TUE AM News: Create Wisconsin rolling out economic development initiative aimed at the arts; PFAS firefighting foam collection and disposal starting

— A group called Create Wisconsin, which wants more state support for the arts industry, is rolling out a new multi-pronged economic development initiative. 

In an interview yesterday, Create Wisconsin Director Anne Katz said the group has submitted its Grow Wisconsin Creatively Initiative to Gov. Tony Evers’ office and is holding a series of discussions with regional economic development groups to tout the proposal. 

“The need for transforming our 21st century economy is greater than ever,” Katz told WisBusiness.com. “We’ve had various proposals over the years about how to invest in the creative economy, all of which are basically around investing in people, organizations, businesses and communities.” 

An overview on the initiative says the availability of American Rescue Plan Act funds represents an opportunity to boost the state’s arts and entertainment industry. 

In a recent column, Katz wrote Wisconsin ranked 50th among U.S. states for funding arts and culture in 2022, with 14 cents per capita in spending. The state lags Midwest neighbors such as Minnesota, which spends $7.34 per capita on the arts, and Illinois, which spends $5.04 per capita, she noted. 

While Create Wisconsin isn’t requesting a specific dollar amount at this point, Katz said “several million dollars over the course of a few years” would make a significant difference for the organizations and communities already working to support and expand the industry. 

“There’s still a lot more to do that could be done with a relatively small investment … we’re kind of working on getting the idea to be embraced and figuring out what that means in terms of money,” she said. “Whatever money we get, any organization or agency or business working with it will take that money and use it as an investment to leverage other money.” 

The initiative includes a number of proposals, including: establishing a Governor’s Commission on the Creative Economy to provide policy direction on related efforts; creating programs at two-year schools and technical colleges to encourage creative workers to join other sectors such as health care and manufacturing; launching a statewide public information campaign spotlighting the arts; providing more resources for entrepreneurs in the arts; and more. 

“That creativity is one of the really great things about Wisconsin, and helping people be involved in the arts, helping creative businesses start and continue, helping communities define themselves by their unique, authentic cultural assets — everyone gets that, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on,” she said. 

See details on the initiative here: https://createwisconsin.org/blog/creative-placemaking-state-investment-key-to-attracting-young-workers 

— A Germantown business called North Shore Environmental Construction is set to begin collecting and disposing of firefighting foam containing PFAS, according to a release from Gov. Tony Evers. 

The company was selected through a bidding process for this effort, which got $1 million in funding from the 2021-23 biennial budget through the state Department of Natural Resources and DATCP, the release shows. North Shore Environmental Construction will be collecting and getting rid of at least 25,000 gallons of PFAS-containing foam from fire departments around the state. 

State law currently prohibits the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS except for emergency firefighting operations or during testing at facilities with discharge prevention measures in place, according to the release. Fire departments from over 60 counties in the state are taking part in the disposal program, the guv’s office says. 

See the release: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIGOV/bulletins/3322ee1 

— While harvesting of corn for grain in Wisconsin is lagging behind last year and the five-year average, harvesting of potatoes and soybeans is proceeding more quickly. 

The latest crop progress report from the USDA shows harvesting of corn for grain was 14 percent complete as of Sunday, which is 12 days behind last year’s rate and four days behind the five-year average. 

Meanwhile, 92 percent of potatoes were harvested — one day ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average. 

The report also shows the soybean harvest was 56 percent complete, which is one day behind last year but five days ahead of the average. 

See the report: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2022/WI-Crop-Progress-10-17-22.pdf 

— UW-Milwaukee says it will be distributing $6 million in scholarships to underrepresented students pursuing degrees in health care. 

The Froedtert Memorial Hospital Scholarship, funded by Froedtert Hospital, aims to support “historically underprivileged and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups” while expanding the state’s health care workforce. 

Eligible programs include: biomedical sciences, health care administration, informatics, kinesiology, nursing, nutrition, public health, rehabilitation sciences and technology, and social work.

The university says it will be providing more than 30 renewable scholarships per year to freshmen, continuing and transfer students, and others seeking certificates and graduate degrees. A quarter of the scholarships are reserved for graduates of Milwaukee Public Schools. 

The application deadline for the 2023-2024 academic year is Dec. 1. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/uw-milwaukee-to-award-6-million-in-scholarships-to-health-care-students/ 

— A Milwaukee pharmaceutical company called Estrigenix Therapeutics is getting a $300,000 federal research grant to test a potential new therapy for women with menopause. 

The company yesterday announced it’s getting a one-year grant through the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research program. The funding will be used for pre-clinical studies of a drug that aims to reduce the negative symptoms of menopause while lowering the risk for dementia later in life. 

According to a release from the business, when women experience declining estrogen production as they age, menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, memory problems, sleep disruption and hot flashes can occur. 

While existing hormone replacement therapies can help address these symptoms, Estrigenix says they can also lead to higher risk for breast cancer and strokes due to blood clots. The company is developing therapies that target specific estrogen receptors in the body in hopes of creating a “safer alternative” to traditional HRT. 

Prior research conducted by Estrigenix has also shown reducing hot flashes can also lower the risk of developing dementia later on, per the release. 

CEO and co-founder William Donaldson says the NIH funding represents “an important milestone” in the company’s drug development process. 

“It’s exciting to see our research acknowledged and validated by such a renowned national organization that is committed to our efforts in helping women as they age,” he said in the release. 

See more on the company: https://www.estrigenix.com/ 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/estrigenix-therapeutics-awarded-300000-grant-from-the-national-institutes-of-health/ 

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