

In the podcast, Altuzar discusses the rising need for skilled employees in the agricultural industry, as well as some of the related pressures placed on farmers and their families. His business has expanded in recent years as demand has “skyrocketed,” particularly in the Midwest. 

He also talks about the state’s dairy culture, as well as his personal connections to Wisconsin and his alma mater UW-Madison. 

“When I came to Wisconsin 25 years ago, I felt welcome from day one,” he said. “And I remember thinking, this is home.” 

Listen to the podcast here:

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

— Plan selections on during open enrollment continue to trail last year’s numbers, though the gap has narrowed slightly as the deadline to enroll approaches. 

About 95,000 individual health plan selections were made in Wisconsin on the federal marketplace between Nov. 1 and Dec. 7. By comparison, more than 106,000 plans had been selected by the same time last year. 

This trend is reflected in national numbers, as more than 3.8 million plans were selected by Dec. 7, compared to 4.1 million in 2018. 

But even as fewer plans are selected overall, the number of new consumers hasn’t dipped much from last year. CMS doesn’t offer an explanation for the lower enrollment numbers. 

A number of other metrics are down from the previous open enrollment period, including call center volume and the number of calls with representatives who can speak Spanish. Navigator funding this year is unchanged from last year but has been slashed by more than 80 percent under the Trump administration. 

This year’s open enrollment period ends Sunday. The next enrollment update from CMS will cover Dec. 8-15, and will likely be followed by revised numbers once final numbers are calculated. Results will be influenced by plan selection changes or cancellations, as well as those who choose to be automatically re-enrolled in their previous plan. 

See the latest numbers: 

— Increasing loans over the first nine months of 2019 contributed to a strong third-quarter performance for Wisconsin banks, according to a release from the state Department of Financial Institutions. 

“Wisconsin’s state-chartered banks continued to perform well through the first three quarters of 2019 thanks to an overall robust economy, which contributed to solid loan demand and minimal delinquencies,” said Kathy Blumenfeld, DFI secretary. 

Wisconsin’s 149 state-chartered banks increased loans by around 5 percent during the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2018, the release shows. Net loans rose from $41.1 billion to $42.8 billion, while net income increased from over $486 million to $521 million.

Over the same period, banks’ total assets grew from $55.5 billion to $58.1 billion.  

The release shows the most significant factor contributing to income growth was the increase in lending. Total interest income increased by more than 10 percent compared to 2018. 

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— WEDC is providing a $250,000 grant to support the remodeling of the Indianhead Medical Center in Shell Lake and renovation of the attached Shell Lake Clinic. 

The privately owned critical access hospital first opened in 1947. Its emergency department and operating rooms haven’t been updated since they were first built in 1970, according to a release from WEDC. 

The agency’s community development investment grant will help fund the remodel, a new 9,000-square-foot building, an ambulance garage, and new paving for streets and walkways. Construction is expected to be finished by June 2020. 

Residents of Shell Lake can currently get consultations and rehabilitation through the IMC, as well as general surgery and care in a number of specialties. 

The center is one of Shell Lake’s largest employers with about 90 workers, and the project will add five full-time employees to aid surgical specialists. Plus, the updated operating rooms are expected to help the center recruit and keep their surgeons. 

“This project will not only improve medical services for the people of Shell Lake, but it will also create jobs, attracting more people to work and live in the area,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. 

See the release: 

— Phoenix, a nuclear technology company based in Fitchburg, is improving its scanning capabilities at its recently opened radiography facility.

Neutron imaging is a process somewhat similar to X-ray imaging that analyzes the internal structure of complex solid objects. According to a release from the company, the technique is used to scan turbine blades in jet engines, aircraft ejection mechanisms, spacecraft payload separation mechanisms and more. 

After opening the Phoenix Neutron Imaging Center in October, the company recently announced a milestone in the process of improving its capabilities. The release shows Phoenix has demonstrated the capability to take ASTM Category I neutron radiographs at the new site — the highest standardized image quality level. 

“This achievement is analogous to the early use of compact x-ray generators in medical diagnostics over a century ago,” said Evan Sengbusch, president of Phoenix. “It is a first step in making neutron imaging as ubiquitous as X-ray imaging is today.”

The company broke ground on its 50,000-square-foot corporate headquarters last month, which will be located at the same site and is expected to add 50 full-time positions in the next several years. 

See the release: 


# It took until 2018 for Milwaukee County’s economy to reach pre-recession levels

# More Wisconsin universities to offer varsity video gaming

# Statewide opportunity zone fund launched with $15 million goal

# One year into state’s deal with Kimberly-Clark, company works to expand Fox Valley plant



– Naming-rights sponsorship pitch in works for former Midwest Express Center


– Gaffney elected president of Wisconsin Beef Council


– State ag bankers anticipate more lending, refinances in 2020


– UW-Oshkosh offering early retirement incentives to faculty, staff

– Wisconsin ag teachers honored at national conference

– Report: Pathways students at La Follette, East get higher grades; shows poor outcomes for West students


– Unknown fear: Madison residents are increasingly alarmed by PFAS levels in local waterways


– New Wisconsin opportunity zone fund raising up to $25 million


– Power line opponents take fight to federal court


– Babcock stepping down from AIA Wisconsin after 30-plus years


– Barrett administration, Milwaukee 7 went from confident to distraught as Strauss Brands project crashed: Documents

– Wisconsin company won’t reopen flood-damaged Nebraska jerky plant


– Milwaukee youth arts nonprofit closing its doors after nearly 20 years

– United Way 2019 campaign brings in more than $56 million

– Darbo Pantry Project goes to work after Salvation Army closes east side food pantry


– Bear Development’s latest Kenosha projects include senior housing, single-family subdivision


– DNR Board okays plan to write stricter manure regulations


– White Dress Off the Rack opening soon in Walker’s Point


– Carthage fuel gauging tech launched into space


– Black Friday was busy for Milwaukee streetcar


– Environmental groups sue Wisconsin PSC over approval of transmission line

– Dane County challenges power line approval, says regulators abused discretion


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

Fair Rates for Wisconsin’s Dairyland: Economic impact study

Alliance Tax & Accounting Service, LLC: Celebrates 10th year in business