TUE AM News: Dairy Innovation Hub supporting investments in robotics technology; Evers calling for legislative action to reduce youth vaping

— UW-Platteville is set to receive over $1.8 million annually from the state for the Dairy Innovation Hub, a cross-campus collaboration that includes UW-River Falls and UW-Madison. 

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the Dairy Innovation Hub, funds provided for the first year should be used for short-term investments focused on yielding quick returns for the industry. For UW-Platteville, investing in robotic milking equipment is a must. 

“Our robotic milking machines have been down for years,” UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields said in a recent panel discussion held by WisconsinEye. “This will give us an opportunity to purchase new technology.” 

UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Farms, a 200-head dairy farm, will see an investment of $640,000 for updates such as the new milking equipment for testing. The farm will also spend $650,000 on hiring four to five new faculty members. 

“There is an active market for universities to support industries,” said Shields. He said new research opportunities may attract industry to invest in technology. For example, a cheese producer may not be willing to give up a production line to test a new product but could have the university do it with its facility. 

“The Dairy Innovation Hub is an extension of the Wisconsin idea — so that we’re going to listen to what the dairy industry is asking us to look into,” said Shields.

“Some of the things we’re looking now weren’t always the focus,” says John Holevoet, director of government affairs for the Dairy Business Association. “Historically, research has been on forages, soil health, and more milk — and look at what overproduction has done to our milk prices. Right now that’s not what we need.”

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/dairy-innovation-hub-supporting-investments-in-robotics-technology/ 

— Gov. Tony Evers is calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at reducing youth vaping rates. 

In a press release Sunday, the guv outlined a pacckage of bills that would ban vaping and related products on K-12 campuses; fund a state public health campaign; expand the definition of public health emergencies; and give DATCP and the Department of Revenue more enforcement capacity for youth vaping. 

The release shows vaping rates for both high school and middle school students have increased dramatically in recent years, and Evers calls the current situation a “public health epidemic.” 

“State agencies will continue to work closely with local public health officials, law enforcement, and the medical community to implement solutions, but we also need our partners in the legislature to join us in order to really move the needle,” he said. 

Evers is also directing state agencies to step up their enforcement activities to reduce underage vaping. 

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2020/gov-evers-takes-action-to-address-youth-vaping/ 

— Sierra Club Campaign Representative Matt Earley says the organization is “deeply disappointed” with state Public Service Commission’s decision to approve a proposal for a new gas plant in Superior from Dairyland Power Cooperative and Minnesota Power. 

The Nemadji Trail Energy Center has an expected lifespan of 30 years. The $700 million project will include an electric generating facility with capacity for up to 550 megawatts. The facility will burn natural gas but can also use fuel oil as a backup. 

Environmental and tribal groups opposed the project and raised concerns about potential climate impacts. 

“Building a new fracked gas plant would be an environmental and economic disaster that would leave communities saddled with climate-disrupting emissions and a bad investment, both of which we’ll be paying for decades,” Earley said in a statement.

Rob Palmberg, head of external and member relations for Dairyland, says the project will play a role in supporting renewable energy resources. 

“Because of its ability to provide reliable back-up to intermittent sources of power, Nemadji Trail is a critical part of our resource diversification strategy,” he said. 

A release from Dairyland shows the Nemadji Trail Energy Center scheduled to be in service by 2025. 

See the release: http://www.dairylandpower.com/content/pscw-grants-approval-nemadji-trail-energy-center 

See more on the project: http://psc.wi.gov/Pages/MajorCases/Nemadji-Trail-Energy-Center-Project.aspx 

— The Milwaukee Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service provided a briefing for Milwaukee businesses on security considerations for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which included an initial map of the planned security perimeter.

According to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, no businesses in the area will be asked to close for the July 13-16 convention, and the area will be open to residents and visitors.

See more information from the MMAC here: http://www.mmac.org/dnc-2020.html

See more on the new DNC info in Politics headlines below. 

— Passenger traffic at Green Bay Austin Straubel Airport has increased for the second year in a row.

Airplane boardings in 2019 were up 10 percent over the previous year, following a 12.2 percent increase in 2018.  

“We’ve been pretty excited about our growth, because it’s record-breaking,” said airport director Marty Piette. “2018 was the largest increase we’ve seen in 30 years, and we’ve had the most passengers since 2011.” 

According to Piette, the growth was a result of focusing on marketing and branding of the airport to raise awareness to customers and airlines. The airport added Frontier Airlines in 2019 as GRB’s fourth air service.

“As passengers use the service, it adds frequency to cities and different airlines,” said Piette. “People realize how important having access to the world is.”

Piette said that people are also more aware that fares are competitive and parking is less expensive than big-city airports. Plus he said most “would rather fly local than waste time on the road driving or standing in long lines.”  

The Green Bay Packers’ NFC ranking has also contributed to their spike this year, according to Piette. 

“The Packers definitely affect our numbers,” he said. “We saw that in September when the Packers had three home games, there was a 23 percent increase in travelers from the prior year. The better they play, the more people are traveling.”

Piette mentioned that every flight was sold out for the recent playoff game in Lambeau. He expected the airport would see a similar trend over the weekend as Wisconsinites flew to California for the conference championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers lost the game 20-37. 

Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach said in a statement that the continued growth is also reflective of the strength of Northeast Wisconsin’s economy.

“Our local economy is strong, and it’s made stronger when the public supports local assets like GRB,” said Streckenbach.

“An airport is a catalyst for the economy,” added Piette. “When new businesses are looking to enter the market or businesses want to expand, the first thing they look for is access to transportation.” 

He mentioned that airports alone add $265 million to the region’s economy. “Travelers who choose GRB will rent cars, buy gasoline, stay at hotels, visit restaurants, shop, and attend events like football games.”

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/GRB-Passenger-Traffic-Soars-in-2019-1.pdf 

— TitleTownTech, a partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft, has invested in a company with a diagnostic application for concussions. 

A release from the Wisconsin Technology Council shows the New York-based startup called Oculogica has the first FDA-approved “neuro-diagnostic device” that tracks eye movement to determine concussion severity. 

As more retired NFL players who suffered concussions during their careers are experiencing memory loss and other cognitive problems, public awareness of the issue has grown. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 18 percent of concussions are related to sports. 

Rosina Samadani, CEO of Oculogica, says the company is working toward creating “an objective diagnostic for concussion as the new standard.” 

Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy says TitleTownTech is attracting “high-growth, scalable ventures” to the region that look to solve industry challenges. 

“We’re excited to see Oculogica’s innovation benefit not only the sports community, but health care overall,” he said. 

See the release: http://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/titletowntech-leads-8-million-round-of-funding-for-oculogica/ 


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<i>See these and other press releases:

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>

Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport: Yearly passenger traffic continues to grow at GRB

DATCP: Krull joins as Agriculture and Farm Center director