FRI AM News: “WisBusiness: the Podcast” with Anne Katz, executive director of Arts Wisconsin; Evers bill into law to keep UI tax rates flat

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” features Anne Katz, executive director of Arts Wisconsin, which promotes the state’s creative industries. 

As Wisconsin’s self-described community culture and development organization, Katz says the organization is working to revitalize the creative sector, which took a major hit during the pandemic. 

During the podcast, she explains that art centers, museums and theaters lost most of their major sources of income such as ticket sales and exhibits. And she notes the thousands of individuals working in the “creative gig economy” such as independent artists, actors performing at theaters and musicians were similarly affected. 

She says up to 70 percent of those who make their living in the arts as independent performers lost all their business, while 95 percent of arts groups stopped their programming and around 70 percent of businesses in the creative sector laid off workers. 

“And people pivoted as much as they could to do live-streaming kinds of things. It’s been pretty amazing what people have done on the internet. We still haven’t really figured out how to monetize that though — so you can’t charge for a streaming performance what you can for a live performance,” she said. “Plus, there’s nothing like live, human contact.” 

Now, she says organizations are bringing back in-person events this summer and navigating the uncertainty surrounding the economic recovery. 

“The sector is going to be among the last to come back,” she said. “People are trying to figure out what they can do as fast as they can.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

And see a full list of WisBusiness podcasts: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill into law that will keep unemployment insurance tax rates from increasing in tax years 2022 and 2023. 

A release shows $60 million in general purpose revenue will be transferred to the UI trust fund for each of the next two fiscal years to keep rates level. 

“I am glad to be signing this bill today to ensure Wisconsin businesses and employers that were hit hard by the pandemic can continue to recover without having an undue burden of an increase in their UI tax rates,” Evers said in a statement. 

See the text of the statue: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed legislation that would repeal the personal property tax for businesses, though $202.4 million to replace the lost revenue if the tax was repealed will remain in the budget.

It was one of four bills Evers vetoed yesterday, including one that sought to direct him to use $65 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to finance the purchase of two paper mills.

On the personal property tax bill, Evers said while in Whitefish Bay he does support eliminating the tax and funds in the budget could still be used for future legislation on the issue.

He said the Legislature-approved tax elimination is not a “clean” bill and some municipalities have questions about how it might impact companies with out-of-state manufacturing, railroads and utilities.

See more on the vetoes and the state budget: 

— The UW System Board of Regents chose to keep resident undergrad tuition rates flat for the upcoming school year.

Board members yesterday approved by voice vote the system’s budget resolution for the biennium. The budget, signed by Gov. Tony Evers earlier yesterday, for the first time in nearly a decade transferred authority back to regents to lift the tuition freeze should they so choose.

“It’s something we’ve all wanted and rightly deserve,” said System President Tommy Thompson, who during the meeting hailed the flexibility a tuition option gives universities.

Evers in his budget proposal had recommended keeping the freeze in place, but backfilling the lost revenue with $50.4 million in additional state aid.

See more at in the PM Update: 

— The UW System has announced 267 students will be receiving a total of around $1 million in scholarships through the Wisconsin Regents Opportunity Scholarship program. 

The program aims to support “underrepresented and deserving students,” who are nominated by their universities and selected by the UW System. 

Awardees must have demonstrated financial need and have overcome some sort of adversity. And they must also show community service actions, academic success and “significant personal achievements,” a release shows. 

The size of the scholarships range from $1,000 to $8,547 and will go toward the 2021-22 school year. 

UW System President Tommy Thompson says the awards will “help us diversify our student body by recruiting more students, ensuring they continue their studies, and providing financial help for the final push toward graduation.” 

See the release: 

— Health officials in Clark County seeking to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates are grappling with a vaccine-averse culture among local residents. 

That’s according to Kelsey Wussow, lead public health nurse for the county’s health department. She told the county’s drive-through vaccination clinics were closed in early June due to decreased demand. Pop-up clinics held over the past month also didn’t see much local interest. 

“As anticipated, the turnout was low and the decision was made to move away from pop-up clinics,” she said in an email. 

Clark County, which has a population of 34,774, has had 28.3 percent of its population get at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s well below the state average of around 50.6 percent, and is the second-lowest in the state after Taylor County, with 27.4 percent and a population of 20,343. 

“Historically, Clark County has been near or at the bottom, in regards to vaccination rates. This applies to regular childhood vaccines and influenza rates,” Wussow said. “Therefore, it is not unexpected that our COVID-19 vaccine rates also follow that same trend.” 

She said Clark County’s health department was one of the first in the region to request vaccines and began offering them through drive-through vaccination clinics starting in January. Those were held weekly until May, when the county transitioned to holding these clinics every other week. 

She said vaccine interest in the area has “been declining for quite some time,” adding that health care entities and pharmacies in the region are seeing the same trend. 

“It is not necessarily just vaccine hesitancy that we are seeing in Clark County, but lower-than-hoped-for participation in COVID-19 mitigation strategies all together — vaccination, masking, social distancing, etc.,” she said. 

Still, the county health department is continuing to offer vaccines at “routine, regularly scheduled” vaccine clinics. Wussow stresses that the county has plenty of resources and inventory to get people vaccinated, and continues to promote the service to residents. 

— A Madison technology company called HealthMyne and Minneapolis-based Flywheel have announced a new partnership, in which the companies’ platforms will be used to analyze how tumors respond to certain therapies. 

HealthMyne’s existing platform helps life science companies and researchers perform radiomics, which is a process for creating large amounts of useful data based on medical images and scans. 

By combining that information with Flywheel’s research workflow platform, the companies hope to improve collaboration related to medical research. 

“This partnership will enable our clients to fully realize the value of their imaging pipeline to help tackle complex diseases such as cancer,” said Rose Higgins, CEO of HealthMyne. 

See the release: 

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— Foxconn and California-based car manufacturer Fisker are reportedly discussing with state officials the possibility of building electric cars in Mount Pleasant. 

That’s from a report in the Journal Times, which comes after Foxconn Chairman Young Liu indicated in March that the site could be used for making electric vehicles. 

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 


# Wisconsin farms working to vaccinate mink against coronavirus

# SBA continues slow rollout of $30B Targeted EIDL Advance grant program

# Court: DNR can impose farm conditions, consider well impact



– Countryside/Landmark merger results in ALCIVA


– Bucks’ economic boost is a hit or miss for some downtown establishments

– Dane County, Urban Triage to provide emergency rental assistance


– Engineering is one of the hottest majors on campus. So why are most students still white and male?

– Wisconsin’s white students were more likely to have fully in-person school option in Wisconsin, report finds

– Republican proposal would require school districts to post curriculum lists online


– First Concerts on the Square performance postponed for weather concerns


– Global program new to Wisconsin offers mentorship for risk management- and health-related startups

– A surge in evictions is almost certain to happen when the moratorium ends. But the truth is they’ve been happening all along.


– Foxconn in talks with state leaders about possibly making electric cars in Mount Pleasant


– Plasma from recovered COVID patients shows remarkable effectiveness for patients with coronavirus, blood cancer


– Court: DNR can impose farm conditions, consider well impact


– Gov. Tony Evers signs state budget, including GOP-Backed tax cut


– Barry Alvarez got paid more than $1 million after his term as Wisconsin athletic director finished


– Milwaukee Art Museum to reopen all gallery spaces July 15


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

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