FRI AM News: Researchers using new animal models to study widespread parasite; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Taralinda Willis, CEO and co-founder of Curate Solutions

— Researchers at UW-Madison are studying the reproductive cycle of a common parasite that poses a threat to fetuses, using new animal models to better understand the single-celled organism. 

Toxoplasma gondii infects many different mammals, including humans, but can only reproduce inside the intestines of felines. Because of that, researchers have been somewhat limited in studying the parasite’s life cycle. 

That’s according to Laura Knoll, the senior author of a new study and a professor of medical microbiology in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Her work was recently published in the journal Public Library of Science Biology. 

Despite the parasite’s unique reproductive requirements, it’s extremely widespread, with nearly one-third of the human population chronically infected, UW-Madison says. But most people are unaware they’re infected, as the parasite seems to only pose a risk to fetuses whose mothers are infected. 

“We’re a dead-end host,” Knoll said in a release. “It really isn’t a problem in people. I have it.” 

People can get infections from handling cat litter, so pregnant women are generally warned against doing so. If the mother becomes infected, it can be transmitted to the fetus with “potentially fatal or serious developmental consequences,” the release shows. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Taralinda Willis, co-founder and CEO of Curate Solutions, a Madison startup with a platform for aggregating and analyzing publicly available documents. 

Curate scans through public municipality data, including documents from city councils, school boards and county boards of supervisors. The company searches these documents for clues to upcoming projects and delivers insights to its customers. These are typically general contractors in the commercial space looking for private projects.  

“In this area, a lot of people tell me they read the Madison Plan Commission, but there’s no way they could also get to Verona, and Sun Prairie and Waunakee and all those other areas that are expanding potentially even faster than Madison is,” she said. 

She says Curate is active in 22 states and plans to expand to all 50. That effort will be supported by a recently completed funding round for $1.65 million, which brings the company’s total investment so far to $2.2 million. 

One participating investor was the Idea Fund of La Crosse, recipient of the state-backed Badger Fund of Funds. 

“We’re a Wisconsin-based company, and so we wanted the people of Wisconsin to have the opportunity to participate in our fundraising round,” she said. “It takes a village to run a company, so the more people we can have supporting us, the better off we are.” 

Listen to the podcast: 

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

Listen to a previous podcast with Curate co-founder Dale Willis: 

— Organic Valley has transitioned to a 100 percent renewable energy, completing a plan first set in motion in 2017. 

With the recent completion of three community solar projects, the La Farge-based cooperative says it’s the largest food operation in the world to get all of its energy from renewable sources. Those projects are part of the Butter Solar project, owned by BluEarth Renewables. 

This Canadian renewable energy company purchased the Butter Solar project in late 2018, and began construction in January 2019. The project will provide energy to 23,000 people in 10 Midwest communities, including six in Organic Valley’s portfolio. 

Organic Valley is the largest organic farmer co-op in the country, representing more than 2,000 farmers in 34 states. 

See the release: 

— We Energies and Madison Gas and Electric have announced plans to acquire the remaining 150 megawatts from the Badger Hollow Solar Farm in Iowa County, expanding their stake in the project. 

If the Public Service Commission approvals the proposal, We Energies would own 100 megawatts and MGE would own 50 megawatts, covering the second half of the project. 

MGE and Wisconsin Public Service, another subsidiary of WEC Energy Group, got approval in May for the first half of the Badger Hollow project. Commercial operation for this part of the project is expected by the end of 2020, and the newer phase would begin generating electricity in 2021 pending PSC approval. 

Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO of WEC Energy Group, the parent corporation of We Energies, says the purchase will lower costs for customers and moves the company closer to “a clean energy future.” 

Jeff Keebler, MGE chairman, president and CEO, says the move will help the company reach its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. 

See the release: 

— Onalaska is getting a $250,000 grant from WEDC, supporting the construction of a new downtown residential and commercial development called the Great River Residences. 

“This project not only offers a substantial, efficient solution to the housing shortage in Onalaska, but will also create jobs and equity in a formerly underutilized area,” said Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. 

Investor Ben Thorund and Marvin and Michelle Wanders of Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions LLC have created a new company — GRR LCC — to handle the construction. The $15.7 million project began in April, and is expected to wrap up by June 2020. 

The project is expected to create 50 full-time jobs during the process of demolishing the current structure, cleaning up the site and constructing the new building. Once complete, the development will require up to five full-time positions and other indirect positions, and the retail space is expected to employ up to 15 workers. 

The grant comes from WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant program, which has dished out $24 million to 101 communities statewide since 2013. 

See the release: 

— La Crosse-based Kwik Trip is launching a new delivery service with EatStreet, a popular food delivery startup based in Madison. 

This partnership kicked off with a pilot period that began yesterday, offering delivery of more than 400 products from two Kwik Trip locations in Madison and La Crosse. 

If the pilot proves successful, the partnership will be extended to more cities including Eau Claire, Appleton and Wausau, according to a release. Launch dates for these locations could be announced as early as late summer or early fall. 

See the release: 


# Johnson Controls sets aside $140 million for Marinette cleanup

# Fiserv finds way to save extra $120M per year with merger

# High water levels weighing on Lake Superior property owners

# UW System regents sign off on plan to use $43 million for performance-based funding



– State all milk price averaged $17.90 during June

– Wisconsin State Fair to open its gates today


– Milwaukee considering Tiny Home project to help homeless veterans


– Hayden named American FFA Star finalist for Agriscience


– Baldwin introduces bill to increase Great Lakes restoration funding


– Wipfli acquires small Chicago area firm


– 12-year-old Liliana’s Restaurant in Fitchburg shifts to small plates, citing diner demand


– ‘Dairy Cares’ raises over $240K for Children’s Hospital


– Milwaukee area employment reaches new high


– Modine to sell stake in Japanese joint venture

– Generac sales, profits up on strong domestic demand


– DNC host committee appoints local business leaders to senior staff

– Wisconsin Republicans sue Democratic attorney general


– County stands behind Couture project as financing issues continue

– Developer buys site to build Holiday Inn in West Allis

– Milwaukee proposes improvements to public park next to new Bay View apartments


– DNR warns hunters of license scam


– Pick ‘n Save parent Kroger testing fees for cash back in some markets


– Lumberjack World Championships showcases sawyers, log-rollers, pole-climbers and more


– New Holiday Inn in West Allis on course to open before DNC


– DNC planners may seek dedicated lanes on I-94 for buses


– Emily Skor: Protect Wisconsin farmers and biofuel producers


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

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.: City of Onalaska receives $250,000 state grant

Kwik Trip and Eat Street: Big Buddies – Kwik Trip teams up with EatStreet

Hoffman: Leadership active in the community