WED AM News: Kenosha area leaders call for increased tech job training efforts; WEDC says Exact Sciences doesn’t have to pay back tax credits

— Wisconsin’s southern border communities will need to ramp up their tech job training efforts to meet the demands of Foxconn and other large local employers, according to a panel of Kenosha area leaders.

“Workforce needs are huge at every single level,” said Revenue Secretary Peter Barca, a former Kenosha-area state representative and congressman who also worked for the Small Business Administration “This is going to be one of the major challenges that we have.”

He spoke Monday at Kenosha’s Civil War Museum for the latest installment of WisBusiness’ Navigating the New Economy discussion series. Panelists touched on how new technologies, job training programs and higher education partnerships can be leveraged to supply the area’s quickly growing economy with skilled workers.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem, says businesses in her district are already struggling to find qualified workers. And with large companies like Foxconn, Uline and Haribo expanding their operations in the area, she stressed the need for higher education to be “very nimble” when it comes to meeting the needs of those and other employers.

“I really think that it’s not an exaggeration to say that we are in the middle of perhaps the greatest economic expansion of anywhere in the United States,”  added Rep. Tod Ohnstad, D-Kenosha, a former autoworker. “I think that we are just seeing the very beginning of that, with or without Foxconn, and I think it’s going to be with Foxconn.”

Barca, who’s also on the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., emphasized computer science training programs “at every level… starting with kids in elementary school.”

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— WEDC has decided that Exact Sciences doesn’t have to repay any tax credits, after the Madison-based company said it would pay back $61,000 for jobs that were created outside of the state.

As reported by the Associated Press, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. notified Exact Sciences earlier this month that the company isn’t on the hook for that money, based on new tax credit calculations.

In May, Exact Sciences had said it would repay $61,000 in tax credits, after a state audit of WEDC found tax credits were being awarded for jobs that weren’t being created in Wisconsin. But according to the AP report, the company had asked WEDC to recheck the numbers, insisting it had created enough new jobs to fulfill its contract with the state.

In the letter cited in the AP report, WEDC CEO Mark Hogan reportedly told Exact Sciences President Kevin Conroy the company had exceeded the required number of new in-state jobs and didn’t have to repay anything.

See more in Top Stories below.

— AG Josh Kaul has joined 23 cities, states and municipalities in filing a motion for a preliminary injunction to keep the federal government from adopting a rule that would allow businesses and individuals to refuse medical care based on religious or moral grounds.

The motion, filed last week, is part of an ongoing lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The proposed rule could result in harm to patients and would put Wisconsin and other states at risk of losing vital funding for health care,” Kaul said in a statement.

According to a release from Kaul’s office, the rule “drastically expands” the list of care providers that could refuse to give medical treatment to include ambulance drivers, receptionists, emergency room doctors and customer service representatives at insurance companies.

Also, the rule provides that hospitals couldn’t inquire before hiring nurses if they would object to giving a vaccination, for example. Or a physician could refuse to provide care even if the patient’s life was in peril, the release shows.

The preliminary injunction aims to stop the rule from taking effect in July.

See the release:

— Mount Pleasant has released new renderings for the Foxconn factory, according to a report in BizTimes Milwaukee.

The report shows the village’s plan commission will take up three Foxconn related proposals today, which include building and operation plans for a power substation, as well as a permit to allow the company to exceed village building height limits.

See more in Foxconn Reports below.

— A bill that would set standards and fees for wireless providers when they seek to install 5G infrastructure has been OK’d by a voice vote in the Assembly.

After yesterday’s vote, the bill now heads to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk after the Senate approved it earlier this month.

But the measure stirred up some controversy when it was considered on the Senate floor. Milwaukee Dem Sens. Tim Carpenter and Lena Taylor slammed the timeframe in which the bill had been taken up in this session, adding the measure takes control away from local governments and highlighted potential health risks.

The bill’s author, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, said the bill was necessary because Wisconsin was quickly becoming “the hole in the donut” when it comes to 5G. The New Berlin Republican noted that all of the state’s neighbors have already enacted similar measures.

See the bill:

— The Assembly has unanimously approved a bill that would make step therapy more transparent.

The legislation — introduced by Joint Finance Committee Co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette — relates to a cost-saving method employed by insurance companies; it makes patients try a number of drugs recommended by the insurer before “stepping” up to cover the cost of the medication recommended by a doctor.

The bill wouldn’t eliminate step therapy outright. Instead, it would add transparency to the appeals process and create exceptions that would allow patients to skip the step therapy process if they meet certain criteria.

It also passed by voice vote in the Senate earlier this session and now heads to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk.

See the bill:

— Madison-based Redox has launched a public “bug bounty” program in partnership with a company called Bugcrowd to help ensure the security of customers health data.

According to a release, Redox is one of the first companies to add crowdsourced security as part of its cybersecurity strategy. Through the partnership, Redox is offering monetary rewards to trusted hackers to identify security vulnerabilities in its technology platform.

“Due to our highly segregated environment, we have been able to set up this bug bounty program with Bugcrowd to do testing in a safe way, ensuring we are keeping customer data safe, while also gaining contextual intelligence on potential security vulnerabilities,” Redox Chief Security Officer Ben Waugh said in a statement.

Redox will pay up to $10,000 per critical flaw.

See more at Madison Startups:


# WEDC determines Exact Sciences doesn’t owe anything

# Milwaukee-area execs back UW-Madison advocacy group

# Urban League’s Eve Hall says transportation can be key to addressing unemployment

# Dairy groups call for crop insurance changes as wet spring worsens livestock feed shortage



– Space still available for ‘Water Matters’ farm tours


– WEDC decides Exact Sciences doesn’t owe state anything


– ABC: Industry backlog down slightly in April


– Another fair week to get fieldwork done

– Fred’s Frozen Custard will be sold later this year

– La Crosse chef celebrates past, present with Juneteenth Dinner at James Beard House


– New renderings show Foxconn’s first Wisconsin factory

– Foxconn releases new images of Wisconsin manufacturing plant

– Mount Pleasant to consider building plans for Foxconn’s manufacturing plant


– Aurora Health Care looks to advance Mount Pleasant hospital


– New Wisconsin angel group is lead investor in Pyran


– Wisconsin Center’s CEO Brooks upset, saddened by split decision on security pact


– Rockwell Automation seeks young innovators’ ideas with ‘You Make It’ challenge


– Youth mentoring group Running Rebels nears finish line of $4.1M capital campaign


– State Assembly approves bills on homelessness, step therapy

– Property taxes would rise by same amounts under Evers, Republican plans


– Neighbors campaign against Milwaukee County executive’s plan to raze historic mansion


– State dairy operations among WDE’s virtual farm tours


– Proposal to convert historic Koeffler house into boutique hotel may receive MEDC loan


– Wolter Group becoming Tropos Motors distributor


– Milwaukee Biz Blog: The consequences of short-term political actions


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