TUE AM News: Milwaukee Women inc chair touts impact of new Nasdaq diversity rule; Report details transportation projects in FY2022

— The board chair for Milwaukee Women inc says a new Nasdaq rule requiring annual disclosures of diversity statistics will improve representation among business leadership. 

“As we begin to see these organizations really making it an intentional business strategy to add diversity to their board, we will begin to continue to see movement towards a more diverse board across not just Nasdaq organizations, but all companies,” Kim Stoll said during a recent meeting of the Milwaukee Rotary Club. 

Stoll also highlighted a number of findings from the group’s 2022 Research Report, which shows the percentage of women on the boards of the top 50 public companies in Wisconsin reached 26.3 percent this year. This is the first time that figure has exceeded 25 percent, and marks an improvement over 2021 when it was 23 percent, she said. 

Stoll, who is also the vice president of sales and marketing at Badger Meter in Milwaukee, explained the Nasdaq rule was introduced in 2021 and has been approved by the SEC. It requires that Nasdaq-listed companies will need to have at least two diverse directors — one a woman, and the other from another underrepresented group — by 2025/2026, she said. 

“Otherwise, the company’s going to have to explain why it has failed, or been unable to achieve that representation,” she told Rotary members. 

She noted federal regulators have approved a new board recruiting portal, “so companies … can’t use as an excuse, ‘I can’t find these candidates.’ So that I think will help.” 

Milwaukee Women inc celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and Stoll noted companies in the state have made significant progress toward diversifying leadership in that time. She said statistics from the past two decades “show a pretty noteworthy progress towards gender parity on the boards of Wisconsin public companies.” 

Between 2003 and 2022, the number of women director seats on boards of the top 50 public companies in the state has quadrupled from 30 to 120, she said. The number of such directors who are women of color has risen from six to 26 over the same period, she added. And the number of these companies with three or more directors who are women has grown from three to 22. 

“When you have three women that are communicating and part of the dialogue, it then becomes a true, louder voice on the board,” she said. “And it really changes the dynamics and raises the performance of that board.” 

Watch a video of her remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGN66p1c2x0 

See the group’s 2022 report: https://milwaukeewomeninc.org/milwaukee-women-inc-releases-2022-research-report/ 

— The state began more than 700 new federally funded transportation projects in the first year of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. 

In fiscal year 2022, the state used $957.6 million in federal highway and bridge formula funds for these projects, the organization says in a release. Its report draws from U.S. Treasury Department data through the end of September. 

Of those projects, the ARTBA says the five largest are: a $79.7 million project on the I-43 North South Freeway; a $39 million project on the same freeway; a $28.3 million project on the section of I-41 running from Appleton to De Pere; an $18.6 million construction effort on IH 94; and a $17.3 bridge maintenance and resurfacing project on IH 43 North South Freeway. 

See the release: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wisconsin-started-719-transportation-projects-in-year-one-of-infrastructure-law-new-report-shows-301682899.html 

See the full report: https://www.artba.org/economics/highway-dashboard-iija/ 

— The state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is touting the importance of this year’s “Small Business Saturday.” 

Taking place this weekend after Thanksgiving, the national event has been held every year since 2010 as a way to attract more local spending at small businesses throughout the country. 

Bill Smith, NFIB state director in Wisconsin, warns that many small business owners in the state “may not make it” due to the workforce shortage and other financial challenges. 

“Our small business owners got through the worst of the pandemic only to face supply chain issues and inflation that’s driving up the cost of everything they need to run their business,” he said in the group’s release, adding that “Main Street shops and restaurants need customers every day of the year, not just on Small Business Saturday.” 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/nfib-this-years-small-business-saturday-could-mean-the-difference-between-solvency-or-closure/ 

— The Evers administration says Wisconsin is in the “strongest position in state history,” including a record surplus of nearly $6.6 billion to end this fiscal year.

The administration is also projecting $1.5 billion in revenue growth over the next two years in its first look at the 2023-25 biennium. Between the surplus and additional tax collections, the state would be in position to fund every single agency request over the next two years — something that never happens — and still have $4.4 billion left in the general fund.

“Wisconsin is currently in the strongest financial position we’ve ever been with unemployment at historic lows and a strong pandemic recovery that has helped new businesses open on Main Streets in every county,” Gov. Tony Evers said yesterday. “We’re working hard to build an economy that works for everyone, and this unprecedented surplus presents an unprecedented opportunity to make critical investments in Wisconsinites and the future of our state.”

The GOP co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, meanwhile, noted the surplus was due in part to an increase in tax collections, which “is not good news for taxpayers.”

See more at WisPolitics.com: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/mon-pm-update-evers-administration-touts-record-surplus-jfc-co-chairs-say-no-blank-check-for-guv 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— Engineers at UW-Madison have created a new type of shock-absorbing foam that could be used to improve helmets for the military and other applications. 

And most of Wisconsin is now in the lowest category for COVID-19 disease activity, according to the Department of Health Services website. 

<i>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 WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.</i>

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<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

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