FRI AM News: WMC survey finds support for boosting K-12 funding for STEM; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Jenni Le, an associate with Venture Investors Health Fund

— A recent survey of business leaders in Wisconsin found strong support for increasing K-12 funding for STEM fields, as well as industrial and technical programming. 

The Wisconsin Employer Survey from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce found 91 percent of respondents support boosting this funding, while just 5 percent were opposed.

Even more respondents indicated support for expanding Wisconsin’s Youth & Registered Apprenticeship program to include more industries and career paths, with 98 percent in favor. 

Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of WMC, says the state is “in desperate need of policy solutions” to address the workforce shortage. Seventy percent of surveyed businesses said the labor shortage is the state’s top policy issue. 

“We need policymakers to work with the business community to invest in a talent attraction campaign and improve our retention efforts so that we can highlight all of the family-supporting career opportunities that exist within the state,” he said in a report on the survey results. 

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they support a taxpayer-funded talent attraction campaign, the report shows. And 82 percent said they support “streamlining occupational licensing regulations” to make it easier for people to enter the workforce. 

Meanwhile, 70 percent of those surveyed said schools should be required to hire career counselors as well as guidance counselors. 

The report also highlights “overwhelming disapproval” among employers of certain federal policies including the Build Back Better Plan and actions that have reduced domestic energy production. 

WMC surveyed 265 employers of various sizes representing a range of industries through mail and digital formats. 

See more survey results here: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Jenni Le, an associate with Venture Investors Health Fund. 

The firm specializes in health technology such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, digital health and diagnostics, with a focus on early-stage startup companies coming out of universities based in the Midwest. Typical investments range from $250,000 to $2.5 million. 

“We like to meet the entrepreneurs as early as possible — so even if it’s still an idea in a research lab,” she said. 

Through relationships with groups like the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and other research commercialization entities in the region, Le says the fund gets an inside look at the latest innovations. 

She joined the fund in January after previously working as managing director for the startup accelerator gener8tor in Madison, and has a background in agriculture conservation and science communications. 

“I came into this role wanting to learn, and thankfully the partners at VI are willing to teach me and give me access to their networks so that I can grow into being a great investor,” she said. 

Listen to the podcast here:  

See a full list of podcasts: 

— The latest “Midday” podcast features UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof. 

He provides an update on COVID-19, pointing to encouraging signs the state is moving past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think the one word for the news is optimism,” he said. “We’ve come off of our omicron surge; we’re seeing a decrease in cases … We’re continuing to see those later metrics improve which includes hospitalizations and ultimately deaths.” 

And without signs of another variant on the horizon, Pothof says the current outlook is positive. But at the same time, he notes COVID-19 isn’t completely gone and warns the state can’t “completely drop our guard.” 

Still, Pothof said “it is likely safe in most places across the state” to stop wearing masks in public indoor settings. 

He also highlights strategies proven to be effective during the pandemic, including mask-wearing, therapeutic treatments and vaccines. 

“That put some arrows in our quiver when we started combatting COVID-19 and we got better at taking care of patients who had that disease,” he said. 

Listen to the show here: 

— The state’s unemployment rate in January was 3 percent, marking a slight improvement from December’s revised rate of 3.1 percent.

That’s according to the latest federal figures released by the state Department of Workforce Development. In January, DWD released U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing the state’s unemployment rate hit a record-low 2.8 percent in December, but that preliminary number has since been revised upward to 3.1 percent.

The current record low is 2.9 percent, last seen in March 2020, according to DWD spokeswoman Jennifer Sereno. She explained December’s rate was revised by BLS “through the standard annual benchmarking process,” which involves updating model inputs and other data adjustments.

The state added a total of 40,100 private sector jobs over the year, driven by increases in manufacturing and leisure and hospitality employment.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remains below the national rate of 4 percent.

See the release:

— Former Foxconn executive Alan Yeung has written a book on the company’s efforts in Wisconsin called “Flying Eagle,” the name company leaders gave the Racine County project. 

According to an interview conducted by WTMJ-TV Milwaukee, the book paints the project in a favorable light despite the criticism the company has received for changing the scope of the project to a much smaller facility. 

In response to those who say Foxconn has failed in Wisconsin, Yeung said “that’s a wrong perspective.” 

“It might not have actually worked the way the original plan had been intended, but so far I think with the investment made by the company, the local community and the state and also the federal government, it is a good thing,” he said. 

See more details in Foxconn Reports below. 

— The Public Service Commission has unanimously approved an application from American Transmission Company to build a new transmission line connecting substations in Herman and Sheboygan. 

During an open meeting of the PSC yesterday, Commissioner Tyler Huebner said the project aims to address instability and risk of energy loss in the Sheboygan area as the Edgewater coal plant is due to close later this year. He noted the “unacceptably low voltages” and instability in the region would violate reliability standards, supporting the need for the project. 

“Commission staff also conducted powerflow analysis of the proposed line and performed sensitivity analysis and in sum, staff did not find any notable discrepancies that would dispute the need or system impacts of the proposed project,” Huebner said. 

The proposed line, which will span between 6.9 and 7.9 miles, also includes modifications to connected substations “designed to accommodate, protect and monitor the new line.” 

In approving the project, commissioners agreed it won’t “unreasonably interfere” with existing land use and development plans for the area. And they declined to approve a request to construct portions of the line underground to reduce impacts to a nearby school and daycare. 

Huebner said the safety aspects of the line are “well-understood and well-known,” noting performing underground construction would result in “additional upheaval” to property owners and possibly higher maintenance expenses. Commission Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq said building underground would lead to reduced life expectancy for the line. And Commissioner Ellen Nowak said there is “no evidence” to show that placing the line on property next to daycares or schools would be harmful. 

“We’ve done this so many times before, I don’t understand what’s different about this time,” Nowak said. 

See project details: 

— State officials say 154 Wisconsin National Guard members have finished their certified nursing assistant training, helping to free up 226 nursing home beds at 17 facilities. 

The goal of this effort was to open 200 or more beds in the state by the end of February, a release from the Department of Health Services shows. The agency says more beds will be opened after 56 National Guard members are placed at six nursing homes this week. The CNA training was conducted through Madison College. 

The state’s hospital capacity outlook has improved in the last several months as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations have dropped off sharply following the recent peak of the omicron surge. 

For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and

Sign up here:

— School districts and bus service providers in the state are getting just over $200,000 in federal funding through the 2021 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act School Bus Rebates program. 

This program of the Environmental Protection Agency helps replace older school buses with newer ones. A total of $1.2 million in rebates were announced yesterday for 49 bus replacements in the Midwest 

Recipients include Brandt Buses, with a $20,000 rebate; Norwalk Ontario Wilton School District, $20,000; School District of Alma, $20,000; School District of Shell Lake, $25,000; School District of Westfield, $60,000; and School Transit – Eau Claire, $60,000. Westfield will be replacing three buses while all others are replacing one each. 

See the release: 


# Historic Paoli cheese factory to become Seven Acre Dairy Company

# Report: In the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s income tax has become less progressive

# Waupaca Elevator Co. sale in the works, mass layoffs still possible



– Dairy Together events rally farmers to push for dairy reform


– Wisconsin lost 2,900 private sector jobs in January


– Nature group aims to increase biodiversity with central Wisconsin land purchase


– Madison restaurants fight COVID ‘hangover’ as federal funding stalls

– Chicken and protests: Chick-fil-A opens in Ashwaubenon


– Former Foxconn executive writes book about Wisconsin project: ‘We’re not going to apologize for trying hard’

– Former Foxconn exec Alan Yeung writes book on Wisconsin project


– Milwaukee County task force approves funding for public safety, behavioral health initiatives

– Epic Systems launches new service for independent medical practices

– Doctors debate, patients suffer: The fight over chronic Lyme disease in Wisconsin


– Court weighs case of conservative who won’t leave DNR board

– Wisconsin Supreme Court weighs arguments on whether to remove former NRB chair Fred Prehn

– Key justice skeptical of removing holdover DNR board member

– Platteville fish dealer convicted in Wisconsin’s first invasive carp bust


– Black to permanently fill role as State Fair Park director


– Partners in Giving fundraising campaign raises $2M for charity


– State farm groups praise passage of nitrogen reduction bills


– Phoenix Investors buys Nela Park, home to GE Lighting and Current


– Milwaukee Bucks open new shop as retail grows by up to 50% over last year


– Milwaukee Brewers will open year-round virtual golf experience at American Family Field

– Virtual golf facility coming to American Family Field


– TDS bringing new fiber optic network to Brookfield


– Regulators give OK to transmission line needed to retire coal-fired plant


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

Dept. of Workforce Development: Releases BLS data

Bradley Corp: Survey reveals five ways Covid changed Americans’ impressions of public restrooms and facilities

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce: Wisconsin employers cite worker shortage as top public policy concern