THU AM News: Dane County approaching herd immunity milestone; Bipartisan coalition backs Evers’ $100M ‘fund of funds’ proposal

— By May 14, Dane County projects it will have provided COVID-19 vaccines to 80 percent of those 16 and older, according to the head of the county’s data team.

That’s if the county’s strong vaccination pace continues, Katarina Grande said in a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce briefing yesterday.

“We still know that we’re not going to see like a ‘herd immunity day’ or a specific moment of declaration,” Grande said. “We also know that the impacts of more transmissible variants like B.1.1.7 have likely impacted and raised that theoretical level needed for herd immunity.”

Herd immunity is when enough people have protection against infection that a community becomes resistant either by vaccination or previous infection. The World Health Organization says there’s not enough information about how long immunity lasts from previous infection, so it supports herd immunity through vaccination. 

“It is difficult to predict how many (people) need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity in a population,” said Ajay Sethi, population health sciences professor at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. 

Read the full story at 

— Any employer in the state can now request to host a vaccine clinic through the Department of Health Services.

“We’ve got the early adopters already vaccinated, so we’re looking and exploring any way that we can to reach out and get vaccine in arms, and so that means that we’re going to smaller clinics here or there just to get maybe five or 10,” said Doug Voegeli, the operations chief at Public Health Madison and Dane County. “That’s what it’s going to take to get us to that herd immunity. We’re going to have to start making it more and more convenient for people to get that vaccine.”

Get a vaccine clinic at your place of business: 

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— Eight former secretaries of WEDC and its predecessor, the Department of Commerce, back creation of a state-backed “fund of funds” to invest in early-stage companies.

Five of the eight were appointed by Republican governors; three by Democratic governors.

Co-chairs for the Wisconsin Fund Coalition are Cory Nettles, founder of Milwaukee-based Generation Growth Capital Inc. and former Commerce secretary, and Mark Bugher, who headed two state agencies — Revenue and Administration — and was later director of University Research Park and chairman of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

“Throughout its history, Wisconsin has been at the forefront of innovation,” said current WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “Governor Evers’ proposed $100 million venture capital fund would allow Wisconsin entrepreneurs to secure needed next-step financing from in-state sources so they don’t have to look to — or move to — the coasts for capital.” 

The Wisconsin Fund Coalition is a group of people, companies and organizations formed to advance legislative discussion of the $100 million state budget proposal. The state investment would be matched by private dollars at a 2-to-1 ratio over the course of the fund.

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— Exact Sciences generated $402.1 million for the first quarter, which ended March 31.

That’s an increase of 16 percent from the same period last year when Exact reported $347.8 million.

Exact Sciences Corp. is a cancer screening and diagnostic test provider that uses science and innovation to invest in furthering health care for patients and care providers. 

“The first quarter demonstrated Exact Sciences is well-positioned for growth today and into the future,” CEO Kevin Conroy said. “Our Cologuard® and Oncotype® tests help people in need of answers, including those who have been vulnerable during the pandemic.”

The company anticipates revenue of up to $1.7 billion during 2021, including screening revenue of up to $1.1 billion, precision oncology revenue of up to $525 million and COVID-19 testing revenue of up to $60 million.

— WEC Energy Group has released plans to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by the end of 2030. 

The company also announced plans to achieve net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas distribution system by the end of 2030. It also seeks to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

As part of its 2021-2025 plan, WEC expects to invest more than $4 billion in clean energy projects.   

“As we continue to execute our investment plan, we expect the percentage of our revenue and assets tied to coal will drop to less than 10 percent at the end of 2025,” President and CEO Kevin Fletcher said.

WEC’s goals are outlined in a new company report, 2021 Pathway to a Cleaner Energy Future: 

— The Joint Finance Committee has an opportunity to advance economic recovery by addressing climate change and supporting clean water, among others, says John Imes. 

Imes, executive director for the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative, testified on the upcoming state budget last week before the Joint Committee on Finance. 

He pushed “green-built” workforce housing initiatives, broadband expansion, dollars for an “electric vehicle highway” and investing $500,000 annually in Green Job Training. He also voiced support for helping municipalities invest in clean energy and green infrastructure to mitigate flooding. 

“From strengthening the middle class, addressing climate change, updating our infrastructure, ensuring income equality, and supporting clean water, and regenerative agriculture — all actions you can take in this budget to advance a more resilient and sustainable economic recovery,” he said. 

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— For more developments in green energy, environmental issues and related policy proposals, visit WisBiz Green in the right-hand column at

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— Alliance Laundry Systems of Ripon has closed on its purchase of Chicago-based D&M Equipment Co.’s distribution assets, the company’s third acquisition so far in 2021.

“We are so pleased with the collaboration of our two teams to be able to close so quickly,” Alliance President and Chief Commercial Officer Rick Pyle said. “This is an indication of our opportunities and approach that we will undertake together in this exciting market.”

This is Alliance’s third acquisition of 2021 and the first acquisition of a distributor of multiple manufacturers’ products.

— Twenty-eight school districts statewide got more than $635,000 in grants to start or expand fabrication laboratory facilities — nicknamed fab labs. 

The fab lab is a high-technology workshop equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters.

“The fab labs program engages students in science, math, and engineering, allowing them to create and invent all sorts of things from robots to 3D models,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “The skills learned in Wisconsin’s fab labs can help prepare our kids for their future, including good-paying jobs in technology and manufacturing, which are critically important for our state’s future and our economy.”

Through its Fab Labs Grant Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is supporting the purchase of equipment. WEDC has invested over $3.4 million over the past six years to provide 95 school districts across the state with the equipment.

“Fab labs not only benefit the students themselves with important technology and career skills, but they also benefit Wisconsin employers, who will be able to find workers with the right skills to allow their companies to grow and thrive,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. 

See the school districts getting the money: 

— The latest episode of “WisBusiness: The Show” features noted environmental and energy attorney Art Harrington of Godfrey Kahn. 

Harrington discusses the challenges of PFAS chemical compound regulation, autonomous vehicle prospects and energy innovation.

Watch the show: 


# Hotels And Restaurants That Survived Pandemic Face New Challenge: Staffing Shortages

# Children’s Wisconsin hospitalizations plummet; spokesman credits social distancing, mask-wearing

# Wisconsin Legislature poised to take first votes on Evers’ $91 billion budget Thursday



– Governor Evers appoints three members to the State Board of Agriculture

– Spring planting in Wisconsin ahead of schedule


– Waukesha State Bank buys office to house trust company, wealth management team


– Forward BIOLABS, with UW-Madison, bolsters Wisconsin biohealth sector


– Manitowoc County road work and traffic delays: Everything to expect this summer


– Ripon feels effects of pre-pandemic labor shortage as it extends into post-pandemic recovery


28 school districts across the state win grants to establish fabrication laboratory facilities

UW-La Crosse international education office receives state honor


– Health Workers In Wisconsin Rapids Rally Ahead Of Contentious Contract Negotiations


– Physicians Realty Trust: Q1 Earnings Snapshot


– The largest influx ever of jobs to downtown Milwaukee by a suburban firm is coming after Milwaukee Tool financing plan approved

– Unemployment in Wisconsin is dropping, so why are some industries struggling to hire?


– Florida company acquires Oconto-based Cruisers Yachts for $63 million


– Facebook Ban On Donald Trump Will Hold, Social Network’s Oversight Board Rules


– Some mining tax monies must be returned; Total comes to hundreds of thousands of dollars; school districts could also be affected


– About 92,000 children under 6 in Wisconsin to receive additional food assistance


– An apartment building and hotel are planned for downtown’s Park East strip. They would use the last site owned by Milwaukee County.


– Target offering $5 coupons for customers getting Covid-19 vaccine


– After opening a restaurant in Milwaukee during the pandemic, Big Daddy’s BBQ is expanding to Franklin with a second location

– ‘Something Slanderous is going on’ at the Black & Tan Grille | Streetwise


– Milwaukee Bucks unveil name, more details for Deer District hotel

– Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke to retire


– Return to leisure travel and leisure activities bodes well for Marcus Corp.

– National Travel & Tourism Week highlights an expected boost in revenue


– Keeping budding entrepreneurs happy in your startup: Is it possible?

– Column: Head into the wood and discover spring again


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

– North Central Group, Deer District: Unveil branding for the new Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott International in Milwaukee

– Opportunity Wisconsin: Rep. Shelton- American Rescue Plan is a “down payment on our schools”

– Milwaukee Rep: Yexuanj Rivera Melendez finishes in the top 6 of the national August Wilson monologue competition

– Bayland Buildings Inc.: Impact Sports Academy announces opening of new sports facility