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State’s unemployment rate dips to 5.6%
September 18, 2014 11:10 AM
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.6 percent in August, down from 5.8 percent in July, on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released today.

The 5.6 unemployment rate for the state is the lowest since October of 2008 and remains lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.

“The state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.6 percent in August as more people entered the labor force, more people became employed and the number of unemployed individuals declined,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson. “These are all positive signs that our economy is growing and Wisconsinites are getting back to work.”

However, the state’s job growth for August was a mixed bag.
The number of private sector jobs in the state fell by 4,300 during the month on a seasonally adjusted basis. But the state’s job picture was bolstered by public sector hiring during August. The state had an increase of 7,700 government jobs during the month, including 7,300 jobs in local government, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The August numbers are preliminary estimates. The state’s July private sector job count was adjusted upward by 2,100.

The state added 13,100 private sector jobs during the first seven months of the year, and the state has added 29,600 private sector jobs since August of 2013, on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the DWD.

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Marcus earnings down on weak movie lineup
September 18, 2014 12:30 PM
Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corp. today reported first quarter net earnings of $12.3 million, or 45 cents per share, down from $12.8 million, or 50 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Total revenues were $131.8 million, up from $129 million in the same period a year ago.

The company attributed the decline in earnings to its Marcus Theatres segment, which saw fewer blockbusters and family-oriented movies during the middle of summer than usual. The top five films in the first quarter were Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Maleficent, 22 Jump Street and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Marcus’ implementation of its new loyalty program and in-theater amenities also hurt its bottom line.

The Marcus Hotels & Resorts segment reported the highest operating income for the quarter since fiscal 2007. The company recorded $34.7 million in room revenue, up from $32.6 million a year ago.

“We are pleased to report record first quarter revenues for The Marcus Corporation and for Marcus Hotels & Resorts. Marcus Theatres’ admissions revenues continued to outperform the industry, in spite of a weaker summer movie slate,” said Gregory Marcus, president and chief executive officer of The Marcus Corp. “The weak summer movie slate has been well documented. Within this environment, we are encouraged by the fact that we outperformed the industry for the third consecutive quarter. The national box office was down 12.7 percent for the corresponding weeks of our first quarter, according to Rentrak, while our box office was down just 1.8 percent.”

Marcus also announced it has promoted Kim Lueck to chief information office. She will continue to serve as vice president of technology for the Marcus Theatres division, and will now become part of the Marcus Corp. executive management committee.

Lueck has been at Marcus for 17 years. She will be responsible for vision and leadership in the development and application of technology projects for The Marcus Corp.

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State’s unemployment insurance trust fund deficit eliminated
September 18, 2014 12:34 PM
The deficit in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, which was $1.4 billion in the red in January of 2011, has been eliminated, Gov. Scott Walker announced.

The fund's positive balance will result in lower federal unemployment insurance taxes for Wisconsin employers, Walker’s office said. The unemployment insurance tax rate is expected to revert from 1.5 percent to the normal rate of 0.6 percent on the first $7,000 of an employee's wages.

"A financially stable and growing UI trust fund helps to support the pro-business climate that Wisconsin's job creators need to expand and create more opportunities for working families," said Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, whose agency administers the state's UI system. "The UI reforms that Governor Walker and the Legislature passed through the 2013-15 biennial budget and 2013 Wisconsin Act 36 are producing results, and there is more work to be done."

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K&S Tool changes name
September 18, 2014 12:32 PM
Ixonia-based K&S Tool, Die and Manufacturing has changed its name to K&S Manufacturing Inc.

The company started as a tool and die maker 40 years ago, but business has shifted over time to about 90 percent vertically integrated contract metals manufacturing and 10 percent tool and die, said Jay Eschrich, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“It better reflects who we are and what we do here,” Eschrich said. “It’s very confusing to people when your name is tool and die and you’re really in the manufacturing sector.”

K&S has 110 employees and serves major original equipment manufacturers. It has two buildings totaling 145,000 square feet at its campus in Ixonia.

The company changed ownership from founder Thomas Klusken to his four children, led by president Krista Galbraith, in 2012. It has doubled its revenue since 2009, he said.

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Get Smarter conference will offer advice to young professionals
September 18, 2014 12:36 PM
“The Transfer of Knowledge and Power to the Next Generation” will be the theme of the 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference.

For the conference, BizTimes is assembling an unprecedented panel of Milwaukee business and civic leaders who will share their wisdom and lessons learned with the next generation.

The breakfast event will take place at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 17.

BizTimes is inviting all of southeastern Wisconsin's young professionals to attend this “career boot camp” to learn the secrets for jumpstarting their careers and building new skills that will make them more in demand in the workplace and take their organizations to new heights.

The members of the diverse all-star panel of presenters include:

• Lisa Banner, vice president of global human resources, ManpowerGroup.
• Cristy Garcia-Thomas, executive vice president, Aurora Health Care, and president, Aurora Foundation.
• Jalem Getz, president, Wantable Inc.
• Cecelia Gore, executive director, Brewers Community Foundation.
• Catherine Jacobson, CEO, Froedtert Health.
• Richard Leinenkugel, manager of business development, Tenth and Blake Beer Company.
• Richard Pieper Sr., chairman, PPC Partners Inc.
• Debbie Seeger, senior vice president and co-founder, Patina Solutions.
• Christine Specht, president and COO, Cousins Submarines Inc.
• Laura Timm, vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, Briggs & Stratton Corp.

The accomplished executives will speak in rapid-fire succession. They each will be given five minutes to speak in the fast-moving forum. Each is asked to bring five great ideas to help young professionals advance their careers. Young professionals are encouraged to take notes and chronicle the 50 great ideas.

A second panel will feature a lineup of “Rising Stars” in southeastern Wisconsin. These young professionals will engage in an unscripted, candid conversation about the best practices for advancing their careers. The conversation will be moderated by Corry Joe Biddle, executive director of FUEL Milwaukee. The “Rising Stars” on that panel will include: Jesús Villa, employee relations consultant, Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co. Inc.; Emily Phillips, financial advisor, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.; Alex Runner, global communications program manager, Johnson Controls Inc.; and Emily Vitrano, development coordinator, United Performing Arts Fund.

BizTimes is partnering with FUEL Milwaukee, NEWaukee, the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Young Pros and other organizations to attract young professionals to attend the Get Smarter Conference.

To register to attend, visit www.biztimes.com/smart.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: The Supreme Court and the tricky issue of software patents
September 18, 2014 12:37 PM
Prior to adjourning for the summer, the United States Supreme Court rendered an opinion relating to the patent eligibility of computer-implemented inventions. In Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, the Court held that all claims of a patent owned by Alice Corp., including method, system, and computer-readable medium claims, are drawn to an abstract idea and, therefore, are not patent-eligible. The opinion is one in a recent series of cases addressing patent eligibility.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Derek Stettner, a partner at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP in Milwaukee.

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Morning Headlines: Reports say Sheboygan has rental housing shortage
September 18, 2014 12:38 PM
If you're looking for a nice, high-end apartment with all the frills in the Sheboygan area, chances are you're out of luck.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Bubbler Weekly: MVP announces leadership change as Bray heads to helm of BioForward
September 18, 2014 12:39 PM
Corey Zetts has been named acting executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, following the appointment of former executive director Laura Bray to CEO of Madison-based BioForward, Inc.

Read more in today’s Bubbler Weekly.

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MU Law Poll: Governor’s race still a dead heat
September 17, 2014 12:35 PM
The latest Marquette University Law School Poll results released today again showed Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are neck and neck.

Among registered voters, Walker and Burke each had 46 percent, with 5 percent undecided. Among likely voters, Walker gained ground. He had 49 percent of likely voter support, while Burke had 46 percent and 4 percent were undecided.

Each of the poll questions was within the poll’s statistical margin of error, said poll chief Charles Franklin.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 11 to 14 and included 800 registered voters and 589 likely voters who were interviewed by both landline and cell phone. There was a 3.5 percent margin of error for registered voters and a 4.1 percent margin of error for likely voters.

“Likely voters have seen a real blossoming of Republican excitement, and that has helped Walker among likely voters,” Franklin said. “The main point is this: Still inside the margin of error, still no evidence now for the fourth poll in a row, of a clear front runner.”

In the August poll, Walker garnered 47.5 percent of registered voter support and Burke held 44.1 percent. And among likely voters, Burke held 48.6 percent and Walker had 46.5 percent.

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Kohl’s to up holiday hiring to 67,000
September 17, 2014 11:14 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Department Stores today announced it will hire about 67,000 employees around the country for the holiday season.

That averages out to about 50 additional employees at each of the company’s 1,163 retail stores in 49 states, plus 9,300 seasonal workers at its distribution centers and about 670 seasonal credit operations employees.

It’s a significant bump from the 50,000 employees Kohl’s hired for last year’s holiday season. Most of the additional hires are in the distribution centers, where only 6,400 seasonal employees were hired last year. During the 2013 holiday shopping season, Kohl’s said it would pay the full price for items not delivered in time for Christmas after some deliveries were delayed by higher-than-expected demand.

Kohl’s is in the process of hiring for the retail jobs, which will mostly be filled by mid-November. Distribution center hiring began in August, and is ongoing. Those employees will help ship products to retail stores and Kohls.com customers. Credit operations employees will help with a variety of tasks, including helping customers with Kohls.com orders.

“Kohl’s is building a winning team by hiring more than 67,000 seasonal associates across the country to ensure we sustain the great service our customers know and have come to expect,” said Richard Schepp, Kohl’s senior executive vice president, human resources and general counsel. “By adding these associates, Kohl’s will continue to deliver an enjoyable and convenient shopping experience to all our valued customers, whether they choose to shop in store or online at Kohls.com this holiday season.”

More information about the positions is available at kohlscareers.com.

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Niagara Bottling to hire 70 in Pleasant Prairie
September 17, 2014 10:37 AM
Niagara Bottling LLC will host a recruitment event on Oct. 8 to fill 70 positions at its new facility in Pleasant Prairie.

The Ontario, Calif.-based company is building a $56 million, 377,000-square-foot plant in the LakeView Corporate Park, 11031 88th Ave. in Pleasant Prairie, for packaging and distributing private label water and Niagara label water. The facility is expected to be operational in early 2015.

Niagara, which initially planned to have one production line at the facility, will now build two high-speed, automated production lines in the building and has allowed space to add additional lines in the future.

Niagara’s recruitment event will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the SC Johnson iMET Center at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant. Experienced production supervisors, production operators, injection operators, maintenance mechanics, shipping associates, dock coordinators, quality assurance associates and others with similar experience are encouraged to apply.
Applicants, who must be 18 or older and have a high school diploma or GED, should bring a resume and be prepared to sit for an interview.

Also at the event, held in cooperation with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and the Kenosha County Job Center, Niagara will provide background for applicants about its culture and the new plant. There will be a pre-screening process, followed by interviews of qualified candidates. Those who successfully complete the interview, and pass drug and background checks, will be hired the same day.

When the new plant is completed, Niagara will have 19 U.S. facilities. It is the largest private label bottled water supplier in the U.S., catering to grocery, club and convenience stores and wholesale customers.

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BizTimes expands team
September 17, 2014 10:40 AM
BizTimes Media has added three new employees to its staff.

Hilary Dickinson has joined the editorial team as a reporter. Dickinson most recently served as the college's news writer/editor at Beloit College, where she wrote and edited content for Beloit College Magazine, as well as the college's e-newsletters, news releases and marketing materials. She has previous experience as a reporter at the Beloit Daily News and has written two books.

A native of Waukesha, Dickinson holds a bachelor's in journalism and mass communication from the University of Minnesota. At BizTimes, she will cover the manufacturing and health care beats for BizTimes Milwaukee magazine and BizTimes.com. Dickinson joins reporter Erica Breunlin, associate editor Molly Dill, managing editor Andrew Weiland and executive editor Steve Jagler in the editorial department.

Kristin Jackson has joined the BizTimes sales team as an account executive. Jackson has 16 years of sales experience, primarily in print and digital media. Most recently, she was with Lake Country Publications, a division of Journal Communications, focusing on media sales for 11 publications in northern Waukesha County.

Jackson has two teenage sons and lives in Waukesha. She holds a bachelor's in communication from Alverno College. At BizTimes, Jackson will sell advertising and sponsorships for BizTimes Milwaukee, BizTimes.com and a calendar of live events catering to the business community of southeastern Wisconsin. Jackson joins business development executive Maribeth Lynch, senior account executive Jon Armstrong, senior account executive Amber Stancer, manager of strategic initiatives Robert Bahillo and director of sales Linda Crawford in the sales department.

Alex Schneider has joined the production and design team as a graphic designer. Schneider is a recent graduate of Carroll University, where he earned a bachelor's in graphic communications with an emphasis in graphic design, as well as a minor in marketing. He gained graphic design experience through his coursework and at internships at The Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion and at Carroll University's Scholars Center program.

Schneider recently moved to Milwaukee. At BizTimes, he will design marketing and promotional collateral and assist with the layout of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joins art director Shelly Tabor and creative coordinator Matt Cisz in the production and design department.

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Journal broadcast reorganization plan announced
September 17, 2014 10:54 AM
A planned reorganization of the corporate structure of radio and television operations of Journal Broadcast Group under E.W. Scripps was announced with an internal memo today.

Under the plan, Steve Wexler, in charge of the radio group, and Debbie Turner, executive vice president of television for Journal Broadcast and general manager of WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tenn., will report to Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of television for Cincinnati-based Scripps.

Wexler, formerly executive vice president of radio and television and general manager of WTMJ-TV (Channel 4), is executive vice president of the radio division.

The planned broadcast reorganization was announced by Rich Boehne, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Scripps, and Tim Stautberg, CEO of the new Journal Media Group. It  was released by Steven Smith, chairman and CEO of Journal Communications, which also owns the Journal Sentinel.

The Journal Sentinel will combine with 13 Scripps newspapers to become part of Journal Media Group. Journal Sentinel publisher and president Betsy Brenner, who is also a vice president of Journal Communications, will become vice president regional publisher for Journal Media. The combined newspaper division will be spun off into another publicly traded company that will be based in Milwaukee.

The deal is expected to close in 2015.

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Lakefront lights to be upgraded
September 17, 2014 10:57 AM
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced today that the street lights along Lincoln Memorial Drive will be upgraded from high-pressure sodium bulbs to LEDs.

The upgrade will be covered by the Innovation Fund that Abele put in the 2014 budget and was approved by the Milwaukee County Board. The Parks Department will upgrade 350 light poles along Lincoln Memorial Drive.

The move is expected to reduce electricity usage along Lincoln Memorial Drive by 50 percent and save more than $14,000 per year. Upgrading the lights will also significantly reduce staff time that is spent maintaining the current lights, Abele said.

“Since taking office we’ve been making big changes across the county to become more sustainable and efficient. This project and the entire Innovation Program highlights that progress,” Abele said. “By moving to LED lighting we save significant tax dollars every year, use less energy and improve the lighting along our beautiful lakefront.”

Abele’s $4 million Innovation Fund uses land sale revenue, not tax dollars. All projects that receive funding must prove they will make the county more efficient and save money in the long run.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Koss Corp. faces steep challenges
September 17, 2014 11:20 AM
Koss Corp. recently reported an annual fiscal net loss of $5.6 million.

BizTimes executive editor Steve Jagler outlines the company’s challenges in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog.

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