TUE AM News: New business formations up 42 percent over two-year period; Physicians group urging Evers to end programs boosting meat industry

— The head of WEDC says the state’s “entrepreneurial spirit” is reflected in the 42 percent boost in new businesses formed during the pandemic. 

“It’s actually really exciting, because you could imagine that in the face of a pandemic, folks would retract, right?” WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said in a recent interview. “They would say, ‘I’m not going to do anything new, I’m going to stay safe in my job, I’m going to stay safe where I am.’ But instead, what we’re seeing is a real entrepreneurial spirit.” 

The number of new business formations in Wisconsin leapt 42 percent between 2019 and 2021, from 50,277 to 71,151, according to figures provided by the Department of Financial Institutions. 

Within that two-year timeframe, the larger jump was seen between 2020 and 2021, with an increase of 24.3 percent. Between 2019 and 2020, the increase was 13.8 percent. 

By comparison, the year-over-year increases going back to 2011-2012 ranged from 3.2 percent to 8.4 percent, the DFI figures show. 

Federal figures provided by the National Federation of Independent Business show both employer establishment “births” and “deaths” in the state have largely been increasing over the same period. While the number of new employers rose over the first three quarters of 2021, the number of those shutting down saw an increase in mid-2020 — briefly exceeding the number of new companies — before falling below 2019 levels later in the year. 

Meanwhile, DFI figures show the total number of registered business establishments — or “active entities” — in the state has risen from just over 365,000 in 2012 to to over 530,000 in 2021. Between 2019 and 2021, when the spike in new business formations occurred, that number increased from about 471,000 to about 530,000. 

Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still says the increase in business activity is “consistent with some other trends” the group had been tracking during the pandemic. 

“As people lost or left previous jobs because of COVID’s effect on the economy or their families, they often looked to other means of paying the bills,” Still said in a statement. “For many, that meant starting their own business, using skills and talents they already had but had not previously put to work for themselves.” 

Matt Cordio, co-founder of the Wisconsin Startup Coalition, notes the state has “long struggled” with forming new businesses. But he says the economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic “in addition to record levels of available venture capital and private equity” helped drive this sharp increase. 

“This is exciting news for Wisconsin as startup companies create net new jobs in the economy,” he said in a statement. “Policymakers should work to foster a supportive environment for these new companies by investing in talent attraction, workforce development, and creating a more attractive tax and regulatory climate in the State.”

Hughes agreed greater availability of venture capital in Wisconsin is playing a role, as well as the pressures of the pandemic putting more people into “problem-solving mode.” 

“This is what we want to see, right? We want to see this trend upwards of businesses being created, because it shows activity in the economy and shows folks taking initiative to start something new and to see if it works out,” she said. 

Still also pointed to “rising investor interest” around startups in Wisconsin. He noted angel and venture capital deals totaled over $852 million in 2021, eclipsing the $483 million total seen in 2020. 

A Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. spokesman said the DFI numbers also show the state “generally has done a better job” of investing pandemic stimulus money into small businesses. He pointed to a report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that ranked Wisconsin first among U.S. states for investing pandemic funds as a share of total funds into business, and second for investing in academic development. 

“We’ve put close to probably about $600 million into assisting small businesses here in Wisconsin, and I think that’s one of the things that we’re starting to see it bearing fruit,” he said. 

See the business formation figures from DFI here: https://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/NewBusinessFormations-2012-2021-1.pdf 

— A national physicians group that advocates for plant-based diets is urging Gov. Tony Evers to end programs aimed at boosting the state’s meat processing industry. 

In a petition the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine plans to submit today, the group is calling for an “immediate halt” to a meat talent development program and the $10 million Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Resiliency Grant Program. 

Evers last month announced the grant program, funded with American Rescue Plan Act dollars. He noted the state’s meat processors are “a key component of a resilient supply chain” and said the funds will help build infrastructure and increase processing capacity.  

The committee argues these efforts benefit “only a narrow and harmful segment” of Wisconsin’s food processing industry. It says low-fat, plant-based diets help patients with obesity, diabetes and hypertension to manage these conditions, all of which can “increase COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.” 

The petition points to several studies suggesting people with plant-based eating regimens or diets that generally include more fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop severe COVID-19. And it highlights findings from the World Health Organization that eating red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and processed meat is “definitively” carcinogenic. 

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is calling on Evers to replace the meat industry programs with “ARPA-funded programs that maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency for plant-based foods.” 

According to a release, the nonprofit group includes more than 17,000 doctors, with some 150 in Wisconsin. 

“Instead of bailing out the declining meat industry, Governor Evers should help Wisconsin’s farmers pivot to a profitable future by growing crops for organic plant-based products to support health at all levels of society,” Dr. Rose Kumar, a committee member and internist with the Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, said in a statement. 

See the petition: https://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Wisconsin-ARPA-funding-petition_final-converted.pdf 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/physicians-committee-for-responsible-medicine-wisconsin-physicians-file-legal-action-demand-gov-evers-halt-10-million-program-to-support-meat-industry/ 

<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 WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.</i>

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— The Department of Safety and Professional Services says it’s getting rid of fees that health care providers pay to integrate a state drug monitoring program. 

“The ePDMP is critical to the state’s opioid response, and it is far more effective when more providers are using it,” DSPS Secretary Dawn Crim said about the Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. “Eliminating these fees will fuel further expansion across the state, particularly with healthcare organizations that saw the cost as a barrier.”

According to a fee structure overview provided by the agency, the cost of ePDMP integration included an annual registration fee of $100, a one-time implementation fee of $2,500 and a monthly access fee based on the level of services selected by the health care system and the number of queries performed. 

According to the agency’s release, the department is using a nearly $1.7 million U.S. Department of Justice grant to help fund this change. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/dsps-secretary-dawn-crim-announces-fee-elimination-for-epdmp-integration/ 

— Waterford is getting a $250,000 state grant to support construction on the Waterford Lofts project in Racine County, a WEDC release shows. 

Project plans include two buildings with street-level retail and office space and housing condo units on the two upper floors. The Community Development Investment grant will go toward financing construction on the first building, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. release shows. 

Construction is slated to begin this summer, with work on the retail, office and condo units expected to wrap up by the first half of 2023. 

See the release: 


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<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

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