WED AM News: Report highlights impact of locally owned retailers, restaurants; Evers lays out priorities in inaugural address

— A new report from consulting firm Civic Economics finds locally owned retailers and restaurants in south central Wisconsin have a greater economic impact on the area than national chains. 

The report was commissioned by Dane Buy Local, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Madison. 

The organization surveyed local retailers and restaurants about aspects of their business models, and determined the retailers return about 47 percent of the revenue they generate to Dane County’s economy. For the local restaurants, that figure was about 61 percent. 

Meanwhile, Civic Economics found stores owned by “major national retail chains” including Office Depot, Home Depot, Target and Barnes & Noble return an average of nearly 14 percent of generated revenue to the local market. For national restaurant chains including Darden, McDonald’s and P.F. Chang’s, that figure averaged about 30 percent. 

According to a release from Dane Buy Local, the results of the surveys and annual report analysis were presented to city and county officials from Madison, Sun Prairie, Middleton and Dane County. Civics Economics has used a similar approach to compare the economic impact of local businesses and that of large national chains. 

“In every case, the findings have been unequivocal: independents bring substantial benefits to their local economies when compared to their chain competitors,” report authors wrote. “While chain stores and restaurants extract locally generated revenues from the community with each nightly bank transaction, independents are creating a virtuous cycle of local spending.” 

The report also estimates a “market shift of just 10% from chains to independents” would result in an additional $173 million being returned to Dane County’s economy each year. 

See the full report: 

— Some of Gov. Tony Evers’ top priorities for his second term in office include addressing the health care workforce shortage, expanding affordable housing and high-speed internet options, and lowering the cost of child care in Wisconsin. 

Evers yesterday highlighted these and other goals during an inauguration ceremony at the state Capitol for his second four-year term as the state’s governor. 

“We have to keep investing in good roads and infrastructure, good schools and good health care, and together we will,” he said. 

He said Wisconsin should expand job training and apprenticeship programs in “innovative industries and technologies” while also investing in public transit and transportation alternatives. And he noted the importance of clean water both for state residents and various industries. 

“No matter whether it’s for drinking in our homes or schools, for our crops, our livestock, our natural waters for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation,” he said. “And that means urgently addressing PFAS, and lead and nitrates, and getting those contaminants out of our water.” 

Evers added the state “must have a meaningful conversation about treating marijuana much like we do alcohol.” 

— Evers also called for ending Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban to provide reproductive freedom to women and support talent attraction efforts. 

He said that for Wisconsin to compete against other states for talent, “we ought to start by making sure that when workers and businesses look to relocate to Wisconsin, part of that calculus doesn’t include themselves, their loved ones or their workers being stripped of their reproductive freedom just for moving here.” 

He said the state should “restore the freedoms” that Wisconsinites had until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. 

“Because it’s 2023, and [voters] believe we shouldn’t be beholden to a law from the 1800s passed well before women had the right to vote,” he said. “Because they believe people should have the freedom to make their own reproductive health decisions without needing permission from politicians.” 

He also spotlighted the health care workforce shortage in referencing the state’s labor challenges. He called for lowering the cost of medications and capping the cost of insulin. 

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See more from Evers’ speech: 

— Wisconsin’s Medicaid fund is now projected to finish the fiscal year with a $774.8 million surplus — $269.9 million more than what was expected three months ago — in another shot of good news for the state’s bottom line.

In September, the Department of Health Services expected a $504.9 million surplus in the Medicaid fund at the end of the biennium. The Department of Administration used that figure in November as it projected the state’s general fund would finish the fiscal year with a $6.6 billion surplus.

If the latest projection holds, it would push that surplus close to $6.9 billion.

In a letter to the Joint Finance co-chairs last week, former DHS Secretary Karen Timberlake wrote the surplus was driven, in part, by the federal government continuing to provide states an enhanced reimbursement rate for those covered by the program.

See more in the latest PM Update: 

— Two state lawmakers are calling for the addition of new tax breaks on retirement income.

Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, and Sen.-elect Rachael Cabral-Guevara, R-Appleton, are proposing exempting the first $100,000 of taxable retirement income for individuals 67 and older. For married couples filing jointly, the maximum exemption would equal $200,000.

Current law includes an exemption of up to $5,000 of retirement income for taxpayers aged 65 or over with federal adjusted gross income of less than $15,000 per filer or less than $30,000 for married-joint filers.

Wisconsin also exempts Social Security benefits from the state’s income tax as well as retirement payments from the U.S. military employee system and public retirement systems if the individual was a member or retired prior to 1964.

Together, it’s estimated the existing provisions will reduce individual income tax revenues by more than $820 million in tax year 2024, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Of that, the exclusion of Social Security payments accounts for $770 million of the tax breaks.

The LFB estimates the new proposal would cut taxes $422.2 million in tax year 2024 with an average reduction of $1,749 for the 241,375 filers impacted.

LFB noted the proportion of Wisconsin’s population that is of retirement age is expected to increase to 23.7 percent in 2040, up from 17.7 percent in 2020. That would increase the cost of the proposed exemption in the future.

See the release:

See the LFB memo:


# ‘It landed in the checking account’: Wisconsin farm economist, lender say 2022 was a good year for ag

# Study: Toxic PFAS chemical plume detected in Green Bay

# Plymouth startup AntiMussel is tackling Lake Michigan’s zebra mussel problem



– State commodity price averages posted

– Flory, The Shark Farmer headline 2023 Corn-Soy Expo


– ABC’s Tourdot leaves technical college board


– Housing, broadband among Green Bay area developments to watch for in 2023


– Tech college board holdovers resign from seats 20 months after terms expired


– Evers appoints Adam Payne to serve as DNR secretary

– ‘Forever chemicals’ from Marinette contamination found in Lake Michigan

– Road salt is washing into Wisconsin waterways, with alarming results


– Let’s Eat: Family tradition meets fast casual at Tacos El Capi


– Contract manufacturer with Wisconsin plant buys Connecticut firm

– Sharp drop in new orders in December for Milwaukee region’s manufacturing sector


– Evers to call for hope, bipartisan unity in inaugural address

– Evers pushes for legal abortions, expanded Medicaid

– Foxconn opponents seek to oust Mount Pleasant village board


– Foxtown Landing dog-friendly taproom advances downtown with land purchase

– Site sold for Foxtown Landing project

– Former FIS data center sold for paving company’s new headquarters


– How prohibition helped save professional football in Green Bay

– Packers ticket prices soar as playoff hopes come down to final game


– Sinking ship in Port of Milwaukee prompts Coast Guard response


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