WED AM News: WEDC awards grant for Milwaukee worker transport plan; UW System proposing regents keep resident undergrad tuition rates flat

— The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has awarded $31,700 to the Regional Transit Leadership Council to help Milwaukee workers access jobs in the surrounding suburbs.

The workforce transportation plan, expected to be completed in 2022, will fill in the “last mile” between metro Milwaukee and the Brookfield/New Berlin and Franklin/Oak Creek areas. It will identify and address costs and funding sources.

Almost 20 percent of Milwaukee residents lack access to cars. That percentage increases significantly in high-poverty areas of the city, according to WEDC.

To create equitable access, the program is likely to be designed for people earning between $13 and $18 an hour, which is “enough to warrant traveling a long distance for a job, but not enough to buy and maintain a reliable car,” the WEDC release says. 

This includes extending the reach of existing transit routes by providing ride sharing opportunities to pick up and drop off riders at places of employment. In southeast Wisconsin, about half of the jobs lie outside of a 90-minute bus commute, according to the release. Commutes to manufacturing and retail jobs are typically longer, often located in suburban areas.

“As we work to get everyone off the sidelines and into jobs, we know that access to robust transportation is a significant factor in workers’ decisions whether to take a job and businesses’ decisions whether to locate or expand here,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. 

Leaders from the City of Milwaukee, Franklin, Oak Creek, Brookfield, Wauwatosa and Milwaukee and Waukesha counties and the private sector will oversee the planning process.

— The UW System is proposing that regents keep resident undergrad tuition rates flat for the upcoming school year, essentially keeping in place a freeze that lawmakers voted to let expire in the 2021-23 budget.

Regents this Thursday will vote on a resolution to recommend the system president not increase tuition at all for resident undergrads.

“The Board of Regents and President Thompson are committed to a thoughtful consideration of tuition, which will be taken up at the regents meeting this week,” said system spokesman Mark Pitsch.

Though the GOP-controlled Legislature had voted to allow the freeze to expire, some Republican lawmakers had warned the regents against immediately seeking a significant tuition increase.

“Listen carefully, UW, you’re looking at the guardrails,” state Sen. Dale Kooyenga said after the Joint Finance Committee voted in May to leave a freeze out of the budget. “If UW decides to jack up tuition in a tone-deaf manner, this body will take action.”

The system has been barred by the state from increasing undergrad tuition for the last decade. This year’s budget — which passed both branches of the Legislature with bipartisan support — would give that authority back to UW.

See more at 

— The latest COVID-19 vaccination numbers from the state Department of Health Services show that 50.5 percent of the state’s total population has received at least one shot of the vaccine. That’s a little below the U.S. number.

Meanwhile, 47.6 percent of the state’s population has completed their vaccine series, the DHS site shows. 

Among adults in Wisconsin, 61.5 percent have received one shot and 58.3 percent have completed the series. 

By comparison, about 55 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, and 47.5 percent are fully vaccinated. The United States overall has yet to reach President Biden’s stated goal of 70 percent vaccination, which is believed to be the lower end of the threshold for herd immunity. 

Wisconsin’s vaccination rates vary widely by age, with 84.8 percent of those over 65 having received at least one dose. On the low end, 28.4 percent of youth ages 12 to 15 have gotten at least one shot. 

The rates also vary by race, with 47 percent of white residents and 49.9 percent of Asian residents having gotten at least one shot, compared to 33.5 percent of American Indian residents and 26.9 percent of Black residents. 

County-level vaccination rates continue to differ as well. Just over 27 percent of Taylor County’s 20,343 residents have gotten one vaccine shot, while 69 percent of Dane County’s 546,695 residents have received one shot. 

See the DHS dashboard: 

— The Literacy Network says its efforts have increased COVID-19 vaccination rates in low-income adults of color with low literacy in Dane County from 26 to nearly 80 percent since April.

During April of 2021, the Department of Health Services awarded the Literacy Network a $13,000 COVID-19 Community Outreach Grant to run a vaccine awareness and education program. The program was designed to increase vaccination rates among adults of color in Dane County. 

In April, 26 percent of low-income adults of color were accessing COVID-19 vaccines, a rate which was 11 percent lower than the overall population of Dane County, according to a Literacy Network survey of 400 adults. A quarter of surveyed adults also reported a “hesitance or unwillingness to be vaccinated.”

A “multi-pronged” approach using social media and partnering with Fitchburg Community Pharmacy was created to address concerns about vaccines, the Literacy Network said in a release. The informational campaign developed lesson plans and hosted two vaccine clinics to educate its target population.

As of the week of June 7, Literacy Network learners were accessing vaccines at a rate of 78 percent, which was 12 percent higher than the Dane County average. Less than 11 percent of surveyed adults reported having vaccine hesitancy.

— UW Health started a 12-month long ambulatory nurse residency program as a “supportive steppingstone” for new nurses and to prevent burnout.

Designed for recent nursing school graduates, the program places students in a clinic setting and pairs them with a mentor. The new nurses also take classes with UW Health twice a month. The program, aimed to address Wisconsin’s nursing shortage, launched in February. 

Since the beginning of the program, UW Health’s first-year retention rate is 97 percent, which is 6 percent higher than the national average for hospitals with nurse residency programs. The retention rate for hospitals without residency programs is 71 percent, according to UW Health.

As of 2020, Wisconsin is experiencing a nurse shortage of 2,800, according to the Wisconsin Nurses Association. This means there are about 15 nurses for every 1,000 patients in the state, according to 2019 US Bureau of Health Workforce data.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 500,000 registered nurses will retire by 2022. To avoid a worsening national nursing shortage, an estimated 1.1 million registered nurses are needed to meet increasing demand and replace retirees.

A new class of nurses will begin the UW Health ambulatory nurse residency program in August.

See more here: 

— The Wisconsin Technology Council will host a number of investment discussions this summer, starting at Titletown Tech in Green Bay on July 26. 

Tech Council Investor Networks Director Joe Kremer will discuss the findings of the recent Wisconsin Portfolio report, which details angel and venture capital activity in Wisconsin. The event will also include a networking happy hour. 

Upcoming stops in the event series are planned for Sturgeon Bay on July 27, Eau Claire on July 28, La Crosse on July 29, Beloit on Aug. 2, Madison on Aug. 3 and Milwaukee on Aug. 4. 

See more on the Wisconsin Portfolio report: 

Register for the event here: 


# UW Health sees higher retention rates after launch of post-grad clinical residency program

# Milwaukee Bucks’ Marc Lasry: Deer District crowds ‘beyond prediction,’ could fuel more development

# Overture Center suspends CEO search



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– Online homebuying option picking up steam with local, national builders

– Michels in lease talks with Wisconsin investor over relocation of Hawaii office


– Kohl’s is giving hourly employees bonuses to stick with the retailer through the holidays


– Milwaukee Bucks’ Marc Lasry: Deer District crowds ‘beyond prediction,’ could fuel more development


– New transportation program connects workers to ‘last mile’ of employment


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