— Downtown Milwaukee businesses are bringing on extra staff and investing in upgrades in preparation for this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
Still, business leaders at a recent panel discussion hosted by the Milwaukee Business Journal emphasized that many questions remain less than five months out from the event.
“Clarity is everyone’s best friend,” said Gino Fazzari, head chef and owner of the Calderone Club. “As much clarity as we can get with regard to the hard perimeter, soft perimeter… How can we get employees in? Where are they going to park?”
Organizers with the Democratic National Convention Committee recently announced early details about the security perimeter, but have yet to offer more information about the specific layers within that area. The tentative boundary covers an area of around nine by ten blocks with the Milwaukee river running along its right side.
DNC 2020 is expected to bring more than 50,000 visitors and have a $200 million economic impact with more than 1,000 events across the city.
“What’s the protocol? … Is there a special identification [workers] are going to have to identify them as an employee of a vendor inside the zone?” Fazzari said. “These are things we don’t know yet.”
With entertainment and sporting events happening nearly every week in downtown Milwaukee, Fazzari noted “we’re all feeling the same crunch” due to the ongoing labor shortage. He said that shortage is nothing new but added that finding skilled workers has recently become more difficult.
— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Seth Braddock, founder and CEO of Kilter Rewards, a fitness platform that rewards healthy living activities with charitable rewards.
Braddock highlights Kilter’s newly launched program that gives access to the general public for challenges and benefits, not just businesses. Users can win prizes for themselves and charities by completing challenges related to fitness and health.
“We want to reward people for making healthy choices and just deciding to get out there and be active,” he said.
Kilter is currently striving to build a network with nonprofits. Braddock noted that Kilter could be a tool for these organizations to bring in more donations or increase engagement with the public.
See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: http://www.wisbusiness.com/category/podcast/
— Total assets at Wisconsin’s credit unions increased 11 percent over last year to reach $41.1 billion, according to a recent report from the state Department of Financial Institutions.
“Loan growth has been robust and combined with controlled operating expenses, net income and net worth growth are very strong,” said DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. “Overall, Wisconsin credit unions are financially stable, and the trends are positive.”
Meanwhile, net worth for these 121 credit unions increased by 10 percent over the year to reach $443 million at the end of 2019. Earnings for 2019 were over $428 million.
At the same time, credit union loans increased by over $2.3 billion last year to reach $32.7 billion.
— Madison Gas and Electric has received approval from state regulators to acquire another 50 megawatts of the Badger Hollow Solar Farm in Iowa County.
MGE had previously been approved to acquire 50 megawatts from the initial phase of the 300-megawatt project, which is being built by Chicago-based Invenergy. Construction on the project is underway and the second phase is expected to come online sometime next year.
Jeff Keebler, president, chairman and CEO of MGE, said the move will support the company’s efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company has around 153,000 electricity customers in Dane County and 161,000 natural gas customers across seven Wisconsin counties.
— Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, says he doesn’t believe a GOP-authored bill to overhaul rules for siting and expanding large livestock operations has the support to pass.
The Senate had the bill on Wednesday’s calendar, but it was pulled without debate.
Fitzgerald said united opposition from Dems and concerns within his own caucus meant a vote on the bill would have been close, leading bill author Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, to request it be pulled.
Concerns centered on how much control local government would retain over siting decisions, Fitzgerald said.
“I don’t see it coming back at this point,” he said.
Vos said he credited ag groups that wanted more regulatory certainty in the state, but his chamber wouldn’t take up the bill, either. He said the idea needs additional work before it’s ready for a floor vote.
— The Senate has approved legislation that would exempt direct primary care agreements from state insurance laws after Dems also blocked a final vote on that bill Wednesday.
The original bill sought to prohibit when selecting patients for a direct primary care agreement for providers to discriminate on the basis of age, citizenship status, color, disability, gender or gender identity, genetic information, health status, existence of a preexisting medical condition, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any other protected class.
Sen. Tim Carpenter, the only openly gay member of the state Senate, called the original language “bold,” saying Republicans “came within a hair’s breadth of moving our state forward by offering new protections” for patients against discrimination.
“Instead, they decided they would rather take our state a giant step backward by sneaking in an amendment at the last minute on the Assembly floor,” said Carpenter, D-Milwaukee.
GOP Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, who co-authored the bill, called the controversy “much ado about nothing.”
He said the original non-discriminatory language was pulled from a transportation bill and he wasn’t clear why it was in the legislation in the first place. Doctors raised concerns about the language because it would create a standard other physicians don’t have to follow. Believing pulling everything would be politically difficult, Sanfelippo said he decided to leave in the language that was eventually approved as an olive branch to Dems.
He also argued there’s no evidence of widespread discrimination by doctors as it is.
“It may be hard for the Democrats to believe, but a lot of people do their job with honor and integrity and they don’t have to be told by the government how to treat people decently,” Sanfelippo said. “Physicians are one of them. There just isn’t a problem in the field.”
Carpenter voted with Republicans on passage of the bill to give him the option of moving reconsideration, which failed.
See more on AB 26, which next heads to the guv’s desk:
— Recent study results from Cellectar Biosciences show the company’s candidate cancer therapy drug is effective in patients with six different types of cancer.
The drug, dubbed CLR 131, achieved a 34.5 percent “overall response rate” in patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the body’s plasma cells. And it had a 42 percent response rate for patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system.
Based on these positive results, the Phase 1 study has been expanded to include multi-cycle dosing regimens for the drug.
James Caruso, president and CEO of Cellectar Biosciences, says the results are particularly impressive because study participants represented a “challenging patient population.”
“The data reported today are very promising and we believe the product profile for CLR 131 can improve further with the administration of a second cycle,” Caruso said in a statement.
# Assembly to consider raising smoking age from 18 to 21
# Harley’s advertising, R&D costs jump by combined $52 million
# WEC Energy Group to increase owner interest in Wind Farms
# Later bar hours during Democratic convention still in play
– DATCP’s farm center hosting ‘Unexpected Tomorrows’ workshops
– Little Chute seeks exception to TIF rules for $140M dairy plant
– Wisconsin Legislature sends $250 million tax cut to governor
– Food processor scholarships available for 2020
– Custom manure hauler training planned in Abbotsford
– Air Force: Madison is preferred location for F-35 fighter jets
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– New Italian restaurant to replace Cafe Grace at Mayfair Collection
– Strauss Brands plans to stay in Franklin
– South Milwaukee banquet center, museum and public space project moving forward with Bucyrus Foundation donation
– GOP tax cut now in Evers’ hands
– Assembly GOP fails to override fab-lab veto
# REAL ESTATE
– Two more companies moving to Salem Business Park, including one from Illinois
– Milwaukee selects vendor for streetcar smart kiosks initiative
– Marcus Corp. reports record revenues for 2019
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: