THU AM News: Expert warns of semiconductor industry vulnerabilities; South central Wisconsin realtor argues home prices unlikely to drop

— A supply chain specialist warns the United States will be “in a world of hurt” if semiconductor production coming out of Taiwan is disrupted. 

Rosemary Coates, founder and executive director of the Reshoring Institute, discussed logistics trends yesterday during a webinar hosted by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s World Trade Association. 

She said new U.S. semiconductor plants are being built in Ohio, New York, Texas, California and Arizona in order to “reduce the vulnerability that we have right now” in the global semiconductor industry. According to most estimates, Taiwan currently produces more than 90 percent of the world’s most advanced semiconductor chips, which are used in a wide variety of technology including computers, vehicles and military applications. 

“Because of the geopolitics with China, Taiwan is in a vulnerable position,” Coates said. “So it’s really important we rebuild the semiconductor industry in the U.S.” 

Coates noted the percentage of semiconductors produced in the United States has fallen from 40 percent to just 12 percent in the past 20 years. And she added most of the chips produced domestically are “fairly low level” in terms of sophistication.  

She also stressed the importance of the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry. She argued “that is incredibly important” as the country is “vulnerable not only in our everyday consumer products, but also in high-tech defense products.” 

This vulnerability has been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, as the eastern European country produces two-thirds of the world’s supply of neon gas, which is required for semiconductor production. 

Along with the efforts to boost this industry, Coates also discussed the shift toward “reshoring” of manufacturing more broadly, both in the United States and around the world. She explained the “mood of America has changed” around importing for a variety of factors, including pandemic supply chain disruptions, instability in the global economy and the impacts of tariffs. 

She said the 301 tariffs on Chinese imports to the United States were meant to help support domestic production by raising the cost of these imports. But Coates explained the tariffs largely just resulted in higher costs being paid by U.S. consumers. 

— In a recent newsletter, Stark Company Realtors President David Stark argues housing prices in south central Wisconsin are unlikely to drop in the near future. 

“Those who promote the notion that we are in for a housing price ‘crash’ due to price increases during the pandemic period often look to the recession from 2007-2011 as their model,” he wrote. “But the two periods could not be more different.”  

He noted Dane County had over 5,000 residential listings at the start of 2007, contrasting that with the 300-or-so listings at the beginning of this year. And mortgages are now all “rigorously underwritten” in a departure from the “period of reckless mortgage underwriting” that came before the Great Recession of 2008. 

“In short, there will be no panic selling in this market, and sellers will be able to get something close to the price they want in virtually all circumstances,” Stark wrote. 

He also argues that now is likely the most favorable time to negotiate on price despite it remaining a seller’s market. 

“If you wait for mortgage rates to come back down (if they do), the market will heat back up again and your current negotiating advantage will be lost,” he wrote. “Put another way, if you’re looking for a favorable price, now is the time to negotiate it with the seller. If you wait too long, you’ll be competing with other buyers in a high demand market again.” 

See the full newsletter: 

— Gov. Tony Evers and the Department of Natural Resources have announced $143 million in federal dollars for wastewater and drinking water improvement projects.

That includes $79 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the State Revolving Loan Fund program, which includes the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water loan programs. The investment also provides $64 million for lead service line replacements and to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants.

“Every Wisconsinite should have access to safe, clean drinking water. Period,” Evers said. “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made over the last three years to invest in our water infrastructure — from declaring 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water to investing in farmer-led water quality efforts to signing some of the first bipartisan bills addressing clean water in years.” 

Municipalities should submit notices of their intent to apply for funding through the DNR website by Oct. 31. 

See Evers’ release:

See application information:

— WEDC says it will be awarding $225,000 in grants this year to at least nine nonprofits working to support diverse businesses in the state. 

In a release yesterday, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. says the new Ally Grants will help fund efforts to support underrepresented entrepreneurs and other business owners such as women, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color and those with disabilities. 

The agency says reciplients will need to demonstrate how the funding would help them “build operational stability” for their programs. Applications are being accepted through Dec. 15, and awardees will be announced early next year. 

See more on the new grant program: 

— An assistant professor of engineering at UW-Madison is getting an $875,000 five-year grant after being named a Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering. 

Marcel Schreier is the Richard H. Soit Assistant Professor in chemical and biological engineering and affiliate faculty in chemistry at the university. He was one of 20 Packard Fellows announced this year, who can use this funding to advance “high-risk” research in their respective fields. 

Schreier’s area of study is called electrocatalysis — using electricity to transform chemicals into another form. According to a release from the university, most industrial chemical processing currently relies on fossil fuels for production, such as converting petroleum into gasoline and plastics. Schreier notes other products such as paints, lubricants and various coatings are all produced by burning fossil fuels as well. 

“At the same time, we have an increasing amount of renewable energy in the form of electricity,” he said in the release. “We are investigating two things: how we can use electricity to drive chemical reactions that allow us to make chemical products more sustainably and how to store renewable electrical energy in useful fuels.”

Schreier’s Madison lab, established in 2019, includes a team of seven graduate students. He says the fellowship funding will help to expand the lab, purchase new equipment and fund continued research. 

See the release: 

— A team of researchers at UW-Madison has developed a strategy for improving cancer treatment by enhancing the patient’s immune system response. 

WARF highlighted this method in its latest roundup of “top licensing prospects” in the health care field. 

“What we’re trying to do now is develop an agent that can be injected into that radiated tumor in order to better activate that local immune response, so that we can take that local immune effect and turn that into a systemic, improved response,” Zachary Morris, an assistant professor of human oncology, said in recorded remarks provided by WARF. 

He said cancer treatment has “seen great strides in recent years” due to improved immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors. These treatments “basically take the brakes off of our immune system and unleash it” on cancerous cells, he explained. 

But because these treatments don’t work for everyone, the team is seeking to improve the percentage of patients that see a significant impact.

“Once we get a response, those responses can be very long-lasting,” he said. “So we could have a really profound impact, potentially, on survival of metastatic cancers.” 

These scientists have created a tiny specialized particle to achieve this goal, which has “great potential for clinical translation,” according to UW-Madison Prof. Shaoqin Gong. By injecting the particle directly into the tumor, clinicians can reduce the required dosage for cancer treatments as well as related systemic toxicity, she said. 

“To facilitate clinical translation, we need to develop a process to scale up the production of the nanoparticles following good manufacturing practice, to ensure that the nanoparticles can be produced consistently and controlled according to quality standards,” she said. 

<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 and</i>

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— Pierce Manufacturing’s electric fire truck has been named the winner of this year’s “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest. 

Over the past seven years, the annual contest hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Johnson Financial Group has seen more than 1.1 million votes cast, according to a release from WMC. That includes more than 150,000 votes this year. 

After nearly 150 products were nominated this year, Pierce Manufacturing made it through a popular vote and three bracket-style head-to-head votes to be chosen as this year’s winner. 

Appleton-based Pierce Manufacturing is a subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation. Its Volterra EV fire truck is the first emission-free electric fire truck currently in service in North America, according to the release. 

Lisa Barwick, vice president of marketing for the corporation’s fire and emergency segment, says the truck being chosen “recognizes our commitment to developing electric vehicle solutions which help first responders save lives and serve their communities.” 

See the release: 

Listen to a recent podcast on the contest: 


# Wisconsin awarded $79M in extra funding to fix ailing water and wastewater systems

# How the Milwaukee Bucks fan experience is changing, including the beer: Q&A with Peter Feigin

# Kimberly High School is expanding its construction and welding lab as student interest grows



– Brown hired as Wisconsin Holstein’s marketing director


– Valley VNA Senior Care expansion and remodeling

– Wisconsin to get $143M for water infrastructure following federal allocation


– Wisconsin tax burden falls to lowest level in decades


– Wisconsin students receive Dairy Leader Scholarships

– Republican Tim Michels says he’s open to breaking up Milwaukee Public Schools if elected


– Celebrate Smiles free dental clinic returns to MMSD schools

– Illinois regulators reschedule review related to Advocate Aurora-Atrium deal


– Saris Cycling Group sold to New Jersey company


– Citations against radio personalities dropped


– Wisconsin firm asks Supreme Court to halt federal student debt forgiveness


– These were the most expensive Milwaukee-area houses sold in September

– Estate near Burlington sold for $4.4 million

– Former Shopko HQ in Ashwaubenon sold, renamed. What’s planned?


– Steinhafels to add distribution center and two more stores in Illinois


– Leaders celebrate end of record-setting cruise season in Milwaukee


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