MON AM News: Investments in education, employment seen as key to attracting young professionals to Milwaukee; MMAC report shows jobs rebounding in certain sectors

— Leaders in Milwaukee say investments in education and employment opportunities will help attract more young professionals. 

“I definitely think we need to have a bigger emphasis on education,” said Marquayla Ellison, president of Social X MKE and chair of the city’s Millennial Task Force. “I think that’s just a ripple effect into a lot of the issues we’re dealing with right now.” 

The task force was created in November 2019 and in May submitted its final report, including a number of recommendations for addressing the “brain drain” Milwaukee. Previous reports from the UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center have shown the city is losing thousands of young professionals each year to other metropolitan areas. 

Ellison joined Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson and fellow task force member Jeremy Fojut, co-founder and chief idea officer of NEWaukee, for a virtual discussion Friday. They discussed the task force’s recommendations with journalist Mike Gousha during an “On the Issues” event hosted by the Marquette University Law School. 

Some of those recommendations relate to greater transportation opportunities, fostering employment and economic development, racial and criminal justice, health and wellness, as well as education and marketing. 

Fojut noted the city ranks “really low” for the number of new startup companies and capital investment, and highlighted one idea aimed at improving those numbers. 

“Why don’t we take fifty grand and invest it in someone that wants to create a company that could attract 300, 400 people here — more than that,” he said. “If we could give 10 founders from across the country $50,000 to move here for a year, wrap a community around them … If one of these companies works, you see change.” 

He noted many of the most successful startups in Milwaukee were founded by people who came to the city from elsewhere. He argued the city needs “more builders, not more complacency here.” 

Ellison called for greater funding and publicity efforts for existing educational programs in the city and at UW-Milwaukee. She also emphasized the importance of “better marketing and storytelling” about the opportunities the city provides for students and young professionals. 

See more: 

— An economic trends report from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce shows regional jobs in manufacturing and trade, transportation and utilities are reaching pre-pandemic levels. 

“As you might expect, the positive metro area trends continue to outpace comparisons to the historically low numbers registered for most indicators one year ago,” said Bret Mayborne, the economic research director for MMAC. “Many other indicators remain on a steady path to recovery that will likely run into 2022.”

Although the report highlighted the continued recovery of Milwaukee’s economy, it also suggests that trajectory has “plateaued a bit” with fewer improved economic metrics than in prior months. Eighteen of the 22 economic indicators tracked in the report were positive in July, down from 20 in each of the three previous months. 

Seven of the 10 major industries highlighted in the report saw year-over-year job increases in July. The largest job gain by percentage was in the leisure and hospitality sector, with 17.7 percent more jobs over the year. 

See the full report: 

— Business groups in the state are criticizing President Biden’s proposed COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate, arguing the move would place an undue burden on employers. 

“Employers should not be forced by government to police their employees’ vaccination status, which is what this expected rule would do,” said Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President and CEO Kurt Bauer in a statement. 

He said WMC will evaluate the emergency temporary standards once it’s formally published by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Biden announced the plan on Thursday to create the mandate for employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations or regular testing. 

“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and the people around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love,” Biden said during televised remarks. 

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce said in a statement it shares the president’s goal of increasing vaccination rates and pointed to actions that employers in the region have already taken to further that cause. But the group says “we are concerned that this new federal requirement … is a blunt instrument that will create a significant regulatory and logistical burden for businesses.” 

Watch a clip of Biden’s announcement: 

See the WMC statement: 

See the MMAC statement: 

— Three research projects at UW-Milwaukee are getting a total of $150,000 in grant funding from the UWM Research Foundation. 

For one of the projects, researchers in civil engineering and biological sciences are developing “cost-effective bioreactors” that can help remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — from the environment. 

Another project focuses on 3D printing light, strong composite materials made from aluminum reinforced with graphene, which is a carbon-based material. These aluminum-based materials can be used for aerospace engineering as well as military and automotive applications.

The third funded project aims to recycle “produced water,” which comes out of the ground along with oil and gas during mining operations. Once treated, the water could be used for a number of applications including crop watering and hydraulic fracturing. 

Research funding from these projects comes from the foundation’s Catalyst Grant Program, which has awarded over $5.5 million to over 100 projects in the past 13 years. The release shows these projects have led to 55 issued patients, 31 licensing agreements and more than $23.4 million in follow-on investments. 

See more on the projects here: 

— The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin has dipped slightly, though case activity remains very high across most of the state. 

The latest seven-day average was 1,538 cases per day after reaching 1,746 cases per day on Sept. 5, according to the Department of Health Services dashboard. 

The Wisconsin Hospital Association site shows 1,047 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized and 322 are in the ICU. Both of those numbers have largely been increasing steadily since the first week of July, though the total for hospitalizations decreased slightly near the end of last week. 

Meanwhile, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin has increased to 12 deaths per day. Before the recent increase, that number had remained below 10 deaths per day for nearly seven months. 

The DHS site shows 55.5 percent of the state’s population have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 52.2 percent have completed the vaccine series. On the national level, 62.9 percent of the U.S. population have received at least one dose and 53.6 percent are fully vaccinated. 

See the latest state case numbers here: 

— A luncheon event this week will highlight challenges facing rural communities in the state, including access to health care. 

Tuesday’s “Lighting the Way for Rural Prosperity’’ event is being organized by and Dairyland Power Cooperative at Western Technical College’s Lunda Center in La Crosse. The free event will also have a virtual component. 

The event will include a keynote address from USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson as well as two panel discussions. Panelists include Nathan Franklin, director of external affairs for Gundersen Health System, Mari Freiberg, CEO of Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers, and other experts on infrastructure, workforce and education. 

See more event details in a press release below, and register here: 

— Emergency medical transportation provider Flight for Life will open a new base at the Burlington Municipal Airport later this month. 

With headquarters in Waukesha, Flight for Life says the new Burlington location will help decrease response times for calls in Racine, Walworth and Kenosha counties. The expansion was recently approved by the Burlington Common Council. 

“Our goal is to reduce the time frame for patients to arrive at tertiary care centers to receive the appropriate care needed, across southeastern Wisconsin,” said Leif Erickson, the organization’s executive director. 

Flight for Life will temporarily operate out of a leased hanger at the Burlington airport while a permanent hangar is being planned for construction. The transport service is provided by the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. 

See the release: 


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– PDPW, UW-Discovery Farms to host ‘water tours’


– I-94 North-South reconstruction earns national recognition

– La Crosse Common Council approves nearly $60 million in projects for 2022


– MMAC, WMC call President Biden’s employee vaccination, testing mandates a burden


– Live music venue Howl at the Moon coming to former Pub Club location in downtown Milwaukee


– Archery & crossbow deer hunting seasons open Sept. 18


– Wisconsin COVID-19 hospitalizations hitting levels not seen since January

– Wisconsin hospital coalition urges COVID-19 vigilance as resources in region become limited

– How many Wisconsin workers could be impacted by Biden’s new vaccine mandate?


– GE Healthcare’s $50M project in West Milwaukee heads to plan commission


– High-tech and clean energy: CEO Aaron Jagdfeld on Generac’s new Summerfest stage


– Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport expects stronger fall travel season


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

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Dept. of Military Affairs: Wisconsin National Guard warrant officer embarking on ride across America