WED AM News: Wisconsin pro teams hopeful for championships, full stadiums; Baldwin says Congress has 80 percent agreement on COVID relief

— Wisconsin’s professional sports teams are teaming up with Microsoft to form the Equity League, a new division of venture capital fund TitletownTech.  

The news broke ahead of a Press Club virtual event featuring the Milwaukee Bucks, Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers.

The first-ever social change partnership between the trio is likely to include investments in minority-owned firms from some of the players from each of the teams. TitletownTech has invested $25 million in 21 companies. 

Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said he thinks the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha this summer was an “inflection point” for the organization and his colleagues.

“It was really time to take action and to make a positive change and to make an impact,” he said. “It’s not often that professional teams come together like this particularly to address social justice issues. We were excited to be able to have the announcement today, and it looks like we’re getting positive publicity across the country.”

Adding to the state’s positive publicity was an announcement during the event from Bucks basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo via Twitter. The NBA’s two-time MVP has signed a “supermax deal” as described by event guest reporter Jen Lada of ESPN. The five-year extension deal is worth $228 million. 

“Giannis is a generational player, what it means to the Milwaukee Bucks, what it means to our market and to our team … it’s hard to really state the importance of it, this is a monumental kind of event,” Bucks President Peter Feigin said after reading Antetokounmpo’s tweet to the panel. “This is one of the great days in Bucks history, so this is a really great, great moment.” 

Star players that become committed to the community and fall in love with the city and the state, such as Antetokounmpo, the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and the Brewers’ Christian Yelich, “become legends,” said Milwaukee Admirals President Jon Greenberg, another panelist.

They also drive fan engagement, said Rick Schlesinger, president of business operations with the Brewers.

Read the full story at 

— Four environmental and agricultural groups are coming together to advocate for meaningful state-level policy changes and “significant investment” to support clean water and resilient farms. 

Clean Wisconsin, the Dairy Business Association, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association announced the partnership yesterday at a virtual press conference. 

The groups outlined four principles that will guide and inform their efforts to push for robust policy changes, including increasing well testing and well replacement funding, updating the state CAFO program, and bolstering current conservation efforts.

“We acknowledge that we have work to do yet to tease out what those specific recommendations are and what those associated price tags are,” said Matt Krueger, executive director of Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.

The groups plan on engaging with lawmakers now and into the next legislative session.

“The challenges facing our drinking water and farming community demand innovative solutions. While not always on the same side of policy debates, our groups have had a long history of advocating for these issues,” said Mark Redsten, president and CEO of Clean Wisconsin. “We’re working together because it’s time we rethink how we protect our water while supporting our farmers.” 

The initiative recognizes the economic and environmental value of clean water and sees clean water as a shared responsibility, said Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association. 

“Farmers are problem-solvers, and every day we are seeing more and more innovative conservation practices that protect and improve water quality around the state,” he said. “Moving forward together with others who share this commitment will accelerate progress.” 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers has sent a pair of COVID-19 relief package proposals to congressional leaders for final negotiations.

According to Baldwin, negotiators had hashed out differences on about 80 percent of the issues, including an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program and support for small businesses, a continued moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, rental assistance, and an extension of unemployment insurance, among a host of other measures.

But she said at a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce “DC Meets Madison” webinar yesterday that lawmakers are still divided on sending cash to state and local governments and providing liability protection.

What’s more, she said the White House and lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum — from conservative Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley to liberal Vermont Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders — are also pushing for another round of direct stimulus payments similar to the $1,200 checks some received earlier this year. Baldwin said she also wants to see stimulus payments.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, told the GMCC meeting that he expected a coronavirus relief package this year, but that it likely would fall short on new state and local government aid. He talked extensively about how to improve the PPP program, adding that the voice of small businesses needed to be heard in Congress. To that end, the small business owner noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited him to be part of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee and mentioned the need for broader efforts, including boosts to infrastructure, in the new Congress.

Baldwin said negotiators have put together two packages: one encompassing the proposals on which consensus has been reached plus aid for state and local governments and liability protection and a second that strips out those elements and only includes measures negotiators have already agreed upon.

Baldwin said those two packages were in the hands of the White House and the so-called “four corners” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Pelosi.

She said the group has agreed the areas of consensus should be “the framework for their final touches” while state and local aid and liability protection are “on the table.” Stimulus checks could also “jump back in” but Baldwin said any package would have to be “guided” by a roughly $900 billion limit.

Baldwin said she hoped to see the three outstanding issues resolved and a coronavirus relief package attached to a federal omnibus spending bill and passed ahead of government funding running dry on Friday at midnight.

“That’s a tall order but there’s something magic about deadlines — nobody wants to see the government close,” she said. “We’ve gotten this far to have pretty much an omnibus that’s ready to go and a COVID relief package that’s 80 to 85 percent there.”

— The state has roughly $900,000 in remaining CARES Act funds that the Evers administration says gives the state flexibility to respond to emerging needs.

The latest update from the administration shows most of the nearly $2 billion in federal aid Wisconsin received from the COVID-19 package has been accounted for.

As of Dec. 4, the state had expended $949.1 million and obligated an additional $414.3 million. An additional $635.9 million in funds has been committed for distribution by the end of the month.

Under the CARES Act, the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund money must be spent in the next 15 days, and may not be carried over into the new year.

Evers’ announcement said this leaves Wisconsin and other states facing a significant cliff in available funding despite the ongoing pandemic.

“Whether expanding testing, supporting families, or helping local businesses keep the lights on, these funds have been critical to our statewide response to the pandemic,” the guv said. “While there’s light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine distribution beginning across our state and nation, we are not out of the woods yet and in order to continue our response into the new year we will need robust support from the federal government.”

A chart of CARES funding allocations is available for review here: 

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— The latest episode of “ The Show” spotlights entrepreneur Nhat Nguyen of Otrafy.

Otrafy is a supplier-management system powered by artificial intelligence that helps food production facilities mitigate vendor-associated supply chain risks.

Otrafy was an award winner during the “Elevator Pitch Olympics” at the 2020 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

Also in the segment, Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still presents “Tech Metrics,” which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy. He also previews upcoming Tech Council webinars and opportunities in January, including the launch of the Governor’s Business Plan Contest. See more on the contest below.

Watch the episode: 

— The 18th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest is accepting entries online for the 2021 competition through Jan. 31, 2021 at 5 p.m.

The contest is designed to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-based businesses in Wisconsin. The contest links up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a statewide network of community resources, expert advice and mentoring, management talent and possible sources of capital.

For their initial entries, contestants will submit a 250-word idea abstract online at Contestants will also find business plan templates, startup information, networking contacts and technical resources from a mix of state and national resources on the website.

Contestants who advance to subsequent contest rounds will expand their plan in stages. About 100 volunteer judges drawn from the finance, sales, marketing, research, and technology sectors across Wisconsin will score the entries and provide feedback on submissions.

In 2020, finalists shared in more than $125,000 in cash and service prizes. The 2020 grand prize winner was Plumb Pharmaceuticals, a Madison-based company, which has a drug delivery technology platform for extended-release medications used in the treatment of opioid addiction.

See the release: 


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– 2020 farm income brings tax challenges 

– A look at how the pandemic impacted consumer dairy demands and future paths for the industry 

– Livestock Markets Lose Holiday Momentum 


– PPP drives increase in lending by Wisconsin banks in third quarter 


– Report: Wisconsin Ranks 41st In Nation For Total Revenues To Higher Education 


– Gypsy Moth Population Increases 


– DHS Reports 3,501 New Cases Of COVID-19 Tuesday 

– Madison Covid-19 patient at field hospital reflects on experience as patient number remains low 


– City Of Milwaukee Turns Down $9.7M Federal Policing Grant 


– Wisconsin Capitol Christmas tree put up by lawmakers removed 

– Ron Johnson calls election legitimate and acknowledges Biden victory but still plans hearing on alleged ‘irregularities’ 


– Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people allowed under new Dane County COVID-19 order 

– Commissioner: No fines issued since Milwaukee increased penalty for Covid-19 violations 


– ‘You Left Us’: Without A Government To Lean On, Restaurateurs Are Turning To Each Other 


– Johnson Controls expands partnership with Microsoft for building management 


– Milwaukee Auto Show moved to Wisconsin State Fair Park in May 2021 

– Hawkeye Hotels and JR Hospitality open 3-hotel campus in downtown Milwaukee 


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