THU AM News: Tourism impact in Wisconsin up 21 percent in 2021, report shows; WisBusiness: the Show, Buckley Brinkman of WCMP

— The economic impact of tourism in Wisconsin last year increased 21 percent over 2020 but remained below 2019 levels, according to a new state report.

A report from the state Department of Tourism shows tourism in the state had a $20.9 billion economic impact in 2021, marking an increase from the $17.3 billion seen in the prior year. But it fell short of the $22.2 billion “record-setting” impact from 2019. 

It also notes every county in the state saw double-digit growth in tourism spending, ranging from 11.9 percent in Wood County to 44 percent in Sauk County. 

Several counties had over $1 billion in tourism spending last year, the report shows. These include: Brown, with nearly $1.1 billion; Dane, with just under $2 billion; Milwaukee, with nearly $3.4 billion; Sauk, with about $1.8 billion; and Waukesha, $1.4 billion. 

On a statewide basis, visitors generated $1.4 billion in state and local taxes through tourism spending. 

“There’s no question that Wisconsin’s travel and tourism industry is a major economic driver for our local and statewide economies,” Gov. Tony Evers said in the release. “That’s why we’ve worked hard over the course of the past few years to make strategic investments to ensure the industry, as well as the dedicated folks who make up the industry, could rebound, recover and thrive, and it’s great to see that happening.” 

Meanwhile, the state also saw an increase in tourism employment and the total number of visitors last year. Over 169,700 full- and part-time jobs were supported by tourism in 2021, which is 7 percent higher than in 2020. And the state saw 102.3 million trips last year for an increase of 12 percent from 2020. 

See the release: 

See the report, including the county-level breakdown: 

— In the latest episode of “ The Show,” Buckley Brinkman of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity talks about challenges and opportunities for small and medium-sized manufacturers in the state. 

The show also previews upcoming events hosted by the Wisconsin Technology Council. 

Watch the show here: 

See more episodes: 

— RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program is providing $450,000 in grants and solar panel donations to nonprofits in the state. 

About $360,000 of that total is made up of solar panel donations, while the other $97,000 is in monetary awards, according to Sam Dunaiski, distributed resource director for the group. 

A release shows 35 Wisconsin nonprofits are installing more than $6 million in renewable energy investments with support from the program’s latest round of grants. 

Since launching in 2017, the program has awarded about $1.77 million in donations to 152 recipients, with $1.16 million of that having been distributed. Both of those figures include both monetary grants and material donations. 

“The total investments from projects that have won a Solar for Good grant total $17.6 million with approximately $9.8 million already completed,” Dunaiski said in an emailed statement. “There are several projects that were awarded grants in 2021 that have not completed their installations as of today.” 

The latest awards represent the program’s 10th round of funding, the release shows. Once all of the projects are up and running, RENEW Wisconsin says grant recipients will be providing enough electricity to power about 1,400 households. 

Recipients can include both “mission-based nonprofits” and places of worship in the state. One of this round’s recipients is a Westby organization called Couleecap, which works to combat poverty in the state. It will be installing two solar arrays at low-income housing sites to offset the electricity use of residents. 

Hetti Brown, the group’s executive director, says it would be difficult for low-income households to participate in solar programs without this program’s support. 

“The program is an important tool in our effort to reduce energy poverty for the rural residents of Wisconsin,” she said in a statement. 

See the release: 

— UW-Madison researchers are exploring a potential new therapy for sepsis, a complication of infection that kills thousands of people every year. 

Sepsis occurs when the immune system causes “drastic inflammation” in the body in response to an infection, according to a report from the university. This can lead to tissue death and organ failure. Subsequent suppression of the immune system can increase infection susceptibility, the report shows. 

The university says controlling complications caused by inflammation is vital for sepsis treatment. But the typical treatment of antibiotics and fluids is ineffective for many patients, according to the report. 

To improve how the condition is treated, researchers led by Prof. Shaoqin “Sarah” Gong developed a method for delivering an anti-inflammatory molecule into cells while preventing it from being released prematurely or degrading in the bloodstream. 

The molecule in question — called NAD(H) — can’t be taken up directly by cells. That’s why the team created the nanoparticle delivery system, which can also deliver antibiotics in a targeted way. 

In a study published yesterday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, researchers detailed how the potential therapy kept mice with an induced form of sepsis alive. According to the report, this potential therapy can “help maintain a healthy immune system, support blood vessel function and prevent multiorgan injury.” 

They found the mice that got no treatment or were treated with NAD(H) without the nanoparticle delivery died within two days. Meanwhile, all the mice treated with the nanoparticles loaded with NAD(H) survived. 

“The NAD(H) nanoparticles have the potential to treat many other diseases because NAD(H) is involved with so many biological pathways,” Gong said in the report. “There is strong evidence for the use of NAD(H) as an intervention or aid in critical illnesses.” 

See the study: 

See the UW-Madison report: 

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