WED AM News: Survey reveals 150 Madison businesses lost over half of revenue since March; Nestlé invests $50 million in Eau Claire facility

— A recent survey from five local business groups reveals that 150 Madison businesses have lost more than half of their revenue since March when shutdowns due to the pandemic started to take place.

Of the 503 Madison area businesses that responded to the survey, 78 percent reported a decline in revenue and 30 percent reported losing more than half their revenue since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses owned and led by people of color, which make up 20 percent of the survey’s respondents, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s financial barriers. 

Sixty-nine percent of total survey respondents benefitted from the Paycheck Protection Program, an emergency line of federal funding for small businesses. But only 31 percent of Black-owned business respondents even received aid from the program. 

“They’re still being isolated out of the funding cycle,” said Camille Carter, president and CEO of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce. “What’s missing from this equation is creative financing, situations that allow for short-term funding of these businesses.”

Some small, sole proprietor Black-owned businesses were not prepared to organize financial documents needed to apply for PPP benefits, she said during a virtual briefing on the survey results.

Read the full story at 

— October unemployment rates declined in eight of Wisconsin’s 72 counties over the month, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The largest decrease of 0.6 percentage points occurred in northwestern Douglas County. Price County’s unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage points from October 2019.

But unemployment rates increased in all of Wisconsin’s 12 metropolitan areas over the month. The largest increase of 0.5 percentage points occurred in the Oshkosh-Neenah and Racine metro areas. 

Likewise, unemployment rates increased in all but three of Wisconsin’s 34 largest cities in October. Superior, located in Douglas County, was one of the three that had the largest decrease in unemployment. 

The regional differences largely have to do with industry concentrations, said economist and UW-Madison professor Noah Williams.  

“For example, areas reliant on tourism generally have lower employment as we move into winter,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean higher unemployment though, as there is also a decline in the seasonal labor force, both with temporary moves and with people back in school.”

He noted a special aspect about the coronavirus pandemic was its large impact in the service sector — leisure and hospitality particularly, such as full-service restaurants and hotels. 

“Cities have fared worse than rural areas because they have a higher concentration of employment in service sectors,” said Williams, who is also the director of the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy. 

He explained the downtowns of Madison and Milwaukee have seen much less traffic and congestion, as many office workers are still working remotely, and people are shopping online versus heading to brick and mortar stores. 

“This means that much of the supporting industry, such as restaurants, have fewer customers, even apart from the public health restrictions that have limited their capacity,” he said.

— Nestlé is investing $50 million to expand its factory in Eau Claire, making it the largest Nestlé Health Science manufacturing facility in the world.

The expansion will bring 70 new jobs to the community and surrounding area including line, mechanic and engineering positions. It will also help improve the plant’s sustainability. 

The facility is working to eliminate plastic straws from all packaging made at the facility — about 125 million plastic straws per year. It’s a “zero waste to landfill” plant, sending its waste to an alternate disposal source. It plans to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025. In addition, all of the medical nutrition products produced at the facility will be converted to re-closable packaging that may help consumers reduce food waste.

After the expansion, the Eau Claire facility will increase exporting to its main markets of Canada, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan. 

“We are proud to build on our longstanding commitment to the Eau Claire community,” said Jean-Denis Fournier, vice president of Technical & Production, Nestlé Health Science USA. “The community has been vital to our success for over thirty years, so we’re excited to deepen our partnership and increase local economic opportunity through the facility expansion.”

Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Minor said throughout the past nine months of the pandemic, the city has seen a continuation of investment by local, state and international companies, including Switzerland-based Nestlé — crediting Eau Claire as a great place to invest and expand a company. 

Sen. Jeff Smith and Rep. Jodi Emerson, both Eau Claire-area Dems, told they appreciate Nestlé’s commitment to expand its manufacturing facility and offer good-paying jobs in the area. 

“This $50 million investment will go a long way to help us recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and provide greater stability at a time we need it most,” Smith said. 

The Eau Claire facility, which started manufacturing in 1987, currently manufactures medical nutrition products, such as Peptamen, nutritional drinks, such as BOOST, and infant formulas, such as Gerber. Following the expansion, the facility will also begin manufacturing BOOST Kids Essentials and some Carnation Breakfast Essentials products.

— Grants are available for Wisconsin exporters seeking to grow their e-commerce to better target Chinese markets.

Wisconsin food, forestry and agriculture companies are invited to apply for grants through a pilot program administered by the Wisconsin International Agribusiness Center, a bureau of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

DATCP received $90,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to help exporters develop new e-commerce distribution channels in China. Wisconsin companies can apply for up to $9,000 each and are required to match at least 30 percent of the dollars.

The money can be used for a variety of expenses related to e-commerce operations, including consulting, purchasing software, advertisements, registration costs and translation services. 

“We appreciate WEDC’s partnership in making this grant available for our state’s agricultural and food businesses,” said Mark Rhoda-Reis, director of DATCP’s IABC. “Wisconsin products already exist in many stores in China, but have a minor presence, if any, on e-commerce platforms. We look forward to serving as a resource for Wisconsin companies in exploring these new opportunities in the Chinese market.”

Companies interested in applying for a grant should contact DATCP Economic Development Consultant Ashwini Rao at [email protected] The deadline to apply is Dec. 18.

— Wisconsin reported a record 107 new deaths among confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the latest Department of Health Services update, bringing the state’s total deaths to 3,420.

Wisconsin’s death toll is an example of the state being a long way from “real recovery,” according to Medical College of Wisconsin President and CEO Dr. John Raymond.

Milwaukee, Winnebago and Kenosha counties led the state’s increase, adding 10, nine and eight deaths to their totals, respectively. 

Counties reporting deaths in the triple-digits are Milwaukee (746), Waukesha (203), Racine (169), Kenosha (150), Brown (140), Outagamie (130), Marathon (124) and Winnebago (116).

The latest WHA coronavirus update shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin at 1,845 with 395 intensive care patients statewide. The Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park census is seven coronavirus patients.

Wisconsin also reported 4,078 cases, bringing the seven-day average down below 4,000. 

“I am hopeful that there is something real there in that decline,” Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said of the seven-day average, now at 3,905. 

“Even at a reduced seven-day average … that is still way too high,” she said. “I remember the days when we started reaching 1,000 and we were alarmed by that. And now we’re glad when we’re at 4,200. We have sort of gotten used to a cadence that is way too high.” 

Palm added that it took the state seven and a half months to get to its first 100,000 cumulative confirmed cases. It took another 35 days to get 200,000 cases. Eighteen days later, on Nov. 13, the state surpassed 300,000 cases. Now, Wisconsin is just shy of 400,000 cases.

<i>For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and

Sign up here:   </i>


# Mayo Clinic Details COVID-19 Situation In Eau Claire

# One of Wisconsin’s most powerful GOP lawmakers resigning

# Kohl’s taps Sephora for in-store shops to expand beauty business



– October All Milk Price Jumps to $21.50 Cwt. 

– Other Commodity Prices Were Mixed 


– City of Milwaukee’s unemployment rate at nearly 9% 


– Why Schools Closing And Remaining Open Is Still Scattershot 


– ADVENT’s ENT practice continues to expand amid COVID-19 

– With Thanksgiving caveat, Dr. Raymond says pandemic in Wisconsin might be decelerating 

– World AIDS Day: Wisconsin Faces More Than One Pandemic 


– Wisconsin funds back Madison company AirDeck’s $3.4M seed round 


– After Rittenhouse posted $2 million bail, some high-profile donors have shifted attention and funds to other issues

– Staffing Shortages Prompt Closure Of Waupun Prison Hall, Transfer Of Inmates


– Pabst Brewing Co. leaving Milwaukee, again 


– U.S. senators announce $908B stimulus proposal 


– Milwaukee Mayor Barrett set to enforce fines up to $5,000 for Covid-19 violations 


– Mandel Group in talks with Valentine Coffee Roasters to anchor food cluster project near West Allis Farmers Market 

– Employees of Pick ‘n Save parent Kroger speak out about coronavirus safety concerns 


– Wanaki Golf Course sale finalized 

– Deer Harvest Up Nearly 16 Percent During 2020 Gun Hunting Season Despite Coronavirus Pandemic 

– Bucks Unveil New Jerseys Inspired By Milwaukee Rivers, Lake Michigan 


– It’s tough times for all hotels, but stripped-down properties near airports are faring better than most 

– Milwaukee Film Festival moved to May 2021, likely to be all virtual 


– City calls for Couture streetcar station to open by Summerfest 2022 under new incentives pact 


– Milwaukee and Waukesha officials celebrate start of construction for water pipeline 


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>