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Category: Business/Technology

‘Some come every single day’: Wisconsin college students’ use of campus food pantries soars this year

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A ribbon-cutting event for a former storage room marked a milestone for Milwaukee Area Technical College.

MATC converted the small space at its Walker’s Square campus into a food pantry that opened Tuesday. It’s the last of MATC’s five campuses to open a food pantry for students, all of which launched within the last year.

The pantries couldn’t have come at a better time.

Soaring food costs have college students feeling the pinch. The need is especially great at Walker’s Square, which is on the near south side in the heart of Milwaukee’s Latino community. Many students at the campus are enrolled in the GED or English as a Second Language programs while working minimum wage jobs that don’t provide enough to cover rent, gas, groceries and other expenses.

Confused about health insurance during open enrollment? A navigator can help.

Wisconsin Watch

Health insurance can be confusing.

Meet Quentella Perry, who helps people plow through the complexities while working for Covering Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that educates people about health insurance and helps them choose a plan.

Just as accountants are busy during tax time, Perry and her colleagues have their hands full helping people navigate the choices offered during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.

Report: Public development subsidy deals should guarantee better jobs, working conditions

Wisconsin Examiner

A proposed development that would bring a new soccer stadium to downtown Milwaukee should include guarantees of good wages and a path to union representation for workers in the stadium district in return for public subsidies, a new report recommends.

The report, “Worker Power Levels the Playing Field,” was released Tuesday by COWS, a think tank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It says taxpayer-funded support for the proposed Milwaukee soccer stadium project, dubbed the Iron District, should come with strings that ensure local hiring and strong job standards even after the project is built out.

“It’s important for Milwaukee to see itself as a national leader in this way and to reapply the lessons from the Deer District as new development is considered,” says Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS. Dresser is coauthor of the report along with Pablo Aquiles-Sanchez, a COWS research analyst.

Rash of illnesses among Wisconsin kids keeping caregivers home from work

Quoted: Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS, a University of Wisconsin-Madison think-tank, said there’s also been a fundamental change in how employers and employees navigate illness.

“There is this thing that’s changed about what we do when we’re sick, when our kids are sick, what our child cares will accept or tolerate when our kids are sick,” Dresser said. “I think people send their kids or themselves to school or work sick less often than we used to.”

She expects people having more access to sick time hasn’t had a major impact in their decision to take time off.

“The fact that more workers get paid now when they’re sick than used to makes it slightly more likely that they’ll stay home,” Dresser said. “But even in the olden days, they stayed home when their kid was sick, they just didn’t get paid.”

Lack of units in Madison, ever-growing population results in racial disparities in housing

Madison Commons

Quoted: University of Wisconsin–Madison urban planning professor Kurt Paulsen describes the overarching narrative in Dane County as a shortage of housing, which means prices are rising and affordability will continue to be a struggle in Madison.

“On the extreme end, people who have [lower] income spend more than 50% of their income on rent,” said Paulsen. “You see people being doubled up [which] is overcrowding the housing. Young people can’t afford to buy a starter home. You see homelessness and of course it manifests itself in tremendous racial disparities in housing burdens and homeownership.”

Wisconsin-based company under investigation for allegedly using child labor

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Laura Dresser, associate director of the COWS economic think tank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the labor shortage may make some companies more likely to violate protections for minors.

“It is probably the case that tight labor markets mean that there may be more sorts of violations like this because firms are desperate to fill jobs and may cut corners in order to do so,” she said.

Child labor laws help to ensure that minors are able to gain an education and receive a high school diploma, Dresser said.

“If we’re going to prioritize and require that students be enrolled in school and do everything we can to encourage them to graduate, then kids shouldn’t be working on overnight shifts (and) they shouldn’t be working excessive numbers of hours,” she said.

Wisconsin’s biohealth industry is growing quickly, fostering innovation

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: In fact, the state’s higher education system is a major reason the industry is thriving, according to Dr. Zachary Morris, a researcher and associate professor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health.

He said colleges and universities throughout Wisconsin are producing the highly-skilled workers that the biohealth sector needs, and research being done at those institutions also is helping to strengthen the industry.

“The universities, through the faculty, are in many cases steering or developing innovative technologies that these companies are then helping to spin out and commercialize,” he said.

Meat cultivated at UW-Madison offers glimpse into possible food future

PBS Wisconsin

An unconventional yet burgeoning project looming on the horizon of the grow-your-own movement is the development of cultivated, or cultured meat. It is real animal meat and seafood that is produced by cultivating animal cells, according to the Good Food Institute (GFI). Backers say it reduces the land and water pollution caused by large-scale meat agriculture.

Masatoshi Suzuki is a researcher and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In recent years, Suzuki’s lab has worked in collaboration with GFI to create a prototype of a beef patty grown from the stem cells of a cow.

School for beginning dairy farmers slated for closure

Wisconsin State Farmer

It looks as if the University of Wisconsin-Madison is getting ready to close down the School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers, which has graduated almost 600 budding farmers after training them in grazing practices as well as business planning for their new operations.

The school was founded and directed by Dick Cates, a Spring Green beef farmer who also served on the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s citizen policy board and various state sustainability panels.

Ron Johnson fought for a tax cut as his family was amassing luxury real estate around the country

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Ross Milton, an assistant professor at La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the pass-through provision is “still a hotly debated topic among tax policy people.”

“I think these pass-through provisions have been criticized because much of the benefit of them goes to very high income and/or high wealth households,” Milton said. “And presumably the Johnson family is a high-income household.”

Wisconsin’s housing shortage isn’t just a quality-of-life issue. It’s a workforce issue.

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Prior to the Great Recession, University of Wisconsin-Madison applied economics professor and community development specialist Steven Deller said there was a typical “flow” of new houses being developed.

Construction of new housing “plummeted” after the housing bubble burst in 2008 and never came back, Deller said.

He said many of the developers in the starter home market were crushed during the Great Recession, banks have become hesitant to make loans for starter home developments and the cost of building materials continues to rise.

“The economics are just not in favor of building those starter homes,” he said. “And that’s where a lot of communities are really struggling because the developers that they do have that are interested are saying, ‘I just can’t make it pencil out.'”

Drones carrying defibrillators could save lives in heart emergencies

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Autonomous flying drones could deliver life-saving defibrillators to people experiencing cardiac arrest, says a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who’s been involved in the research.

Ambulances aren’t always fast enough, especially in rural areas where an automated external defibrillator, or AED, isn’t available.

Survival rates drop by as much as 10% for each minute that passes without treatment, according to Justin Boutilier, an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering and co-author of several medical journal articles on the use of drones to deliver AEDs.

With inflation top of mind for voters, Wisconsin governor candidates tout tax cuts. Here’s why that could make things worse

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Some studies have shown more than 60% of the inflation Americans are feeling today can be directly attributed to the supply chain shortages of last year, said Mark Copelovitch, a political science and public affairs professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Second is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and Russia is a major supplier of oil, so wartime disruptions and U.S sanctions on Russia have contributed to rising food and gas prices.

Stimulus spending has also been a factor.

“The other part of the inflation is the demand side, especially when we were all sitting home, spending out stimulus checks when we could not go out (during the pandemic),” Copelovitch said.

Wisconsin tax burden falls to lowest level in decades

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Ross Milton is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs. He said the study offers a clear picture of the state’s tax levels.

“There’s a sense among many people that Wisconsin is a high-tax state, and that we should change that,” he said. “This report reflects the fact that Wisconsin is really a moderate tax state.”

Milton said states that relied heavily on hospitality and tourism taxes during the pandemic may have fared worse due to closures and stay-at-home orders. But Wisconsin relies heavily on property taxes, which remained relatively stable at that time.

Strike continues at Racine Case tractor factory with no clear end in sight

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Laura Dresser, associate director of the COWS economic think tank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said tight labor markets and the COVID-19 pandemic have put more power in the hands of workers.

“I think workers feel like they learned something about their value during the pandemic, and they don’t see that honored,” Dresser said. “And so, I think that you see workers stepping up more for that reason.”

Following recessions in 2001 and 2007, she said unions made concessions to companies during negotiations as they faced threats of shuttering plants when the manufacturing sector contracted.

“The dynamics there were about firms threatening to shut plants or move production without concessions, (telling workers), ‘If you don’t concede this, we’ll just move,'” Dresser said. “It was a credible threat. A lot of plants did move.”

Madison guaranteed income experiment is up and running

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: “We know that our needs change from month to month,” said Roberts Crall, who works at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “So one month, it might be that families need a little bit of extra cash to pay for gas and the next month, it might be for rent and the month after that it might be for diapers or school supplies. And so giving people that flexibility to be able to manage their own budget seemed really important and (an) important idea to test.”

City officials are partnering with UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania to compare outcomes for families getting the payments to those in a control group. Participating households got debit cards to receive the payments, and researchers plan to study how people spent the funds (which will published as broad categories) as well as how the payments affected overall wellbeing, Roberts Crall said.

Housing advocates ask Nessel to weigh in on compensation for overtaxed Detroiters

Detroit Free Press

Quoted: “We are here fighting for what Detroiters clearly said they wanted, which is property tax credits and cash compensation for the theft that happened through these illegally inflated property tax foreclosures,” said Bernadette Atuahene, a professor and property law scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.

An inside look at the Madison institute predicting what will happen with Hurricane Ian


Some of the top research and analysis in the country on hurricanes isn’t happening by an ocean, but instead in Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison.

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is helping predict what will happen with Hurricane Ian.

In order to track the path and intensity of a hurricane, it takes some of the country’s top minds in science working together. Research scientist Sarah Griffin at the Institute says they do not need to be near a hurricane to analyze it. They can use satellites to provide the National Hurricane Centers forecasters with the data and predictions on Hurricane Ian.

“We give current analysis to the forecasters to help them make their forecast,” said Griffin.

Mobile markets bring fresh food to Wisconsin customers

Wisconsin Watch

Quoted: But mobile markets can struggle to stay financially afloat. One researcher who has studied mobile markets for over a decade likens them to “revolving doors” because of how frequently mobile market projects start up and then stall.

“There’s often funding to start them,” said Lydia Zepeda, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor. “The question is trying to find a model that is financially sustainable — because they’re expensive.”

As Madison region grows, a new area code is coming to south central Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: The phone number shakeup coincides with a regional population boom, said David Egan-Robertson, a demographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Applied Population Lab.

Demographers don’t typically focus on telephone area codes as units of study — they tend to be more interested in subdivisions used by the U.S. Census Bureau like political districts, Egan-Robertson said. Still, he noted, when an area grows, more residents and more businesses will probably need more phone numbers.

“When there’s a lot of population growth, there’s also a whole layer of commercial growth that may be going on,” he said.

In other words, when a region booms, the birth of a new area code could be one side effect.

Tom Still: Japan a proven, reliable economic partner for Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Journal

Among them are leading medical technology firms, such as those featured during the Madison forum, which was held at the science-focused Discovery Building on the UW-Madison campus.

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin said the university — which has welcomed Japanese students since 1905 — should “open its doors a little wider” to R&D partnerships with companies that do business in Japan or have ownership ties there.

Workers, employers struggle as long COVID sidelines thousands of Wisconsinites

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Alexia Kulwiec, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School for Workers, said she would like to see the federal government return to providing tax incentives for employers who provide paid sick leave for people with long COVID.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers providing paid leave for up to two weeks to employees for COVID-19 could receive reimbursements in the form of tax credits, but the program ended in March 2021.

“It’s very disheartening to see that the policies that came out during COVID have essentially been reversed and undone, so they’re not there to protect employees today,” Kulwiec said.

PHOTOS: UW nurses celebrate union victory

The Cap Times

Supporters and nurses gathered at Madison Labor Temple Tuesday evening to celebrate an agreement between UW Health and SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. The deal announced Monday, which narrowly averted a three-day strike this week, stops short of recognizing the nurses’ union.

Workers, employers struggle as Long COVID sidelines thousands of Wisconsinites

Wisconsin Watch

Quoted: Alexia Kulwiec, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School for Workers, said she would like to see the federal government return to providing tax incentives for employers who provide paid sick leave for people with Long COVID.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers providing paid leave for up to two weeks to employees for COVID-19 could receive reimbursements in the form of tax credits, but the program ended in March 2021.

“It’s very disheartening to see that the policies that came out during COVID have essentially been reversed and undone, so they’re not there to protect employees today,” Kulwiec said.

10 Tips To Protect Your Phone From Hackers At The Airport


According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there are two ways to know if the website you’re about to visit is considered secure: HTTPS and a padlock icon. Look at the website’s URL and check for the letter S. A secure website URL will start with HTTPS, with an emphasis on the letter S as this indicates that the website is using an SSL certificate. You may find website URLs that start with HTTP, without the S — in general, these are no longer regarded as secure.

Here’s what to know about abortion access in post-Roe Wisconsin

Wisconsin Watch

Quoted: You should be concerned about your data privacy in general, especially when seeking an abortion, said Dorothea Salo, a professor who specializes in information security and privacy at the Information School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Be especially wary of most commercial search engines, she said.

“We know they collect and retain search data, including search queries; we know they associate that data with individual searchers; we know they share, aggregate and sell it all over creation; we know that law enforcement agencies access it,” said Salo, who uses DuckDuckGo but notes that other search engines provide similar benefits.

Union organizers share their experiences as the economy shows workers their power

Wisconsin Examiner

Noted: The panel discussion, held over Zoom, was organized by COWS, the University of Wisconsin center that measures the economy from the perspective of workers. It followed the release last week of COWS’ latest State of Working Wisconsin report. The report’s key finding was that, for many reasons, Wisconsin workers have reached a turning point where they have discovered their potential power to improve the conditions of their jobs.

“It isn’t a time of retreat from work, it is a time of engagement and workers taking this moment to recognize the power they have,” said labor economist Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS and co-author of the report, as she set the stage for the discussion.

Mary Jorgensen, a nurse at UW Health involved in the three-year campaign to reinstate union representation at the health care system, agreed. “We’ve had deteriorating working conditions since we lost our contract in 2014,” Jorgensen said. “The pandemic just exacerbated all the problems that we did have.”

Listen Live The Ideas Network Program Schedule Program Notes NPR News & Music Network Program Schedule Music Playlists All Classical Network Program Schedule Music Playlists WPR A farmer drives an ATV through a dairy farm. Brent Sinkula drives around his farm Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Two Creeks, Wis. Angela Major/WPR ‘We farm the sun’: For some Wisconsin dairy farmers, solar energy is a new source of income

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: “A lot of the companies in the United States that practice in the renewables area have shifted a lot of their efforts to large-scale solar design,” said James Tinjum, who researches environmental sustainability and renewable energy at the University of Madison-Wisconsin. “The economics has, in the last decade, made it possible.”

Tom Still: Spurred by national science goals, Wisconsin groups think beyond geography

Wisconsin State Journal

Led by The Water Council with core support from the MKE Tech Hub, the Wisconsin Technology Council, Marquette University and the Madison Region Economic Partnership, a “letter of intent” filed with NSF also lists some major companies — A.O. Smith, Rockwell Automation and Sentry Equipment Corp.

Others include UW-Madison’s Department of Engineering Physics, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, UW-Milwaukee, the UWM Research Foundation, the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, the BrightStar Wisconsin investment fund, STEM Forward, WEC Energy Group, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the Urban League of Greater Madison, the Business Council, state Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Wis., who is tied to a U.S. Army water innovation project, and the August Brown management consulting firm.

Independent pharmacist says they are not experiencing same staffing challenges as Walgreens

Spectrum News

Quoted: Beth Martin is a Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As Walgreens continues to struggle with recruiting pharmacists, Martin explained there has been a national decline in students interested in attending pharmacy schools. She said the pandemic has also put a strain on the system, however, that time was also used to push the field forward.

“A lot of our community pharmacists innovated,” Martin said. “They made new connections. They saw new problems to solve, so I think if we all continue to use that frame of reference, that perspective, we can get through this.”

Sprecher Brewing creates 10-person NIL agreement with Wisconsin Badgers football players

Milwaukee Business Journal

Glendale-based Sprecher Brewing Co. may not be the first private company to land a name, image and likeness deal with a university student-athlete, but the craft beverage producer known for its Sprecher root beer as well as being the oldest craft brewery in Wisconsin since prohibition, may have produced a first-of-its-kind deal with University of Wisconsin-Madison’s football program.

How Quitting a Job Changed My Personal Finances

New York Times

Quoted: The Karles represent a group of individuals and families who have made a change and are now dealing with the financial consequences, for better or worse. “The pandemic made people really think and take stock of their living situations,” said Cliff Robb, an associate professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We saw so many different employment opportunities become flexible in their structures, so people started to reassess it all.”

The power of body positivity propels ‘Victoria Secret’ from TikTok hit to Billboard charts

USA Today

Quoted: When we create the image of ourselves that we want to share online, we’re more likely to craft that persona to fit a certain standard, said Christine Whelan, a clinical professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Social media has definitely upped the ante … to enhance ourselves to fit what we think is the cultural ideal.”

Agricultural Educators show-off hemp research crops


Quoted: “We’re looking at 18 different varieties from around the world and which ones can maybe produce the best grain or the best for future use if industrial hemp becomes more of a mainstream crop,” UW-Madison Extension Chippewa County Agricultural agent, Jerry Clark, said.

UW-Madison Extension Buffalo County Agricultural Educator, Carl Duley, says the fiber and grain produced from industrial hemp has many different uses.

“Right now they are approved for human food, not for animal feed at this point, but they are used a lot in health food stores like granola,” Duley said. “There’s a lot of flour made after the oil is squeezed out.”

Union organizing efforts have succeeded at some local businesses. How strong is this latest burst of activity?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: “We’re seeing an increase in activity and I don’t think it’s a blip,” said Alexia Kulwiec, professor and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School for Workers – Department of Labor Education.

“I think that it is forward movement and traction toward improving working conditions. Whether it will be truly transformational and create the kind of economy that we would rather see, I’m not convinced of, but it’s certainly possible.”

Medtronic offers to pay tuition for employees’ college study and 1,100 sign up

Star Tribune

Medtronic this summer rolled out a program to pay all undergraduate college tuition costs for employees in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Since the program started in early June, the company has seen more than 1,100 applicants from 44,000 eligible employees. They can choose any course or degree program at six universities, including Arizona State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison, with online learning.

Charter Spectrum pushes large broadband expansion to connect 140,000 homes and businesses in rural Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: The timing of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and other government grants is good for companies like Charter as they transition from legacy cable television service to broadband, according to Barry Orton, professor emeritus of telecommunications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Cable television isn’t going to last forever. People are cutting the cord like crazy,” Orton said. “But what they’re not cutting is their broadband connection.”

Farming costs in Wisconsin were up 8 percent in 2021

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Steve Deller, ag economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said agriculture experienced the same supply chain issues that almost every industry faced in 2021.

“A lot of the stuff that farmers need to operate were in very low supply. So essentially it’s more expensive for farmers to operate,” Deller said. “It’s like any business. You know, I need to buy a new piece of equipment, but I can’t find it and prices go up.”

The pain of inflation for people trying to make ends meet

PBS Wisconsin

Quoted: “As we talk about inflation, I think sometimes we hear about the price of houses or the price of big things, but little stuff that really hurts low-income families,” said J. Michael Collins, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs who studies consumer decision making. “If you think about an extra $2.50 for a gallon of gas or an extra dollar for a gallon of milk, those things just start to add up because you buy them so frequently.”

PETA is suing a Wisconsin dairy co-op for separating calves from their moms. But why do farmers do so?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Jennifer Van Os researches animal welfare on dairy farms for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said cow-calf separation is standard for dairy farms across the U.S. and the world. She said the practice started as a way to prevent newborn calves from contracting diseases from other cows in a herd.

“Newborn dairy cows are vulnerable to disease because their immune system is still developing,” Van Os said. “Their immune system develops in a way that’s a little bit different from that of humans. So it came from good intentions, and it was done for the sake of the animal.”