— A new WEDC report shows Wisconsin’s paper industry led the nation in total production value last year, with about $18.2 billion in economic output.
While the report highlights the industry’s most pressing challenges — namely the ongoing labor shortage — it also touches on the opportunity presented by the growth of e-commerce. With more people ordering from online retailers such as Amazon, demand for packaging materials such as cardboard is also on the rise.
Based on surveys and interviews conducted with members of the state’s paper industry, industry leaders say “the worst storms have been weathered,” and prospects for the industry are better now than they were five years ago.
One of the reasons for that, WEDC says, is that capacity has been “wrung out” of the industry, so the remaining players are better positioned to protect their profit margins.
The report was funded by WEDC and conducted by the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology, part of the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point. It was prompted by regional economic development directors, mainly in the Fox Valley area, according to WEDC spokesman David Callender. Much of the state’s paper activity is clustered around that area.
— Gov. Tony Evers is backing a stand-alone proposal to expand the eligibility limit for the state’s Medicaid program to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Medicaid expansion was a pillar of the guv’s executive budget and would have provided a $1.6 billion boost in health care spending over the biennium. But the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee’s first action was to strip out the proposal.
Evers said after signing a budget modified by his veto pen that the appropriations bill was a “down payment on the progress we need to make” and pledged to continue to push to expand Medicaid.
“Today that fight continues with the new opportunity to expand Medicaid so that we can cover 82,000 more folks in Wisconsin and also save millions of dollars in state resources,” he said yesterday, adding that a Marquette Law School poll showed 70 percent of Wisconsinites support the move.
The guv slammed Republican lawmakers for refusing the expansion, saying it is “ridiculous” that federal income taxes paid by Wisconsin residents are now subsidizing Medicaid expansion in other states. He called on GOP leaders to allow members to vote on the proposal and chided them for being “afraid to bring this bill to the floor for a vote.”
“They disagree with improving our health care system and saving taxpayer money, so be it, they’re free to vote against the bill,” Evers said. “But it’s time to let every single member of the Legislature have an opportunity to represent their constituents and cast a vote for the bill.”
Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos were not immediately available for comment.
The measure, authored by Rep. Daniel Riemer, D-Milwaukee, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point, is circulating for co-sponsorship.
— Foxconn is considering selling an $8.8 billion manufacturing plant in China, according to a recent Reuters report.
This comes as the trade war between the United States and China is escalating, with President Trump recently announcing a new round of tariffs on China.
Citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter, the Reuters report shows Foxconn is in talks to find a buyer for the plant, which produces LCD screens.
See more in Foxconn Reports below.
— This year’s first confirmed case of eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, has been found in a 22-year-old horse in Barron County, DNR says.
EEE is fatal in more than 90 percent of clinical cases, according to a DNR release. Like West Nile Virus, which poses less of a risk to horses, the infection is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Horses cannot pass the virus to one another, or to people, although humans can be affected by both EEE and WNV if they get the virus from a mosquito bite.
Wisconsin had two cases of EEE and three cases of WNV last year — down from a record year in 2017, in which the state saw 24 confirmed cases of each virus. No cases of WNV have been reported this year.
Dr. Julie McGwin, an equine program veterinarian for DATCP, says horses should be vaccinated against both viruses to avoid infections. The infected mare in Barron County had not been vaccinated and was euthanized after showing signs of the virus.
— A chemistry professor at Marquette University has received a federal grant for her work on solar energy systems through the Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program.
Jier Huang is an assistant professor of chemistry in the Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. She aims to convert carbon dioxide into other chemicals that could be used to store energy produced by solar panels.
“Solar energy is one of the best solutions to meet future energy demands, because it is the most abundant and sustainable natural energy source,” Huang said. “There is a growing desire to develop effective strategies for direct harvest and conversion of solar energy into a usable energy format.”
And, she says, her work could easily be applied to other energy technologies.
The DOE grant program awards recipients at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses, according to a release.
— BioForward has named Dr. Thomas “Rock” Mackie and Laura Johnson Douglass the winners of the fifth annual Wisconsin Biohealth Awards.
BioForward CEO Lisa Johnson said: “It was a long selection process with many quality professionals put forth for the awards, but Rock and Laura kept coming to the forefront of the candidates due to their leadership and impact on the global and Wisconsin biohealth communities.”
According to a release, Mackie, the chief innovation officer at UW Health, won the Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award while Douglass, CEO of Eufaeria Biosciences and Next Generation Clinical Research, won the Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award.
The two will be honored at a ceremony at the Wisconsin Biohealth Summit Oct. 2 at the Overture Center in Madison.
See more at Madison Startups: http://www.madisonstartups.com/bioforward-announces-two-industry-winners/
# Milwaukee Journal Sentinel owner Gannett to be bought by New York investment firm
# DOJ spoils Quad’s huge deal
# Man behind Minnesota hands-free phone law sets eyes on Wisconsin
# Botham Vineyards & Winery has withstood winter, spring and economic storms to make 30 years
– New data on state honey bee colonies released
– Horse in Barron County tests positive for EEE
– Proposals to rehabilitate historic West Allis industrial plant include event hall, apartments
– Darlington awarded $1 million federal grant for industrial park infrastructure
– Fecal matter found in most private wells tested in SW Wis.
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– Pepi’s Pizza to reopen in West Allis
# FOXCONN REPORTS
– Exclusive: Foxconn eyes sale of $8.8 billion China plant amid trade war woes – sources
– Forrer Business Interiors suddenly closes its business
– MACC Fund names new president and CEO
– Pinter named president and CEO of The MACC Fund
# REAL ESTATE
– High-profile real estate exec Steve Palec leaving Colliers for Irgens
– Steve Palec leaves Colliers, joins Irgens as chief marketing officer
– F-35 jets will impact area noise levels if housed in Madison
# SMALL BUSINESS
– Finalists named in Near West Side Partners’ small business competition
– Wisconsin traffic deaths are down in 2019, report says
– Franklin Energy Group to be acquired by Boston-based private equity firm
– Tom Still: Exact Sciences plan to acquire California cancer-fighting firm elevates state’s image
– Carol Larson: The gray area for seniors and opioids
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: