FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Jon Horne of the Idea Fund of La Crosse; Unemployment rate inches up to 3.2 percent

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Jon Horne, managing director of the Idea Fund of La Crosse. 

After initially launching in June 2017, the Idea Fund invested in 11 companies across the state over its first four years. Horne explains initial investments were typically around $500,000 and spanned a wide variety of industries. 

“We found a lot of interesting opportunities in industries where the state has meaningful amounts of employment,” he said. “Ag-tech, industrial, supply chain, health IT — stuff like that, really disruption of some of the core industries that we’ve seen in the state.” 

Along with giving an update on some of the initial $13 million fund’s early investments, Horne discusses a new $20 million fund announced last month. He said the Idea Fund will be looking to invest in more early-stage companies; he aims to do 20 deals this time around. 

“We have the deals here, and we have the talent to get capital into Wisconsin,” he said. “You’ve got to present it right, and you have to have a good opportunity for people to invest in, but we’ve seen it can be done.” 

Horne also shares his thoughts on the evolution of Wisconsin’s investment landscape, noting “the quality and experience level of the entrepreneurs has gone up significantly.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See the full list of podcasts: 

See more on the new fund: 

— While the state’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.2 percent in September, Wisconsin continues to make progress in regaining jobs lost during the pandemic. 

That’s according to Department of Workforce Development Chief Economist Dennis Winters, who discussed the latest state employment figures yesterday during a web briefing. 

Wisconsin has now regained 99 percent of the jobs lost during the pandemic economic slowdown after adding 7,000 total nonfarm jobs in September, but remains about 43,400 jobs short of the pre-pandemic peak, Winters said. 

Meanwhile, the state added 14,400 private sector jobs over the month, driven in part by increases in durable goods manufacturing, health care and social assistance, and leisure and hospitality. Winters added total construction employment reached a new record of 133,600 after adding 600 jobs in September. 

The state’s labor force participation rate dipped from 65.9 percent in August to 65.6 percent in September, but remains above the U.S. rate of 62.3 percent. 

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percent from August’s rate of 3.1 percent, and remains 0.3 percent below the U.S. unemployment rate of 3.5 percent. 

“You can see we’re still near or at historic lows; we expect that to continue,” Winters said. 

He also touched on the state’s demographic labor challenges as older workers continue to age out of the workforce. 

“Wisconsin’s workforce [is] flattening out — next to zero growth at this point, and may even be negative by 2035,” he said. “This is true for all occupations, across all geographies.” 

See the DWD report here: 

Watch the briefing: 

— Gov. Tony Evers and DATCP have announced $10 million in additional funding for two organizations working to reduce food insecurity in the state. 

Feeding Wisconsin and the Hunger Task Force will each get up to $5 million to cover food costs incurred before the end of June 2023. The guv’s office says the funds are coming from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

According to a release, Evers has now allocated a total of $65 million for food security networks in the state since May 2020. 

See the release: 

— More than 613,000 state residents have gotten a flu vaccination for the current season, health officials announced. 

Wisconsin Immunization Program Manager Dr. Stephanie Schauer notes “many Wisconsinites, especially children, fell behind on routine vaccines” during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As flu season is arriving, now is the time to get caught up,” she said in a release from the state Department of Health Services. 

DHS yesterday also released a report detailing trends in flu vaccination between 2019 and 2021. It shows the overall vaccination coverage for influenza rose from 42 percent during the 2019-2020 flu season to 43.7 percent during the 2020-2021 season. That means about 75,000 more people got vaccinated during last flu season than the previous one, according to the agency. 

“However, this trend did not occur across all age groups and racial and ethnic groups and was not evident in all areas of the state,” report authors wrote. 

Vaccination rates for children aged 12 years and younger declined during the previous flu season, with a more pronounced drop for those aged 0-4 years, the report shows. 

Meanwhile, flu vaccination coverage was lower among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native residents, and four of the five counties with the highest flu vaccine coverage last year are classified as urban. 

While DHS notes the report’s data may be incomplete due to limited public health resources during the pandemic, the agency says findings are “consistent with a wider national trend of lower flu vaccination rates among rural communities.” 

See the full report here: 

See the DHS release: 

— Competitive Wisconsin is holding a health care “action accelerator” event Nov. 3 in Mauston. 

The discussion will focus on a number of challenges facing health care such as workforce shortages and pandemic pressures, as well as inflation, rising drug prices and more. Experts will highlight opportunities for addressing these hurdles for both health care providers and policymakers. 

Next month’s event will feature speakers from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Nurses Association, the Wisconsin Medical Society, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Mayo Clinic Health System and other organizations. 

It’s being held from 8 a.m. to noon at the Western Technical College Mauston Campus. 

See more event details and register to attend: 

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– U.S. Championship Cheese Contest returns to Green Bay in 2023

– Farm Bureau’s YFA 35 Under 35 Award finalists named


– Construction costs in Wisconsin climb while scopes of projects stay the same


– Stout formally welcomes first female leader after almost three years in office


– ACX Cinemas looks to bring new, elevated entertainment experience to former iPic complex at Bayshore


– MacKenzie Scott gifts $5M to Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation


– Lake Louie Brewing to become face of Wisconsin Brewing Co.

– Wisconsin Brewing Co. rebrands, adds brewery at Dockhounds’ stadium in Oconomowoc

– Vertically integrated MPE looks to ‘fill gaps’ through organic growth, acquisitions


– CMN Hospitals Radiothon sees record-breaking results


– Wisconsin taxpayers group appeals to US Supreme Court to stop student loan forgiveness plan


– Revised plans call for 25-story apartment tower on Milwaukee Goll House site

– Goll Mansion apartment tower project gets a reboot

– Neenah school district will sell Roosevelt school property to businessman John Bergstrom


– Milwaukee pro soccer team will be backed by ‘pretty significant’ ownership group, Kacmarcik says


– Port Milwaukee director leaving to work for Biden administration

– Salm Partners free transportation program provides their employees with a solution to get to work


– We Energies doubles rate increase sought for residential customers


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

Marcus & Millichap: Arranges the sale of a 24,480-square-foot self-storage facility

Dept. of Health Services: State health department introduces new flu vaccine data dashboard and report on vaccine coverage in Wisconsin