Specht is promoted to CEO of Cousins Subs
June 2, 2015 04:01 PM
Christine Specht has been promoted to be the new chief executive officer of Menomonee Falls-based Cousins Submarines Inc.

Specht had previously served as president and chief operating officer. She will retain the role of president.
As CEO, she succeeds her father, William Specht, who had founded the restaurant chain in 1972.
A formal announcement of the changes will be made June 15, according to a company spokeswoman. However, the company requested today that Specht’s title be changed to include the CEO role in an online story about the first BizTimes Family & Closely Held Business Summit.
Specht also has updated her LinkedIn status to include the CEO title.

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Bucks propose $400 million Park East development plan around arena
June 2, 2015 04:01 PM
Head of the Herd LLC, whose managing members include the majority owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, have submitted a $400 million development proposal for the Park East corridor to Milwaukee County.

It is estimated that the development planned by the Bucks for the Park East corridor would create $5 million in annual property taxes, according to a Milwaukee County report. The development could create more than 3,700 jobs, according to the report.

The project would contain more than 1.5 million square feet of residential, office, parking and other uses including a practice facility for the Bucks and public plazas.

The three phase project would be ancillary development that would be built around a proposed $500 million new downtown arena, which would be built just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center along the Park East corridor.

County officials will hold a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, at the War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, to listen to public comments about the Bucks' development plans for the Park East corridor. Bucks ownership representatives have been invited to present to the public on the proposals.

“These developments are among the most significant we have seen proposed in Milwaukee in recent years, and they have the opportunity to transform the downtown,” said Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.

Under the proposal, the county would sell 9.8 acres in the Park East corridor to the Bucks for $1. That site, located between McKinely and Juneau Avenues west of the Milwaukee River and the Aloft hotel, would be part of a larger 24-acre redevelopment project that would include the new arena site and the site of the current BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The development would occur in three stages over a 10 to 15 year period, according to the proposal.

The first phase would be built from 2015-17 and would include the new arena, a practice facility, 60,000 square feet of office space, a 1,243-space parking structure, 10,000 square feet of retail space, 98 market rate apartments and a plaza facing McKinley Avenue.

The second phase would be built from 2018-22 and would include the demolition of the BMO Harris Bradley Center and its parking structure. A new parking structure, retail space, office, space, market rate student housing and a 300-room hotel would be developed as part of that phase.

The third phase of the project would include 70,000 square feet of retail space for an urban grocery store, 398 market rate apartments, 100,000 square feet of office space, 16,000 square feet of additional retail space, a 37,000-square-foot outdoor plaza and 420 spaces of structured parking.

Retail storefronts would be used to disguise parking decks and help create a walkable neighborhood. North 5th Street would be reconstructed between Juneau and McKinley. The plans also include wider sidewalks, aesthetically pleasing lighting, bike racks and natural features.

The development plans hinge on approval of a new arena for the Bucks in downtown Milwaukee. The Bucks owners and former owner Herb Kohl have pledged $250 million for the proposed $500 million area. State lawmakers, local officials, Gov. Scott Walker's office and the Bucks are still trying to finalize the public-private financing deal for the project.

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Ashley Furniture could be sold
June 2, 2015 03:50 PM
Ashley Furniture confirmed today that it has hired Goldman Sachs to evaluate its opportunities after the Wall Street Journal reported the retailer is for sale.

Arcadia-based Ashley, which has Milwaukee-area furniture stores in Brookfield, Greenfield, Kenosha and Richfield, said it is consulting with Goldman on “a variety of investment alternatives and other opportunities to enhance the future growth and continued success of Ashley.”

The Wall Street Journal reported the furniture maker, one of the largest in the world, could be worth more than $3 billion.

Chief executive officer Todd Wanek emphasized that the company’s conversations are exploratory and it has not made any decisions.

“Ashley Furniture is a great American success story and regularly attracts outside interest from others who want to support and participate in our future success,” Wanek said.  “All future decisions will be based on what is best for our employees and their families, our company, and the communities we serve.”

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Arena negotiations: 'This could go on for months'
June 2, 2015 03:29 PM
Last week, legislative leaders in Madison and local leaders in Milwaukee expressed confidence that an agreement for a state budget, including a plan for public financing for a new arena in downtown Milwaukee, was close to gaining approval by members of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee.

This week, no so much.
“I’m hearing what you are probably hearing…The deal isn’t done yet,” said Bob Delaporte, spokesman for Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.
Members of the committee had hoped to reach an agreement by Tuesday, but that does not appear likely to happen.
Some legislators are outwardly rejecting the plan.
“I’m a no vote on the budget in its current form,” said State Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield). Kapenga said the arena financing proposal was just one of the reasons he is not supporting the budget.
Kapenga is engaged in a July 21 Republican primary campaign for the District 33 State Senate seat formerly held by Paul Farrow, who was elected Waukesha County executive in April. Kapenga’s opponent, Brian Dorrow, an associate dean at Waukesha County Technical College issued a statement of opposition to the arena financing proposal on Tuesday.
“I do not support the current proposal to publicly fund a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks for several reasons. One, there are still a lot of details being withheld, but based on what we do know of the financing plan, if indeed the Bucks’ arena would be ‘transformational’ for Milwaukee, then the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County should be picking up more of the tab,” Dorow said. “Why should Waukesha County and other state taxpayers be the piggy bank for the Bucks’ owners and the City of Milwaukee’s development plans? Two, who is on the hook for cost overruns? The fact that we do not know the answer to this question makes me and my fellow Waukesha County taxpayers uneasy, at best. Third, this plan does not belong in the budget. It should be a stand-alone bill. Based on the present publicly-available information, I cannot and will not support this current plan. Furthermore, if the voters hire me and this plan is still being finalized when I get to the State Senate, I will make sure the public has access to an honest accounting for the long-term, real cost of the project, including interest costs on the debt.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Gov. Scott Walker had expressed confidence an arena financing agreement could be reached soon.
When asked on Tuesday whether the negotiations were ongoing or had stalled, Kit Beyer, spokeswoman for Vos, said, “Budget talks are ongoing.  I wouldn’t say they are stalled.”
Sources said staff members of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele are continuing to write the framework for a complex arena financing plan that would be acceptable to the Republican majorities in the Assembly and Senate. Democrats are likely to reject the budget, no matter the terms of the arena financing plan, sources said.
“If it were a piece of a stand-alone bill, it would not pass. So they’ve got to keep it in the budget to get it through,” said one Republican legislative assistant.
Kapenga said the negotiations about the budget, the arena financing plan and several key transportation projects are continuing behind the scenes in Madison, even if the Joint Finance Committee is not meeting in a public setting.
“My gut tells me there’s a lot of moving pieces,” Kapenga said.
When asked if the negotiations could carry on for days or weeks, Kapenga said, “This could go on for months.”
Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman issued the following statement: "It appears that the state’s arena funding plan has hit opposition in the Republican caucus (and no doubt in the Democratic caucus as well). Legislators are beginning to realize exactly how costly this particular plan will be and how fundamentally dishonest it is. The Governor and legislative leaders have tied themselves in knots trying to craft a funding plan that looks like free money that appears to tax no one, and does not look like a huge subsidy to a private business while the Republicans are proposing massive cuts to priorities such as the University of Wisconsin system. In doing so they have come up with gimmicks that will carry huge interest costs for the Wisconsin Center District—a creature of state government—that will have to be absorbed by local taxes primarily in Milwaukee County and that will virtually foreclose the expansion of the convention center for years (and perhaps decades) with no public discussion or debate. Even more extreme, the Governor and state legislative leaders have come up with a scheme to pay 100 percent on the dollar for $55 million of Milwaukee County’s bad debt.
This is 'bad debt' for a reason, namely it is largely uncollectible or we can certainly assume that County Executive Abele and his predecessor, County Executive Scott Walker, would have been collecting this debt over the last 12 years if it was collectible in the first place. This “bad debt” scheme is nothing but a poorly disguised direct payment to the new arena from the state and/or county for all or most of this $55 million. There is a Plan B. Specifically the plan I presented on April 16, 2015, 'The One Percent Solution,' that involves a dedicated 1% Milwaukee County sales tax to fund the construction and maintenance of the new arena, fund the capital and operating costs of Milwaukee County parks and cultural institutions and fund the Milwaukee County share of capital and operating costs for the Milwaukee County Transit System. This plan would reduce the Milwaukee County property tax levy by approximately $54 million, and would create a stable and predictable revenue stream for parks, cultural institutions and transit. This plan would eliminate the need for any state subsidy for the new arena and eliminate the extremely expensive borrowing by the Wisconsin Center District permitting a continued discussion of the merits of convention center expansion. Finally, this plan would eliminate the ridiculous gimmick of the state buying the county’s bad debt. This sales tax plan is honest and straight forward. The Legislature could require a binding Milwaukee County referendum before this tax is implemented thereby preserving democracy in what has heretofore been a secretive and byzantine process. While there will certainly be opposition to higher sales taxes, at least this plan addresses the need for new revenue directly. There is no free lunch. If Milwaukee County citizens want a first class park system and cultural institutions, want improved and expanded public transit and want to retain an NBA franchise, we have to be willing to pay for it."

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Medical College to open pharmacy school in 2017 or 2018
June 2, 2015 09:45 AM
The Medical College of Wisconsin announced on Monday that it plans to open a school of pharmacy in existing space at the Wauwatosa campus in the summer of 2017 or 2018.

Sixty students are expected in each class, and MCW is currently undergoing a national search for a founding dean with the assistance of the Boston recruiting firm Isaacson, Miller. Around 21 to 24 full-time employees are also anticipated to be hired depending on whether the program will be three or four years.

The development of the new school is intended to address an overall need for highly qualified pharmacists who can provide expanded services as part of a health care team, as well as to address pharmacist maldistribution in underserved communities in Wisconsin.

“MCW possesses the expertise and experience to train the next generation of health care professionals in specialty practices such as pharmacogenomics, pediatrics, cancer and mental health,” said Dr. John Raymond, president and chief executive officer of the Medical College. “Interprofessional training with our medical students and early clinical exposure will further add value to the pharmacy school at MCW.

“The next generation pharmacist will be trained to provide expanded services in medication monitoring, immunizations, health screenings, chronic disease management, acute ambulatory care and specialty pharmacy care.  Changes in health care are transforming how physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals work together to achieve improved health while advancing the values of the Triple Aim of health care: lower cost, better value, better care.”   

The school’s total startup cost is estimated to be around $30 million over five years. MCW’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment will provide $3 million for initial design and development.

The school of pharmacy will offer specialty tracks aligned with health needs such as pediatrics, psychiatry, cancer, pharmacogenomics and medical toxicology.

“This endeavor will be enhanced by the engagement of our hospital partners, our pediatric and adult practices, and our community partners, as well as our expertise in research and education,” said Dr. Joseph Kerschner, executive vice president of MCW and dean of the school of medicine.

The idea of partnership was also emphasized by Paula Lucey, a nurse and chair of the MCW Consortium on Public and Community Health, who attended MCW’s press conference on Monday.

“I believe that nurses, doctors, pharmacists and all health care professionals in the future must be able to collaborate, communicate and work together in order to provide high quality patient care,” Lucey said. “The MCW school of pharmacy will help increase access to health care, as well as provide quality care.”

Along with Lucey, city of Milwaukee health commissioner Bevan Baker said the key to overcoming health challenges is partnership. Additionally, he said the school of pharmacy will make the region more attractive to students.

“This is an investment in the city, county and state,” he said at the press conference.

MCW’s board of trustees approved the school of pharmacy on Friday.

Raymond said MCW began envisioning the pharmacy school five years ago, and it has been working to develop it for the last two.

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Walgreens store at 84th and Brown Deer Road to close
June 2, 2015 10:09 AM
Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen Co. plans to close its store at 8488 W. Brown Deer Road, in Milwaukee, on June 18. Last year the company closed its store at 4520 W. North Ave. in Milwaukee.

The company plans to close 200 of its 8,200 stores, spokesman Phil Caruso said.

“We are in the process of closing some of our underperforming stores throughout the country,” he said. “The decision to close (the store at 84th Street and Brown Deer Road) certainly was not easy.”

Most of the employees at the 84th Street and Brown Deer Road store will be transferred to other Walgreens stores in the area, Caruso said. Each Walgreens store has about 15 to 20 employees, he said.

Customer prescriptions at the store will be transferred to Walgreens stores at Brown Deer Road and 60th Street and Good Hope Road and 91st Street, Caruso said.

The 84th and Brown Deer Road Walgreens store opened in 1995. The property has an assessed value of $2.3 million, according to city records.

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Former Porterhouse Restaurant to be sold at auction
June 2, 2015 10:33 AM
The former Porterhouse Restaurant building, located at 800 W. Layton Ave. in Milwaukee near Mitchell International Airport, will be sold at auction by

The auction will be held on Saturday, Aug. 29.

The Porterhouse closed in late 2008.

The 16,804-square-foot building, constructed in 1974, sits on a 1.95-acre site. The restaurant has two main bars, two dining halls, two walk-in freezers, three walk-in coolers, a lower banquet center and 197 parking spaces. There is also a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on the building’s second level.

The property is listed at $1,495,000 with an opening bid of $895,000. The property has an assessed value of $722,000, according to city records.

Click here for more information on the auction.

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United Hospital System joins Integrated Health Network
June 2, 2015 11:51 AM
Integrated Health Network of Wisconsin has expanded into the Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie areas with the addition of the Kenosha-based United Hospital System. The system joined the Brookfield-based clinically integrated network’s Affiliated Network effective Monday.

United Hospital System’s affiliation with IHN adds network options including the Kenosha Medical Center Campus, the St. Catherine’s Medical Center Campus and six clinics throughout Kenosha, Pleasant Prairie, western Kenosha County and northern Illinois. The system is affiliated with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and has a strong relationship with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, both equity members of IHN.

“The partnership between United Hospital System and Integrated Health Network of Wisconsin will allow our outstanding team of physicians and professional healthcare workers to provide excellent patient care to individuals and families who have access to the IHN network. This partnership is clearly in the best interest of all parties, most notably our patients,” said Richard Schmidt Jr., United Hospital System’s president, chief executive officer and general counsel.

United Hospital System joined IHN’s Affiliated Network of more than 85 providers who complement resources available through equity network members, offering employers access to additional hospitals (by specialty or geography) and ancillary providers such as chiropractic and skilled nursing facilities.

“IHN’s flexible approach enables tailoring of our network to meet customers’ needs, so we are very pleased to now offer United Hospital System’s facilities and physician providers as options in the Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie areas,” said Kurt Janavitz, CEO of Integrated Health Network. “United Hospital System joins a highly respected group of health care leaders already a part of our Affiliated Network, including Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Rogers Memorial Hospital.”

Integrated Health Network of Wisconsin’s other current members are: Agnesian HealthCare, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Hospital Sisters Health System/Prevea Health, Ministry Health Care, SSM Health Care of Wisconsin, and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.

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Kohl’s donates $100,000 for flood relief
June 2, 2015 12:05 PM
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to aid in flood relief efforts in Texas and Oklahoma.

Historic floods last week left 30 dead across the two states, and resulted in significant damage in parts of the southwest. The Red Cross is delivering emergency supplies and services to affected areas.

Kohl’s, which operates retail stores nationwide, has also encouraged its employees to volunteer for the cleanup efforts through its Associates in Action volunteer program. Kohl’s awards additional corporate grants to organizations its employees support.

“Our hearts go out to all the families and communities impacted by the devastating flooding which occurred in Texas and Oklahoma,” said Bevin Bailis, Kohl’s senior vice president of public relations and communications. “We are honored to be in a position to provide financial support and volunteer efforts to the many communities in need as they recover and rebuild their homes and neighborhoods.”

Associates in Action focus on youth-serving nonprofits. More than 1 million employees have volunteered more than 3.2 million hours since 2001, during which time Kohl’s has donated almost $100 million to those organizations.

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Daniels named Rotary Person of the Year
June 2, 2015 11:52 AM
Rotary Club of Milwaukee will honor John Daniels as its Rotary Person of the Year for 2015 during an awards ceremony today at the Milwaukee County War Memorial.

Daniels is chairman emeritus of Milwaukee-based Quarles & Brady LLP and has been in that role since October 2013, after six years as chairman of the firm. He was the firm’s first African American chairman.

While steering Quarles & Brady through the Great Recession, and managing to grow the firm, Daniels revamped its operational model into a more client-centric and business-minded one. He is also credited with prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the firm’s office.

The Rotary Person of the Year award is a vocational honor given to individuals who have enhanced the community through their daily work, leadership and innovation. The award acknowledges individuals for their professional work, rather than their civic and charitable commitments.

Through the award, Rotary aims to define high ethical standards for businesses and professions, emphasize the value of all useful occupations, and dignify Rotarians for their professional service to the community.

In previous years, the award has saluted Nan Gardetto, former owner and chief executive officer of Baptista’s Bakery in Franklin; Angelo, Giacomo and Laurie Falluca, all of Palermo’s Pizza, Inc.; Mario and Cathy Costantini, both of La Lune Collection; John Mellowes of Charter Manufacturing Co.; Tim Sullivan, formerly of Bucyrus International Inc. and Gardner Denver Inc.; investor George Mosher; Sue Dragisic, previously of United Way of Greater Milwaukee; William Petasnick, previously of Froedtert Health; and Herman Viets, Ph.D., of Milwaukee School of Engineering.

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SC Johnson named one of most reputable companies
June 2, 2015 12:07 PM
Racine-based SC Johnson has been named one of the top 50 most reputable consumer companies in the U.S. by the 2015 RepTrak 100 study.

The list, compiled by the Reputation Institute, used more than 50,000 interviews to rank public perception of a company’s innovation, leadership, governance, citizenship, workplace, performance and products/services.

"I'm thrilled for SC Johnson to be recognized for these dimensions and our efforts to build a company the public can trust," said Fisk Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of SC Johnson. "These criteria are representative of our values, and as a family company, we hold ourselves to a higher standard to ensure we make products consumers can confidently use in their homes."

The consumer category in which SC Johnson was honored included companies that manufacture, market and sell consumer products, durables and food and beverage products.

"The top U.S. companies proactively manage their reputations by investing as much in corporate dimensions like governance, citizenship and workplace as they do in their products and services," says Brad Hecht, chief research officer at Reputation Institute.
"Companies with strong reputations are 15 times more likely to attract better talent and they reap significant financial benefits, too. The most reputable companies see a stock performance that is two times better than the overall market and they benefit from a 6.5 percent increase in recommendations every time they improve their RepTrak score by five points."

SC Johnson, which makes household cleaning, storage, air care, pest control and shoe care products, has $9 billion in annual sales and about 13,000 employees worldwide.

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Milwaukee Small Business Week offers free workshops
June 2, 2015 12:10 PM
Milwaukee Small Business Week, which began Monday and runs through Friday, offers professional networking, presents business workshops and seminars, and honors Milwaukee’s small businesses.

This is the third year the event has been held. It is hosted by the Milwaukee Office of Small Business Development and Mosaic Communications.

Among the week’s events is the 7th annual City of Milwaukee Small Business Sustainability Conference, which will be held on Wednesday beginning at 7:30 a.m. at ManpowerGroup’s headquarters, 100 Manpower Place in Milwaukee.

The sustainability conference’s theme is “Beyond the Business Plan,” and the event will address best practices, connect business owners with resources and identify business opportunities.

On Thursday, Scale Up Milwaukee will host “Meet the Masters Series- A Conversation with Sheldon Lubar” beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Schlitz Park RiverCenter Auditorium.

Most of the events are free. To see the full schedule and register, visit

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Morning Headlines: PGA Champions Tour to add tournament in Madison area
June 2, 2015 12:13 PM
A lot of people dread turning 50. Steve Stricker is not one of them.

If he could, Stricker would punch the accelerator on his 48-year-old body so the Edgerton native and Madison resident would be eligible to play next June in the inaugural American Family Insurance Championship, a PGA Champions Tour event that he helped create and introduced to the world on Monday.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Money Weekly: BrightStar invests in two new companies, names Hall to board
June 2, 2015 12:14 PM
The BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. today announced it will invest in two new early stage companies.

Read more in today’s Money Weekly.

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BizTimes cover story: Core principles of survival for closely held businesses
June 1, 2015 09:33 AM
What are the most important principles or strategies that help family and otherwise closely held businesses be sustainable and grow?

The cover story of the new edition of BizTimes Milwaukee magazine explores the answers to that critical question with interviews of some of southeastern Wisconsin's most dynamic business leaders.

The leaders of those companies also will serve as panelists for the inaugural BizTimes Family & Closely Held Business Summit, which will take place on Thursday. To register to attend, visit

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