MON AM News: WiSys, other partners getting $1M grant to plan sustainable ag effort; WPF report highlights state’s child care challenges

— UW System campuses and other partners led by WiSys are getting a $1 million federal grant to plan a regional effort around sustainable agriculture. 

WiSys President Arjun Sanga says the project could represent a “key economic driver” for the state. 

“Just as a public-private partnership turned Wisconsin into the ‘Dairy State’ in the last century, this potential engine’s public-private partnership could have a profound impact on the future of the state and the world,” Sanga said in a release. 

This is one of two Wisconsin-based coalitions getting planning funding from the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines program. The other, led by Milwaukee’s Water Council and other groups, is focused on water and energy resilience. 

While that effort is centered around eastern Wisconsin, the WiSys-led partnership extends statewide with participation from all 13 UW System institutions, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation in Madison and the Wisconsin Technology Council. Both have the potential to land a secondary award for up to $160 million over a 10-year period to implement their plans. 

As part of the effort to boost sustainable agriculture in Wisconsin, partners aim to translate practical research through partnership between universities and with businesses, boost support for entrepreneurs and sustainability technologies in this space, bring in more investment dollars for “audacious ideas” in sustainable ag, develop relevant policy recommendations and more. 

During a recent event in Wauwatosa, Tech Council President Tom Still underlined the potential for these projects to have a big impact down the road. His organization is part of both Wisconsin coalitions getting NSF funding, he noted. 

“It was really good to see that they focused a lot on non-coastal states,” Still said last week. “I think of the 44 grants laid out today, two are in California, six are in the entire Northeast and the rest are elsewhere. So that’s a good thing.” 

See more project details in the WiSys release: 

See more on the Water Council-led effort: 

— A new Wisconsin Policy Forum report underlines the cost burden of child care in the state and related workforce challenges. 

The average annual cost of child care for a four-year-old in Milwaukee County is $12,142, the report shows. For an infant, that cost rises to $16.236. WPF notes that’s more costly than the in-state tuition for any UW System campus, and equals 22.2 percent — or 29.6 percent for an infant — of the county’s annual median household income from 2021. 

By comparison, federal officials recommend households put no more than 7 percent of their income toward health care. And while the state’s Family Shares program helps reduce the cost, the sample family used in WPF’s analysis still ended up paying more than the federal target level. 

Report authors note this high cost affects employers as well as families. 

“At a certain point, when the cost of child care gets too high or combines with other considerations, a family may choose to keep an adult at home as a caretaker, essentially sacrificing wages and career opportunities for the sake of eliminating child care costs and meeting other goals,” they wrote. ”Employers then see a reduction in their current or potential workforce.” 

The report also explores the impact of the Child Care Counts programs, which has funneled federal dollars to child care providers in the state to cover the cost of caring for children of essential workers, supporting temporarily closed facilities, recruitment and retention and more. 

According to a survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 27.1 percent of surveyed care providers would have closed without the federal Child Care Counts funding. Meanwhile, 60.6 percent said they will be raising tuition when the federal funding grants expire, and 33.6 percent said they will cut wages or “pull back pandemic-era wage increases” when that occurs. 

WPF notes policymakers “face a choice” with the Child Care Counts program set to end January 2024 — either returning to pre-pandemic policies or finding new funding avenues and partnerships to provide support. 

See the full report: 

— A Milwaukee logistics startup called Renaissant has raised $1.5 million with support from TitletownTech and other investors. 

According to a release from the Green Bay-based venture capital firm, the seed funding round was led by Venture 53 out of Georgia and also included NFI Ventures, a New Jersey firm that invests in supply chain solutions. 

Renaissant’s platform is used to coordinate trucks and trailers between warehouses and shipping centers, with a goal of supporting “faster, safer, and more efficient transportation operations,” the release shows. The business was founded in 2019. 

Craig Dickman, managing director for TitletownTech, says the business “adds important value” to the transportation industry. 

“Renaissant’s innovative approach to yard management, which integrates warehouse management, transportation management, and driver platforms, fills an important gap for companies looking to improve the flow of goods through their facilities,” he said in a statement. 

See the release: 

See more on the company: 

See a recent story on TitletownTech: 

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

— As state and federal officials wind down pandemic measures, Wisconsin’s death toll from COVID-19 stood at 14,493 as of May 11, the latest day for which figures are available. 

<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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# It takes a village: How collaboration helped a small northern Wisconsin city add crucial child care

# New state report sheds light on child care crisis — from multiple angles

# Why a second attempt to remake downtown Kenosha has better odds of success: Behind the deal



– Agronomist encouraged by field observations 

– Pick-your-own farm coming to Cottage Grove 


– Franksville-based Utphall Construction donates concrete slab for new Oak Creek K-9 officer


– Wisconsin’s child care crisis affects all residents. Here’s how it can be fixed


– ‘Disney’s The Lion King’ still rules at Madison’s Overture Hall


– Empowering Wisconsin farmers to safeguard water resources for future generations 

– Towns along Mississippi begin familiar task of flood cleanup. Still, ‘this one was real ugly.’


– Caroline Beidler shares journey to recovery in ‘Downstairs Church’


– WEC Energy Group exec named chair of GMC


– DeForest mystery author Jerry McGinley wants to do it his way


– Cobalt Partners, C.D. Smith win preliminary approval for $450M development in downtown Kenosha

– Midtown Center sold for $22.1 million


– Wisconsin Club to sell golf course to Florida firm that plans improvements

– Brian Anderson discusses return to Brewers telecasts, future of Bally Sports: Q&A


– Kayakers can use 12 launches in the Fox Cities to access the water


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

Worzalla: Local fishing tournament: Register by May 18

Save The Pool Committee: To hold meeting on May 17