TUE AM News: State sees record home sales for third quarter; DWD partners with Google Cloud to tackle UI backlog

— Wisconsin saw its strongest third quarter on record for home sales, eclipsing the previous third quarter sales record established last year by 9.8 percent.

“Demand has increased in recent months for a couple of reasons: low mortgage rates and an

improving job market in the state,” said Wisconsin Realtors Association President and CEO Michael Theo.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.89 percent in September, which pushed home sales up 18.1 percent compared to September 2019, and increased the statewide median price 17.9 percent to $229,900, according to the WRA.

Mortgage rates began dropping in January. The actions by the Federal Reserve Bank to mitigate the effects of the economic shutdown have pushed mortgage rates to record-low levels for six straight months. Additionally, the state’s unemployment rate dropped from its peak of 13.6 percent in April to 5.4 percent in September.

“When we consider what transpired last spring, we never would have imagined how quickly the housing market would rebound,” said WRA Chairman Steve Beers.

The economic lockdown of the state pushed annualized sales down 23.6 percent in May alone. In contrast, the annual growth in home sales surged by 10.2 percent in July, rose 2.6 percent in August and increased 18.1 percent in September.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/state-sees-record-home-sales-for-third-quarter/ 

— While the state’s housing market recovery appears to be V-shaped, economist David Clark says the national economy is recovering in a slow, linear fashion.

The national unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 14.7 percent in April to 7.9 percent in September. 

“After the major contraction in the second quarter this year, we definitely expect improvement in the second half of the year, but it will take some time to fully recover,” said Clark, Marquette University economist and consultant to the WRA.

He also noted indications that consumers are gaining confidence. 

The Consumer Confidence Index published by the Conference Board showed a sharp increase in September, in terms of consumers’ assessment of both current and short-term future conditions. 

“This likely bodes well for the housing market over the next few months,” Clark said.

The market continues to belong to the seller, but Theo noted that there are “plenty of great options” for buyers during the fall season. 

— An Amery tavern is weighing its options after a Barron County judge cleared the way for enforcement of the Evers administration’s order limiting indoor, public gatherings to 25 percent of a room’s capacity.

Gov. Tony Evers, meanwhile, hailed the decision as an important ruling that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This crisis is urgent,” Evers said. “Wisconsinites, stay home. Limit travel and going to gatherings, and please wear a face covering whenever you have to go out.”

The limit on public indoor gatherings, issued by Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, had been on hold since the middle of last week, when a different judge granted the Tavern League’s request for a temporary restraining order as part of its lawsuit.

League attorney Josh Johanningmeier said during a hearing yesterday bars would go out of business if the order was in effect through Nov. 6 as originally envisioned by the Evers administration.

But Barron County Judge James Babler said none of the evidence that had been presented to him showed that anyone had lost business due to the order, and he rejected a request for a longer injunction. He also said there was no evidence it was being enforced.

Johanningmeier protested that bars faced civil forfeitures of $500 if they didn’t comply with Palm’s order, and an injunction was needed to allow them to keep operating as they had before the directive was issued.

Meanwhile, Misha Tseytlin told Babler that The Mix Up, the Amery bar he represents, suffered a 50 percent reduction in sales between when Palm released the order and the Sawyer County judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing its enforcement. He argued patrons stayed away because they weren’t sure they’d be able to enter the bar once they showed up.

“The people had been deterred by the very order,” he argued.

But Babler was unpersuaded, noting the news has been filled with reports on the spike of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin.

“How do I know it’s not just general news reports or word of mouth that I shouldn’t go anywhere because I don’t want to catch COVID?” he said.

— Babler also rejected a request from those challenging the order to stay his order in case plaintiffs want to file an emergency appeal.

Liz Sieben, owner of The Mix Up, referred questions to her attorneys. Tseytlin wrote in an email to WisPolitics.com that a decision hadn’t been made yet.

Meanwhile, the Tavern League indicated it won’t appeal.

“We are obviously disappointed in the ruling and the catastrophic effects it will continue to have on small businesses across Wisconsin,” said Tavern League President Chris Marsicano. “We will continue to operate observing the best practices of the WEDC to provide a safe environment for our employees and customers.”

The case was originally assigned to Sawyer County Judge John Yackel, and he quickly issued a temporary restraining order last week preventing enforcement of the order without first giving the Evers administration the opportunity to weigh in.

The same day Yackel handed down his order, the state Department of Justice filed a request to have the case reassigned. Those requests are automatically granted, and since Yackel is the only judge for Sawyer County, it was turned over to Bayfield County Judge John Anderson. The Tavern League then filed a substitution request of its own, which resulted in the case landing with Babler.

Babler said that issuing a temporary restraining order without first hearing from the defendant is “disfavored.” While he said the Tavern League’s brief was well written, he didn’t believe Yackel should’ve granted the temporary restraining order.

— Foxconn will work as a partner with those who treat the company as a partner, says founder Terry Gou.  

Gou issued a statement yesterday regarding Foxconn’s investment in Wisconsin, which the company listed as $750 million. The statement follows an Oct. 12 Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announcement that Foxconn was not eligible for a multi-billion dollar tax credit this year after failing to meet the threshold for job creation and investment outlined in an agreement.

The statement also follows bad press on Foxconn’s presence in the Badger State. The Verge took a recent dive into Foxconn’s, what it calls, “alternate reality.” Three years after President Trump and the Wisconsin GOP struck a deal with Foxconn, the factory and the jobs don’t exist.

“The company’s desperate quest to maintain appearances caused it to fail repeatedly and in ways more destructive than mere ordinary failure would have been: local businesses were strung along, civil servants spent years figuring out what the company is doing, residents were removed from land the company didn’t need, and again and again recruits were lured in by the vision of a grand manufacturing renaissance in Wisconsin,” The Verge reported.

Meanwhile, Gau said Foxconn has “greatly appreciated” the support of Trump and the “vast majority” of Wisconsin’s political leaders, including the Legislature and local elected and economic development officials.

“Foxconn will remain committed to the completion and continued expansion of our project and investment in Wisconsin as long as policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels remain committed to Foxconn and the very important technology development goals driving the company’s investments, as President Trump has done,” he said. “Foxconn’s work is already delivering benefits to the people of Wisconsin that will only increase as the project moves forward and the partnership between the company and the state deepens.”

See the full statement: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/foxconn-founder-terry-gou-addresses-foxconns-wisconsin-investment/ 

See The Verge’s Foxconn story in headlines below.

— The state is partnering with Google Cloud to assist in Unemployment Insurance claims processing, allowing DWD to release payments faster.

The collaboration with Google Cloud, announced yesterday, will use predictive analytics based on historical data to shorten the time it takes to make decisions on UI claims. Another key feature of Google Cloud’s service is descriptive data analytics, which categorizes claims based on different attributes.

As part of this collaboration, Google Cloud will also deliver a fraud detection and identification service scan, allowing DWD to more strategically work through eligible claims.

“Our top priority is ensuring that all eligible unemployment claims in Wisconsin are paid as quickly as possible,” interim DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. “With that focus in mind, I look forward to this exciting collaboration with Google Cloud to further improve our UI processes to better serve Wisconsinites who are out of work through no fault of their own.”

As of Oct. 10, DWD has paid more than 532,000 claimants over $3.9 billion since March 15. But about 80,758 claimants are held up in adjudication by one or more weeks due to multiple issues.

“While the Department has completed an unprecedented number of claims over the past six months, we recognize that the 8 percent of claims still in process represents individuals who are depending on us,” Pechacek said. “This new partnership helps us ensure a more efficient resolution of their claims so that they may care for themselves and their families.”

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/dwd-partners-with-google-cloud-to-tackle-ui-backlog/

— Madison-based tech startup LÜM is expanding from its iOS-only focus to an Android and website platform. 

In the music streaming service and social network’s first year, it has drawn over 80,000 musicians and surpassed 25 million Notes, LÜM’s in-app currency. 

The company says it is the first of its kind to allow for direct-to-artist virtual gifting on a western music streaming platform. 

“We live in a world where artists have hundreds of tools that are designed to gain exposure, but the foundation of the business model for music streaming is broken, rendering those tools largely useless,” said Max Fergus, CEO and co-founder of LÜM. “The future of music needs to be built around tools for artists that allow them to maximize their most important assets, their fans, and all of the content they create. LÜM is excited to be leading that charge for independent creators.” 

Along with the expansion to web and Android, LÜM is also announcing the launch of a new platform for artist collaboration and monetization — the LÜM Exchange. Launching later this year, this music-specific marketplace for artists will allow music creators to buy and sell music services. This can include mixing and mastering, beats, vocals, songwriting and music reviews. 

See a recent story with LÜM on its partnership with Grammy-winning R&B and hip-hop artist Ne-Yo as its global ambassador after securing $3 million in a second seed funding round: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/lum-announces-partnership-with-grammy-winning-artist-ne-yo-after-securing-3m-in-a-second-seed-funding-round/ 

— The corn and soybean harvests made rapid progress in between the raindrops and frosts, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  

Frosts and freezes helped to push late-planted corn toward maturity. Corn mature was 96 percent, over four weeks ahead of last year and 18 days ahead of the five-year average. 

Harvest of corn for grain was 27 percent complete, three weeks ahead of last year and five days ahead of the average. The moisture content of corn harvested for grain was reported at 21 percent. Corn condition rated 77 percent good to excellent statewide, down two percentage points from last week. 

Soybeans were dropping leaves at a rate of 98 percent, 25 days ahead of last year and a week ahead of the average. The soybean harvest was 72 percent complete, 24 days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average.  

Chilly, windy conditions and spotty rains interrupted fieldwork in some areas. Overnight lows fell into the 20s on multiple nights with many reporters noting a killing frost. Areas of northern Wisconsin received up to 2 inches of snow on Saturday though it melted off quickly. Precipitation was welcome where it was received, helping germinate fall plantings and bulk up hay stands for the winter. 

Manure spreading and fall tillage continued. Fall tillage was reported as 34 percent complete, 27 days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average.

The potato harvest was nearing completion at 94 percent. That’s 11 days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average. 

Winter wheat planted was 86 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average. Sixty-five percent of winter wheat was emerged, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average. Winter wheat condition rated 77 percent good to excellent, unchanged from last week. 

The fourth cutting of alfalfa was reported as 96 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the average. Pasture condition rated 54 percent good to excellent, down six percentage points from last week.

— The two-day YPWeek 2020 conference starts today with a focus on driving collective action in the fight against injustice and systemic oppression.

YPWeek, presented by Concordia University, is a national conference for young people who are ready to build a new, more equitable future. The event is normally held in-person in cities across the country. This year, YPWeek participants will come together online.

Sessions will alternate between speakers and workshops, with interactive feedback loops and opportunities to take tangible action steps in one’s company or community.

YPWeek 2020 national partners include NEWaukee and Y-Link – Young Leaders in Kenosha among others.

Register here: http://ypweek.com/  

— Applications are open through Nov. 2 for a $50 million second round of small businesses grants still facing impacts of COVID-19. 

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s program aims to provide 10,000 businesses around the state with $5,000 grants that can be used for any purpose. The first phase of the program provided more than $65 million in grants to over 26,000 businesses statewide this summer. 

“With the increase in COVID-19 cases and the uncertainty it has created, many of Wisconsin’s small businesses tell us they’re already stretched to the limit and are concerned what the next few months will hold,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “As we did with the first round of We’re All In Grants, we want to provide aid that can help these businesses carry on.”

Money is available to all eligible small businesses, including those that have previously received the first round of We’re All In Grants from WEDC. Priority will be given to businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, such as restaurants and taverns, hair and nail salons and barbershops, and other services.

The grants will be administered by the Department of Revenue in partnership with WEDC. 

Learn more and apply at: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Pages/FAQS/SmallBusinessGrantProgram.aspx 

— The Alternative Care Facility at State Fair Park still had no patients as of yesterday afternoon, despite statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations reaching a record of 1,172.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s coronavirus data dashboard reports intensive care units are also at a record high of 302 patients.

The West Allis field hospital, designed to serve as an overflow facility for hospitals across the state, opened on Wednesday.

Southeast Wisconsin is operating at over 90 percent of its bed capacity, including ICU bed capacity, according to DHS’ data. Fox Valley and north central Wisconsin are operating at over 80 percent capacity for both hospital and ICU beds.

See the ACF patient tracker:


— The Epic Health Research Network found that Midwest hospitals could see a reduction of more than 10 percent in their total non-COVID-19 admissions than projected in 2020.

This is after a steep drop in admissions this spring and a rebound beginning in July.  

The regional breakdown says hospitals in the Midwest saw a decline in non-COVID-19 admissions in April to about 60 percent of expected capacity. Admissions were at 87 percent of predicted levels in early August.

Epic’s projection for the Midwest follows similar trends in all U.S. regions. 

Tim Size, executive director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, said both rural and urban hospitals in Wisconsin were impacted in similar ways. 

“Until this recent surge, most rural hospitals’ volumes were getting closer to normal,” he said. “But that progress is now threatened. We really need everyone’s cooperation to ‘stop the spread’ — that means masking, social distancing and hand washing.”

Epic’s data only goes through early August. Epic spokeswoman Ashley Gibson said the team plans to take another look in the future given the spike in cases, “especially here in Wisconsin.”


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– Agronomist says harvest time is hybrid evaluation time https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/agronomist-says-harvest-time-is-hybrid-evaluation-time/ 

– Farms and small business the focus of candidate roundtables https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/10/19/farms-and-small-business-the-focus-of-candidate-roundtables/ 

– DBA Announces Northcentral State Legislature Endorsements https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/10/19/dba-announces-northcentral-state-legislature-endorsements/ 


– UW Campuses Expand COVID-19 Antigen Testing To Off-Campus Students https://www.wpr.org/uw-campuses-expand-covid-19-antigen-testing-campus-students 


– Wisconsin State Park Visits Surge Amid Coronavirus Pandemic https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-state-park-visits-surge-amid-coronavirus-pandemic 

– Public Asked To Help Prioritize Work On Water Quality Standards https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/10/19/public-asked-to-help-prioritize-work-on-water-quality-standards/ 


– Two years after Trump put a shovel in the ground, Wisconsin is still waiting on Foxconn to come through https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2020/10/19/foxconn-construction-continues-but-company-silent-hiring/3579888001/


– New Madison Behavioral Health Resources Center To Link Patients With Care https://www.wpr.org/new-madison-behavioral-health-resources-center-link-patients-care 


– Venture capital deals need to increase in Wisconsin. Revived association pushes to make it happen https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/19/association-pushes-venture-capital-growth-in-wisco.html  


– Their bosses asked them to lead diversity reviews. Guess why. https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/19/their-bosses-asked-them-to-lead-diversity-reviews.html 


– 5 coronavirus-related changes manufacturers expect to keep for the future https://biztimes.com/5-coronavirus-related-changes-manufacturers-expect-to-keep-for-the-future/ 


– Trump, Biden each have $100K supporters in southeast Wisconsin business. Here are the top 10 donors for each. https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/19/trump-biden-each-have-100k-supporters-in-area.html 

– With fewer get-out-the-vote events on campus, will as many college students cast ballots? https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/university/with-fewer-get-out-the-vote-events-on-campus-will-as-many-college-students-cast/article_fd13a828-45a0-50f7-aa89-9e62c616b3d5.html

– Polls Missed The Mark In 2016. But Experts Say Things Are Different In 2020. https://www.wpr.org/polls-missed-mark-2016-experts-say-things-are-different-2020

– Outagamie County Ballot Misprint Will Delay Vote Count https://www.wpr.org/outagamie-county-ballot-misprint-will-delay-vote-count 


– Chicago developer eyes Menomonee Falls development on Appleton Avenue https://biztimes.com/chicago-developer-eyes-menomonee-falls-development-on-appleton-avenue/ 

– Greendale eyes option of acquiring Southridge’s Boston Store property through eminent domain https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/19/greendale-eminent-domain-for-boston-store.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

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