THU AM News: These women are leaders in the Midwest recreation industry; DWD announces $3.8M in workforce training grants

— When Charlotte Skinner was between her sophomore and junior years in college — nearly a decade ago — she decided to drop out and seek a spot on the U.S. Olympic freestyle ski cross team.  

Ski cross is often described as something akin to roller derby on snow, with big-air jumps and high-speed, high-banked turns. Knocking competitors out of the way, however, is not allowed. Still, crashes are common because four skiers are on a single course at the same time.  

Skinner said her parents were upset with her plans and informed her they would not support her quest. Her mother, a surgeon, was especially upset, she recalled. 

“For my mom, ski cross was a nightmare because it’s so dangerous,” explained Skinner, who had competed as a slalom racer and top tennis player in high school.

“But I told them I’d made my decision,” said Skinner, whose family owns three major ski areas in the Midwest: Granite Peak outside Wausau, Lutsen Mountains on the north shore of Lake Superior and now Snow River (formerly Indianhead and Blackjack) Resort just across the Wisconsin state line in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Skinner, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of several women who are leaders in outdoor companies with a major presence in Wisconsin. Other prominent female leaders in this sector also profiled here: Tania Burke, president of Trek Travel; and Lyn McMurray, who co-founded the Sol Alpine ski goggle firm. Both are in Madison.

See the full story: 

— The Department of Workforce Development has announced $3.8 million in new workforce training grants focused on health care, manufacturing and other key industries. 

Funding is being provided through the Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program to 24 employers, who will work with about 1,400 trainees across high-demand sectors, according to a DWD release. The grants help offset the cost of providing occupational training with a focus on unemployed or underemployed people and incumbent workers.

Grants range from $5,000 to $400,000 with a requirement for a 50 percent cash or in-kind employer match, the release shows. 

Eligible employers must meet certain criteria to get funding: 85 percent of participants must complete the training; 65 percent must gain employment or get a promotion if already working; and 75 percent of incumbent participants must get raises.

Fourteen of the recipients are offering training in the manufacturing field, while six are in health care. Others are providing training in customer service, financial services, IT and transportation. 

See the release: 

— Signs of bipartisan consensus are emerging on proposals to increase affordable housing and revise how Wisconsin funds transportation infrastructure. 

Speaking yesterday at a Wisconsin Counties Association event in Madison, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard said they see at least some common ground for both parties when it comes to affordable housing because houses have just become too expensive. Vos, R-Rochester, argued for local governments to pare back regulations he says have increased the size and amenities of new housing past what’s affordable and necessary for many Wisconsinites.

“Absolutely everybody has got to have a sidewalk, you have to have a paved driveway,” Vos said, giving examples. “You have to mandate that you have to have a basement. We have to mandate, even some people now are saying you can’t have a gas stove. I mean, all these mandates are crazy. We have got to figure a way to hopefully reduce the cost of regulation.”

Said Agard, D-Madison: “I agree, we need to do something about housing in the state of Wisconsin.’’

Both parties said the state needs to think about how it will fund transportation in the future as electric vehicles and other fossil fuel alternatives undercut Wisconsin’s gas tax revenue. Gas tax revenue is a major funding source for transportation maintenance and improvements. 

See more coverage at 

— A total of 49 contestants have made it to the semi-final stage of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest after an initial round of judging. 

Semi-finalists in the 20th annual contest are grouped into four categories: advanced manufacturing, with 11 entries; business services, 13 entries; information technology, 15; and life sciences, 10. These business plans were selected by an independent panel with dozens of judges, and represent 25 different communities around the state. 

In the second phase of the contest, semi-finalists will write 1,000-word executive summaries on the product or service they’re developing, target customers, estimated market size, competitors, members of the management team and financial figures. Judging will run through most of this month, and contestants that make it to the third phase will create a 15-minute pitch deck. 

Ultimately, the top 12 finalists will present May 31 at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee. This year’s grand prize winner and category winners will be announced the following day during the conference. 

“Trends reflected in the top 49 entries match up well with Wisconsin’s traditional and emerging strengths,” Gary Frings, chairman of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said in the release. “Good ideas come from all high-growth sectors of the economy and from all corners of the state.”

See the full list of semi-finalists here: 

Listen to a recent podcast on the contest: 

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

— Marshfield Clinic Health System has announced it will be laying off 346 workers in Wisconsin, citing rising labor costs, higher supply expenses and lower reimbursements.

And additional FoodShare benefits offered through a federal program are ending, according to the state Department of Health Services website. 

<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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# New municipal services bill assistance program launches Wednesday in Madison

# Report: Inflation Reduction Act could bring over 24K jobs to Wisconsin over next decade

# Vos to again push for toll roads in Wisconsin to fund transportation



– Rock County leads in Wisconsin soybean production 

– Wisconsin Holstein members celebrate in Wisconsin Rapids 

– Wisconsin native’s aged gouda is ‘best cheese’ in America, contest says


– Vegan dining in Madison has never tasted better


– Foxconn hit with another employee lawsuit


– Some breast cancer screenings would be free under new Wisconsin bill


– Landowners sue Lac du Flambeau tribal leaders to reopen roads blocked for a month


– Pilot Project adjusts since November opening, and Big Head concerts comeback: Beer Biz MKE

– Molson Coors staff changes accompany business restructuring affecting ‘beyond beer’ brands

– Milwaukee Tool’s growth streak continued in 2022, but 2023 may be slower


– Bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act to combat mislabeling of non-dairy products 

– Wisconsin Republicans push tighter budget, downplay surplus


– Fiserv’s headquarters, new Kohl’s store to open at downtown’s Hub640 a month apart this fall

– Out-of-state investor adds Shorewood senior apartments to fast-growing local portfolio


– Madison Common Council eases limits on unrelated people renting homes together


– Citing inflationary pressure on consumers, Kohl’s lost $273 million in Q4


– Gov. Evers’ budget includes $9.3 million sought by developer for Iron District soccer stadium


– Evers proposes $750M for broadband expansion amid massive federal investment in high-speed internet


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

Marshfield Clinic Health System: Statement on employee reductions

Wisconsin Foundation, Alumni Association: Day of the Badger to help meet critical needs