FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS; Talking Trade with Adam Sitkoff, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi, Vietnam

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS, a think tank based at UW-Madison. 

She gives her perspective on some of the findings of the annual State of Working Wisconsin report, released by COWS this week. COWS stands for Center on Wisconsin Strategy. 

The report explored the pandemic’s impact on jobs across various industries in the state, how wages have increased since the early 1980s and the decline in union membership in Wisconsin. 

Dresser also discusses how sectors of Wisconsin’s economy are recovering from last year’s lows, and how existing demographic trends in the workforce were exacerbated by the pandemic. 

“I think we all need to be thinking about how the Wisconsin economy is going to face labor market tightness just on a pure demographic basis, and how we move to a quality level of jobs and infrastructure of childcare that can support people who are working,” she said. “These questions are going to be ever-more important for the business community and for the workers of the state of Wisconsin, so that we make sure we can keep having an economy that works for everyone.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See more on the report’s findings: 

See a full list of podcasts: 

— In the latest “Talking Trade” video podcast, hosts Ian Coxhead and Sandi Siegel speak with Adam Sitkoff, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Sitkoff, a UW-Madison grad, tells Coxhead and Siegel about the impact of Vice President Harris’ recent visit and warns that COVID-related issues will translate into delivery problems for holiday gifts.

Watch the show here: 

— Wisconsin’s hemp program, currently administered by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, will transition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January after registrations fell by 48 percent for the 2021 growing season.

Hemp growers will transition to the federal-run program and hemp processors will no longer need a DATCP license. But processors will remain under the department’s authority for consumer and food products.

Wisconsin Hemp Alliance President Rob Richard said transiting to the USDA is the right move.

“This is the right decision — there is no better time than now to transition our growers from the

state’s hemp pilot program to the USDA’s Domestic Hemp Production Program,” Richard said in a statement. “I firmly believe the future is bright for hemp in all its capacities – fiber, grain and cannabinoids.”

DATCP previously suggested doubling fees for hemp growers to rectify a program deficit of $450,000, but the USDA does not impose fees on program participants. And rather than DATCP’s annual licensing, federal licenses last for three years. Hawaii, Mississippi and New Hampshire, along with multiple tribal nations, have federal-run hemp programs.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau report for the Joint Finance Committee said a USDA-run program could limit outreach to growers and provide a lower level of customer service.

But the report also noted that hemp testing could be delayed from four days to 10 to 45 days without increased funding. The report added that growing demand for testing over the past few seasons without sufficient staffing could be a barrier to keeping the state hemp program alive. Gov. Tony Evers proposed ongoing staffing resources to support the hemp program in his 2021-23 budget, but those funds were not included in the Legislature’s finalized budget.

Republicans and Democrats previously voiced a preference for keeping the program state-run, but called for parts of it, including testing, to be privatized during interviews with They also encouraged hemp-related partnerships between the state and the private sector. DATCP’s press release yesterday said the USDA’s program provides additional flexibility for hemp producers who use private sampling and testing services.

Sara Walling, administrator for DATCP’s Division of Agriculture Resource Management, anticipates a smooth transition, noting that Wisconsin’s hemp program already meets federal requirements.

Read the press release:

— Dane County officials have announced 66 nonprofit recipients of the county’s $5 million COVID-19 relief grant program. 

The funds are going to organizations providing social services to underserved communities in the county, such as efforts to address food insecurity, mental health services, youth activities, housing and transportation. 

Grants range from $50,000 to about $250,000, supporting programs that collectively benefit 125,000 people in the county, a release shows. Smaller nonprofits were prioritized for grant funding, particularly those that hadn’t previously received any pandemic relief funding. 

“These grants will help our local non-profits recover from the impacts of the ongoing pandemic and boost their ability to support underserved communities,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi in a statement. 

See the list of recipients: 

— UW-Madison has announced that 90 percent of its campus community is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The university reported that of students returning to campus for in-person learning, 88 percent are fully vaccinated and 91 percent have received at least one dose. Of students living in campus housing, 92 percent are fully vaccinated and 94 percent have received one dose. 

Those stats were verified by either documentation of on-campus vaccination or the upload of off-campus vaccination records, said University Communications Assistant Vice Chancellor John Lucas.

Among faculty and employees working on the campus, 99 percent and 92 percent are fully vaccinated, respectively.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Tommy Thompson praised the UW-Madison campus community for exceeding its 80-percent target.

“The students at UW-Madison have demonstrated again that we have built a culture of responsibility on our campuses,” Thompson said in a statement. “I applaud them for doing the right thing, and I applaud Chancellor Blank and her staff for making vaccinations of students and employees such a high priority.”

Other UW System universities’ student populations must reach a 70 percent vaccination rate by Oct. 15 to be eligible for 70 scholarships valued at $7,000 each. UW-La Crosse reached this goal Wednesday, said News and Marketing Editor Kyle Farris.

UW-Milwaukee hopes to have updated vaccination data by next week, said Integrated Marketing and Communications Senior Director Michelle Johnson, and UW-Eau Claire expects an update in the next 10 days, said Public Information Officer Michael Knuth. 

Meanwhile, UW-Green Bay will report its numbers when they are requested by the System later this month, said Assistant Marketing and Communication Director Sue Bodilly. UW-Stout and UW-Platteville both anticipate sharing their data mid-September, their spokespeople said, and UW-Superior is still collecting vaccination data, said Strategic Communications Director Jordan Milan. 

— A cybersecurity program at UW-Whitewater has been validated by the U.S. National Security Agency through the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. 

Students that graduate from the university with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Technology with an emphasis on network security will get a certificate showing they’ve completed the requirements for the validated program. In a release, UW-Whitewater says the certificate will help graduates stand out in a high-demand field. 

The release points to recent figures presented by a cybersecurity expert to a federal congressional subcommittee, showing the country’s cyber workforce is facing a shortage of 500,000 workers. 

“This is one of the most difficult designations to receive, as the university is assessed on its research, program offerings, multidisciplinary approach, performance in cyber competitions and other factors,” said Roger Yin, professor of information technology and co-director of the Cybersecurity Center for Business at UW-Whitewater.

The NSA program validation will be effective through August 2026 with the possibility of renewal after that. 

See the release: 

— Madison-based Wellbe has raised more than $2 million in funding from HealthX Ventures and WISC Partners, the company announced recently.

The startup’s digital care management platform currently serves 21 health care systems in 16 states.

“We are excited these leading healthcare investors recognize the value Wellbe brings to patients and providers across the care spectrum,” Wellbe CEO James Dias said in a statement. “We look forward to expanding our market-leading platform to help more providers improve care and build trust with their patients.”

According to a release, the new funds will provide strategic operating capital to accelerate Wellbe’s product innovation and expansion into new markets. HealthX Ventures and WISC Partners are both based in Madison. 

See more at Madison Startups: 


# Harley-Davidson hires international advertising agency to raise its profile in China

# A fight is brewing over a bottled water proposal near Lake Superior

# Panel ruling on tobacco settlement nets $14m for Wisconsin



– Class III milk price dips to $15.95 for August


– AGC: Contractors face labor shortage, rising costs, supply chain delays in COVID recovery 


– VandenBosch to step down as CALS dean in 2022

– Incoming UW System students hope vaccinations will bring a more ‘normal’ school year

– UW-Madison: 90 percent of campus vaccinated against COVID-19, despite no mandate

– Marquette president Michael Lovell announces cancer diagnosis


– Fight over well water near Lake Superior could land in court


– Fitchburg cheese company Emmi Roth enters feta market with purchase of Athenos


– Milwaukee County health adviser Dr. Ben Weston debunks Covid-19 vaccine conspiracies

– State, local health officials try to fend off fall surge of COVID-19 in Wisconsin


– Ex-hospital executive charged in $3 million kickback scheme


– Last chance to nominate ‘Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin’

– Generac says acquisitions boost clean energy and energy storage offerings


– Another Republican says don’t sue UW over COVID policies


– Madison City Council lays groundwork for ‘mission camps,’ more tiny house villages


– Madison startup Curate Solutions bought by Washington, D.C., firm


– Common Council approves lease for $31M export facility in Port Milwaukee


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

Drexel Building Supply: Donates $1.5 million dollars to local skilled trades center

UW-Stout: Emergency funding continuing to support students impacted by COVID-19