MON AM News: New gener8tor program aims to reduce incarceration rates in Milwaukee; Wisconsin farm subsidies highlighted in new analysis

— A new program from gener8tor and American Family Insurance aims to find for-profit solutions for reducing incarceration rates in Milwaukee. 

“We’re not finding many startups working in this space of reducing incarceration,” said Lauren Usher, director of gener8tor’s gBETA Social Impact program. “It’s usually nonprofits in that space that are limited by the grants they get, which come with their own set of requirements.” 

Because startups aren’t bound by the same rules as nonprofit organizations, Usher says they could approach the issue from new angles. 

“Startups are another way to address the problem that would in some ways improve sustainability,” she told “They can have a sustainable revenue flow to address problems in a more consistent way.” 

With headquarters in Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, the nationally ranked startup accelerator has a number of programs supporting entrepreneurs and the companies they launch. 

One of those is gBETA, a free seven-week accelerator program for early-stage startups. These programs are held in a number of cities and regions including Detroit, Cincinnati, Toronto and other areas, aimed at entrepreneurs with local roots. 

As part of the gBETA Social Impact program, the new effort aims to bring more economic opportunities to people re-entering society after being incarcerated. Usher says ideas could cover housing, jobs or other resources aimed at improving the outlook for these individuals. 

“It’s an important issue nationally, and it’s a huge issue in Wisconsin,” she said, noting that African-American residents of the state are disproportionately incarcerated compared to other groups. “That’s the reason for our focus.” 

See more: 

— Wisconsin farmers received about $55.8 million in subsidies so far this year, according to the latest analysis of federal agriculture data by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. 

All of that went toward commodity programs, the analysis shows. The top three categories for aid through the Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program are; soybean subsidies, with over $49 million awarded in the state this year; dairy program subsidies, with about $2.8 million; and corn subsidies, with about $2.4 million. 

The Wisconsin data was released as part of a broader analysis of MFP payments across the United States, which amounted to $8.4 billion in aid for 2018-19. It shows more than half of the aid payments went to the largest and most successful farms, with the top 10 percent of farms receiving 54 percent of all MFP payments. 

The top 1 percent of aid recipients got more than $180,000 on average, while the bottom 80 percent received less than $5,000 on average. 

EWG’s report for Wisconsin did not break down the aid recipients by size, but it did reveal counties in south-central Wisconsin generally got more assistance. The top three counties for MFP subsidies are: LaFayette, with nearly $3.9 million awarded so far this year; Dane, with about $3.8 million; and Rock, with $2.7 million. 

In addition to MFP payments, the federal government has multiple kinds of commodity subsidies, crop insurance subsidies and disaster payments. 

See more from the analysis: 

— A Wisconsin company is getting a piece of more than $181 million being awarded for rural electric infrastructure by the USDA, going toward a new solar development in the town of Portland. 

A release from the agency shows OE WI Solar 1, LLC will receive a $935,000 loan to build a 6.5-acre solar panel array that will deliver electricity to Northern States Power Company, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy. 

Nationwide, 12 projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin are getting loans from the federal Electric Loan Program. These funds will support building and improving 1,354 miles of electric lines. 

The Wisconsin recipient is getting the smallest loan out of all the recipients, with others receiving between $4.7 million and $28 million. 

Congress appropriated $5.5 billion for this loan program for fiscal year 2019, and the agency says more funding announcements will be made in the coming weeks. 

See the full list of loan recipients: 

— The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has announced the five startups competing in this year’s Pressure Chamber contest later this month. 

The pitch competition is being held as part of Forward Fest, an annual event series that highlights startups, nonprofits and others in the Madison business community. 

As part of the Pressure Chamber event, selected entrepreneurs will present on their company to a crowd of peers and a panel of judges, who collectively decide the winner. The chosen startup will take part in the chamber’s delegation going to San Francisco this fall, to meet with venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. 

This year’s finalists include: 

*Goods Unite Us, a company that helps shoppers see the political activity of the brands they purchase, as well as track donations to specific politicians from companies. 

*NovoMoto, a for-profit social enterprise that provides rental solar energy systems to off-grid communities in sub-Saharan Africa. 

*American Provenance, a manufacturer of personal care and wellness products launched by a former middle school teacher at his family farm. 

*OnLume, a medical device startup with a platform for guiding surgeons with advanced real-time analysis during procedures. 

*The Virtual Foundry, a business selling materials for 3D printers. 

“With all the success enjoyed by past winners and competitors, Pressure Chamber continues to send a strong message to the world that Greater Madison is a place of economic acceleration,” said Chamber President Zach Brandon.  

See the release: 

See an earlier story on Goods Unite Us: 

See a more recent story on NovoMoto: 

— The Department of Health Service’s Bureau of Communicable Disease has hired Ryan Westergaard as the bureau’s new chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. 

The BCD is part of DHS’s Division of Public Health, and is responsible for preventing and controlling the spread of contagious diseases in the state. 

Westergaard, a UW-Madison grad, has worked as a staff physician at Denver Health Medical Center and completed fellowship training in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He also holds a faculty position at UW-Madison, where he led research projects looking at patients with HIV and Hepatitis C. 

See the release: 


# How dairy’s quest for clean energy spread across Wisconsin

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# Wisconsin tribes plan green updates with help of Department of Energy grants

# Milwaukee to allow Bird and Spin scooters on its streets



– Harley-Davidson becomes official sponsor of obstacle race brand Spartan US


– UN report: Agriculture must change to reduce effects of climate change

– Wisconsin Corn Growers Association looking for entries in corn yield contest


– NCR-SARE to offer youth educator sustainable ag grants


– Willie Nelson expected to perform at Farm Aid, despite health


– Noodles & Co. opens in Oconomowoc


– State health officials confirm new cases of vaping-related lung disease

– Health officials confirm new cases of vaping damage

– Acuity gives $2.5 million for new hospital Advocate Aurora is building in Kohler


– Spectrum Brands reports loss, but beats Wall Street expectations


– Good Karma Brands in talks to move its offices, WTMJ and ESPN radio stations to The Avenue downtown


– Potawatomi launches annual Heart of Canal Street campaign


– State lawmakers urge Rep. Kind to push for USMCA vote


– Cobalt withdraws big Bayside development plan


– Harley named official motorcycle of Spartan obstacle racing


– Former SafeNet CEO, Northwestern Mutual execs form new AI company

– Former SafeNet CEO Brad Zepecki launches new data science startup Octavian Technology Group


– First look inside Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s $80M second hotel tower: Slideshow

– Rising Summerfest security costs force Milwaukee officials to reevaluate contract

– New Potawatomi hotel tower now open to guests


– Harley-Davidson Museum offering LiveWire demos Aug. 20 and 21


– John Mielke: Prevailing wage proponents not always forthright


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

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: Announces Pressure Chamber finalists

WPS Health Solutions: Partners with TriWest Healthcare Alliance 

M3 Insurance: Bec Kurzynske joins as education & government director

Marshfield Clinic Health System: Medical Center-Neillsville groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Aug. 19