FRI AM News: DNC 2020 expected to create delays, business opportunities; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Steven Olikara for ‘Meeting in Middle America’

— Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of Visit Milwaukee, is urging business leaders to prepare for constant commotion during the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

“There’s going to be problems getting around downtown,” she said. “There are, I mean let’s face it. There’s problems when we have multiple events going on downtown.” 

Speaking yesterday at a panel discussion hosted by the Milwaukee Business Journal, she noted that international media and others will be up at all hours. 

“Some of us may put an airbed in our office so we don’t have to leave, so we can be ready at every hour,” she said. “Be prepared for a little inconvenience.” 

Jessica Jennings, director of media logistics for the DNCC, echoed Williams-Smith in advising business leaders to be ready for the chaos. 

“Think a little bit about what that means for how your business is operating, what it might mean for your hotel,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention Committee is fielding bids for several transportation contracts after recently announcing the construction and event management companies selected for DNC 2020. 

“We’ve actually got a very good response, and a good local response as well,” said Cameron Moody, senior operations director for the DNCC. 

Moody said one of the contracts up for bid involves buses for the event while another is for bus driver logistics management. A third is for transportation accommodations that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In all, Moody said the event will likely require around 500 buses. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Steven Olikara, founder and president of the Millennial Action Project and host of the new video podcast “Meeting in Middle America.” 

He highlights why leaders in business, politics and elsewhere should tune into the new show, which is produced at UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center in partnership with and WAGET and Bridge & Build are sponsors along with UWM.

“Let’s elevate the stories that are home-grown here in Wisconsin to ripple across the country,” Olikara said. “Let’s look deeper at the underlying forces politically, economically and socially that matter to a national audience.” 

“Meeting in Middle America” will be distributed on various digital platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify,,,, and YouTube.

Listen to the podcast here: 

See more on the new show:

And see a full version of the first edition of the new podcast “Meeting in Middle America,’’ sponsored by UW-Milwaukee, WAGET and Bridge & Build:

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $15.9 million grant to Port Milwaukee to create a new export facility for Wisconsin agricultural products. 

“This investment adds a new dimension to Port Milwaukee’s role as a connector of Wisconsin’s businesses and farmers to world markets,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “Waterborne commerce is what established Milwaukee and fueled its growth.” 

According to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee that approved the grant, the new funding will support farmers’ access to international markets and create jobs for workers in Wisconsin’s largest city. 

A release from the Madison Dem’s office shows the new $31 million export facility will be the first on the Great Lakes waterway designed specifically to export byproducts of ethanol production. It could be expanded later to include soybeans, corn and grain. 

See the release:

— The Assembly State Affairs Committee has amended a bill that would expand bar hours for the Democratic National Convention, removing provisions that would’ve established a permit process for wedding barns.

The amendment also pulled from the bill a section changing the hours that wineries can operate.

The bill’s author, Rep. Rob Swearingen, R-Rhinelander, said he decided to pull the winery provision after testimony at a recent public hearing that he called “borderline insulting and a waste of the committee’s time.” While looking at that provision, he decided to pull the wedding barn language, too.

“I realize the private event issue was difficult in this bill,” Swearingen said. “But I also realize we had to have that discussion. Because we’re still talking about the safety of the public.”

See more at 

— Flu in Wisconsin has claimed two children’s lives this year and caused hundreds of hospitalizations this week, according to the Department of Health Services.

This week’s total number of hospitalizations will soon be over 500, DHS estimates. Tom Haupt, the influenza surveillance coordinator at DHS, said that’s “a significant increase from previous years.’’

State health officials recently reported the second pediatric death this year due to influenza. And DHS predicts that influenza activity will only increase as the flu season continues. 

“In Wisconsin, over 40 percent of residents are vaccinated, which is a record,” Haupt said. “But we have to look at it from the opposite way too — 60 percent are not vaccinated.” 

He stressed that getting vaccinated is the best way to be protected against the flu.

Haupt also noted that Wisconsin is at a higher risk for flu than the newly identified Covid-19 strain of coronavirus. 

According to Haupt, there is buzz around Covid-19 because it’s a new virus. 

“We want people to be aware, but we also want them to know that the risk is very low,” he said. 

By comparison, out of the 350 people in the U.S. investigated for Covid-19, under five percent were positive cases whereas over 33 percent of influenza cases were positive, according to Haupt. 

Track the state’s ongoing investigation of the Covid-19 coronavirus: 

— Milwaukee’s Sift Healthcare is using artificial intelligence to predict payment probability in the health care space with a goal of lowering billing costs for companies. 

“We really believe that health care providers become a lending service,” said Justin Nicols, CEO of Sift Healthcare. “Everyday, they’re extending credit in the form of services, and have no idea when they’re being paid for it.”

According to Nicols, 30 percent of health care costs come from billing, administrative burdens and collecting. 

“There isn’t a 100 percent guarantee that the patient or insurance company will pay the bill,” he said.

With the payment trend data, billing administrators know how frequently they should call patients or which claim denials they should be addressing. That makes the use of time and resources more efficient and ultimately brings the cost of billing down, Nicols said. 

“We’d like to think that reducing the burden of health care cost will be passed onto the patients,” said Nicols. 

But he added the overall rising cost of health care is a larger issue than this one solution can fix. 

See more on the company: 


# $31M agricultural product export facility coming to Port Milwaukee

# Republicans introduce farm-siting bill as session winds down

# Struggling Century City TIF district could receive help from others to pay off debts

# Wisconsin moves ahead with later bar hours for convention



– GOP bill would give farm groups more control over Wisconsin livestock siting standards


– Bill advancing to break logjam of plan reviews


– Milwaukee will become the city that never sleeps during DNC

– Assembly passes broadband expansion bill


– WFU offers scholarships for producers to attend milk course


– Milwaukee Symphony unveils name of new home


– Hunters register 3,800 turkeys during 2019 fall hunt

– USDA designates 14 Wisconsin counties as natural disaster areas


– Port Washington State Bank names new president and COO


– Wisconsin sees 100 flu hospitalizations in half a day


– Recent growth has Generac thinking of bigger acquisitions


– Racine Journal Times building sold to furniture and moving company


– MSO’s performance hall name to honor Bradley family’s $52M in donations


– Lawmakers scrap wedding barn regulations in bill to extend bar time during Dem convention


– January home sales up 8.3% in metro Milwaukee

– Report says Milwaukee Rep has outgrown its downtown home


– Brew City Match to accept second round of applications


– Molson Coors to remain official beer partner of Brewers with multiyear extension


– Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute projects take aim at big social issues


– Federal grant boosts $31 million ag export facility planned at Port Milwaukee


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