THU AM News: Bucks exec touts developments coming to Deer District; the Show with Natalia Shmueli of VocaTone

— An executive with the Milwaukee Bucks says new developments in the Deer District will help attract more visitors and give the local economy a boost. 

Michael Belot is the team’s senior vice president of Bucks ventures and development. Speaking at a recent meeting of the Milwaukee Rotary Club, he outlined the management team’s plan for further success following the team’s 2021 NBA Championship. 

“We’re a championship organization, one of the premier teams in the NBA where we were dead-last just seven, eight years ago,” he said. “How do we take this moment in time and really leverage it for now, but then also for the future?” 

While he touted the Bucks’ success on the court, he said the organization’s popularity shouldn’t be “completely contingent” on the team’s performance. 

“We’re about a $275 million business right now, [Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin] has put the challenge to us, ‘How do we get to $400 million?’ … That’s something that we’re really looking to do,” Belot said, adding he aims to double the team’s retail performance. 

He also gave an overview on coming developments for the 30-acre Deer District in downtown Milwaukee, including a new hotel called The Trade. After about a year of construction, it’s slated to open in May with more than 200 rooms and multiple restaurants. The hotel’s fourth floor is specially designed to accommodate NBA players, with higher ceilings, shower heads and counters, wider corridors and bigger beds, he noted. 

“That’s something that’s really unique and is going to set us apart from other visiting markets,” Belot said. “We think it’ll be a no-brainer for other visiting teams to want to stay.” 

He also discussed two music venues going up just south of the Fiserv Forum, noting the city’s Common Council signed off on the project about two months ago. It includes a 4,000-person venue and an 800-person venue, he explained. 

“Something totally different that Milwaukee currently doesn’t offer, and it’s going to be bringing in talent, therefore, that doesn’t currently come to Milwaukee … the economic impact to the surrounding area will be $15 million,” he said. 

See more on the projects: 

— In the latest episode of “ The Show,” Natalia Shmueli of VocaTone talks about the company’s synthesizer product, which can produce singing in 70 different languages. 

She was the People’s Choice Award Winner during the Elevator Pitch Olympics at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium Conference. 

The show also previews and recaps Wisconsin Technology Council events. And in the Tech Metrics segment, Tech Council President Tom Still talks about the Milken Institute “State Technology and Science Index” for 2022 and other tech news. 

Watch the latest episode: 

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— A lobbying group representing dairy farmers in Wisconsin has announced its legislative and budgetary policy priorities for 2023, covering regulations for CAFOs, clean water, road funding and more. 

Amy Penterman, president of the Dairy Business Association, says the group “believes in common-sense policy” that advances the industry. 

“This year, we will focus on several key issues with our legislators in Madison,” she said in a statement. “Starting a new budget cycle presents opportunities to improve programs that work for dairy farmers and create new funding to enhance Wisconsin’s vibrant and growing dairy community.” 

The group is calling for continued funding for the Wisconsin Initiative on Agriculture Exports, a “long-term, sustainable” funding solution for roads, further investment in broadband infrastructure, reducing the length of contracts for the farmland preservation program amid declining participation and more. 

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— Gov. Tony Evers has appointed dairy farmer Paul Buhr to the Natural Resources Board, giving him five picks on the seven-member body.

Bill Bruins’ early resignation came a week after Wausau dentist Fred Prehn, another appointee of GOP Gov. Scott Walker, resigned in December after refusing to step down once his appointment expired in May 2021. Prehn’s continued service kept the board controlled 4-3 by Walker appointees.

Now, in less than three weeks, it has flipped to a 5-2 Evers majority.

Bruins was originally appointed to the board in 2011 and reappointed in 2017 to another six-year term, which wasn’t set to expire until May.

Evers in a statement Buhr said he has dedicated himself to ensuring farmers and resources are protected.

“He is a strong advocate and champion for land and water conservation, and he understands that protecting our environment and family farms is a priority for Wisconsin’s future,” Evers said. “I look forward to working with him and have no doubt he will bring a vast amount of knowledge to the DNR board.”

See more at 

— Sales of cigarette packs in Wisconsin in 2022 were half that of 2001 amid the growth of substitute products, higher taxes and a statewide ban on indoor smoking, the Wisconsin Policy Forum reports.

The group noted some of the largest drops in sales came after the state raised the cigarette tax and the smoking ban went into effect in July 2010.

The tax was raised from 59 cents to 77 cents per pack in 2002 before going to $1.77 in 2008 and $2.52 in 2009. The federal tax went from 34 cents per pack to 39 cents in 2002 and to $1.01 in 2009.

From 2007 to 2012, purchases declined from 390.8 million packs to 234.9 million.

Last year, 193 million packs were legally sold in Wisconsin, compared to 420 million in 2001.

The report also noted the popularity of substitute products has increased. In 2019, the state imposed a five-cent tax per milliliter of vapor product liquid. Collections jumped to $4.1 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30 compared to $1.6 million in fiscal year 2021 and $1.3 million in fiscal year 2020.

Meanwhile, tax collections on cigarettes were down to $484.2 million in fiscal year 2022, compared to $644.3 million the year before the smoking ban took effect.

Read the report: 

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

— COVID-19 activity in Wisconsin remains relatively stable, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Health Services. 

<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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— Startup accelerator gener8tor has been granted “B Corp” certification from the U.K. nonprofit B Lab, the organization announced recently. 

According to a release, the certification requires an in-depth review of a business’s social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. It recognizes meeting “high standards” on these metrics, as well as others including employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices and more, according to the nonprofit’s website. 

Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor, says the Madison-based accelerator aims to “help communities invest in themselves” by providing access to capital for diverse business founders. 

“We see becoming a Certified B Corp as a natural way to cement our commitment to that mission,” he said in a statement. 

Since being founded in 2012, the program has helped more than 1,000 startups raise over $1.4 billion in total funding. Forty percent of those startups had female founders while 45 percent were founded by people of color. 

While applying for the certification, gener8tor says it updated internal policies to heighten its focus on environmental sustainability and refined its onboarding and training processes.

See more at Madison Startups: 


# Boxed in: Eviction moving costs shock Dane County landlords, tenants

# Legislation by Sen. Tammy Baldwin requires more transparency around foreign owners of US farmland

# Madison doctor opens first of two abortion clinics across border in Rockford



– DBA reveals budget, legislative priorities for 2023

– Evers appoints farmer to DNR board

– Gov. Tony Evers appoints southwestern Wisconsin farmer to Natural Resources Board


– New Land plans 25-story apartment tower on East Side


– After decades of work, Lower Fox River, Green Bay cleanup project ends


– West Allis businessman plans smash burger restaurant with Scratch scoop shop

– Dream Dance Steakhouse to reopen at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino


– CNH workers vote down proposed contract


– Evictions were part of this landlord’s business. Few in power noticed.


– Johnson Controls exec takes high-profile role at Ford


– Harley to build new public park on headquarters campus

– Harley-Davidson unveils first plans to repurpose Milwaukee headquarters site


– Shared revenue discussions continue at the state level. Local leaders say the program needs to change.

– Republicans set to introduce tax cuts for residents, businesses


– ‘Exasperated is an understatement.’ Why the city hasn’t foreclosed on Northridge.

– City of Plymouth buys back historic downtown building following restoration


– Wisconsin cigarette sales go up in smoke over 20 years

– Wisconsin smoking tax revenue down, but health benefits up, as more people quit, report says

– Staffing from scratch: Hy-Vee hiring hundreds of employees for new Janesville store set to open in February

– The Buzz: DSW in Grand Chute is moving but it’s staying close to home


– Miggy’s Bakes expands in Middleton with candy-topped confections


– Madison hires new staff to oversee bus rapid transit, Metro redesign


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