WED AM News: Urban development panel says Milwaukee is set up for success post COVID; Boosted Chews looks to stimulate interest in its caffeine product

— COVID-19 has accelerated some trends and interrupted others — setting Milwaukee up for success post pandemic, according to a panel of urban development leaders.

The working-from-home phenomenon is one of those trends that’s accelerated, but it poses new challenges to Wisconsin’s largest city, the panel explained during a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce briefing. 

For starters, it disrupted the downtown as an employment center, according to urban analyst and consultant Aaron Renn, who described the pandemic and working from home as a “pie in the face” to the downtown economy. 

However, Renn said that as people leave urban centers, such as New York City, Milwaukee has an opportunity to pick up those exits while benefiting from the work-from- home trend. As people are no longer tied to a physical location for work, Renn said Milwaukee will have to attract people to the city as a place to live, not just as a place with premium employment opportunities.

He noted the lakefront, historic neighborhoods and the ability to own a home as attributes of  Cream City. Another one, he added, is the transit system. But he warned that diminishing investments on public services will affect the desirability of the city.

“Milwaukee actually has a really high-ridership bus system relative to cities in its size class and region even after significant declines in bus ridership in Milwaukee,” Renn said. “Transit is very important to your city, transit is very important to equity. Therefore, ensuring that your transit systems which are taking big budget cuts … can really navigate through this without diminishing service levels … I would particularly zero in on.”

Read the full story at 

— Some entrepreneurs bite off more than they can chew. UW-Madison seniors Kit Chow and Aditya Singh Parihar knew what they were sinking their teeth into when they created Boosted Chews — a new way to capture America’s fondness for caffeine.

Founded in November 2019, Boosted Chews produces a caffeinated snack that can provide the same punch as a cup of coffee while satisfying America’s sweet tooth for chocolate.

Each chew contains 30 milligrams of caffeine, so three chews have about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Boosted Chews also comes in different flavors: original, hazelnut, mint and mocha.

Chow and Parihar started sales in late March and since then, they have sold more than 800 bags. They’ve also launched an online store and have reached out to shops and delivery services to sell their products. It’s available at some retail locations.

Customers can buy three different sized packs of Boosted Chews, a variety pack, the “boosted bundle” and the jumbo boosted bundle. Bags come with a recommended maximum “chews” in one sitting or one day. Prices range from about $7 to about $24, depending on the size of the package.

Like many products, Boosted Chews wasn’t ready on the first try.

See the full story at 

— The Department of Workforce Development’s unemployment backlog fell to 6.72 percent from 7.05 percent last week. 

That’s equal to about 72,160 unique claimants held up in adjudication by one or more weeks due to multiple issues, or 3,888 Wisconsinites who have gotten their UI checks in the last seven days.

DWD has paid about 551,800 claimants over $4.33 billion since March 15.

See the release:

— Wisconsin reported a new record for single-day COVID-19 deaths — 92. 

The death rate in Wisconsin is expected to settle at 0.7 percent by the end of the year, according to Dr. John Raymond, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin. The rate will be seven times greater than the seasonal flu, which is less than 0.1 percent. 

The latest death count brings the state’s toll to 2,741. The seven-day average for daily deaths due to the virus is at a record 49 deaths per day. One month ago, the average was 17 deaths per day. Two months ago, it was five.

Milwaukee County led the state’s increase with 14 new COVID-19 deaths, the most the county has seen since the pandemic began, according to data from the Department of Health Services.

Clark and Outagamie counties followed with six new deaths each. 

Counties reporting death tolls in the triple digits are Milwaukee (657), Waukesha (165), Racine (140), Brown (122), Kenosha (109), Outagamie (106) and Marathon (101).

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— Less than a day after Gov. Tony Evers’ staff asked GOP legislative leaders for their input on a COVID-19 bill, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos instead laid out a list of priorities to reporters first.

The priorities include better contact tracing and providing liability protections for businesses and others.

Vos told reporters his caucus doesn’t have legislation drafted, but hoped to sit down with the guv to talk about ideas for a compromise package. He said many of the ideas the Evers administration included in its bill draft were a “rehash” of what the Legislature did in the spring and said Assembly Republicans wanted to bring new ideas to the table.

Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback, meanwhile, slammed Republicans for going to the media with their ideas rather than accepting the administration’s offer to negotiate a package.

“It’s shameful that Republicans are watching our state face an unprecedented crisis and would rather continue playing politics than work with the governor to do what’s best for the people of our state,” Cudaback tweeted.

Vos, who insisted he wouldn’t negotiate details of the COVID-19 bill through the media, laid out a string of Assembly GOP priorities.

The speaker, who owns rental properties, said he didn’t support the guv’s call to end evictions and questioned if the suspension of a one-week waiting period before those who lose their jobs can collect unemployment was still needed.

The Assembly GOP priorities include:

*doubling the number of contact tracers;

*improving access to rapid testing;

*extending the National Guard deployment to help with testing;

*and implementing a new program like a pilot in Minnesota that allows people to take tests at home.

Vos also said he was disappointed Evers’ bill didn’t address the state’s troubled unemployment insurance system.

Vos suggested those who are unemployed and can’t go back to their previous jobs be offered positions as contact tracers in addition to their unemployment payments. He also suggested allowing med school students to do the same for a semester.

He didn’t provide specifics on the liability protections other than they would protect school districts, local governments and small businesses from potential lawsuits when trying to the best of their ability to implement safeguards against the spread of COVID-19.

Vos said he was “trying to put politics in the past,” though he twice bemoaned what he said were Dem efforts during the campaign to “lie” about GOP efforts to address COVID-19.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, knocked Republicans for “a total lack of leadership,” noting the Legislature hasn’t met since mid-April and “Robin Vos hasn’t brought a thing to the table since.”

“Ninety-two people have died since yesterday and Speaker Vos is still trying to blame Governor Evers,” Erpenbach said. “As the Governor has been saying over and over again, his door has been open, it’s the majority Republicans who continue to say no.”

In response to Evers’ legislative package and Vos’ call for new policy initiatives, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce encouraged elected officials to keep in mind the thousands of businesses and their employees who have been “detrimentally” impacted by COVID-19 and government-imposed restrictions.

“Wisconsin businesses need certainty so they can continue to operate safely and help our economy rebound,” said WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer. “Any legislative package must incentivize work and discourage frivolous lawsuits. By ensuring our employers have a talented workforce and providing legal liability protections, lawmakers can help our economy recover and ensure a bright future for our state.”

— Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a new order prohibiting all indoor gatherings and limiting outdoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer with physical distancing. 

The previous limit for gatherings was 10 indoors and 25 outdoors with physical distancing. The order takes effect Nov. 18 at 12:01 a.m. and remains in effect until Dec. 16 at 12:01 a.m.

Included in the definition of mass gatherings are: meetings, training sessions and conferences; events; conferences; indoor group exercise classes; movies; and in-person games, sports and competitions.

UW–Madison sports are not impacted by this order.

The capacity limit for most businesses continues to be 50 percent, and the provisions of the existing face covering order are still in effect. As with the previous order, indoor dine-in capacity for restaurants is 25 percent, outdoor restaurant seating is allowed with physical distancing and customers may enter taverns only for the purposes of ordering, pick-up and payment of food or beverage or while in transit.

In issuing this order, Public Health officials have said it is informed by data collected from contact tracing interviews that show gatherings as the biggest source of virus spread. 

Dane County and the city of Madison may issue a fine of up to $1,000 for every violation of the health order, plus court costs.

See the release: 

Read the full emergency order: 


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– Farm Bureau Announces New Appointees to Promotion and Education Committee 

– Dairy Margin Coverage Deadline Approaching 


– As occupancy dwindles, college dorms go beyond students 


– $10 million in COVID-19 relief awarded to movie theaters in Wisconsin


– State directing $80 million in COVID relief for skilled nursing facilities 

– Wisconsin Department of Health Services preps mass vaccination plan 

– Vaccines could usher in improved business, social levels by spring, says Dr. Raymond 


– Wauwatosa-based Zywave acquires global insurance data provider 


– Rockwell Automation says acquisition will bolster its software strategy 


– Senators take sharper aim at Twitter and Facebook 


– Virus deaths hit new high in Wisconsin, Evers releases bill

– Thousands Await Jobless Aid As Wisconsin Leaders Blame Each Other For Failure


– Affordable apartments pitched in Racine historic rehab 


– A 13% sales drop and $12 million loss ‘exceeded expectations’ for Kohl’s 


– DNR: Gun Deer License Sales Up Amid Pandemic 

– La Crosse County Health Officials Call For Winter School Sports, Extracurriculars To Be Canceled 


– Marcus Theatres, Milwaukee Film among firms sharing $10M in state grants for movie theaters 


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