MON AM News: WWBIC to put Charter’s $1M investment towards low-interest loans; The University Book Store sales rise for tech, fall for apparel

— Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. will put Charter Communication’s $1 million investment towards low-interest loans.

WWBIC is an economic development corporation focusing on women, people of color, veterans and low-income individuals. It provides direct lending and access to fair and responsible capital, quality business education, one-on-one technical business assistance and education to increase financial capacity. WWBIC’s average loan size is between $35,000 and $39,000.

“That money is very important to WWBIC because we need to have either equity — actual grants to us that we can re-lend — or low-interest payment borrowed capital like this,” Wendy Baumann, president of WWBIC, told “And why we specifically are pleased with the Charter Communications and the Spectrum Loan Fund is that it’s a little bit different money for us.”

In its 33-year existence, WWBIC has lent over $77 million in micro and small business loans with a current loan portfolio of $24 million and over 570 active borrowers. The corporation has borrowed capital and received grants from financial institutions, the federal government, local governments, faith-based organizations and accredited investors. 

“We don’t have as many national corporate investors,” Baumann said. “We really like to have not just a lot of eggs in one basket — we like to have a lot of different baskets with a lot of different eggs. And to us, this Charter investment, a national footprint and a corporate, private investor, is one of our first in that basket.”

Charter announced its investment in mid-August through its Spectrum Community Investment Loan Fund that focuses on making loans through Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, to small businesses that help meet core needs in underserved communities. 

Read the full story at 

— Downtown Madison was alive this weekend with UW-Madison students and parents trickling into campus in preparation for the start of the fall semester. A hybrid of in-person and online instruction begins Sept. 2.

The students’ return to campus was good news for The University Book Store, a school supply and Badger merchandise shop in four locations around Madison.

Vice President of Retail Operations Kevin Phelps, told that he expects UW students to buy school supplies similar to other years because they’re on campus. 

“Because more and more of their classes are virtual, we expect a decline at some point but really, we expect to sell notebooks and pens sort of like usual,” he said. “The other area we’re seeing a big increase in sales and interest is in our tech products.”

This is the first year for the bookstore being an authorized Apple seller. Phelps noted that sales has seen a lot of interest and questions surrounding Apple and Dell products and anything else revolves around technology. The Apple store in the Hilldale Shopping Center remains closed, so the bookstore is seeing a bump in sales due to that.

However, with no Badger football, a summer of few tourists, and a cancelled summer orientation for students, clothing sales are not doing well, Phelps said. 

“We expect that to ride through the football season because it’s so predicated on playing football games,” he said. “School supplies will be okay, we definitely think apparel will be down.”  

In fact, Phelps said for apparel and like items, 50 percent down is the new normal. 

“That number hurts,” he said. “Our problem in the spring was, we rely very heavily on the end of semester, we rely heavily on Badger graduation, the UW commencement ceremonies, and none of that happened. Between that and summer orientation, those are our Christmases at The University Book Store and to not have that, it’s kind of a big deal.”

Since March, The University Book Store has had a heavy focus on its online store, which is up in sales, and experimented with free shipping, touchless pickup and outside pickup to boost sales and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Phelps encourages people to shop local, especially on State Street, which he said “needs help more this year than any other year in the past.”

“It’s been a rough time downtown with COVID and the unrest,” Phelps said. One of the bookstore locations is located on State Street, which had nine windows broken during the looting that happened late May. 

“We didn’t lose any merchandise; our only expense was the glass and the plywood,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s still some plywood up on the windows, but for the most part it’s the same great iconic State Street it’s always been — it’s just that we have some businesses that may or may not open back up.”

— This year marks the fourth anniversary and 7,015 acres enrolled in farmland preservation agreements in the Golden Triangle agricultural enterprise area, a total of 21,394 acres in Eau Claire County.

Since its designation as an AEA in 2016, the Golden Triangle AEA has been working with landowners to promote conservation practices through farm-to-farm networking. Signing an agreement keeps land in agricultural use for 15 years while meeting soil and water quality requirements. In return, landowners can claim an annual tax credit. 

“Farming and agriculture are an important part of our community, and we want to try to preserve farmland and support the next generation of farmers,” said one of the Eau Claire County landowners who petitioned for the AEA. “The ag enterprise area gives us an opportunity to do this.”

Getting farmers together and establishing commitments to the future of agriculture, through things like farmland preservation agreements and implementation of conservation practices, supports the growth and prosperity of rural communities across Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. 

In Eau Claire County, agriculture provides 4,641 jobs to residents and contributes $19.1 million in taxes, not including property taxes to local schools.

— The sixth annual Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce IceBreaker will welcome two New York Times best-selling authors as keynote speakers on Sept. 23.  

The world’s foremost experts on human connection, healing, mindfulness and healthy communities are Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Richard Davidson.

Murthy was the 19th U.S. surgeon general and is the author of the recently released book, “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World”.

Davidson is the founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at UW–Madison, as well as the founder of Healthy Minds Innovations, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds.

GMCC noted in a release that over 430 business leaders have already signed up for IceBreaker.

— COVID-19 is still “very contagious” in the state, warns the Wisconsin Department of Health Services as the state reported 537 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.

The state’s seven-day average of daily confirmed cases rose slightly from 684 to 696 and the seven-day average for percent positive tests also went up slightly from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent. 

Wisconsin received a total of 5,099 people tested yesterday. 

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 75,337. Meanwhile, 1.5 percent of patients have died and 7.7 percent have been hospitalized, a figure that continues to fall.

See the latest numbers from DHS: 

— DHS continues to suggest testing for individuals who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19. 

In addition to asking the doctor for a test or going to a community testing site, DHS also offers an online health screening assessment that when after completion, a licensed health practitioner will contact the individual.

Click here for a list of community testing sites: 

— The state also reported nine new COVID-19 deaths over the weekend, bringing the toll to 1,122

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (489), Racine (89), Waukesha (74), Kenosha (63), Brown (58), Dane (40), Washington (29), Walworth (27), Rock (26), Winnebago (21), Outagamie (20), Ozaukee (18), Grant (17), Waupaca (17), Marathon (13), Fond du Lac (9), Clark (8), Sheboygan (9), St. Croix (7), Eau Claire (6), Jefferson (6), Marinette (6), Dodge (5), Pierce (5), Forest (4) and Richland (4).

Adams, Barron, Door, Sauk and Taylor counties report three deaths each. Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Monroe, Oconto, Polk, Trempealeau, Waushara and Wood counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lincoln, Marquette, Portage and Rusk counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 


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# Recall Effort Launched Against Evers



– Heavier soils helping preserve Wisconsin corn condition 

– Nearly Half of Farm Support Applicants Were New Qualifiers 

– Farm to Families Food Box Program Distributes 75 Million Boxes 


– ‘Endless’ opportunities in new $150 million Verona High School — whenever students return 


– Milwaukee Overdose Deaths On Track To Surpass Record 

– Madison nurses start company to provide online COVID-19 screening 


– Marcus Center postpones annual fundraiser, citing this week’s racial justice issues 


– Jason Industries set to emerge from bankruptcy as private company 

– Clarios CEO Mark Wallace reflects on Covid-19 pandemic, sees future in lead acid batteries 


– Komatsu Mining pays $8.76 million for future HQ site 


– Wisconsin officials press USPS for assurances on election-related mail 


– A decade later, leaders of Menomonee Valley brownfield redevelopment celebrate project’s completion 


– West Allis startup creates virtual mall, same-day delivery for small businesses 


– Game on? Packers hope Lambeau Field dress rehearsal has them ready for actual games to start


– Milwaukee hotels surpass 40% occupancy as Covid-19 continues impact on travel industry 

– Will DNC experience deliver Milwaukee conventions in long run? 


– Xcel crews heading south to help restore power 


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