THU AM News: West Bend expands with Midwestern tribute; WEDC: Foxconn had enough jobs in 2020 to qualify for new deal’s first tax credits

— West Bend Mutual Insurance is expanding into new markets nationwide with a nod to its Midwestern roots.

Using the Silver Lining brand, West Bend is branding new markets in Southeast and West with a tribute to its home turf. Short ads and a company film highlight neighbors helping neighbors after last year’s historic derecho that slammed a sizable chunk of Iowa and other Midwestern states.

“Weather of course is a big portion of the claims that we have but never, never in this company’s history more so than it was last year,” said Jim Schwalen, West Bends’ vice president of marketing.

The company normally processes 6,000 weather claims a year. In the first week after the Aug. 10 derecho, it processed 6,300 claims. 

“This company is extraordinarily focused on service to our policyholders and being there when people need us,” Schwalen said.

It was all hands on deck taking care of customers. People with roles outside of claims fielded phone calls and assisted policyholders. Schwalen recalled shuttling gasoline from Wisconsin to Cedar Rapids so employees could drive. His time in the area was an emotional experience, but the “silver lining” was seeing people helping people.

Read the full story at 

— WEDC CEO Missy Hughes said she believes Foxconn had enough jobs at its Mount Pleasant plant in 2020 to qualify for the first round of tax credits under the new deal the job development agency signed with the Taiwanese manufacturer.

Under the new contract, Foxconn will have to deliver a report to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. by July 1 detailing how many jobs it had at the facility during 2020. The new contract calls for a minimum of 481 jobs to qualify for credits. To get the maximum credits under the deal, the company needed to have 601 jobs in 2020.

If it hit the maximum, the company could get $2.2 million in job credits and nearly $26.9 million in capital investment credits covering 2020. The combined $29.1 million represents more than a third of the maximum value of the deal, which runs through the end of 2025.

Hughes told reporters on a conference call yesterday the new deal puts the Taiwanese manufacturer on similar footing with other companies that receive incentives from Wisconsin’s job development agency.

“By right-sizing the agreement to reflect the investment that Foxconn was making and the jobs that they were going to create, we have the ability to say Foxconn is being treated the same as many of our other companies,” Hughes said.

The new contract reflects a dramatically scaled back plan for the plant in Racine County. The original deal called for Foxconn to create 13,000 jobs and invest $10 billion. But the company had fallen short on both fronts as it revamped the purpose of the plant. Now, the company can qualify for a maximum $80 million in refundable state credits if it creates 1,451 jobs through the end of 2025 and invests $672 million.

— According to WEDC, Foxconn has already met the capital investment target called for in the new deal. 

Still, to receive the full credits for those investments, it must meet job targets in both 2024 and 2025.

Under the new contract, the company had to create a minimum of 481 jobs in 2020 before ramping up to 1,163 by 2024. The target number of jobs at the end of 2024 is 1,454.

By comparison, the original contract called for a minimum of 1,820 jobs at the end of 2020 before going up to 7,800 at the end of 2024.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, whose district includes the plant, argued that because the Evers administration has lowered the threshold to qualify for job credits, it is allowing Foxconn to capture more incentives than it would’ve otherwise.

The credits under the new deal are capped at 7 percent of payroll, which is in line with typical contracts that WEDC does. The original deal allowed 17 percent.

Vos, R-Rochester, said he wants to move beyond the dispute over Foxconn’s contract because it is a good corporate citizen who is in Wisconsin for the long haul.

“As of today, we haven’t given Foxconn a nickel. I don’t know how people could say it was a bad deal,” Vos said of the original contract.

The new contract also includes a provision requiring Foxconn to meet its commitment to local governments, which issued bonds to finance some of their work on the project in anticipation that increased property tax revenue from the development would cover the costs.

The contract stipulates that if the project’s assessed value falls short of what was anticipated, Foxconn would have to make up the difference on the property taxes it pays vs. what was expected in order to qualify for the state credits.

Hughes said that was done to avoid having the state pay credits to a company that wasn’t in good standing with local governments.

See the new contract:

See the original deal:

— Wisconsin reports 626 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths from the virus.

The seven-day average of confirmed cases fell to 671 cases per day. That figure is on its seventh day of decline. The state started seeing an upward curve in daily case averages in early March. About six weeks later, the average number of daily cases more than doubled. That has since gone down. 

Meanwhile, the state’s seven-day average for daily deaths remains at four deaths per day.  

The state reports 592,262 cases since the start of the pandemic and 6,721 total deaths.

See the Wisconsin COVID-19 Timeline: 

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— On Earth Day, Sheboygan-based Arch Electric is celebrating the successful run of the largest privately owned solar array in Wisconsin history. 

The company completed the Green Valley Dairy solar field in Krakow in September. And the system has been producing power at or above expectations to date.

The Arch-installed system consists of 20 rows of solar panels in a 7.5 acre parcel of land owned by Green Valley Dairy located just north of Green Bay. There are 4,940 panels. The solar energy generated annually will offset carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to either 8.7 railcars worth of coal burned or over 155,000 gallons of diesel burned.

The reduction in greenhouse gases will be equal to over 340 cars driven in one year, or over 3.9 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

— In bipartisan fashion, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher has helped reintroduce the Endless Frontier Act. 

The bill aims to solidify the nation’s leadership in scientific and technological innovation. It would increase investments in the discovery  and manufacturing of technology critical to national security and economic competitiveness.

The legislation further targets support to ensure new research investments that will translate into manufacturing and high-tech jobs in regions nationwide. 

Gallagher, R-Allouez, and California Dem U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna reintroduced the bill in the House. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Indiana Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young reintroduced it in the Senate. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, cosponsored the bill. 

See the Endless Frontier Act: 

Read a summary of the bill: 

See a recent story on the legislation: 

— And Baldwin introduced a bill to extend more relief to Wisconsin farmers and small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. 

The Madison Dem chairs the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill includes a legislative fix that would change PPP loan calculations to allow self-employed farmers to apply for bigger PPP loans based on their gross income, retroactively. 

If passed, any self-employed farmer, even those who already received a PPP loan based on their net income and got it forgiven, could get a loan for the difference between the gross and the net income loan amounts. This relief to Wisconsin farmers would be extended retroactively to March 27, 2020.

“Prior to my change, Wisconsin farmers were stuck with small loans based on 2019 net income — or they were not eligible for loans at all,” Baldwin explained. “With my legislative fix to the PPP, Wisconsin farmers will now have an opportunity to receive an increased benefit with more generous loans.”

— Join us Tuesday for a panel discussion on U.S.-China relations under the Biden administration, focusing on national security, economics and higher education.

Panelists: U.S. Rep. Kind, D-La Crosse, U.S. Rep. Gallagher, R-Green Bay, Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia program for The German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Steve Ackerman, the vice chancellor for research and graduate education at UW-Madison.

The program is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The event will begin with a moderated panel discussion and then shift to questions from the audience.

We will send you a link to access the webinar on the morning of the event. Register here for this free event: 

Check out the new – Wisconsin Trade Policy page:

— Money is available for Wisconsin farmers and restaurateurs.

The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance gives dollars to dairy-based farms and processors in Midwestern states, including Wisconsin. In 2020, the first grant cycle, DBIA awarded $230,000 to farms and processors. 


The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19. It gives dollars equal to a restaurant’s pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. 

See more: 

— And Dane County is launching a $1 million grant program for local artists and performers.

The program will give $2,500 grants to independent working artists with at least two years of activity. The dollars come from the county’s allocation of the latest stimulus bill. 

“We created the Dane Arts Need Grant program as a way to help artists and performers continue their work and promote their art form in new ways during the pandemic,” said Dane

County Executive Joe Parisi. “The arts are an integral part of the local economy and in turn will play an impactful role in our comeback and recovery.”

Artists can apply to pay for products that will help them develop an online presence to promote their art form. Artists can also use money to buy supplies or for skill development. Dane Arts, formerly Dane County Cultural Affairs, will administer the money. 

A resolution to put $1 million into the program will be introduced to the county board today. It’s expected to be approved in the coming weeks, according to Parisi. Apply starting May 1:

— Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is welcoming JetBlue Airways in 2022.

The airline will offer nonstop flights to Boston and New York. 

“JetBlue is the largest domestic airline not already serving MKE, and this will be a fantastic option for passengers traveling to and from Milwaukee in 2022,” airport Director Brian Dranzik said. “The new routes also allow for easy connections to other destinations from New York and Boston.” 

JetBlue’s new codeshare partnership with American Airlines opens up many connections to Europe and other destinations. Flight schedules, aircraft type and launch states are still being determined. Announcements will come later this year.


# Audit: Wisconsin economic agency’s performance improving 

# Dozens of Wisconsin employers are offering vaccines to their workers. Some companies pay a cash bonus.

# Milwaukee Leaders Warn Of Dire Future Without Shared Revenue, Sales Tax Increase



– Auction Calendar: April 23, 2021


– Bring Spring ideas to life with East Wisconsin Savings Bank


– Madison-area health and biotech companies fighting COVID-19 for more than a year


– New Berlin Construction Projects For Spring 2021


– Beyond Bars Scholarship Fund to aid incarcerated students

– Wisconsin Dells school board approves 2021-22 insurance premiums, calendar


– Earth Day 2021: Here are 5 ways you can show the planet some love


– Foxconn, state agree to new deal; Foxconn expecting to hire up to 1,454 by 2025. The company originally promised to hire up to 13,000 people

– WEDC Board Approves What Evers Says Is A $2.77 Billion Reduction In Foxconn’s Incentive Package


– After Reiman Foundation pledged $15 million to Children’s Wisconsin, other donors stepped up. Here’s how it will help kids’ mental health.

– La Crosse County Board declares racism a public health crisis


– Milz Health Group Acquires Gunderson & Associates


– DWD: Unemployment rates declined or stayed the same through Wisconsin metro areas in March


– Proposed Changes To Wisconsin Policing Laws Unveiled


– Wisconsin, Foxconn Amend Deal Over Tax Incentive Package


– Coverage Of Chauvin Verdict Seems As Divided As Nation’s Politics

– Wisconsin racial justice task force issues recommendations


– Home prices keep rising statewide, but less sharply in southeast Wisconsin and Milwaukee


– Spanx opens shop at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport


– ‘My heart just sunk.’ Closing of Hansen’s Dairy & Deli has Green Bay customers in despair

– Clock Shadow Creamery makes some of the finest and freshest cheese in Wisconsin


– Rents start at $1,395 for a small studio apartment. The Packers say TitletownFlats is more than a place to live, it’s a lifestyle


– Wisconsin Department of Tourism announces 2021 marketing campaign ‘Wonder of Wisconsin’

– Travel Wisconsin Offers Statewide Hiking and Biking Trail Report

– Tourism Industry Fighting Bill To Allow For Earlier Start To School Year


JetBlue plans to begin service between Milwaukee and big East Coast destinations


– Legalize marijuana in Wisconsin

– This year, let school districts decide whether to start before Sept. 1


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

– The Unapologetic Voice: Milwaukee author casts off “Sweetwater Sailors” with compelling, untold stories of merchant mariners on the Great Lakes

– AbbyBank Foundation: Donates $1,500 to Compassionate Home Health Care Inc

– UW-Madison: Micro-molded ‘ice cube tray’ scaffold is next step in returning sight to injured retinas

– Luxemburg-Casco School District: Readies for Ahnapee Diesel, 1st diesel-only high school program in state