TUE AM News: State puts $8M in CARES Act funds towards tourism grants; Tourism Department to resume out-of-state marketing “soon”

— Wisconsin’s tourism promotion and development groups can access $8 million in grants from a new stimulus program announced by Gov. Tony Evers.

The program is called TRAVEL, which stands for Tourism Relief to Accelerate Vitality and Economic Lift. It provides two types of grants; groups can apply for both.

The first type supports the continuation of operations due to the impacts of COVID-19, such as replacing lost revenue. The other is aimed at supporting a safe and healthy experience for travelers and resident consumers amid the COVID-19 public health emergency. Long-term marketing campaigns unrelated to the pandemic are not eligible.

The money is available through the state’s portion of the federal CARES Act dollars.

“The tourism industry is among the hardest hit by COVID-19,” Evers said yesterday. “The TRAVEL grants are designed to sustain local operations, staffing, and relief stimulus activities to drive immediate spending and reinforce safe travel in support of local businesses across the state.”

The Department of Tourism is accepting applications through 4 p.m. Sept. 28. Grants will be announced by late October.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1455096 

— In a letter to the Joint Finance co-chairs, Meaney also updated how the agency is using $781,800 per year in general purpose revenue dollars the committee allocated for tourism market expansion. 

She wrote the committee was “wise” to approve the dollars.

But the state has halted its out-of-state marketing during the pandemic.

Meaney noted in Friday’s letter that less than half of the state’s viable traveler audience is open to acting on travel messaging. However, she said 70 percent of Americans plan to travel within the next six months — road trips being the most popular form of travel.

Meaney said the department is monitoring the pandemic and travelers’ willingness to travel outside of their own communities before resuming out-of-state advertising. She wrote to the Joint Finance Committee “it will be soon appropriate to resume.”

When out-of-state marketing does resume, the agency will be focusing on three new markets: Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Grand Rapids. These three Iowa cities will join Chicago, Minneapolis, Wisconsin and St. Louis markets. Travel Wisconsin has so far invested $353,850 in the research, campaign testing, planning and ad production tied to that.

Tourism in Wisconsin was coming off of its biggest year on record in 2019. Over 113.2 million visits statewide generated an estimated $22.2 billion, including $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue. The tourism industry supports 202,217 full- and part-time jobs in Wisconsin.

Last year, the state achieved a return on investment of $8 in tax revenue per $1 promotional spend.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly was devastating, there is no doubt that for our industry, which was hurt so badly by the pandemic, expanding into new markets will be game-changer when the time is right,” Meaney wrote.

The secretary told WisBusiness.com that for now, the department will provide ideas on TravelWisconsin.com for anyone looking for travel inspiration, and it will continue its local, regional and national public relations efforts with efforts such as news features.

The offices of the JFC co-chairs didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment yesterday.

See Meaney’s letter to JFC: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/200914Tourism.pdf

— Sales, prices and listings were up in most counties in the metropolitan Milwaukee area and southeastern Wisconsin. 

Unit sales in the four-county metropolitan area were up 5.3 percent in August compared to the same month a year ago. Similarly, in the seven-county southeastern region, sales were up 4 percent.

This year, summer replaced spring as the hottest part of the selling year, according to Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors. While attempting to control the spread of COVID-19, the real estate market dropped off in April, May and June. It jumped back up beginning in July and has continued into August.

GMAR reports the comeback is due to a declining unemployment rate and historically low interest rates, which helped fuel buyer interest and sustained a resilient market.

Based on an analysis of single-family and condominium prices in metro Milwaukee, home prices in August were 17.5 percent higher than last year — going from $283,847 to $333,486 last month. From September 2019 from August 2020, the average house price has gone up 8.7 percent from $265,873 to $289,081.

Listings were up 6 percent in the metropolitan area and by 4.6 percent in southeastern Wisconsin for the month of August. However, GMAR reported that Wisconsin is in a historical drought for listings. Since the beginning of 2016 — a span of 56 months — only 21 months had an increase in homes listed for sales. 

GMAR attributes that drought, and the increases in prices, to the lack of new construction of single-family and condominium homes.

— The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity will hold its final virtual listening session on Wednesday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to listen to ideas and experiences from residents about what it will take to advance rural prosperity in the state.

The commission aims to present collected input as a report to Gov. Tony Evers by Oct. 31. 

“Before they can develop a plan for rural Wisconsin’s future, commission members want to hear from people about what they believe their communities need most to succeed,” said Kelliann Blazek, director of the Office of Rural Prosperity at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. 

Wednesday’s event is the last of three listening sessions by the commission. In addition to the listening sessions, residents may join the discussion by submitting written comments by Sept. 30 on the Office of Rural Prosperity website. Rural stakeholder groups may also arrange meetings with commission members through WEDC.

Register here: https://join.inwisconsin.com/ereg/index.php?eventid=569979&

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay will headline part two of the “Shaping the Endless Frontier” series on Wednesday, a webinar on how research and development investment can build a stronger economy. 

He’ll be joined by U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. Both Gallagher and Khanna are primary House of Representatives sponsors of the Endless Frontier Act, which has been introduced in both houses of Congress. The act proposes expansion of the National Science Foundation, investments in science and tech research and development, and dollars for regional technology hubs.

The webinar series defines Midwest research and innovation assets and explains how the proposed $100-billion federal investment can build on those resources to the benefit of the nation. 

Wednesday’s 60-minute discussion will explore how targeted federal investment in emerging, national growth centers focused on quantum computing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and manufacturing can extend and expand U.S. leadership into the 21st century and beyond.

Gallagher and Khanna will be joined by Mark Mone, chancellor of UW-Milwaukee, and Melissa Skala, investigator at the Morgridge Institute for Research and professor of biomedical engineering at UW-Madison. Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, will moderate.

Register here: https://warf.wufoo.com/forms/z5m0xhs0nn8jl9/ 

The first webinar in the series was held on Aug. 11; watch the discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHVMVeGZMWM 

— Frequent rains kept farmers out of fields in southern Wisconsin, while clearer weather in the northern districts allowed fieldwork to progress, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  

USDA reporters noted that the week’s rains recharged soil moistures after dry conditions. Temperatures were well below normal, with daytime highs in the 40s to low 60s. Manure, winter wheat and cover crops were going into cleared fields and northern and central Wisconsin saw the first frosts of the season midweek. 

Apple picking was in full swing, and the potato harvest was underway at 47 percent complete, 10 days ahead of last year and five days ahead of the five-year average. Potato condition rated 92 percent good to excellent statewide, down one percentage point from last week. 

Corn silage chopping made good progress where conditions allowed. Corn for silage harvested was 39 percent complete, 27 days ahead of last year, and nine days ahead of the average. 

Corn was maturing quickly. Corn at dough stage or beyond was 96 percent, over four weeks ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the average. Corn dented was 77 percent, 24 days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the average; 26 percent was reported mature, three weeks ahead of last year and 17 days ahead of the average; and corn condition rated 78 percent good to excellent, unchanged from last week. 

There were reports of early-planted soybeans being combined. Soybeans coloring was 73 percent, two weeks ahead of last year and six days ahead of the average. Twenty-five percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, 10 days ahead of last year and three days ahead of the average. Condition rated 79 percent good to excellent, down two percentage points from last week.

Winter wheat planted was 33 percent complete, 27 days ahead of last year and two weeks ahead of the average. 

Fourth cutting of alfalfa was reported as 63 percent complete, 24 days ahead of last year and three days ahead of the average. Pasture condition rated 59 percent good to excellent, unchanged from last week.

— While yesterday’s daily case count was half of what it was Sunday at 771 new cases, the percent positive rate only dipped to 19.7 percent from 20.5 percent. 

This is after the state recorded just 3,920 new test results. The seven-day percent positive average rose to 14.9 percent from 14.1 percent — a new record that continues to move further from the ideal rate of 5 percent.

After coming off four consecutive days of daily new COVID-19 cases over 1,000 and a record daily case count of 1,582, the seven-day average for new confirmed cases rose to 1,171 from 1,142. That’s another record-breaking figure.

People between 20-29 years old make up 26 percent of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, accounting for 23,038 cases cumulatively after adding 2,331 confirmed cases in the past six days. This is followed by people ages 30-39 at 16 percent, with 14,135 cases, adding 741 cases since Tuesday.

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 nine and 15 deaths, respectively. That’s an increase of one death in the 20-29 age group since last week.

Breaking the age groups down differently, DHS data show that those in the 18-24 age range have 19,253 confirmed cases, an increase of 3,312 over last week and higher than all the other age groups. It also has the highest infection rate at 3.5 per 1,000 people. 

That’s followed by the 25-34 age group with 16,220 confirmed cases, an increase of 905 over last week. Individuals under the age of 18 account for the least amount of confirmed cases and the lowest infection rate of all other age groups. 

The total number of people tested is over 1.3 million and 89,956 have tested positive. Meanwhile, 78,527 have recovered, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ coronavirus metrics.

The state has the lab capacity to test 38,532 specimens — this could be multiple tests per person — but has not yet tested over 25,000 specimens in one day. 

— As of Sept. 14, Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected 465,491 specimens statewide.

In addition, about 30 troops are working at a call center that informs people of their COVID-19 test results. 

The Guard has fulfilled a variety of roles across the state since its response to the COVID-19 pandemic began after Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12.

See more on the Guard’s response in releases below. And see a recent WisBusiness.com story on the Guard’s help in testing here.

— The state’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 1,210. 

People ages 70-79 and 80-89 with confirmed cases together account for over half of the state’s deaths at 309 and 344 deaths, respectively. The age groups had an increase of 22 and 30 deaths, respectively, over the past six days. DHS reports that 1.3 percent of COVID-19 patients have died in the state.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (514), Racine (93), Waukesha (85), Kenosha (65), Brown (58), Dane (41), Walworth (32), Washington (32), Rock (29), Outagamie (24), Winnebago (22), Waupaca (19), Grant (19), Ozaukee (18), Marathon (14), Fond du Lac (12), Sheboygan (11), Clark (8), Dodge (8), Jefferson (7), Marinette (7), St. Croix (7), Eau Claire (6) and Pierce (6).

Barron, Forest, Oconto and Richland counties report four deaths each, while Adams, Door, Portage, Sauk, Taylor and Wood counties report three deaths each.

Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Green, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Monroe, Oneida, Polk, Trempealeau and Waushara counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Lincoln, Marquette, Rusk, Sawyer, Vilas and Washburn counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates. 


# Wisconsin Corn Growers Glad EPA Rejects “Gap-Year” Exemptions 

# FEMA Says It Will Supplement Unemployment Insurance Benefits For 6 Weeks 


# With a spike in Dane County COVID-19, what’s next for businesses looking to reopen? 




– Wisconsin Still Poised to Set Corn, Soybean Production Records http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=980&yr=2020 


– First American Bank plans office at 411 East Wisconsin Center https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/first-american-bank-plans-office-at.html  


– As fall semester starts, Milwaukee-area colleges start thinking about spring instruction https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/as-fall-semester-starts-colleges-start-thinking.html 

– UW-Madison Cancels Spring Break To Limit Spread Of COVID-19 https://www.wpr.org/uw-madison-cancels-spring-break-limit-spread-covid-19 


– Research Identifies Wetlands Most Important For Marsh Bird Conservation Across The Great Lakes https://www.wpr.org/research-identifies-wetlands-most-important-marsh-bird-conservation-across-great-lakes 


– Wisconsin Covid-19 workplaces investigations top 1,000, with dozens of active cases at schools, day cares https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/workplaces-in-wisconsin-investigated-for-covid.html 

– As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Officials Say Too Few People Are Getting Tested https://www.wpr.org/covid-19-cases-rise-officials-say-too-few-people-are-getting-tested 


– MGS plans expansion on Germantown campus https://biztimes.com/mgs-plans-expansion-on-germantown-campus/ 

– Briggs & Stratton acquisition by KPS ready, and needs, to close by Sept. 25 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/briggs-stratton-acquisition-by-kps-needs-timely.html 

– Johnson Controls bond issue to support sustainability, Moody’s warns about debt levels https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/johnson-controls-green-bond-issue.html 

– Cher-Make Recalling Sausage Products http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=982&yr=2020 


– Trump administration to review Oracle’s TikTok deal this week https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/trump-administration-review-oracle-tiktok-deal.html 


– Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Green Party Effort To Get On Presidential Ballot https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-supreme-court-rejects-green-party-effort-get-presidential-ballot 

– Pence highlights law and order during Wisconsin visit https://apnews.com/63611fe342478d7b21178ced26842512

– Green Party’s legal team has ties to GOP and also represents counties that don’t want party added to ballot https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/14/green-party-lawyers-have-ties-gop-counties-association/5791100002/


– How the pandemic has changed apartment building amenities https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/how-pandemic-changed-apartment-building-amenities.html 


– Analyst weighs in on plan to sell J.C. Penney’s retail business to Southridge, Mayfair owners https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/analyst-on-jcpenney-simon-brookfield-deal.html 


– Big Ten football could kick off as soon as Oct. 17: Report https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/09/14/big-ten-football-could-kick-off-october.html 


– Great American Outdoors Act Sets Aside $6.5B To Address Maintenance Backlog Within National Parks https://www.wpr.org/great-american-outdoors-act-sets-aside-6-5b-address-maintenance-backlog-within-national-parks 


– Amazon hiring 100,000 people, but how many in Wisconsin? https://biztimes.com/amazon-hiring-100000-people-but-how-many-in-wisconsin/ 


– Op-Ed: Reviving the Rural Spirit of Cooperation https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/09/14/op-ed-reviving-the-rural-spirit-of-cooperation/ 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

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

Security Health Plan: Names Vice President of Health Plan Products and Risk Adjustment

Gov. Evers: Announces $8M TRAVEL Grants Program for tourism industry

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce: Voting begins for the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin

Growth Energy: Welcomes EPA rejection of ‘gap-year’ exemptions