TUE AM News: gener8tor to host third northeast Upskilling Program in March; WARF provides royalty-free licensing for COVID-19 face shield

— Madison-based startup incubator gener8tor plans to host its third Upskilling Program in northeast Wisconsin in mid-March after two successful cohorts last year. 

Director Cole Shearer said the program will be eight or 10 weeks and will result in information technology certification for 20-30 participants chosen from about 200 expected applicants. Shearer hopes to see the selected cohort grow in the future. 

The gener8tor and Microsoft Upskilling Program aims to develop a skilled workforce for area businesses. Participants learn technical skills of the program theme. This year’s Computing Technology Industry Association certification will hone IT skills. Previous cohorts were based on customer service and sales certifications. 

Program participants will also sharpen their soft skills through virtual LinkedIn Learning modules, a lunch hour lecture series and career coach meetings to prepare for the hiring process. The final phase of the program is a job fair featuring local and national companies in search of program grads. 

gener8tor is opening the lunch hour series up to the public this time around. 

Between the summer 2020 and winter 2020 cohorts, the gener8tor-Microsoft partnership saw almost 300 applicants and had 33 graduates. The grads had been hired by Wisconsin companies, such as American Family Insurance, Schneider Trucking and EatStreet. 

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/gener8tor-to-host-third-northeast-upskilling-program-in-march/ 

— Wisconsin will be one of 24 states targeted by a multi-year, multi-billion dollar high-speed broadband expansion initiative by Charter Communications Inc. 

The company expects to invest approximately $5 billion to support its initiative expanding Charter’s network to more than 1 million lower-density, mostly rural communities that do not have access to service.

Preparation for phase one of the broadband buildout has already begun. 

The end date is dependent on external factors, the company said, including pole permitting. With fewer homes and businesses in the rural areas, broadband providers need to access multiple poles for every new home served, as opposed to multiple homes per pole in higher-density settings. Pole applications, pole replacement rules and their affiliated issue resolution processes are all factors that can impact timing.

“The more cooperation we have with the pole owners and utility companies, the faster we can connect these communities with high-speed internet services,” said CEO Tom Rutledge. “We look forward to working with local municipalities, electric cooperatives, and investor-owned utilities to ensure that permits are obtained in a timely, fair and cost-effective fashion.”

— The National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey, or HERD, ranks UW-Madison No. 8 for public and private universities in 2019. 

The ranking is the same as 2018. Among public universities, UW-Madison remained No. 6 from 2018. More than 900 universities responded to the survey.

UW-Madison increased its annual expenditures in 2019, reporting nearly $1.3 billion in annual expenditures for research across all fields, about half of which comes from federal awards. That is an increase of nearly $92 million from fiscal year 2018.

Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education, said UW-Madison’s commitment to being an innovation leader is evident by its investments in growing faculty and launching new research initiatives. 

“I’m especially proud that our campus research community provides a backbone to the Wisconsin Idea in areas such as timely and critical public health response,” he said. “This is demonstrated by the university’s research related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also through our efforts to engage in fundamental research to ensure significant continuing advances in the arts, education, STEM and the social sciences.”

See the release: https://news.wisc.edu/uw-retains-top-10-national-research-ranking/ 

— After he and a co-worker were directly affected by COVID-19, a UW-Madison surgeon worked with other university departments to develop a face shield design that is now available for licensing.

In the spring of 2020, Dr. Michael Bentz and his chief resident tested positive for COVID-19 and became symptomatic after spending several hours forehead to forehead in the operating room.

Both quarantined and recovered. And Bentz, a surgeon at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, got to work brainstorming how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while in the OR. 

He encountered two challenges: the imperative to conserve personal protective equipment and finding a face mask that could accommodate a surgeon’s tools, such as magnifying glasses, cameras and headlights. Since no existing product fit the bill, he connected with engineers at UW Makerspace. 

“I think [Dr. Bentz] sent us a picture of a Hannibal Lecter mask,” recalled Karl Williamson, shop manager at UW Makerspace. “He said ‘I need something like this, but clear.’”

Read the full story in the latest WisPolitics.com-WisBusiness.com Health Care Report: https://mailchi.mp/wispolitics/mon-health-care-report-warf-provides-royalty-free-licensing-for-operating-room-covid-19-face-shield

— Wisconsinites who missed a chance to get insurance through HealthCare.gov now have another opportunity to sign up between Feb. 15 and May 15 — a development that could lead to a spike in coverage.

HealthCare.gov will be re-opening for Americans to enroll in health insurance coverage following an announcement from the Biden administration last week. It will be available for people who missed either the original enrollment deadline or their first payment for their enrolled plan. State Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin were two of many advocates who pushed Biden to reopen the enrollment period.

People who are already enrolled also have another chance to review their plan to make sure it still meets their coverage needs.

— The original enrollment period that began Nov. 1 and ended Dec. 15 saw 192,183 net enrollments, a decrease of more than 4,000 enrollments compared to the prior year.

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance spokeswoman Sarah Smith said a lack of federal financial support under the Trump administration contributed to an overall decline in enrollment over the past three years.

She added that it’s also possible that with higher enrollments in BadgerCare or COBRA due to the job losses, people that would otherwise have enrolled with HealthCare.gov were already covered.

Smith noted that some states that operate their own marketplaces launched special enrollment periods last year and saw spikes in enrollment compared to the previous year.

<i>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 WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.

Sign up here: https://forms.gle/o8FtqTLviGJPja8C9 </i>

— The Department of Transportation says it’s looking at $26 million in savings on all active major and southeastern Wisconsin mega projects.

Meanwhile, the cost to do an environmental impact study for proposed work on I-39/90 between Madison and the Wisconsin Dells is going to cost $4 million more than originally expected.

The latest Transportation Projects Commission report, posted yesterday, provided several updates on road projects underway in Wisconsin.

The $26 million in projected savings includes $17 million tied to two southeast Wisconsin projects — the Zoo Interchange and the I-94 North-South project — and $9 million more tied to three projects outside southeast Wisconsin.

In addition to the revised cost estimate, the report reflects actions the TPC took at its December meeting, including:

*adding two major projects, the I-39/90/94 bridges over the Wisconsin River;

*and reworking U.S. 51 between Stoughton and McFarland south of Madison.

Yesterday’s report notes the I-39/90/94 project is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2023-24.

Read the report:



# Wisconsin Farmers Union delegates discuss the future of ethanol 

# State surpasses 100,000 coronavirus vaccines administered 

# Real estate firm plans 29 new homes in Menomonee Falls selling for up to $600K 




– Wisconsin Farmers Union delegates seek milk production & pricing overhaul https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/wisconsin-farmers-union-delegates-seek-milk-production-pricing-overhaul/ 

– Baldwin Pushing to Make More Farmers Eligible for PPP Loans http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=104&yr=2021 

– December All Milk Price Fell to $18.20 Cwt. http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=105&yr=2021 

– Other Commodity Prices Mixed Last Month http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=106&yr=2021 

– Beef Demand Expected to Be Good in Coming Weeks https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/02/01/beef-demand-expected-to-be-good-in-coming-weeks/ 

– Wisconsin Continues to Lead Nation in Milking Goats https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/02/01/wisconsin-continues-to-lead-nation-in-milking-goats/ 


– ‘Not a fixer-upper anymore’ — Retiring CEO Flynn says Associated ready for new era of banking https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/not-a-fixer-upper-flynn-on-associated-retirement.html


– Another $97 billion? Putting higher ed’s latest request for Covid-19 relief in context https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/colleges-universities-97-billion-relief-covid-19.html 

– Question about how to ‘punish’ slaves prompts Sun Prairie middle school to put teachers on leave https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/question-about-how-to-punish-slaves-prompts-sun-prairie-middle-school-to-put-teachers-on/article_48523435-ca67-56ad-985e-79da9b21be6e.html

– Dairy Innovation Hub Funds Research Equipment https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/02/01/dairy-innovation-hub-funds-research-equipment/ 


– Ice Cover On The Great Lakes Reaches Near Record Low For January https://www.wpr.org/ice-cover-great-lakes-reaches-near-record-low-january 


– Koss stock plummets 45% Monday https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/koss-stock-plummets-45-monday.html 


– ProHealth Care to restart Mukwonago hospital project; drops HQ relocation plan https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/prohealth-care-drops-hq-relocation-restarts-work.html 

– Number of new COVID-19 cases falls below 1K in Wisconsin; 7-day positivity rate drops to 19.5% https://www.channel3000.com/number-of-new-covid-19-cases-falls-below-1k-in-wisconsin-7-day-positivity-rate-drops-to-19-5/

– Older Wisconsin Residents May Have Accessed COVID-19 Vaccine Sooner Across State Lines https://www.wpr.org/older-wisconsin-residents-may-have-accessed-covid-19-vaccine-sooner-across-state-lines 


– Rural Mutual Insurance to issue a special 2020 dividend https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/rural-mutual-insurance-to-issue-a-special-2020-dividend/ 


– ‘An Absolute Atrocity’: State To Miss Deadline To Close Juvenile Detention Facilities, Even As Conditions Worsen https://www.wpr.org/absolute-atrocity-state-miss-deadline-close-juvenile-detention-facilities-even-conditions-worsen


– More than 37,000 Wisconsin absentee ballots tied to elections commission mailing https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/more-than-37-000-wisconsin-absentee-ballots-tied-to-elections-commission-mailing/article_97bbb591-74a4-58ac-89d7-745b6baa5e62.html


– No movement toward redevelopment of downtown Milwaukee Postal Service building https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/no-movement-toward-redevelopment-of-usps-downtown.html 


– Lawmaker Discusses Package Of Eight Police Reform Bills https://www.wpr.org/lawmaker-discusses-package-eight-police-reform-bills 


– Former Southridge Mall operator forms company to merge with ‘innovative’ retail businesses https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/simon-malls-forms-spac-to-target-innovative-reta.html 


– Weather tech company Understory adds to leadership team https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/inno/stories/news/2021/02/01/weather-tech-company-understory-adds-to-leadership.html 


– Milwaukee Rep again adjusts its season because of Covid-19 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/milwaukee-rep-again-adjust-its-season-because-of-c.html 


– United Airlines warns of 14,000 furloughs https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/01/united-warns-of-14000-furloughs-with-april-expirat.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

– Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association: Hold annual meeting, elect board members and recognize outstanding industry members with awards

– Agricycle Global: Acquires, spins off sustainable seafood company Olacoral

– WMC: 30 business & advocacy groups oppose $450 million surprise Covid tax on small businesses

– Spectrum on Demand: Celebrates Black History Month with a multitude of movies and specials, including “Fruitvale Station,” “Dreamgirls,” “Lovecraft Country” and “MLK/FBI”