MON AM News: Talking Trade with Pradeep Nedungadi, founder of Visthar; Task force issues recommendations on reducing fraud

— In the latest episode of “Talking Trade,” Visthar founder Pradeep Nedungadi highlights trade opportunities for Wisconsin companies in India. 

His company provides consultant services for businesses looking to operate in India, which is the second most populous country in the world. 

“It’s a shame that the U.S. is just discovering India as a manufacturing option, and even as a trading partner in non-manufacturing businesses, only in the last 30 years,” he said.

Unlike China, he explains India has been historically focused on domestically consumed goods rather than export products. 

“Now that the global automotive industry has entered India in the last 30 years, with largely Japanese companies but some U.S. companies and European companies, everything that follows automotive is also developed to world-class standards,” he said. “So now it is available to the Western world for products, parts and components. So the landscape is looking good.” 

Many of Visthar’s clients are located in the Midwest, including Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. The company’s business has doubled in the past two years, and Nedungadi says he expects another doubling between 2021 and 2022. 

“It’s from a smaller base, but as the base grows higher, we’re still maintaining that growth,” he said. “We’re expecting it to triple from 2022 to 2025.” 

Watch the show here: 

— A state task force has developed a number of recommendations aimed at reducing fraud. 

A report released Friday by the state Department of Workforce Development details these recommendations, including various changes to state statute. The Joint Task Force on Worker Misclassification and Payroll Fraud was created in April 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers to explore the issue of worker misclassification. 

“The recommendations of this task force since its inception should act as a roadmap for policymakers,” said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. 

Recommendations include: 

*Creating a statutory Insurance Fraud Bureau of Investigations to target claim fraud as well as premium and application fraud, and requiring the DOJ to make public the names of prosecuted businesses. 

*Amending state law to require the disclosure of all members and managers of domestic and foreign limited liability companies in annual reports and when they’re established. 

*Including a false filings provision and penalty in state law. 

*Amending state law to provide “limited enforcement authority” to the Department of Financial Institutions to investigate and refer violations to the state attorney general. 

*Directing the Departments of Revenue and Workforce Development to create and adopt a “unified worker classification questionnaire.” 

See the report: 

See the release: 

— Evers has signed 19 bills into law, including bills to expand the UW System Board of Regents’ authority to manage investments and to boost water infrastructure at state parks.

Under Wisconsin Act 165, UW Regents will now be able to manage the investment of revenues in the same manner as gifts, grants and donations. They may do so through a financial manager, private investment firm or the state’s investment board, instead of investing them in the state investment board’s investment fund. 

The parks measure would direct $5.6 million in unobligated funds to water infrastructure projects.  The new law directs the Department of Natural Resources to shift the money from the Stewardship 2000 program bonding authority.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association also touted Evers’ signing of SB 682, designed to protect the freedom to contract and preserve private easements. The association said the law was needed to make sure access easements remained in force even if they weren’t re-recorded within 40 years. Access easements are used to provide access to landlocked parcels, hunting land and waterways.

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Legislature is still waiting on the guv to act on nearly 150 bills, including a series of education-related bills that would expand access to school choice programs and create alternatives to existing school options. 

See more in the Friday Report: 

— Over $300,000 in state funds from the County Forest Road Aids program is going to 24 counties for road maintenance and improvement projects. 

A release from Evers and the Department of Transportation shows fiscal year 2022 funding will help improve over 900 miles of public roads in county forests. Marinette County, which is getting the largest amount with over $80,000, has over 234 eligible roads. 

“County forests provide great recreational opportunities across Wisconsin, and maintaining these roads not only helps tourism, but promotes industry and quality of life,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said in a release. 

See the list of counties getting funding: 

— A UW-Madison virologist has found antiviral COVID-19 therapies and certain antibodies likely remain effective against the so-called “stealth omicron” variant.

The BA.2 omicron sub-variant is thought to be more infectious than the original omicron variant. CDC data show BA.2 made up about 11 percent of all new COVID-19 infections last week. It can be more difficult to distinguish from previous variants using standard tests. 

A study led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a researcher at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Tokyo, found the antiviral therapies remdesivir, molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir are effective against BA.2. 

Kawaoka and his colleagues also found the sub-variant “remains susceptible to at least some” of the monoclonal antibodies used to treat COVID-19 patients, including AstraZeneca’s Evusheld. But other antibodies that are used together — etesevimab and bamlanivmab — were found to be ineffective. 

Meanwhile, antibodies sold by Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline were “much more effective” against BA.2 than they were against the original omicron variant, a release from the university shows. But they were less effective against the sub-variant than against prior strains. 

“The bottom line is we have antibodies that appear to be more effective against BA.2 compared with BA.1 or BA.1.1,” Kawaoka said in the release. “That’s good news, but we don’t know whether what we found in the lab translates into clinical settings.” 

Results were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Study authors wrote that “clinical studies are warranted” to determine if the therapies can help patients infected with BA.2, as they used non-human primate cells in their research. 

See the study here: 

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

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— A number of UW-Madison projects and initiatives would be funded through the $1.5 trillion appropriations bill recently passed by Congress, a release from the university shows. 

The bipartisan appropriations package, which is expected to be signed into law by President Biden this week, includes over $80 million in funding for the university. 

“This legislation provides crucial funding for cutting-edge university research and projects, and will improve health, drive innovation and create a more prosperous Wisconsin,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. 

Funded initiatives include a new Plant Germplasm Facility, with $39.7 million; the Center on Exposome Studies in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, $15 million; the Institute for Rural Partnership, $10 million; and others. 

See the full list here: 

— Two Wisconsin tribes are each getting more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The funding is part of a $70 million package aimed at providing COVID-19 relief to tribal communities around the country. In the fourth round of Indian Community Development Block Grant-American Rescue Plan grants, 49 tribal groups around the country are getting support. 

In Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunk Nation is getting a $1.7 million grant to provide rental, mortgage, and utility assistance to low-income members impacted by the pandemic. And the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians will use its over $1 million grant to build a new community food bank. 

See the full list of awards: 


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– Alice in Dairyland finalists announced in Dane County


– Market & Johnson has $17.6M low bid for UW-Stout dorm overhaul

– Neighbors want to slow down Lake Mendota Drive reconstruction


– Q&A: Veteran toddler teacher Cheryl Heiman on her 47 years on the job


– Plans for 2022 spongy moth treatment announced

– La Crosse officials to spend another $25K on bottled water

– Forecasting extreme weather events, Groundwork Milwaukee working to build climate resiliency on the north side


– Let’s Eat: Rising Sons takes takeout Thai curries to Verona


– Fewer Wisconsin kids have been tested for lead poisoning during the pandemic


– Punch Bowl Social lawsuit settlement to lead to Milwaukee reopening

– Reopening now within reach for Punch Bowl Social in the Deer District, following legal settlement


– New leaders named at Westin and Marriott hotels in downtown Milwaukee


– Longtime Senate ag advocate Jerry Petrowski to retire


– Wimmer’s $120 million Goerke’s Corners redevelopment advances

– Quarles & Brady looks to sublease top floors of prime downtown Milwaukee space


– Chicago-area businessman buys Evergreen Country Club near Elkhorn

– Packers raise $65.8 million from stock sale

– Red Bull to bring annual ‘flying day’ event to Veterans Park this summer


– Executives talk artificial intelligence and business at MMAC, MSOE event: Slideshow


– Evers signs bill revising PACE energy-efficiency program (access required)


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

Prevention Plus Wellness: Donates to the Findley Medical Clinic

UW-Madison: Government spending bill funds major research initiatives