FRI AM News: Officials see potential for boosting trades with federal infrastructure funding; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Sheila Long of MalamaDoe

— Officials agree new federal infrastructure dollars coming to Wisconsin are an opportunity to address workforce issues by getting more people into the trades. 

“I’d see this as an opportunity to invest in our communities to get people trained up, to get them connected with good, family-supporting jobs at a living wage or higher,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said yesterday during a breakfast in Milwaukee. 

Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson echoed the mayor’s sentiment, also pointing to the state’s aging population and the impact of the pandemic on the labor market as important factors. With tens of millions of dollars coming down the pipeline for a wide array of infrastructure investments in the state, he underscored the potential for workers seeking better employment options. 

“You know there is going to be work going on out there, they are going to need you, they are good-paying jobs. And there’s going to be a lot of them,” he said. “So I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for people that are looking at maybe going into something else. They should be going into this area. Because there’s going to be work, it’s going to be good-paying work, and it’s going to be there for a while.” 

Panelists highlighted the importance of training and apprenticeship programs, as well as stimulating interest in the trades among young people in the state. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, whose father was a master electrician, said “we have to figure out how we’re introducing more young people into the trades, particularly right now.” 

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Commissioner Jeff Stone said the state has a chance to “create that next generation” with the funding coming to the state. 

“When you look across what are the resources that are going to be valuable going forward — people, manpower are what’s going to be there,” said Stone, a former Milwaukee-area Republican Representative who led the Public Service Commission’s water division before joining Kapur & Associates. “Everybody can get the equipment, they can get the technology, but we need to optimize the people that we have and that human resource.” 

Panelists also touched on some of their top priorities to accomplish with the federal dollars, including repairing bridges, replacing lead pipes, expanding public transit, and developing Amtrak passenger rail lines. 

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— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with returning guest Sheila Long, founder of MalamaDoe, a coworking community for women located in the Milwaukee area. 

She provides an update on how the makeup of her space has changed over the past several years, highlighting challenges amid the pandemic era. She also discusses the outlook for 2022 as she eyes opportunities for showcasing member businesses. 

“We showcase our businesses at tradeshows, in-person events, so I’m happy to report that is coming back,” she said. “We are looking forward to filling up our calendar.” 

Long also highlights a new tenant called She Should Run, a nonpartisan organization working to advance women in public leadership. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts: 

— The featured guest on the latest episode of “Talking Trade” is Mark Rhoda-Reis, director of the International Agribusiness Center at DATCP. 

Rhoda-Reis gives an update on “quite a strong year” for ag products in the state considering the pandemic. Based on year-to-date data from November, he said exports over most of 2021 were up 19 percent over the previous year. 

For the overall year, he said “we expect to be up close to that percentage amount; that’ll put us at least our 10-year record for agricultural exports.” He noted the state’s top five export markets saw growth through November, with three of those experiencing growth in the double digits. 

“We’re a little bit surprised, if you think about the high cost of containers, the lack of availability of containers, workforce shortages and challenges and being able to produce, but there was so much pent-up demand that we sort of were able to overcome a lot of those headwinds,” he said. 

Watch the show here: 

— A top state health official says Wisconsin is “going in the right direction” as COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to fall, though case activity remains “critically high” across the entire state. 

“The good news is that the case counts are shrinking substantially,” Dr. Ryan Westergaard said yesterday during a media briefing. “In three of the public health regions, cases have shrunk over the past two weeks by as many as 20 percent — that’s great news.” 

The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases has dropped to 4,679 after reaching a peak of 18,857 on Jan. 19, the Department of Health Services site shows. And the Wisconsin Hospital Association reports 1,387 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, including 278 ICU patients. Over the past week those numbers have dropped by 387 and 84, respectively.

“That’s hopefully … good news on the horizon that this is going to be less taxing on our hospital systems over time,” said Westergaard, the chief medical officer for the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases. “Although there’s still a lot of people in the hospital with COVID-19, I think that’s reason for optimism that things are getting better.” 

Despite these favorable trends, Westergaard explained that recommendations on masks and distancing are linked to community levels of transmission. Under the CDC framework, once low levels of transmission are seen, “people no longer need to wear masks,” he said. But case activity remains critically high in every Wisconsin county at this point. 

“How low is low? Well we’re still extremely high. Four thousand cases a day is in that critically high level,” he said. “So we’d like to see that much lower than that — less than 400, 500 cases per day.” 

See the latest case numbers: 

See the WHA site here: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has announced about 70 Wisconsin National Guard members have completed their certified nursing assistant training and are providing health care staffing support around the state. 

“Members of the Guard are volunteering to step up so we can welcome more CNAs into our nursing homes across the state and expand capacity at our hospitals during this critical time,” he said in a release. 

That’s on top of the approximately 50 National Guard troops assigned to long-term care facilities earlier this year, helping to free up more hospital beds for incoming patients. Madison College, which is providing the CNA training, says it expects to start working with another group of National Guard members “in the coming weeks.” 

Meanwhile, about 600 other members of the state National Guard are providing pandemic support in other ways, such as helping with community testing, working as temporary nursing assistants at mental health facilities, and assisting at vaccine stockpile management sites around the state. 

See the release: 


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– Class III milk price rises to $20.38 for January


– AGC of Wisconsin names new officers, directors

– Crane rises at Couture site as project heads toward missing key federal deadline


– With $2.9 million, Madison College aims to break barriers to child care

– Report: Students of color experience more school leadership turnover


– Watershed protection grants awarded to farmer groups

– Scientists race to gather winter data on warming Great Lakes


– State health officials keep eye on new omicron subvariant

– GOP bills want to protect doctors using treatments not intended for COVID-19. Wisconsin’s largest physician group is opposed.


– Updated: Penrod breaks from bootstrapping to raise $8 million, plans over 50% growth this year


– Milwaukee fuel company CEO charged with wire fraud


– Harley-Davidson upshifts apparel via high-profile hires with Nike, Yeezy connections


– Wisconsin Farmers Union planning Farm & Rural Lobby Day


– Former Seattle tech exec builds startup in Milwaukee: The Pitch


– Milwaukee-Madison Amtrak link could happen within five years: Madison mayor


– Several hundred speak up at meeting about Enbridge Line 5 reroute

– Hundreds participate in a hearing on Enbridge’s proposed oil and gas pipeline project

– Many speak out against proposed Enbridge pipeline reroute


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