WED AM News: HATCH competition narrows field to eight finalists; Madison-based farm staffing agency looking to expand to Missouri

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— A regional startup pitch competition in northeast Wisconsin has narrowed the field to the final eight entrepreneurs, who will compete for more funding at the upcoming New North Summit in Green Bay. 

These eight finalists have diverse early-stage companies spread across various industries, including small business software, e-sports, entertainment, music, beauty and clothing. They made it through earlier rounds of the HATCH competition held by local economic development groups, beating out nearly 30 other contestants. 

“Not only will event attendees enjoy the presentations, it will provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to expose their ideas to a large audience,” said Barb LaMue, executive director for the New North, which covers the 18 counties of northeast Wisconsin. 

The four qualifying events — held in Green Bay, Sheboygan, Appleton and Marinette — doled out $2,000 to the winner and $1,000 to the runner-up. Those eight finalists will be competing for larger cash prizes at the regional final. 

Finalists include: 

*Mouhibs E-sports, which will be presented to Yassine Jedir. This Green Bay company was started in January 2019 by four co-founders who originally wanted to elevate unemployed youth spending a lot of  time playing video games. They’ve now developed a system for teaching individuals ages 12-35 how to improve gaming skills to competitive levels, and they also help connect gamers to professional e-sports teams. 

*QOLOS, the other finalist from the event hosted by the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce. The startup was launched in June 2018 by founder Chad VanCalster with a goal of condensing digital operations for small businesses through a central database. 

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— A Madison-based staffing agency serving the agriculture industry is looking to expand to Missouri as farmers across the country struggle to find workers. 

Manuel Altuzar is president and owner of Globaltranz Consulting, which got its start nearly 20 years ago after he came to Wisconsin from California. His business has ramped up significantly over the past several years as immigration enforcement has increased under the current administration. 

“One of the biggest issues in the agricultural industry is that farmers cannot find employees,” he told “We find our farmers doing the work of two or three people. All that hard work adds up physically and mentally.” 

Most of Altuzar’s clients are in the dairy industry and are seeking managers for various aspects of their operations — “basically to oversee their entire production in their farms.” In the past three years, he’s also expanded to the swine industry. 

His business was started in Wisconsin when he began working with dairy producers as well as some mink farms in the state. But as demand has grown for vetted, qualified farm workers across the country, he has expanded to work with farmers in 17 states including Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and others. 

Iowa represents a major segment of his business, and Altuzar says he’s been traveling to the state every week. 

“The demand for employees in the Midwest is huge,” he said. “Our job is to help farmers find reliable people that can meet the demands.” 

That can pose a serious challenge, as expectations for farm jobs can be daunting. 

“In any other industry, 40 hours is the norm,” Altuzar explained. “In the ag industry, we find employees willing to work up to 75 hours a week, because that is part of the demand that farmers have.” 

Globaltranz Consulting got support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s UpStart program, which provides free entrepreneurship services to women and people of color. Altuzar, who is Hispanic, said the program gave him a crucial boost when he was working to develop his business. 

Listen to an earlier podcast with Katie Rice, UpStart program director: 

See more on the program: 

— The latest federal numbers on financial institutions suggest Wisconsin’s economy is “holding strong,” according to Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. 

“There are many positive, strong numbers associated with Wisconsin’s economic numbers as highlighted by the banking industry,” she said in a release. 

The largest year-over-year growth captured in third quarter FDIC numbers was in commercial lending, at 2.9 percent, while residential loans remained essentially the same over the year. 

Loans on agricultural land increased 1.1 percent, while loans for other farm expenses were down marginally. In the release, Poels says ag bankers “continue to proactively work with their customers during these challenging times.” 

Meanwhile, overall loan quality “continues to be very good,” Poels says. Demand for deposits remains strong with 2.9 percent growth. At the same time, noncurrent loans and leases decreased 3.5 percent — a positive sign for consumer finances, according to WBA. 

“Margins are holding steady which helps to maintain net income. Loan interest rates seem to be dropping,” Poels said in the release. 

See the release: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill to update the state’s hemp program.

SB 188 matches the state program to the federal 2018 Farm Bill, among other things.

“From textiles, to recycling and bioplastics, to industrial materials, hemp provides endless opportunities to Wisconsin farmers who are looking for new markets to enter, which is why interest in growing and producing hemp in Wisconsin has skyrocketed in the last year,” Evers said.

See the release:

— The UW Board of Regents has appointed Katherine Frank, vice president of academic innovation and an English professor at Central Washington University, the new chancellor for the UW-Stout campus.

Frank will start as chancellor March 1. 

See the release:

— Hunters killed 90,286 deer during the opening weekend of the nine-day deer hunt, a drop of more than 25 percent from the 123,090 registered a year ago.

The DNR said reports of rutting were far less common compared to last year. The agency said that was to be expected because this year’s hunt had the latest possible opening date after last year was the earliest it could be.

The DNR said 46,866 bucks were registered on opening weekend, compared to 67,636 in 2018. Bucks are typically more active during the rut, making them easier to hunt.

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# 40 percent of Wisconsin corn fields not harvested as winter weather moves in

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# Opening deer weekend harvest totals dip dramatically



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– DNR blames late season for low deer kill

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– John Davidson was president of Harley-Davidson during turbulent AMF days


– Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signs another dozen bills into law on hemp, lemonade stands


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– Wisconsin receives over $1M to help people with disabilities get affordable housing

– Salvation Army moves one step closer to proposed downtown Madison campus


– Evers signs bills allowing lemonade stands, amending WHEDA loans

– Milwaukee council to try to override veto blocking $400K for blight removal


– Kohler’s indoor golf facility adding Topgolf Swing Suite

– More Topgolf Swing Suites coming to eastern Wisconsin


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– Wisconsin transportation commission set to meet for first time in five years next month

– Long-dormant highway planning panel to meet next week


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

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