THU AM News: Developers moving to front-facing work at former Oscar Mayer site; Scale Up Milwaukee launching sixth accelerator program

— After a year and a half of behind-the-scenes construction at the former Oscar Mayer facility in Madison, developers are set to begin working on front-facing elements of the repurposed site.

“We’re about ready to start a project where we redo the lobby and continue to do things that will be visible to the community as they drive by the project,” said Nate Ellis, vice president of real estate at Rabin Worldwide, one of two companies preparing the location for new tenants.

He joined MadREP President Paul Jadin, Rep. Melissa Sargent, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, WEDC officials and others yesterday to announce a $250,000 state grant supporting part of the $18 million redevelopment project.

The press conference was held in Building 20, a long, segmented industrial space that makes up part of the Madison site, which has been unused for about two years. Ellis said the building has been split into four suites, three of which already have tenants lined up.

In the past 18 months, Rabin Worldwide and Reich Brothers have been working on all new pipes, wiring and sewer systems at the site — “things that are not very visible, but very critical to having tenants,” Ellis said.

Across the entire site, Ellis said 700,000 square feet of space have been separated off for occupancy. Aside from Building 20, which he described as a “flex industrial space,” he said a cold storage facility and revamped offices are also ready for lease.

Ellis said the state grant is “fantastic” and provides important support for the ongoing project.

“There’s a lot of heavy lifting to do,” he said.

Other speakers emphasized the potential for community impact, also touching on the historical role the Oscar Mayer site has played in the Madison area. Before leaving in 2017, the company had been at the location since 1919, and it served as headquarters for the processed meats producer since 1957.

“I remember seeing trucks come in with animals on them, and knowing when there was smoking happening,” said Sargent, a Madison Dem who represents the 48th Assembly District, covering north and east portions of the city. She grew up in Madison, and saw firsthand how the plant supported jobs and families in the community.

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— Scale Up Milwaukee is launching the sixth incarnation of its accelerator program for established companies, with a kickoff party planned for tonight.

The Scale Up Milwaukee Growth Accelerator has graduated 71 companies from southeastern Wisconsin, which have collectively hired more than 800 people since 2013. A release shows those companies had more than $330 million in revenues last year.

Along with the latest accelerator program, Scale Up Milwaukee has announced a $430,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation, which will fund an initiative called Rising Tide. This program aims to increase wealth and opportunities for communities of color in the Milwaukee area.

The century-old Surdna Foundation had previously donated $175,000 to pilot the program in 2018, and the latest grant will support continued resources for minority business owners.

Elmer Moore Jr., executive director of Scale Up Milwaukee, says the Rising Tide program “will allow us greater opportunities to work with minority business owners, helping them unlock the tools and tactics correlated with building generational wealth through business success.”

The kickoff party will be held 5-7 p.m. tonight at Central Standard Craft Distillery in Milwaukee.

Listen to a recent podcast with Moore:

Register for the party:

See the release:

— A national survey from Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual found nearly half of U.S. adult respondents expect to work past age 65.

The latest results of the 2019 Planning and Progress Study, released yesterday, include responses from 2,003 adults that were surveyed in late February and early March. It found 22 percent of respondents had less than $5,000 saved for retirement, and about one-third were three paychecks away from needing to borrow money or skip paying bills.

“People are skating on some very thin ice financially,” says Emily Holbrook, senior director of planning at Northwestern Mutual. Still, she says this year’s survey shows some signs of improvement from last year.

The latest data set includes information for adults over age 18, while the first set of results from the survey — released in May — looked at older adults, tracking their financial attitudes and behaviors over a 10-year period.

“While there are some troubling signs about long-term financial security in America, there is also some evidence that as people age financial discipline becomes more of a priority,” Holbrook said.

See the release:

— AG Josh Kaul has joined 43 AGs in urging the Federal Trade Commission to develop antitrust legislation to enhance market competition in digital platforms.

The comments submitted to the FTC yesterday emphasize consumer protection, noting privacy is a key component of healthy competition within modern technology platform markets.

The AGs suggest two potential legislative solutions: one focusing on transparency in the collection and sales of data across platforms; and the other adding an age threshold of five years to the criteria of merger filing, preventing big entities from acquiring young competition.

“Wisconsinites use products from major tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon on a daily basis. Federal and state authorities must work together to protect competition while ensuring that consumer data and privacy are not left by the wayside,” said Kaul.

See the release:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is introducing legislation aiming to lower prescription drug prices through accountability measures, punishments for drug makers that hike drug prices, and other changes.

Alongside Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Dem, Baldwin introduced the Affordable Medications Act with a dozen Dem cosponsors.

According to a release from Baldwin’s office, the legislation would require drug companies to report expenses on R&D, marketing, advertising and executive pay. It would also allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and would enable importers to bring in cheaper drugs from other countries.

The legislation would create an “innovation fund” to develop new antibiotics and to support clinical trials for new drugs. And it would make it easier for generic drug competitors to come to market, the release shows.

See a summary of the legislation:

See the Baldwin release:


# CBD shop barred from opening in Cedarburg’s central business district

# With new senior center, Wausau YMCA seeks to expand definition of health

# Rep. Tony Kurtz has high hopes for hemp at his Wonewoc farm

# Project showcase: Findorff delivers cutting-edge building for biotechnology firm



– Midwest food manufacturers urge ratification of USMCA


– Madison City Council selects Gebhardt as developer for Judge Doyle Square block

– Building blocks: Legacy Lofts


– Scale Up Milwaukee launches effort to narrow wealth gap


– Wisconsin FFA Foundation raises over $659,000


– State DOJ seeks to block EPA from taking second look at Foxconn area ozone standards


– Redevelopment of former Schlitz tavern building in Riverwest faces financial hurdles


– Froedtert & MCW plan new Sussex health center

– Advocate Aurora initiates early retirement program for up to 300 managers

– Health care scorecard ranks Wisconsin 12th in US


– Milwaukee Public Museum names Ellen Censky as president and CEO

– Q&A: New Milwaukee Public Museum CEO Censky provides update on building


– JFC says no to new CAFO fees, yes to increased DNR staff

– State budget committee rejects major building projects in Milwaukee, La Crosse

– Committee hears design-build, single-bid bills as part of WisDOT reform effort

– Republicans OK reduced building budget


– Possible locations for new Milwaukee Public Museum narrowed to four sites

– Mansion near downtown Milwaukee could be converted to boutique hotel

– Former Oscar Mayer property gets another redevelopment boost


– Pick ’n Save, Metro Market to sell CBD-infused products


– Ascension sponsors club level at ballpark for Milwaukee Milkmen


– Iron Horse Hotel’s new restaurant Ash to open in August


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

Variety: The Children’s Charity of Wisconsin welcomes Director of Development

Scale Up Milwaukee: Ready to kickoff Growth Accelerator 6; announces $430,000 grant

North Shore Healthcare: Earns 2019 AHCA/NCAL Bronze National Quality Award

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Pre-summer break homework: Take cyber security steps