TUE AM News: Entertainment venues asking Evers for help; Milwaukee restaurants see no revenue boost from DNC

— Entertainment venues in the state are calling on Gov. Tony Evers to allocate more money to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gary Witt, president and CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, says live entertainment venues like theaters can’t “sustain the forced closure and prolonged loss of revenue” posed by the pandemic. Most national music tours have been cancelled or postponed, depriving these businesses of much of their revenues. 

“When our businesses close, our arts and culture scene will suffer, the $250 million dollar contribution our group alone makes to Milwaukee’s economy will disappear, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate will surge and a segment of the economy will collapse,” he said in a statement. 

The group estimates that independent concert venues contribute over $1 billion to the state’s economy through direct and indirect impacts, and also spend millions on marketing that benefits the cities in which they’re located. These venues have started a change.org petition outlining a proposed state grant program that would help fund these businesses. 

See more in a release: 

— Bars and restaurants in the Milwaukee area saw no revenue boost during last week’s Democratic National Convention, but Wisconsin Restaurant Association CEO Kristine Hillmer sees hope in some other tourist areas of the state. 

“Talking with members, we did not see an increase in business,” she told WisBusiness.com. 

Hillmer noted restaurants in some parts of the state are faring better than others amid the pandemic. She said certain areas such as the Wisconsin Dells and Door County are seeing more drive-in traffic, and “are doing pretty decently.” 

“More people are doing more stay-cations, rather than people getting in an airplane and going somewhere,” she said. “That’s helpful for tourist areas… We’re seeing them having more success with business and restaurants — but it’s still down.” 

Leaders of the bar and restaurant industries criticized DNC convention organizers after participants were urged to avoid going to local bars and restaurants while in Milwaukee for the event. With convention week now come and gone, Hillmer says that guidance “put a further damper” on potential business activity that was already limited by the pared-back convention. 

Expectations from last year for the convention’s impact were high, with 50,000 visitors expected and a projected impact of $200 million on the Milwaukee region’s economy. Visit Milwaukee has pegged the actual impact at around $3 million, and Hillmer says the boost to restaurants was essentially non-existent. 

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1454559 

— The UW System joined with the Tavern League of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association in asking bar and restaurant owners in college towns to enforce safety protocols to help prevent returning students from spreading COVID-19.

System President Tommy Thompson in a joint letter with the two groups noted how other campuses around the country rescinded in-person instruction for the fall after severe coronavirus outbreaks.

The letter adds that “nobody wants this outcome” to happen in Wisconsin, and suggests owners encourage physical distancing, enforce the statewide mask mandate, post signs encouraging hand-washing and follow local public health official guidance.

Thompson on Friday in a Milwaukee Press Club/WisPolitics.com event said the system was “going to do everything we can” to protect public health on and around campuses.

Other than the letter, he said schools are strongly discouraging “big parties,” and using $32 million in CARES Act assistance to distribute PPE and some 350,000 COVID-19 tests. The tests will go to all campuses other than UW-Madison, which has its own separate testing plan with CARES Act funding.

UW System schools begin the fall semester in less than two weeks.

See more:


— The latest episode of “WisBusiness.com: The Show” spotlights Jackie Hind of Plumb Pharmaceuticals, which won the grand prize in the 2020 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. 

Hind talks about the company’s novel platform for extended-release medications and why the first application is focused on opioid addiction. Also, Tom Still presents “Tech Metrics,” which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy. He’ll also preview upcoming Tech Council webinars and opportunities.

Watch the show here: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisbusiness-the-show-with-jackie-hind-of-plumb-pharmaceuticals/ 

— Wisconsin’s 118 state-chartered credit unions performed “relatively well” during the first half of 2020, according to DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. 

Over the first six months of the year, total assets at credit unions increased by about $6 billion, reaching $46.9 billion. Loan balances reached nearly $34 billion at the end of June, with an annualized loan growth rate of 6.67 percent, a release shows. 

“Their continued solid performance is a result of sound management practices and actions taken during the early stages of the pandemic,” Blumenfeld said in a statement. 

See the full report: http://www.wdfi.org/_resources/indexed/site/fi/cu/QuarterlyReports/2020/2020%20Mid-Year%20Bulletin.pdf 

— Dry weather continuing into this week has created “ideal conditions” for harvesting crops like hay, small grains and straw, but the lack of rain is causing some problems with other crops. 

That’s according to the latest crop progress and condition report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which shows the state had 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork last week. That’s slightly more than the previous week, which had 5.7 suitable days. 

The report found parts of southern and central Wisconsin saw no precipitation in the seven days ending on Aug. 23, while scattered showers were seen in other regions of the state. Hot days with little cloud cover led to some soil drying, prompting concerns for corn and soybeans. 

Corn conditions were rated 81 percent “good to excellent,” which is 3 percent lower than the previous week. And soybean conditions were rated 82 percent good to excellent, also down 3 percent. 

Overall, the harvest for most crops is well ahead of last year’s pace. The oat harvest was 87 percent complete, 29 days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of average. Potato harvest was 24 percent complete, 13 days ahead of last year and 5 percent ahead of average. And winter wheat harvested for grain was 98 percent complete, which is nine days ahead of last year and three days ahead of average. 

Still, the hot, dry weather caused issues for hay regrowth and pasture conditions. Hay was rated 76 percent good to excellent statewide, which is 5 percent lower than the previous week. And pasture conditions were rated 61 percent good to excellent — 7 percent below the previous week. 

See the full report: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2020/WICP-082320.pdf 

— Wisconsin’s seven-day average of daily confirmed cases dropped to 665 after adding 392 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the lowest number of new cases in two weeks.

However, the state only received a total of 4,865 tests, so the daily percentage of positive tests per total tests is still above the desired 5 percent at 8.1 percent. That is down from Sunday’s 9.4 percent.

The seven-day average for percent positive tests has been between 6.3 and 8.2 percent for about two weeks, and has held at 8 percent for the past two days.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 70,854. Meanwhile, 1.5 percent of patients have died and 7.9 percent have been hospitalized, a figure that continues to fall.

Individuals ages 20-29 make up 25 percent of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, accounting for 17,705 cases cumulatively. This is followed by people ages 30-39 at 17 percent, with 11,818 cases. 

Two percent of the 20-29 age group and 4 percent of the 30-39 age group cases have been hospitalized. But each group accounts for under 1 percent of the state’s death toll at eight and 12 deaths, respectively. 

Click here for a list of community testing sites: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm 

— The state’s COVID-19 death toll did not increase over the weekend, remaining at 1,081 since Saturday. 

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (479), Racine (85), Waukesha (70), Kenosha (61), Brown (57), Dane (39), Rock (26), Walworth (25), Washington (26), Winnebago (20), Ozaukee (18), Grant (16), Waupaca (17), Outagamie (17), Marathon (13), Clark (8), Fond du Lac (9), Sheboygan (8), St. Croix (6), Jefferson (6), Marinette (6), Eau Claire (6), Dodge (5), Forest (4), Pierce (4) and Richland (4).

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

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk and Waushara counties report one death each.

People ages 70-79 and 80-89 with confirmed cases together account for over half of the state’s deaths at 282 and 299 deaths, respectively. The age groups had an increase of eight and 20 deaths over the past seven days.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: http://www.wispolitics.com/wisconsin-coronavirus-resources/ 

— A biotechnology firm called Vascugen closed on a $10 million seed funding round last year, according to a recent SEC filing. 

The company, located in Madison’s University Research Park, is developing cell therapies aimed at restoring tissue function in patients by forming new blood vessels, through a process called vasculogenesis. 

According to company CEO Carter Cliff, the round was closed in fall 2019, but the SEC document was filed just recently. He told WisBusiness.com the company has raised just under $11 million overall, so the seed funding round represents a significant portion of Vascugen’s financing. 

Vascugen scientists are exploring the use of stem cell technology for regenerative medicine applications. These include diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that results in loss of vision, as well as peripheral artery disease that affects diabetic patients’ limbs. 

According to Cliff, the company is testing a cell therapy candidate in animal models at the University of Wisconsin and other research institutions. With around 10 employees, Vascugen’s leaders are working to integrate research and development space with manufacturing operations, so a relatively smaller team can execute the company’s strategy. 

Cliff has been CEO of Vascugen since the company was founded in 2017, and is also the co-founder of a number of other therapeutics ventures. 

See the SEC filing: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1822206/000182220620000001/xslFormDX01/primary_doc.xml 

— SJL Government Affairs & Communications has hired a new vice president of government relations, James Fenley. 

Fenley previously worked as policy advisor and lead budget analyst for Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, a member of the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. 

See the release: http://www.thesjlgroup.com/news/2020/8/24/fenley-joins-sjl-team-as-vp-of-government-relations 


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– Wisconsin Summer Championship show about to kick-off


– Final day to apply for Farm Support Program funding



– Bradley Symphony Center opening delayed by flooding


– Cousins restaurant opens in Richfield

– Anything but ordinary: Seasonal ingredients shine at Everyday Kitchen



– North Central, Fox Valley regions see most COVID-19 hospitalizations since pandemic began


– DHS: 392 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths



– REV Group COO resigns


– Milwaukee’s Hyatt Regency garners largest payment from DNC in July



– Shop loses lease after refusing to follow mask mandate


– Behind the scenes at Milwaukee Bucks’ TV broadcasts taking place 1,000 miles away from game



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