FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Marion Riehemann of Second Freedom; WPF report highlights arts and entertainment resurgence

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Marion Riehemann, the CEO and co-founding partner of Second Freedom, which provides executive leadership consulting services. 

Before coming to the United States in 2020, Riehemann was designing and facilitating leadership development programs for corporations in Europe and elsewhere. She has worked with major companies such as Adidas, Airbus and Xerox. 

“We’re very informed by something that is heavily grounded in research and theory of adult development,” she said. “So we know of certain stages of so-called meaning-making, or action logics … how adults give meaning to the world. It’s predictable and measurable, and we can actually train that or upgrade it.” 

Now based in Madison, some of her more recent clients include UW-Madison and the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Who I’m really interested in, also from the past and now bringing it here, is the tech industry,” she said. “The tech industry, we find, has great affinity to the mindset that we’re looking for, that is curious and open … it builds on a certain mindset that comes with what we call agile project management.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts: 

— A new Wisconsin Policy Forum report shows employment in the state’s arts and entertainment sector is recovering after dropping off early in the pandemic. 

The “State of the Arts” report provides an update to a WPF report from August 2020 that described the pandemic as “an existential threat” to arts groups and venues in the state. Since that time, the arts in Wisconsin have “staged a slow but steady comeback,” report authors wrote. 

This process has been boosted by about $440 million in pandemic relief funding, the report shows. 

In April 2020, employment in some of the major arts and culture industries in the state had declined dramatically, with “much greater” job losses than the economy overall. Employment at museums, historical sites and similar institutions had fallen 30.5 percent; jobs in performing arts, spectator sports and related industries had fallen 57.2 percent; and motion picture and sound recording industries employment had decreased by 69.8 percent. 

Over much of 2021, job numbers in those three subsectors saw large improvements, though they remain between 13.1 and 31.7 percent below pre-pandemic levels. 

Meanwhile, the report shows employment in arts and culture industries seem to have continued to grow since fall 2021 and “may even have returned to pre-pandemic levels,” based on the performance of a broader industry category: amusement, gambling and recreation. This includes other businesses such as fitness centers, casinos and golf courses. 

According to the report, employment in that broader sector was 9.6 percent above 2019 levels in March, based on preliminary data.  Total nonfarm employment across all sectors in the state remains 2 percent below 2019 levels, the report shows. 

“Nationally, employment in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector remained down 6.7% in March 2022 relative to the same month in 2019, while total nonfarm employment was up by 0.4%,” report authors wrote. “This suggests that the recovery in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector has been stronger in Wisconsin than in most states.” 

State sales tax revenues from arts and culture industries also suggest related businesses are seeing a strong recovery, though authors note they can’t determine if that is “attributed to a recovery in patronage as opposed to higher ticket and related prices that reflect the rising rate of inflation.” 

But at the same time, the number of establishments in the arts and culture subsectors has “held steady and even grown.” Following a decline in the first quarter of 2020, the number of these establishments reached 1,104 in the third quarter of 2021, which is 6.4 percent higher than the same quarter in 2019. 

See the full report: 

— We Energies is proposing residential rate increases of up to 6 percent for 2023 as the company pursues a major clean energy transition. 

According to a release, its plan would increase the typical electric bill for its residential customers by $5 to $6 per month next year, for an increase of “roughly 5 to 6” percent. 

Along with the rate increase, its regulatory review proposal filed with the Public Service Commission covers “critical investments in storm hardening and grid resiliency,” including burying 800 miles of power lines over the next 10 years. 

“We have set some of the most aggressive goals in our industry for reducing carbon and methane emissions,” Scott Lauber, president of We Energies, said in the release. “This rate plan will help us reach those goals and provide customers with the affordable, reliable and clean energy they depend on.” 

See the release: 

— The Wisconsin Biofuels Association is applauding Gov. Tony Evers for supporting year-round sales of E15 fuel in the state. 

Evers and eight other governors of Midwest states sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to express support for allowing E15 — which contains 15 percent ethanol — to be sold throughout the year. 

“During a time of continued supply chain disruptions and rising inflation, I continue to seek ways to support Wisconsin families,” Evers said in a release.  

The move comes after the Biden Administration recently lifted the summertime ban on E15 gasoline in hopes of reducing fuel costs. 

In a statement, the Wisconsin Biofuels Association says using more ethanol in the state’s fuel supply is “a huge boon to Wisconsin’s rural economy,” as the biofuels industry has an estimated $1 billion economic impact and supports about 20,000 jobs. 

See the letter: 

See the association’s statement: 

— Three Wisconsin counties are in the “medium” category for the CDC’s community levels guidelines, though COVID-19 indicators would need to rise significantly for them to reach the “high” category. 

Dane, Barron and Rusk counties are all seeing medium community levels of COVID-19 activity, while the rest of the state remains in the “low” category. 

In areas that fall under the “high” category, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending residents wear masks in public regardless of vaccination status, among other measures. 

In a recent blog post, Dane County health officials noted the county has a case rate of over 200 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week, which pushed it into the medium category. 

If cases remain at that level, the county wouldn’t move into the high category until hospital admissions per 100,000 population reach 10 or greater, and the percentage of regional staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients reach 10 percent or greater. As of April 21, those numbers were 3 and 1.6 percent, respectively. 

If cases were to drop below 200, admissions would need to hit 20 and the hospital beds figure would need to exceed 15 percent for Dane County to reach the high category, the blog post shows. 

“The case activity in Dane County has been increasing for nearly six weeks, with a current 7-day average of 224 cases per day,” officials wrote. “However, due to our county’s high vaccination coverage, available treatment options, and immunity following the Omicron surge in January, hospitalizations are (so far at least) staying low and stable.” 

Barron and Rusk counties, by comparison, have lower case rates but higher numbers for hospitalizations. 

Barron County has a case rate of 59.68 per 100,000 population, 16.8 new hospital admissions per 100,000 population, and 0.8 percent of staffed inpatient beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. 

Meanwhile, Rusk County has a case rate of 28.21, while its hospital admissions and hospital bed occupancy rates are the same as those of Barron County. 

See the blog post from Public Health Madison & Dane County: 

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— WiSys has announced Winnow Fund Managing Director Richelle Martin will be the organization’s “venture capitalist-in-residence.” 

WiSys, which handles technology commercialization for much of the UW System, is also investing in the Winnow Fund as a limited partner. A spokesman for the organization declined to provide specifics of the investment. 

In her new role with WiSys, Martin will work with university students and “aspiring startup founders” around the state. This will be facilitated through the WiSys VentureHomes network, which aims to develop innovation hubs to support entrepreneurs statewide. 

The Winnow Fund provides early-stage capital for seed stage startup companies in Wisconsin, focusing on those coming out of colleges and universities. 

“As the managing director of Winnow Fund, Richelle’s experience in higher education, investor perspective and interest in growing more Wisconsin-based startups align strongly with the goals of the WiSys VentureHome,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga. 

According to a release, the first WiSys VentureHome site launched in Eau Claire in 2020, the second opened last year in Green Bay and others are slated to come online this year. 

See the release: 

Listen to a podcast from last year with Martin: 


# Group targets Husky Energy in public safety initiative hoax on anniversary of Husky refinery explosion

# Regulators approve 2nd phase of Alliant solar plan

# Milwaukee startup raises $4 million to help make decarbonizing heavy industry affordable



– DBA, Edge Co-op hires new marketing manager


– Dairy processor grant recipients named


– Detangling the ‘hairball’: Businesses adapt to downtown construction


– Wisconsin still leading the nation in dairy product output

– Report: Wisconsin arts organizations have begun to rebound from ‘existential threat’ of the pandemic


– La Crosse School District asks voters to consider $195 million building plan


– Conservation Congress respondents support 350-wolf limit

– 6 Wisconsin tribes voice opposition to bill seeking to remove federal protections for wolves


– After two-year delay, Flourchild Pizza to open Milwaukee Street location


– Oak Creek Starbucks workers vote in favor of unionizing


– Milwaukee Repertory Theater hires new chief diversity officer

– Milwaukee Rep names new chief diversity officer

– CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County named executive director for Charles Allis and Villa Terrace art museums in Milwaukee

– Former Shorewood BID executive director hired to lead nonprofit public art organization Joy Engine


– Chemical manufacturer Evonik debuts ‘training tank,’ helps Janesville Fire Department conduct confined-space drills


– Nonprofit Journey21 names its first executive director


– Michels says he’ll divest from company if elected governor


– Neumann buys land for 100-lot subdivision in Jackson


– Influential advisory firm to weigh in on Kohl’s proxy fight

– Streetwise: A father and daughter are writing the next chapter for this bookstore


– Ariens Nordic Center aims to create opportunities for Midwest athletes — and Brillion


– Milwaukee-based startup Advanced Ionics closes $4.2 million funding round


– PSC approves $620M in solar farms in phase two of Alliant’s clean energy plan

– Public Service Commission signs off on second phase of Alliant Energy’s solar plan

– We Energies proposes 5% residential rate increase to fund clean-energy transition


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

UW-Madison: Two professors elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Renew Wisconsin: With PSC approval in hand, Alliant’s solar portfolio soars above one gigawatt