THU AM News: Business travel to Milwaukee remains limited while conventions seeing resurgence; Edge co-op getting $50M federal grant

— Visit Milwaukee President and CEO Peggy Williams-Smith says business travel remains limited in Wisconsin’s largest city while convention activity is seeing more of a comeback. 

Speaking on a recent Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce webinar, she attributed some of the continued reduction in business travel to increased use of virtual meeting technology. 

“You can do those calls on Zoom now, and we’re still seeing that recovery lag, which probably is not going to recover until 2025,” she said. 

By comparison, industry trade show activity is “back to 100 percent” after a significant downturn during the past two years linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. 

“These meeting planners, they want to get back to business as it was in 2019,” she said. “So they are doing whatever they can to attract and promote attendees to conventions.” 

Williams-Smith noted event organizers are booking space for conventions planned as far out as 2026, adding “we’re seeing double the leads we saw in 2019 for future years, starting in May.” 

Along with this resurgence in industry gatherings, she noted Visit Milwaukee’s role has shifted. 

“Our job used to be just to market to get the meeting planners to book Milwaukee; now we need to actually market to the individual potential attendees to give them a reason to want to come to Milwaukee to attend the conference,” she said. 

She also addressed the impact of political messaging on tourism and leisure travel, pointing to election cycle ads spotlighting higher levels of crime and violence in the Milwaukee area. 

“That’s where we may see some of that bite into our leisure travel, because they’re seeing Milwaukee as not as safe as the communities they’re coming from,” she said. 

— The Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative says an up to $50 million grant coming from the USDA represents a “tremendous opportunity” to support sustainable agriculture. 

This grant was one of 70 announced today by the federal agency as part of a $2.8 billion package. The co-op applied for the funding earlier this year through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.

The grant will support the co-op’s efforts leading a project aimed at expanding and improving environmental sustainability for dairy and sugar production, according to a release. 

“Over the past seven years, we and our partners have built a nationally recognized model for high-impact, tailored agricultural sustainability projects, and we have proven its success in a network of farmer-led conservation groups,” Edge President Brody Stapel said in a statement. “Now, we will be able to greatly expand these efforts, connecting more farmers with tools to implement and measure climate-smart practices, and better positioning their businesses for long-term success.” 

Other partners in the project include DATCP, Clean Wisconsin, UW-Madison Extension, the U.S. Beet Sugar Association, the American Sugar Beet Growers Association, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and more. 

See more project details here: 

See the release: 

— The percentage of Marquette Law School Poll respondents who are very concerned about inflation rose slightly in the latest survey, from 67 percent in August to 70 percent this month. 

Inflation remains the top issue of concern for registered voters participating in the survey. The latest increase came after the share of those “very concerned” about inflation fell from 75 percent to 67 percent between June and August. 

While inflation is the top issue of concern for Republicans in the survey, with 92 percent saying they’re very concerned, it ranks much lower for Democrats, with 41 percent very concerned. 

In order of most concern, the top three issues for Republican respondents are inflation, accurate vote counts and taxes. For Democrats, the top three issues are gun violence, abortion policy and climate change. 

— Over half of respondents to the latest Marquette Law School Poll say they’re “very concerned” about abortion policy issues. 

That places abortion policy sixth on the list of top issues for Wisconsin voters included in the survey, with 53 percent of respondents indicating they’re very concerned about the issue, 24 percent somewhat concerned, 11 percent not too concerned and 8 percent not concerned at all. 

Other top issues with higher levels of concern than abortion policy include inflation, crime, accurate vote counts, public schools and gun violence. Issues lower on the list include taxes, climate change, illegal immigration and coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was opposed by 63 percent of respondents, as well as majorities of both Democrats and independents, with 95 percent and 66 percent opposition, respectively. It was favored by 59 percent of Republican respondents. 

The latest poll included 801 registered Wisconsin voters, reached by landline or cell phone Sept. 6-11.

See more results: 

— A team of researchers led by UW-Milwaukee Prof. Karyn Frick will study why certain women benefit more from therapies aimed at preventing Alzheimer’s disease. 

This work is supported by a newly announced $300,000 research grant from the Alzheimer’s Association, a release from the university shows.

According to the group’s latest figures, about two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. Estrogen therapy is one option that can reduce the likelihood of developing the disease, but it doesn’t work for everyone. The scientists will focus on why women with two variants of a certain gene are better protected by estrogen therapy, while women with a third variant get less protection. 

The researchers’ goal is to find estrogen compounds that are effective for each gene variant group, the release shows. They will use a mouse model of the disease to compare the effects of various estrogen compounds. From there, the effort would move into the human clinical trial stage. 

Frick explains the variable gene in question is linked to transportation of cholesterol and other fats. The working theory of why it affects Alzheimer’s risk is one variant is less effective at clearing out molecules called lipids and moving them into cells, she said in the release. Both the hormone estrogen and proteins related to developing Alzheimer’s called amyloids are lipids, according to Frick. 

David Grams, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Wisconsin Chapter, says the group is “committed to investing in promising and innovative research and we’re proud that Wisconsin is home to scientists who are dedicated to helping us find a cure for this devastating disease.”

Frick has also created a startup business called Estrigenix. It’s developing new drug compounds to provide the benefits of estrogen without unwanted side effects, such as higher risk of getting certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. One of these compounds will be tested through this research effort. 

See the release: 

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— A computer science expert with Marquette University is getting a $600,000 federal grant to study the role of confidential computing in scientific collaboration. 

Dr. Keke Chen is an associate professor of computer science with the university’s Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. The grant comes from the National Science Foundation’s Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure program, a release shows. 

Chen explains many scientific research projects involve multiple parties, which each “may demand confidential processing of their sensitive assets to protect intellectual property or embargoed data or algorithm sharing” before publishing a scientific paper. 

He says integrating secure, confidential computing into the scientific research process involves challenges that are not well understood. 

“This project aims to identify these unique challenges and investigate novel solutions,” he said. 

The team led by Chen also includes Dr. Zeno Franco, assistant professor of family and community medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Zeyun Yu, a professor of computer science and biomedical engineering at UW-Milwaukee.

See more details:

— WMC has announced more than 100 nominees for this year’s “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest ahead of the first round of voting. 

According to a release from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which holds the annual event alongside Johnson Financial Group, nominees this year include yachts, cheese curds, beef jerky, a cargo ship, home generators, mining equipment and many other products. 

Voting begins Monday and runs through Sept. 27, with the top 16 nominees moving onto the “Manufacturing Madness” bracket-style tournament. The winner will be announced Oct. 19 during WMC’s Business Day in Madison event. 

See the full list of nominees: 


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– Tri City National Bank to close four branches later this year


– Backlogs hold steady, nonresidential contractor confidence grows, ABC survey shows


– WBC offering ‘Beef in the Classroom’ education grants

– La Crosse schools’ $194M referendum will be on November ballot

– MMSD teachers, parents alarmed by lunches early in the year


– More Wisconsin deer hunters are participating in archery season

– Vilsack to make climate announcement in Wisconsin


– Monona Garden Family Restaurant closes after 19 years


– Report: Milwaukee is the 8th worst city in the nation for vehicle thefts

– Lawsuit alleges Ellsworth Adhesives provided a defective product


– Leinenkugel’s brews new beer that honors Operation Desert Storm vets


– Menomonee Valley Kneeland site redevelopment gets a leg up from $3.2 million federal grant

– Wells Fargo donating $7.5 million to boost home ownership for Milwaukee families of color

– Company affiliated with Porcaro Ford president buys 6.2-acre site along Highway 20 in Sturtevant

– Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding breaks ground for new machine shop at its Sturgeon Bay shipyard


– The Rock sports complex is too loud, neighbors say. A sound study is underway.


– Kohl’s Corp. to hire nearly 1,000 seasonal workers in Milwaukee area


– NASCAR to return to the Milwaukee Mile in 2023

– Packers home opener weekend is stacked with concerts, parties, fests

– ‘He’s a bad guy:’ Author Jeff Pearlman advises fans to not read his biography of Brett Favre after release of text messages


– Milwaukee Art Museum architect Calatrava sees transforming lakefront on 20-year anniversary


– Wisconsin to build network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles, but supply chain issues may slow transition

– Feds grant $3.2M to Milwaukee for development near Marquette Interchange

– Should a surface street replace I-794? Advocates promise development

– City of Milwaukee gets federal grant to help redevelop site under I-43 near Marquette Interchange


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