October 5, 2015

Madison Common Council approves Judge Doyle Square project

madisonlogoMadison’s Common Council has approved a major downtown development project. A special meeting on the Judge Doyle Square project began at 6:30 Tuesday night and lasted until 3:15 Wednesday morning. The vote was 12 to 6 in favor of the project.

The project is made up of 4 components: an office tower for Exact Sciences, a parking structure, a hotel, and a second office tower. If all of these phases are constructed as proposed right now, it will cost $200 million. Of that price, $46 million will come from taxpayers.

Dozens of people turned out for the special meeting. A number of them signed up to voice their opinions. “We think this is the wrong place for the building,” said Thomas Link, a concerned citizen of Madison. He continued, “This will create way too much congestion. They should do it out on East Washington where they have a lot of under developed land.”

Others like Antoine McNeail think the downtown is the perfect place for a development like this. “It’s always good for anyone to have a home base – so location, location.” McNeail said. “The heart of downtown is basically the heart of Madison. SO with that being said, being able to bring jobs and diverse employees.”

Developers continued to reassure those in attendance that there are a number of checks and balances to make sure money is not being lost. That includes a property tax guarantee of $20.8 million and and a job guarantee from Exact Sciences totaling $12 million.


Vos optimistic about prospects for fetal body parts bill

Speaker Robin Vos (WRN file photo)

Speaker Robin Vos (WRN file photo)

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is optimistic he’ll be able to muster the votes needed to pass a bill banning research on tissue from aborted fetuses. Opponents of the measure – including some Republicans and the state’s largest business lobby – have expressed concerns that the bill will harm biomedical research in Wisconsin.

Vos said the Assembly GOP has been working on that. “We have offered some very good ideas that have almost no impact on the substance of the bill, but address some of the concerns that members have to ensure that we will not see any reduction in research,” Vos said.

Vos (R-Rochester) said earlier this week he doesn’t have the votes to move the bill out of the Assembly. “We still have to work on some details in order to get it through, with hopefully unanimous support from our caucus.” Vos said.

The measure would ban research on tissues, organs and cells from fetuses killed in elective abortions after January 1st of this year, and ban the commercial sale of fetal tissue. That’s already illegal under federal law. The Assembly is next on the floor on October 22.

Wisconsin Democrats want to scrap WEDC

Sen. Barca, Rep. Lassa

Sen. Barca, Rep. Lassa

Democratic lawmakers in Madison propose a new economic development model for Wisconsin. State Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and state Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) both serve on the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

During a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, Lassa said WEDC’s myriad problems cannot be fixed. “It’s brand is damaged beyond repair, and its credibility has been compromised to the point where internal reform efforts are no longer sufficient.” WEDC, formed in 2011 shortly after the election of Governor Scott Walker, is a public private partnership which has been dogged by bad loans, high turnover and unfavorable audits.

Barca and Lassa’s proposed legislation would put most economic development efforts back under state control, unlike the public private partnership of WEDC. “We envision a transition period, we envision involving regional economic development experts, current board members, past commerce secretaries, and others who have important input to help us get this right,” Barca said. “We’re introducing this just as a bill to start the discussion. We don’t have any illusion that the Republicans will pass this as-is, by any stretch of the imagination. But I think we need a new conversation.”

Merger will create Wisconsin’s fifth largest bank

Nicolet National Bank branch in Green Bay. (Photo: Nicolet National Bank)

Nicolet National Bank branch in Green Bay. (Photo: Nicolet National Bank)

A merger between two banks in the Green Bay area is expected to create the fifth largest bank in the state.

Officials from Baylake Bank and Nicolet National Bank announced the merger on Tuesday. If approved, it would create a system with about $2 billion in assets and 40 branches, although Nicolet CEO and chairman Bob Atwell noted some of those locations could close. Atwell said that’s partially because of branch overlap, along with seizing an opportunity to create a stronger banking system in the northern part of the state.

The CEOs of both banks will share leadership until the merger is approved – possibly by early next year. All branches will operate under the Nicolet National Bank name.


UPDATE: This story was changed to reflect that the merger would create the fifth largest overall bank in the state. A previous

Manpower report shows companies could look to boost workforce

A new report shows several companies in Wisconsin could boost their workforce before the end of the year.

The fourth quarter Manpower Employment Outlook Survey found 22 percent of the companies questioned about their hiring plans expect to increase staff levels between October and December. Another seven-percent plan to lay off workers, while 70 percent expect to maintain current staff levels.

The figures are weaker compared to the hiring intentions in the third quarter survey, but similar to one year ago.

Contributed by Pat Curtis