THU AM News: Concert production company head says industry primed for ‘pretty epic 2022’; MMAC report suggests ‘slowing trend’ in economic indicators

— The head of a Madison-based concert production company says the industry is “primed for a pretty epic 2022” after a difficult few years. 

Speaking yesterday during a meeting of the Madison Rotary Club, FPC Live President Matt Gerding highlighted the impact of the pandemic on live events as well as how the business dealt with these challenges. 

Like many other entertainment and tourism companies, FPC Live faced a complete loss of business in the early phase of the pandemic as concerts and other mass gatherings were prohibited. Gerding said the company laid off some workers while furloughing others, negotiated rent abatements with landlords, scrounged for grant funding and called in favors just to survive the pandemic. 

“But our industry is back to life like I haven’t seen in a long time, mostly because there’s a lot of artists that haven’t toured for like two years, and they’re broke,” he said. “But there’s also a ton of pent-up demand for concerts, and so we’re seeing really strong turnouts.” 

He also said Dane County’s mask mandate ending recently “has had a huge impact for our company,” although that doesn’t mean all pandemic precautions are going away. 

In about two weeks, he said all FPC Live venues will be relaxing “a lot of our restrictions,” as up to this point they’ve been requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result for entry. But he noted many performing artists are still “very rigid” about their pandemic protocols — though he added “some, like country bands, don’t seem to care quite as much.” 

“So we have to balance every single artist,” he said. “If they still want us to provide proof of vaccine for entry, we have to do that. If they still want the audience members to be masked, we’ll put signs on doors.” 

But he noted mask requirements are “really tough” to enforce in crowded venues where hundreds of people are drinking. 

Still, he said the industry is at an “optimistic moment,” with pandemic indicators showing continuing improvement and venues once again booking popular artists.

“Industrywide, the bands are touring, they’re ready to get out, and we’re seeing those restrictions fall away,” he said. 

FPC Live, under parent company Frank Productions, books shows for a number of venues in Madison, such as the Majestic, the Orpheum, the Sylvee and others, as well as the American Family Insurance Amphitheater in Milwaukee. 

— A January economic report from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce suggests “a slowing trend” among metro business indicators. 

Bret Mayborne, economic research director for the MMAC, says “slower gains” in jobs were seen toward the end of 2021 based on the latest available federal data. 

“Continuing this trend, 2022 starts with modest year-over-year employment growth and uneven growth among major industry sectors,” he said in the report. 

The report shows 11 of the 22 economic indicators tracked by MMAC showed improvement over January 2020, marking the lowest level of improvement seen in the past 10 months. 

Meanwhile, six of the region’s 10 major industry sectors saw year-over-year employment declines, led by education and health services with a decrease of 3.6 percent. Manufacturing had the largest increase in jobs by percentage, with a 3.5 percent increase over the year. January marks the 10th month in a row of manufacturing gaining jobs, the report shows. 

But at the same time, it shows the length of the average work week for manufacturing workers decreased 8.6 percent over the year to 38.1 hours, while their average weekly earnings decreased by 5.4 percent. Their average hourly earnings increased 3.6 percent to $24.64, but that improvement failed to offset the impact of inflation, per the report. 

See the report: 

— The Wisconsin Hospital Association is applauding Gov. Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers for creating a new law making assault or threats against health care workers and their families a Class H felony. 

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding says hospital staff receiving threats are pushed to “choose between caring for patients in the hospital or leaving the hospital altogether.” The group’s most recent annual workforce report found most hospital positions surveyed saw vacancy rates increase in 2021. 

“With significant workforce challenges in Wisconsin hospitals, we cannot afford to lose providers because they fear threats in the workplace,” Borgerding said in a release. “Today’s new law will send a strong message to the public that threats against health care workers are taken seriously and not tolerated in Wisconsin.”

The law is one of two signed by Evers yesterday, according to a separate release from the guv’s office. The other extends the Acute Hospital Care at Home program, which authorizes certain federally approved hospital services to be provided in a home setting, the release shows. 

Evers says the pandemic has illustrated the importance of innovation in delivering care to patients as well as the role of health care workers in the state. 

“I’m glad to be signing these bills today that support our healthcare workers and access to healthcare across our state,” he said in the release. 

See the Evers release: 

See the WHA release: 

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— A Madison startup called DeliverHealth announced it has acquired PresidioHealth, a health care technology and clinical intelligence company based in San Francisco.

According to a release, DeliverHealth’s platform will see improvements in coding quality and physician documentation by integrating PresidioHealth’s technologies. It’s designed to simplify workflows for physicians to reduce the complexity associated with electronic health records. 

“The more we looked at PresidioHealth, the more we saw synergies and a shared commitment to putting simplicity to work,” DeliverHealth CEO Michael Clark said in a statement. “Everything our companies do is focused on improving the quality of the interactions between providers and patients.”

See more at Madison Startups: 

— Foxconn representatives reportedly declined to attend an informational meeting on the Mount Pleasant project held before a recent Racine County Board meeting. 

According to a news report from Milwaukee’s TMJ4, residents who attended the one-hour meeting received few answers. They were shown a slideshow with details of the company’s efforts in Wisconsin, which have been heavily scaled back from Foxconn’s initial plans. 

Kelly Gallagher, a representative for a group called A Better Mt. Pleasant, called the project “the largest failed publicly funded economic development” in the nation’s history, the report shows. The group has been a vocal critic of Foxconn over the past several years. 

Meanwhile, a separate report from Wisconsin Public Radio shows village officials are seeking other companies to occupy the largely unused Racine County site. 

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 


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