FRI AM News: MATC president hopes to pursue more community collaboration in 2021; WisBusiness podcast features Laura Kaiser, Tech Council

— Financial losses and pandemic-influenced enrollment fluctuations have left Madison Area Technical College looking to surrounding communities for guidance. 

“Our planning was not just for the fall. Our planning is looking out five, six years, and how we can meet community needs,” MATC President Jack Daniels III told a recent Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce virtual event. 

With 40 percent of pre-existing classes already online, MATC had little trouble switching completely to virtual. But in shutting down in-person activities, the college had to expand outwards into surrounding counties to meet their students’ new needs as a result of the pandemic. 

“We are looking at those elements that we can assist municipalities and communities with,” Daniels said. “But it’s also given us an opportunity to think through our structures. What is going to be best for the institution? How do we better serve communities within the structures that we have?” 

MATC took advantage of unused facilities and offered them for community use by hosting early voting at two of their campuses, as well as proceeding with normal election day polling. They also expanded their Wi-Fi network to outside their buildings, allowing students and staff to stay connected and work from the campus grounds and parking lots. In addition to this, MATC created hotspots for students facing unstable internet access at home. 

Read the full story at 

— Jan. 31 is the deadline for the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, a statewide competition led by the Wisconsin Technology Council aimed at boosting startups across all industries. 

Tech Council Communication Director Laura Kaiser said the contest is an opportunity to take away money, resources and mentoring. Kaiser was this week’s guest on the latest “WisBusiness: The Podcast” episode. 

Entrants from over 300 communities over time have raised over $220 million in angel and venture capital and grants, she said.

The contest is open to anybody age 18 and older with an entry business plan. Applicants are assigned to a group of judges who decide who is going on to the next of four phases of judging. Entrepreneurs will be put into one of four categories during the process: advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences.

“We’ve had a lot of entrants from all across the state,” Kaiser said. “The wider our reach is, and the more that we can touch all the different smaller communities, the more we can all win together as a state.”

In addition to preparing to judge contest applicants, the Tech Council plans on releasing its policy plan earlier than normal this year in mid-February, Kaiser said. The whitepapers, as they’re called, contain the council’s overarching policy. It will also compare economic results compared to goals set two decades ago. 

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— The state is receiving about 70,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines per week from the federal government, an amount determined based on Wisconsin’s population.

Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk told reporters in a health briefing yesterday that in order to reach herd immunity, where some 80 percent of the population is vaccinated, the state would need more vaccine doses from the federal government. 

“We’re going to need to have double to triple the number of doses that we’re currently receiving now on a weekly basis to get there in a reasonable period of time, which I’m thinking is by the fall,” she said. 

In order to reach President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of 1 million doses per day, which would equate to about 18,000 doses per day in Wisconsin, the state would need 126,000 doses per week.

Wisconsin has no say in how much it receives, but it does allocate the amount to providers that are registered vaccinators, a figure that has grown 10-fold over the last few weeks from 108 eligible providers in mid-December to 1,066 on Tuesday. Willems Van Dijk said more providers will speed up the process of vaccinating health care workers and nursing home staff and residents in phase one of administering the shots. 

As of this afternoon, the state has administered 110,201 doses of the vaccine; about 5,000 of those were second doses, meaning 5,000 people have completed the vaccine series. 

The DHS vaccine dashboard shows the state had received 266,675 vaccines as of Tuesday, but Willems Van Dijk said that doesn’t mean they are sitting on shelves in Wisconsin. She said some of those are still in transit.

On Monday, 6,000 first doses were administered statewide, on Tuesday, another 8,000 first doses were delivered and yesterday, 11,600 first doses were given. 

— RENEW Wisconsin’s 10th Annual Renewable Energy Summit will highlight the diversity of technologies, people, and scale needed to shape our clean energy future.

The virtual event, titled “Building the Clean Energy Mosaic,” will start on Tuesday and run through Thursday. 

More than 50 expert speakers will discuss Wisconsin’s renewable energy success and opportunities, and how diversity and collaboration can accelerate Wisconsin’s transition to a carbon-free future. 

“Wisconsin’s renewable energy industry has grown by leaps and bounds in just the last two years,” said Executive Director Heather Allen. “The Summit will explore strategies to reach new markets and serve even more Wisconsinites with solar, wind, biogas, geothermal, energy storage and electric vehicles in 2021.” 

Keynote speakers throughout the conference include: Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association; Sandra Henry, senior director of energy and sustainability at Elevate Energy; CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association, Abigail Ross-Hopper.

Other programming will include panels, breakout sessions, lunchtime 101 sessions and networking. 

Register here: 

— The state’s ag department has designated over 88,000 acres as agricultural enterprise areas in five counties. 

The ag enterprise areas are a part of the state’s farmland preservation program. The designation identifies land important to Wisconsin’s agricultural future that supports local farmland protection goals, the ag economy, environmental efforts and rural prosperity.

Wisconsin has 43 ag enterprise areas totaling 1.4 million acres located in portions of 28 counties, 119 towns, and the Bad River Reservation. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has the authority to designate up to 2 million acres for the areas.

The newly added acreage is located in Chippewa, Dodge, Dunn, Green Lake and Outagamie counties. 

Land located in the area provides landowners the option to sign a farmland preservation agreement. Agreements provide protections for certain uses of local lands while allowing the landowner the opportunity to claim the farmland preservation tax credit.

— DHS is conducting just over 3,000 public health investigations in facilities across the state. 

Long-term care facilities make up 857 of the investigations. Those facilities are reporting 1,369 deaths due to COVID-19, making up 27 percent of the state’s death count, up by one percentage point from last week. 

These facilities include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, such as community-based residential facilities and residential care apartment complexes. The average number of confirmed cases per investigation for long-term care facilities is 13, a rising figure.

The state has 302 active nursing home investigations. About 91 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have died in the state were age 60 or older. 

Workplaces outside the health care industry accounted for 827 of the facility-wide COVID-19 investigations as of Wednesday. Educational facilities make up 689 of the investigations.

The state is also conducting 319 investigations in “other settings,” which according to DHS include adult day care centers, restaurants, event spaces and religious settings.

One hundred and seventy-eight of the investigations are in group housing facilities, including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes, which have seen 140 COVID-19 deaths or 3 percent of the state’s total. 

DHS marks 2,510 deaths as “unknown” meaning they may or may not have occurred at a long-term care or group housing facility.

And the department is conducting 146 investigations in health care facilities.

Five counties account for over 42 percent of the statewide public health investigations: Milwaukee (424), Dane (326), Marathon (193), Kenosha (184) and Waukesha (145).

There have been a total of 8,048 investigations, with 5,032 investigations closed. An investigation is considered closed and removed from the DHS listing 28 days after the last positive case was confirmed.

Click here to see the nursing homes under investigation and a breakdown of investigations by county: 

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— Former Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney, who the guv announced in November was leaving to pursue an opportunity in the private sector, has been named chief marketing and communications officer for the Dohmen Company Foundation.

See the release:


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– Wisconsin exports are now down $1.4 billion from 2019, before counting December 


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– WEDC executive Mary Perry named president and CEO of WEDA 


– MGS expands in Europe with acquisition 

– Briggs & Stratton-owned Ferris becomes sponsor of men’s college basketball poll 


– ‘I Hold Trump Responsible’: Wisconsinites React To Scenes Of Violence, Chaos At US Capitol Wednesday

– Wisconsin Assembly Passes Another COVID-19 Response Bill, But Its Future Is Dim


– Conversion of St. Joseph convent building into housing could receive city financing assistance 


– Toppers Pizza seizes pandemic environment as growth opportunity 

– Good City Brewing to open taproom at Mayfair Collection 

– Macy’s to close 45 more stores this year as part of restructuring 


– Former Fiserv CEO named chairman of sports data company 

– Bucks Coach On Team’s Demonstration: ‘Jacob Blake And His Family Are Important To Us’ 


– Tech-enabled laundromat business to open first Milwaukee-area location 


– Skylight Music Theatre plans for virtual content, looks ahead to 2021-2022 season 


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