THU AM News: New DOR business development unit to support WEDC strategy; “ The Show” with John Zeratsky, developer of the Google Sprint process

— Revenue Secretary Peter Barca says a new business development unit at DOR will support the WEDC’s economic development strategy. 

“We’re trying to augment what WEDC is doing,” Barca told in a recent interview.

He says the new Business Development and Government Relations unit, or BDGR, has the support of the state’s regional economic development groups and Gov. Tony Evers. Barca says the unit will complement the guv’s statewide economic development initiative, which calls on agencies to collaborate to drive growth in all 72 counties. 

“Like any problem, you want to tackle it from every angle,” he said.  

Any tax credits authorized by WEDC and earned by companies are administered by DOR. Barca sees the new BDGR unit as a natural extension of that relationship, adding DOR can offer resources and perspectives that WEDC can’t. 

He said DOR has a number of economists that can provide insight on housing, sales tax revenues, current retail sales trends and much more. Since WEDC doesn’t have the same expertise on hand, Barca said, the new unit will leverage those economists to complement existing economic development efforts. 

As part of DOR’s research and policy division, the new unit will work with businesses to help them get off the ground or expand, recruit and retain workers, analyze economic data, and identify potential tax incentives. 

Barca said the unit will play a role in supporting startups as part of the Evers administration’s efforts to boost entrepreneurship in the state. 

See more: 

— The latest episode of “ The Show” features an interview with tech designer John Zeratsky, developer of the Google Sprint process, who will talk about the concept of “redesigning” time.

Also, Liz Schrum presents Tech Metrics, which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy.

In a separate commentary, Tech Council President Tom Still talks about the upcoming Early Stage Symposium on Nov. 6-7 at Madison’s Monona Terrace. Companies will have the chance to meet and pitch to investors from Wisconsin and well beyond.

Watch the show here: 

— WARF is pledging to continue pursuing a case against Apple in U.S. District Court following the U.S. Supreme Court declining to take up a case first filed by UW-Madison’s licensing operation in 2014. 

The suit alleged the company infringed on a 1998 patent for computer technology, which could have resulted in more than $500 million in damages. 

“While we are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, we are still pursuing Apple’s infringement,” said Jeanan Yasiri Moe, WARF’s communications director. “WARF has an obligation to diligently protect the intellectual property rights of our UW-Madison partners, and we look forward to continuing to defend those rights in the District Court.” 

She explained that while the appeal to the nation’s highest court has concluded, two more items are still awaiting decision from a district court judge in Madison. 

“The first is the disposition of the second WARF v. Apple matter involving products containing later released processors,” Moe said in an email. “The second is a request to present an alternate infringement theory that was not introduced in the first trial.” 

See more in Top Stories below. 

— Lawmakers behind new legislation to boost the state’s fledgling hemp industry are touting their bill after it recently passed the state Senate. 

The bipartisan Growing Opportunities Act was authored by Sens. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee; along with Reps. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, and Dave Considine, R-Baraboo. The bill would transition the state’s hemp pilot program into a more permanent fixture. 

“Hemp is Wisconsin’s comeback crop,” Testin said in a release. “This bill works to build confidence at every level of the hemp industry. Farmers, processors, retailers, and customers need to have a reasonable regulatory framework that ensures maximum opportunity and safety.” 

Taylor emphasized that hemp can provide opportunities for “rural and urban entrepreneurs alike,” and is already making a difference in the communities she represents. 

“Americans already consume millions of imported hemp products — that’s money that can and should be spent here in our state of Wisconsin, and my city of Milwaukee,” she said. 

After clearing the Senate Tuesday, the bill must now pass the Assembly, which held a hearing on it earlier this month. 

See the release: 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin recently toured a laboratory at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison that’s using gene editing technology to explore protein function in certain diseases. 

The lab is run by Dave Pagliarini, a UW-Madison professor of biochemistry and metabolism investigator for Morgridge. 

Baldwin has a personal connection to the work underway at Pagliarini’s lab. Her grandfather, David E. Green, was the original director of UW-Madison’s Enzyme Institute, which made breakthroughs in the field of metabolism science. Decades later, researchers like Pagliarini are continuing to shed light on the subject using more advanced tools. 

“There’s a lot of talk in the culinary community about locally sourced ingredients,” Pagliarini said. “This is locally sourced science. The fact that we’re building upon discoveries made just down the road, is very motivating and meaningful to us.” 

See more: 

— The Port of Green Bay is seeing more activity so far in 2019 than last year, with shipping totals 17 percent higher than at this point in 2018. 

A release from the port’s operations directors shows domestic limestone imports increased 64 percent over the same timeframe last year, while petroleum product imports rose 44 percent. Imports of foreign salts are 47 percent higher than in 2018. 

Dean Haen, port director, says the salt shipments are “typically strong” for this time of year with winter on the horizon. 

“We’re optimistic that we’ll see a good finish for the 2019 shipping season for the Port and for the entire Great Lakes,” he said. “It’s a good sign for the regional economy.”

See the release: 

— Clark Electric Cooperative is getting a $7 million loan from USDA to upgrade rural electrical infrastructure in central Wisconsin. 

A release shows the loan will support efforts to connect 447 customers, upgrading or creating 69 miles of electric line. About $1.9 million of the loan is going toward “smart grid” technologies. 

The cooperative serves 9,200 customers with nearly 2,000 miles of line running through Marathon, Chippewa, Taylor, Jackson, Clark and Wood counties. 

The co-op’s award is part of more than $251 million in loans going to projects in 13 states. 

See the full list: 

— A panel discussion being held next week at UW-Platteville will highlight the struggles facing Wisconsin farmers, including workforce issues, weather and the ongoing trade war. 

This comes after the Joint Finance Committee last week released the $8.8 million in funding allocated for the Dairy Innovation Hub through 2021, which is going to UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls and UW-Madison. 

Next week’s discussion is part of’s “Navigating the New Economy” series supported by the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training. It’s also part of the “East Asia Now” series supported by the Center for East Asian Studies at UW-Madison. 

The event will be held Oct. 17. It’s free to attend, but pre-registration is required. 

Register here: 


# U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear UW-Madison $506 million case against Apple

# Rain like ‘a bad habit’: Increasingly wet conditions and saturated fields challenge farmers in a changing climate

# Wisconsin health insurance rates increase by smallest percentage in a decade: Survey

# Wisconsin spice company spends more than $100K on pro-impeachment ads



– Madison firm to promote concerts at Summerfest’s amphitheater, BMO Harris Pavilion

– Penzeys spices up pro-impeachment movement with $92,000 in Facebook ads


– Clark Co. unveils host farm for 2022 Farm Tech Days


– Building blocks: Gunderson Healthcare clinic in Tomah

– Amazon plans Beloit warehouse, earth work to begin next week


– See where Milwaukee ranks among the easiest — and toughest — cities to start and operate a company in America


– Five Wisconsin companies make Entrepreneur 360 list


– Milwaukee, faith community continue efforts to reduce infant mortality


– Venture Investors closes on $75 million VC fund, opens Milwaukee office


– Henry Repeating Arms wins WMC ‘Coolest Thing’ contest


– Bill to make hemp pilot program permanent closer to reality


– Postal Service moving ahead with more than $36M Oak Creek mail processing center

– Comedy venue could replace former Sprecher taproom in Walker’s Point


– Movie Tavern opens Friday at Brookfield Square


– Small businesses awarded financial, planning assistance through Brew City Match program


– Jockey named sponsor of premium event space at Fiserv Forum


– Enbridge offers Bad River Tribe $24M to settle pipeline lawsuit


– Danielle Endvick: As Perdue rips opens rural America’s wounds, farmers get fired up


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

Port of Green Bay: Shipping tonnage in 2019 remains on pace to top last year 

Sen. Patrick Testin: Hemp bill passes Senate

Wisconsin Technology Council: Crop of company applicants for Early Stage include 87 young firms 

WEDC: Launches new Wisconsin Supplier Network website