WED AM News: Trades advocates gaining ground in education space; Port Washington getting $250K WEDC grant

— Advocates for the trades are gaining ground in the education space, according to the head of the Construction Business Group. 

Speaking yesterday at a Competitive Wisconsin event at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Robb Kahl noted many plumbers, operating engineers, electricians and others in the trades have six-figure salaries with no student loan debt. 

He said that’s always been an attractive proposition when compared to a college education, but parents, teachers and guidance counselors have historically pushed most students toward college. Now, he said those same parents and advisors “are actually seeing that we present a really good opportunity” for students in Wisconsin. 

“We’re not shy now about getting into the high schools … every state, building trades — so you go to Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan — has the same urgency,” he said. “We’re not going to entice kids to come over the border from Minnesota or Iowa because their building trades, their contractors are trying to keep them in desperately.” 

Tracy Pierner, president of the Blackhawk Technical College, praised these recruitment efforts. He underlined the importance of “getting that information to parents and to teachers and to kids at an earlier and earlier age,” about career opportunities that align with the state’s workforce needs. 

“Bottom line is, how do we do a better job of matching opportunities that are available in our workforce to the folks that we have available?” he said. 

Rick Sense, vice president of development and government affairs for the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, agreed more people are seeing the trades as a good option. He called on higher education leaders in the state to consider guiding college students away from “majors that aren’t really going to be helpful in the long-term economic growth of our state.” 

And due to the demographic problem of the state’s aging workforce, Sense said Wisconsin needs to “do a better job” of creating opportunities for young workers to keep them from leaving the state. 

Department of Workforce Development Chief Economist Dennis Winters highlighted Wisconsin’s challenges with attracting these workers, noting the state is “in a world of hurt” when it comes to demographic trends. 

To help address this issue, he said Wisconsin needs to get more high-skilled workers and those with investment capital to move to the state, so “we can increase, essentially, the financial well-being that we have in the state and quality of life all around.” 

Kahl also pointed to high-speed broadband internet as “an essential part” of the state’s talent pipeline, particularly for rural areas of the state. He noted local government officials understand this need and have been actively applying for federal funding to expand broadband. 

“I think that’s only going to help expand and grow our transportation infrastructure,” he said. “The more people you have that are willing to move to a part of the state that they wouldn’t have thought of before, increases the need for other infrastructure, increases the opportunities for businesses, increases the opportunities for economic growth.” 

Listen to an earlier podcast with Kahl: 

— Port Washington is getting a $250,000 state grant through WEDC to assist a local brewpub with moving to a larger space. 

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. yesterday announced the funding, which will support Inventors Brewpub’s move. According to a release, the business was founded in 2016, and has since grown too large for its current space. 

The release details plans for a new brewpub and restaurant to be built in partnership with developer Gertjan van den Broek, who owns the land where it will be located. The building will also include an upstairs office and event space. 

The funding comes from WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program, which has awarded $34.8 million in grants to 166 Wisconsin communities since launching in 2013. 

See more project details in the release: 

— The application period is now open for the Public Service Commission’s 2022 Energy Innovation Grant Program, according to a release from the agency. 

The PSC plans to award $10 million in funding in spring 2023 for projects aimed at lowering energy consumption, expanding clean energy technology, improving the energy system’s resiliency and preparedness, and funding energy planning. 

Applications for this round of funding are due by 4 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2023. The grants are meant for a wide range of recipients including companies, local government entities, various utilities, UW System and Technical College System campuses and facilities, nonprofits and others. 

The commission in last year’s grant round received 105 applications for more than $31.5 million in funding, and selected 46 of those for $10 million in total funding. 

See the release: 

— The Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council has announced 21 companies that are in the top 20 percent of the group’s Green Masters Program. 

This program spotlights companies in the state that are making sustainability improvements under a framework developed by the council. It provides a set of tracking metrics with a focus on environmental, social and governance efforts. 

Jessy Servi Ortiz, the council’s managing director, says the program helps participating companies benchmark their performance against others in their industry while getting a third-party certification for sustainability. 

“These companies’ commitment to sustainability has also awarded them enhanced bottom-line benefits and brand recognition,” she said in a statement. 

See the list of this year’s Green Masters companies here: 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— The Wisconsin Policy Forum suggests Milwaukee County should use opioid settlement funds to improve care coordination for addiction treatment services. 

And state officials have announced $2.5 million in grants aimed at boosting access to child tele-psychiatry services in Wisconsin. 

<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>

Sign up here:


# Voters in dry Wisconsin town to vote on allowing alcohol sales for the first time

# Wisconsin passes up marijuana cash as residents travel to buy legally

# Wisconsin hospitals made $4 billion last year, face financial test this year, report says



– Crop report: Half of fall tillage work is complete

– Wisconsin’s all milk price unchanged at $22.10 in September


– Hundreds of apartments proposed for former car dealership in Wauwatosa


– Judge Mosley to take Mike Gousha’s role at Lubar Center at Marquette Law School

– Western Technical College, UW-La Crosse sign transfer agreements


– DNR offering $10M in federal funding to replace contaminated wells


– Building blocks: Midwest Veterinary Specialists and Frontier Veterinary Urgent Care in Greenfield


– Workers at Fitchburg game company Noble Knight announce union


– Appleton glassware company BenShot awarded over $3 million in lawsuit


– Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago to help finance $20.6 million in affordable housing projects in Illinois and Wisconsin


– Concert venue by Fiserv Forum wins unanimous Common Council approval

– Milwaukee Common Council approves next step for FPC Live venue

– Common Council approves zoning for Deer District concert venue complex


– Kohl’s to open the smallest of its small-format ‘concept’ stores this week


– Packers help woman bring American football to Morocco, rest of Africa


– Chemical leak at Barron turkey plant closes local highway

– Logistics company OEC Group opens Milwaukee-area location


– WEC Energy Group increasing renewable investment by $1.9 billion

– Janesville Water Utility responding to water main breaks on South Crosby Avenue


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

UW-Stout: Professor among ‘strong community of women’ leading the way for cybersecurity

PSC accepting applications for the 2022 Energy Innovation Grant Program