MON AM News: Winnow Fund director wants more diverse representation in VC field; Thanksgiving meal prices up slightly but stable overall

— Richelle Martin, managing director for the Winnow Fund, wants to see more diverse representation in the venture capital field.

In early November, the fund announced $3.5 million in new capital raised toward an $8 million target. As part of the Badger Fund of Funds, the Winnow Fund will look to colleges and universities throughout the state for opportunities to invest in pre-revenue companies.

Martin heads the only women-led fund that’s based in the state and investing in Wisconsin companies, and says she’s “really honored and proud” to be a part of it.

“Someone is always going to have to be the first,” she told “There is this stereotypical idea of what a venture capitalist looks like, and I don’t fit that in so many ways.”

After majoring in art history, political science and psychology at UW-Milwaukee, she went on to law school. But after less than a year at a law firm, Martin left for a job at UW-Madison and spent more than six years negotiating research contracts.

That university experience will inform Martin’s work with the Winnow Fund, as she pursues a strategy she’s calling the “venture capitalist-in-residence” model. Similar to the entrepreneur-in-residence idea used by startup accelerators, law firms, business schools and other entities, the fund will have a presence in various colleges and universities in the state.

“It’s really valuable for students, and faculty and staff to have access to someone who has real-world experience,” she said. “They’re learning in the classroom but there is a little bit of a translation that has to happen to apply that.”

See more: 

— As consumers stock up for this week’s Thanksgiving meal, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is highlighting farmers’ dwindling share of grocery store expenditures.

The group’s annual Marketbasket survey shows prices for common Thanksgiving meal items in the state are up slightly from last year, though they remain stable overall.

For items including a 16-pound turkey, rolls, relish, pumpkin pie mix, green beans, ham, potatoes and a handful of others, the total cost this year is $61.57, compared to $60.14 last year.

According to a release from WFBF, farmer’s share of this year’s total is $8.98, reflecting a decline in the amount of retail grocery dollars flow to farm families. The group says farmers received around 33 percent of the money used for food purchases at grocery stores and restaurants in the 1970s, while that’s now fallen to around 15 percent.

WFBF Communications Director Sarah Hetke is calling on shoppers to support farmers in the state by purchasing locally grown and raised products.

The national cost for the Marketbasket list is $62.32. 

See the release: 

— Wisconsin’s year-over-year job growth was down in June compared to recent years, according to recent numbers from the federal government.

Wisconsin gained about 9,300 jobs in the 12 months ending in June — well below the increases logged over the same period in previous years. By comparison, the state added nearly three times as many jobs between June 2017 and June 2018.

Michigan gained just over 6,000 jobs year-over-year, while Minnesota added more than 22,249 jobs and Illinois gained 19,000. Indiana added 14,000 and Iowa gained just under 2,000. 

See the latest jobs figures: 

— UW-Madison researchers and collaborators at Emory Medical School have received patent approval for a new treatment for Clostridium difficile, a dangerous microorganism that causes antibiotic-resistant infections.

WARF is seeking commercial partners to help develop the treatment, which takes the form of a synthetic polymer. The researchers created the polymer to mimic the antibiotic properties of innate immune responses common to many forms of life.

The newly developed polymer has been shown to limit the growth of C. difficile bacteria in various forms. And it outperformed a “front-line” drug called vancomycin at inhibiting infections.

C. difficile infections kill more than 14,000 people in the United States every year and associated U.S. health care costs are in the billions of dollars.

See the patent filing: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill keeping Wisconsin in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which allows doctors to more easily apply for medical licenses in multiple states.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association is applauding passage of the legislation, which unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature.

“We’re grateful to see so much bipartisan support for a priority area for WHA: easing the administrative burden for health care professionals,” said Eric Borgerding, WHA president.

The bill, which had more than 60 cosponsors, was authored by Reps. Nancy VanderMeer, R-Tomah, and Deb Kolste, D-Janesville; and Sens. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset.

See the release: 

— The state Department of Health Services has now identified 95 confirmed or probable cases of lung diseases linked to vaping, and continues to investigate 11 other possible cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported 2,290 cases of vaping-related illnesses around the country, with more than 100 new cases over the week. Near the end of last week, 47 people had died though no deaths have been reported in Wisconsin. Alaska remains the only state where no vaping-related injuries have been reported.

Track the state DHS investigation: 

— A clinical director at Rogers Behavioral Health in Oconomowoc has published a new book detailing methods for treating eating disorders.

“Exposure Therapy for Eating Disorders” was authored by Nicholas Farrell, a specialist in the field. According to him, treatments outlined in the book are designed to address core behavioral aspects of eating disorders.

“Prior to this book, there was little guidance and training for clinicians who wanted to use exposure therapy in their practice,” he said in a release. “This book fills that gap.”

See more about the new book here: 

— Bridges of Milwaukee Rehab and Care Center plans to close and cut 71 full-time jobs at its Milwaukee location, according to a release from the state Department of Workforce Development.

Layoffs are expected to begin Jan. 20. DWD and local partners will assist affected workers with job-focused resources and services.

The center was flagged for quality issues in previous federal reports. 

See more on services for dislocated workers: 


# National group questions CAFOs’ impact on public health as more Wisconsin counties halt expansion

# Developing the next generation of coders

# At a standstill: Streetcar extension stalled on tracks

# Christmas Tree industry chugs along despite debate and retirements



– Labor report shows farmhands are being paid $15.64/Hr.


– Evers signs bills cleaning up building-permit laws


– Developer Kalan Haywood calls on DNC to ensure economic impact spreads to city neighborhoods


– SC Johnson aims to boost literacy for Racine students

– Madison College, UW-Platteville increase degree flexibility with remote study, transfer deal


– Watershed protection grants awarded to farmer groups


– Dycora Transitional Health nursing home in Glendale to close

– They bring medical care to the homeless and build relationships to save lives


– Shopping app Fetch Rewards to double staff after raising $25 million


– Harley employees give back ‘next door’


– GE Healthcare, Girl Scouts build on 17-year partnership with STEM initiatives


– Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signs more bills in a week than he has all year


– Jeffers proposing up to 203 units of housing for Journal Sentinel building


– When the music stops: Madison-based Murfie unexpectedly ‘ceases operations’


– Wisconsin airports to receive $6.7M for projects


– Tom Still: Using health data for research while protecting privacy

– Mark Pent: Why should Wisconsin care about the USMCA?


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

Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin: Applauds Gov. Evers for ending Miller Park perk

Worzalla: Breaks ground

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes: To Join U.S. Leaders at U.N. Climate Talks