FRI AM News: Eau Claire County to pilot high-speed internet program; ‘WisBusiness: The Podcast’ features Alice in Dairyland

— The state is helping Eau Claire County launch a pilot program to test SpaceX’s Starlink, a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites that can provide high-speed internet in rural areas.

The pilot project will get high-speed internet to 50 rural homes and businesses. It is getting a $27,500 grant from WEDC as well as funding from a group of health care providers, including Marshfield Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Hospital Sisters Health System. Chippewa Valley Technical College and PESI Online Learning also contributed.

The partnership between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the county comes as Gov. Tony Evers continues to underscore the importance of expanding broadband.

The pandemic has demonstrated that reliable, high-speed internet access is essential today for work, for school and to access healthcare, said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes.

During the one-year pilot program, Eau Claire County residents will test how well the service performs for work, for accessing health care and for attending online classes. What makes the Starlink system different from traditional satellite internet is that it uses satellites in a low orbit. This can reduce the service’s latency — the delay between sending and receiving data, or the lag between talking and hearing someone respond.

Read the full story at

— The new “WisBusiness: The Podcast” episode features Julia Nunes, the 73rd Alice in Dairyland.

Alice in Dairyland is the agriculture ambassador for the state. In her role, Nunes travels Wisconsin visiting agribusinesses and shares her experiences via television, radio and social media. Agriculture accounts for over 435,000 jobs in the state.

And much like everything else, the pandemic has impacted the Alice in Dairyland position. Nunes will be the first Alice in Dairyland to serve two years as most of her first year was virtual.

“Some pros have definitely been being able to spend more time on social media … do more, push some boundaries and do some different things,” she said. “Some cons — I love seeing people in person, and being able to get back on the road has been so much fun.”

Nunes said she’s looking forward to attending the Wisconsin State Fairy, World Dairy Expo and county fairs over the summer and fall. Until then, people can keep up with her adventures via social media. 

Connect to the Alice in Dairyland social media channels here: 

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— Wisconsin’s entire congressional delegation is calling for the U.S. to resolve a trade dispute with the European Union that is hurting Harley-Davidson.

All Wisconsin House and Senate delegates signed a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai asking them to take action on a European Union trade dispute that is hurting the iconic Wisconsin motorcycle manufacturer’s sales.

“Harley provides good jobs in our communities that are threatened by this ongoing dispute,” said U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee.

The delegates say the U.S. needs to work to bring trade tariffs back down for the company as tariffs on certain Harley-Davidson motorcycles have increased from 6 percent to 31 percent this year. And they say that number is expected to rise to 56 percent in June if nothing changes.

And rising tariffs would mean dealers must raise prices on motorcycles to stay profitable. Johnson said that could make Harley-Davidson models less competitive in the European market.

“Unfortunately, Harley-Davidson’s American workers are potentially at risk as increasing costs stemming from this dispute could make the company’s motorcycles less competitive in its second-largest market,” U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said.

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, added rising EU tariffs can hurt other Wisconsin businesses too.

“The ongoing trade retaliation by the European Union harms Wisconsin workers, jobs, and our manufacturing industry,” Steil said. “The Biden Administration must make resolving this dispute a top priority.”

See the letter: 

— Gov. Tony Evers says his priorities for coming federal COVID-19 stimulus money remain the same even though the state is now in line to receive $700 million less than expected.

The state had expected to receive $3.2 billion and Evers had broadly laid out how he wanted to use the money with $700 million toward the state’s ongoing response to the pandemic and $2.5 billion for economic recovery. The second pot of money included $600 million for small businesses, $50 million for tourism and $50 million for grants to schools.

Evers said the “buckets are pretty well defined” on how he will use the $2.5 billion now coming to the state, saying it will be directed toward sectors that have struggled with the pandemic, particularly small businesses, bars and restaurants.

“We will continue to make sure that they are a priority, even with the $700 million less,” Evers said.

The guv added the state will also try to coordinate with local governments, who are getting federal aid, to make sure “we aren’t stepping on each other’s toes.”

With some states now offering various incentives for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Evers didn’t rule out putting some of the federal money toward such an effort.

“We’ll never say never about any opportunity to convince people to do it and so I can’t answer that question completely because we haven’t reached that point, but we will do everything within our power to get shots in arms,” he said.

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— Under new CDC guidelines, the nearly 39 percent of Wisconsin residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now go without masks in most situations, even indoors.

The new guidance does recommend everyone to mask up when required by local jurisdictions or businesses, and in crowded areas, such as on planes, in hospitals or homeless shelters.

More than 2.2 million Wisconsinites have completed their vaccine series. More than 2.6 million — 44.8 percent of state residents — have gotten at least one dose of either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose series of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Wisconsin has put more than 4.7 million COVID-19 shots in people’s arms. 

More than 77 percent of Wisconsin’s 65 and older population are fully protected against COVID-19; 82.6 percent have started the series.

See the guidance: 

— Polk and St. Croix counties remain in the “very high” category for COVID-19 activity this week. But more counties have fallen into the “medium” tier.

The two counties on the Minnesota border have case rates greater than 350 cases per 100,000 population, but less than 1,000. 

Minnesota is No. 3 in the nation for the most cases in the last seven days per 100,000 population, according to the CDC. Michigan ranks No. 1. The counties bordering the Upper Peninsula report a “high” case burden like most of Wisconsin.

A “high” case burden is the middle tier of disease activity in the state. It means the county has greater than 100 cases per 100,000 residents. 

Eight counties report a “medium” level of COVID-19 activity, up from two last week. These counties had less than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. 

Only Crawford County is seeing a growing trajectory of cases. Crawford County has a high case burden. 

See the Wisconsin COVID-19 Timeline: 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and GOP U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa have introduced a bill aiming to improve transportation access for workers and families.

The legislation requires the Department of Transportation to provide data to states and local governments measuring accessibility to local business and important destinations, such as jobs, health care facilities, child care services, grocery stores, housing and schools. 

That data would better inform locally driven decisions about how to most effectively invest transportation resources. DOT will select eligible states, metropolitan planning organizations and rural planning organizations to participate in the program on a competitive basis.

“Across the country, inadequate or unaffordable transportation options can be a significant barrier to employment and hold potential workers back from economic opportunity,” said Baldwin, D-Madison.

She says the bill would get low-income workers, seniors and disabled people to those important destinations noted above. At the same time, she said it would provide a workforce for employers located outside of metro areas. 

— The Milwaukee Bucks and SC Johnson are implementing new recycling and cleaning initiatives at Fiserv Forum.

SC Johnson will help the Bucks recycle the more than 1 million plastic cups that are used at the stadium and the surrounding Deer District each year. 

Beginning next Bucks season, Fiserv will use new co-branded Bucks and SC Johnson polyethylene terephthalate cups for all of its events that can be recycled and reused by SC Johnson. After the PET cups are properly recycled at Fiserv Forum and in Deer District, SC Johnson will then turn the cups into 100 percent post-consumer recycled bottles for its Scrubbing Bubbles bottles.

The duo will place co-branded recycling receptacles around all levels of Fiserv Forum and throughout Deer District to make it easy for fans to properly recycle their PET cups at all events.

SC Johnson will also train Fiserv staff to bolster the sanitizing and cleanliness efforts at the venue as it welcomes back patrons for games, concerts and other events.

— Northwestern Mutual is giving $1.4 million in grants to support art and cultural institutionsb — a sector hit hard by the pandemic.

This year’s recipients are Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee Public Museum, Summerfest, United Performing Arts Fund and Zoological Society of Milwaukee. The money can be used for pandemic recovery efforts, operational support and audience development initiatives.

“Our city’s cultural spaces provide families, children and tourists with one-of-a-kind opportunities that broaden our knowledge and connect us to different experiences,” said Eric Christophersen, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

— RSVP for the May 20 virtual event: “Summer Tourism Outlook: How will Wisconsin take advantage of a post-pandemic visitor surge?”

Join May 20 for a virtual lunch hour event featuring three tourism leaders — Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers, Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Bill Elliott and Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions President Tom Diehl. The trio will discuss the state of the tourism industry in Wisconsin and how the political, health and economic climates may influence what Wisconsin’s robust tourism industry will look like this summer.

The program is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 20.

The event will begin with a moderated panel discussion and then shift to questions from the audience.

We will send you a link to access the webinar on the morning of the event.

Register here:

This event is sponsored by Madison Gas and Electric Company, University Research Park, Wisconsin Technology Council and The Phelps Hamus Group.


# WI members of Congress urge quick end to EU trade dispute to help Harley-Davidson

# New Federal Funding Will Support Education, Improved Access To COVID-19 Vaccines In Rural Communities

# $100M Wisconsin venture fund may make final state budget, but there may be compromises



– Expect agricultural plastics to be more expensive, harder to get 

– State Winter Wheat Forecast Up Exponentially 


– Milwaukee-area food, beverage sales show signs of improvement 


– Audit identifies several errors in bidding process for UW project


– SBA tells lenders to withdraw unapproved PPP loans ahead of deadline 

– The SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund can only fund half its applications 


– Wisconsin Begins Administering COVID-19 Vaccines To Ages 12-15


– Baird Capital, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures lead new investments 


– Milwaukee Begins Planning For Nearly $400M In Federal Aid

– Wisconsin veterans homes would get $10 million boost


– As city moves to revive streetcar extensions, opportunity knocks for Walker’s Point 


– City of Milwaukee to lift capacity restrictions for businesses 


– Portillo’s invests in on-demand delivery startup 


– Brewers games will return to full fan capacity next month 


– Summer demand and return of corporate traveler necessary for hotel recovery 


– InsideWis: “From closed to unable to find workers, some business managers are frustrated” 


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

– Greywolf Partners, Inc. and Wagner Family: Announce the creation of the Greywolf Foundation to enhance charitable giving

– UWM: Panther Tour Bus to visit May 21

– UW-Madison: People 12 and Older Can Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

– DATCP: To Survey for Gypsy Moth in 47 Counties