THU AM News: Investors, startup leaders backing $100 million fund of funds proposal; Both houses vote to end enhanced fed UI benefits

— Startup community leaders and investors alike are looking to rally support for a proposed $100 million state investment in a “fund of funds” contained in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal. 

“I’m excited about the venture fund because it’s the next step for Wisconsin,” WEDC CEO Missy Hughes said yesterday during a forum hosted by the Wisconsin Technology Council. “I hope that folks who are on the line and here can continue to advocate for this, and hopefully we can get this rolling and really create this magnet for venture capital.” 

Under the proposal, the $100 million in state funds would be privately matched by recipient investors at a 2-to-1 ratio over time, according to an overview from the Tech Council. The group’s president, Tom Still, echoed Hughes’ call to action and urged participants to contact their legislators to express support. 

Others backing the proposal include Milwaukee-based Generation Growth Capital Founder and Managing Partner Cory Nettles, who previously served as the state’s commerce secretary from under then-Gov. Jim Doyle. 

“This initiative by the governor for this $100 million fund of funds is vitally necessary and quite frankly long overdue,” he said yesterday, emphasizing the bipartisan nature of the Wisconsin Fund Coalition that’s supporting the proposal. He serves as the coalition’s co-chair. 

As laid out in the governor’s budget proposal, this one-time investment would be accounted for in the pending state budget, which would run through mid-2023. If passed as part of the budget or as separate legislation, an advisory committee led by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation would begin the process of selecting a fund manager, who would then recruit recipient funds. 

Still said if the proposal is passed as currently written, he expects six to eight recipient funds would be selected, with no one fund getting more than $25 million of the total state investment. He expects the fund could be set up within the first fiscal year after being passed. 

“We hope, as a Tech Council and as a fund coalition, that it would attract money from elsewhere,” he said. “It’s never been that Wisconsin has done all that well at attracting money from other places… But other states in the Midwest have done this successfully, and have done it in a way that points the way for us.” 

See the full story: 

— Both houses of the Legislature have voted along party lines to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits even as Gov. Tony Evers has signaled he will veto the bill.

Assembly Republicans acknowledged that ending the extra $300 a week in UI wouldn’t be a silver bullet to address the state’s labor shortage. But they said it’s one way to start forcing more people to join the workforce, arguing some state residents haven’t bothered to seek a job due to the additional benefits.

The bill would require the governor and Department of Workforce Development to terminate the state’s participation in the federal program.

See more in the WisPolitics PM Update: 

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is calling on lawmakers to “prioritize tax relief for individuals and employers” after new projections for the 2021-23 budget predicted a big surplus.

WMC proposed reducing the individual income tax, eliminating personal property tax and expanding the refundability of the R&D tax credit. The changes would “fuel Wisconsin’s economic growth by giving taxpayers their money back,” the group said in a written statement. 

The projected surplus is the result of Wisconsin’s post-pandemic economic recovery being better than originally predicted. This trend is being seen in other states as well. 

Gov. Tony Evers wants to use the surplus to fund K-12 education and other community growth programs. The current proposed budget spends less than 10 percent of the $1.6 billion Evers wanted. Republican lawmakers indicated they are looking into potential tax cuts.

The budget , once passed and signed by Evers, runs through June 30, 2023.

— Fewer Wisconsin hospitals were penalized in fiscal year 2021 for measures of hospital-acquired conditions, according to a recent quality report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association. 

The report details the state’s performance in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program. It aims to cut rates of infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment, as well as other negative outcomes. 

According to WHA Chief Quality Officer Nadine Allen, the report’s author, the program encourages organizations to improve these rates by penalizing the worst-performing hospitals through a reduction in Medicare reimbursement. But at the same time, she says it improves transparency by encouraging hospitals to track related metrics. 

“What you don’t track or measure can’t be improved,” she said in a recent interview, noting that analyzing these metrics more closely has led to improvements in patient outcomes. 

For fiscal year 2021, 13 hospitals in Wisconsin were penalized, compared to 18 hospitals for the prior fiscal year. Since 2015, the number of Wisconsin hospitals in the bottom quartile has ranged from 21 to 11. 

Through the CMS program, hospitals are scored for their rates of hospital-acquired conditions such as urinary tract infections related to catheters and surgical site infections. Hospitals in the bottom quartile for these measures are hit with a 1 percent reduction in Medicare fee-for-service payments for discharges during the fiscal year. 

Allen noted Wisconsin hospitals have historically been ranked among the best in the country by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

“The focus is never to be satisfied with being excellent,” she said. 

For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and

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— A recent study from UW-Madison shows the university has an annual economic impact of $30.8 billion on the state’s economy.

Included as part of the university’s 2021 economic impact report and conducted by NorthStar Analytics, the findings detail how UW-Madison has helped launch more than 400 startups over the past three years. 

It also shows that 80 percent of the university’s 2018 graduates live and work in Wisconsin three years after graduation. And about 10 percent of nonresidents and Minnesota students benefiting from reciprocity are retained each year, per the study. 

See the release: 

— Three engineering research projects at UW-Madison are splitting a $100,000 manufacturing grant from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. 

These funds come from the WARF Accelerator Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Grant, supporting projects with a particular focus on technology. The four researchers being awarded are: Paul Milenkovic, for improved control software for industrial robotics; Sangkee Min, for a detection system aimed at spotting defects; and Scott Sanders and Lianyi Chen, for a sensor designed to improve 3-D printing. 

“WARF is thrilled to support UW-Madison researchers envisioning smarter, safer and more sustainable manufacturing in the 21st century,” WARF CEO Erik Iverson said in a statement. “Over the past year, our Accelerator Challenge Grants have helped innovators across campus pursue proof-of-concept work critical to build momentum behind emerging technologies.”

See more on the grant challenge: 

— UW-Madison has been named as a participating member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s new pandemic prevention network. The network includes more than 20 organizations around the world. 

This new effort to create an international pandemic prevention institute will rely on research performed by these partner groups, which are being called Regional Accelerators for Genomic Surveillance. 

UW-Madison’s AIDS Vaccine Research Laboratory has been conducting genetic sequencing on the COVID-19 virus, analyzing around 5 percent of related infections in Dane County. That’s compared to just 2 percent of positive cases analyzed on the national level. 

With the added resources of this broad new effort, scientists with the AVRL plan to hone in on how COVID-19 spreads among school-aged children, according to a release from the university.

See the release: 

— A newly active 20-megawatt solar array, the largest in Dane County, will deliver locally generated sustainable energy on Madison Gas & Electrics’ distribution grid.

MGE partnered with the City of Fitchburg and local customers to develop the O’Brien Solar Fields project as part of a renewable energy effort. The solar array contains 60,000 solar panels spanning 160 acres. 

MGE has set a goal to supply net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. The energy company expects a 65 percent reduction in their carbon emissions by 2030, according to a statement. 

See release: 

— RSVP for Tuesday’s – – Wisconsin Technology Council “From dairy to tech: How smarter immigration policy can help the Midwest workforce” virtual event.

Four speakers will talk about the prospects for immigration reform under the Biden administration and within Congress, and how bipartisan changes might help solve workforce problems in some of Wisconsin’s largest economic sectors.

Participants are: Reid Ribble, a former Republican member of Congress from northeast Wisconsin and chief executive officer for the National Roofing Contractors Association; Ankit Agarwal, president and CEO of Imbed Biosciences Inc. in Madison; Jay Heeg, of Heeg Brothers Dairy in Colby and a former president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin; and Kelly Fortier, an attorney with the Michael Best law firm. Tom Still, president of the Tech Council, will moderate.

The program is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15.



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# MGE completes Fitchburg solar farm; 20MW project powering local businesses, governments



– Wisconsin FFA Foundation Awards Chapter Grants 


– SBA is working to streamline PPP loan forgiveness — again. Especially for these types of loans.


– Milwaukee Public Schools piloting program to deliver meals in ZIP codes that rely most on public transportation


– New PFAS fish consumption advisories for lakes and rivers in Dane, Rock counties


– First responder PTSD bill left out volunteers, some EMS workers


– Assembly takes up ‘Second Amendment sanctuary’ bill that would bar enforcement of federal gun restrictions


– Effort launched to boost home ownership in Wisconsin


– Green Bay Packers fans aren’t panicking – yet – over Aaron Rodgers skipping minicamp. Here’s their take on the impasse with the team.


– MGE completes Fitchburg solar farm; 20MW project powering local businesses, governments


– After being canceled last summer, Germantown’s Wednesday concert series is scheduled this summer


– Dane County Regional Airport’s $85M expansion to pave way for more flights, passengers


– In Kentucky’s ‘Silicon Holler’ and Wisconsin’s Northwoods, high-speed internet is creating jobs, and changing lives


– Tom Still: If Wisconsin wants more ‘unicorns,’ it needs venture dollars in the stable


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

Healthy Dane: Local health organizations seeking community feedback

Wisconsin BBB: Donors confused about “charity impact”, per study by

MGE: Solar project in Fitchburg now delivering locally generated clean energy