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NEENAH - Plexus solidifies Neenah base with new $50 million plant
Plexus Corp.’s relocation of employees to its new $50 million manufacturing plant thrills Neenah officials.

About 1,100 Plexus employees and 200 temporary employees will work at the Neenah Operations plant, 2444 Schultz Drive. The employees moved from Neenah 1 and Neenah 2 — two leased facilities on Enterprise Drive — and Appleton 1 in Greenville.

Neenah officials are pleased with Plexus’ decision to build the plant in the Southpark Industrial Center, and they anticipate more big news from Plexus by year-end.

Plexus holds an option on vacant land in front of its global headquarters in downtown Neenah and must decide if it needs the land for another construction project or should relinquish the option so the city can market the land to other developers.

“The hope is that Plexus would move forward with a project,” said Chris Haese, Neenah’s director of community development and assessment. “That would be the best scenario for us.”

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LA CROSSE - Rail expansion prompts worries about dangerous cargo, unsafe rail cars
The issue of safety dominated the conversation Tuesday night as concerned citizens met to discuss the surge in rail cars carrying crude oil and BNSF Railway Co.’s proposed expansion in La Crosse.

More than 300 people packed into the Central High School commons for a public meeting organized by Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, including La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat and other elected and municipal officials.

“People everywhere are very concerned,” CARS member Fred Nicklaus said. “It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, increased train traffic concerns all of us.”

The proposed BNSF expansion would add a second set of tracks parallel to the existing line on the east side of La Crosse. The new, four mile section would run from the rail yards north of Gillette Street near Logan High School to just south of Farnam Street near Central High School.

BNSF says the line will reduce train delays and make rail traffic move more efficiently, but citizens Tuesday night questioned safety of the DOT-111 rail cars and their cargo — which includes the notoriously flammable crude oil from the Bakken formation — and the potential risks of increased rail traffic through the La Crosse has drawn considerable outcry among people who fear that a spill or derailment could cause catastrophic damage to the homes, businesses and schools near the line.

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GREEN LAKE – Broadband gaps in rural Wisconsin hinder growth, experts say
Jill Hietpas’ experience of navigating Green Lake County on Monday morning offered an apt, and timely, illustration of why broadband connectivity is vital in rural areas.

Hietpas, a University of Wisconsin-Extension broadband educator, was scheduled to speak at the monthly meeting of the Intercounty Coordinating Committee, a consortium of county officials from Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Jefferson, Marquette and Sauk counties.

ICC was scheduled to meet at the Green Lake County Government Center, so Hietpas tried to use her smart phone to find her way there. But when entered the address, she got an unwanted message: “No service.”

Andy Lewis, UW-Extension broadband and economic development specialist, said the challenge of broadband connectivity in rural areas has been compared to the challenge of rural electrification 80 years ago, when electric companies were reluctant to connect farms, ranches and other remote areas to electric service because of the cost of serving areas of sparse population.

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OSHKOSH - Downsized Oshkosh airport terminal proposed
A group of Winnebago County leaders wants to spend $5 million to replace the aging Wittman Regional Airport terminal with a smaller administrative building.

But a proposal by the Aviation Committee to replace the 30,900-square-foot facility with a two-story, 14,000-square-foot office building likely won’t be approved anytime  soon, said County Executive Mark Harris.

Two other County Board committees must review the plan before the entire board considers the measure.

“By the time there’s a consensus on the type, size and location of the building, and the design and cost  estimates done, more than likely it’ll fall into next year,” Harris said. “But I think it will happen and I think it will save taxpayers money in the long run.”

The existing terminal needs a new roof, shows signs of foundation damage and costs  $80,000 to heat and cool each year.

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MADISON - Madison Investment Advisors acquires Canadian unit
Madison Asset Management, also known as Madison Investment Advisors, plans to acquire the equity team of Hansberger Global Investors, Toronto. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Hansberger is an international growth equity subsidiary of Natixis Global Asset Management, one of the largest asset managers worldwide, with headquarters in Paris and Boston.

The Hansberger team being acquired manages $4 billion in assets and has 10 employees. It will continue to operate in Toronto.

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DE PERE - Waseda Farms opens grocery store in De Pere
Waseda Farms Market is open in downtown De Pere.

The store looks to fill a need for organic, natural and local foods, as well as be a full-service grocery, said Matt Lutsey, whose family owns Waseda Farms in Baileys Harbor and the store at 330 Reid St. on De Pere’s west side.

“We want to be as local as possible,” Lutsey said. “Our focus is being local and organic as much as we can.”

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MADISON – Steinhafels to acquire three American stores
Three closed American TV & Appliance stores, located in Oak Creek, Madison and Grand Chute, will be sold to the Steinhafels furniture chain as part of two sales totaling $21 million approved Monday in Dane County Circuit Court.

President Gary Steinhafel said his Pewaukee-based company plans to hire 125 to 150 people — many of them former American TV employees — to work at the three stores. The stores will undergo a complete remodeling and likely open in the fall, Steinhafel said.

In all, five stores and a vacant lot were approved for sale Monday.

John Schlueter of American Property Acquisition LLC will buy the American stores in Pewaukee and Brown Deer and a 19-acre parcel in Oak Creek. He declined to discuss his plans for the properties.

In February, American TV, the Madison-based furniture, appliance and consumer electronics company announced it was closing all of its 11 stores. Nearly 1,000 people in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa lost their jobs, including 270 in the Madison area.

American TV filed for protection from its creditors in Dane County Circuit Court under the state’s receivership law, an alternative to federal bankruptcy.

On Monday, receiver Michael Polsky, who is liquidating American TV’s assets, said sales of the company’s inventory and property have gone “better than we could have expected.”

As a result, Polsky said American TV expects to repay all of its secured creditors, including BMO Harris Bank, and “all or almost all of the unsecured claims in this case.”

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MADISON – Lyft, Uber drivers cited in ride-sharing sting
Two drivers for the ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber each received more than $1,300 in citations over the weekend after Madison police targeted them with a sting operation, authorities said.

The tickets mark a shift in how police are responding to the controversial companies, which have been offering rides to Madison customers for weeks despite the city saying they amount to unlicensed taxis.

Police officials said in March they could cite drivers or launch sting operations, but they also said doing so was not a top priority and that they hoped the companies would voluntarily stop giving rides. As Lyft and Uber stayed active, though, Capt. Richard Bach of the department’s traffic division said police and city officials decided citations were necessary.

“There needed to be enforcement action taken to send a message that the city was not going to tolerate their operation without licensing,” Bach said.

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MADISON – Sonic Foundry inks deal with Chinese distributor
Sonic Foundry has agreed to a partnership with Beijing MC Technology, also known as Beijing OneZero, that includes selling and installing services for Sonic Foundry's Mediasite software and hardware.

Beijing OneZero plans to develop specialized technology for using Mediasite in Chinese schools; it also is a leading seller of information technology products to the Chinese government, Sonic Foundry said.

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MADISON – Chick-fil-A to open first Madison area location
Madison is poised to get its first Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant.

The Atlanta company with more than 1,700 locations in 37 states is seeking city approval to open in the West Towne Mall parking lot at 423 S. Gammon Road.

The project before the city Urban Design Commission Wednesday involves razing an existing one-story Wells Fargo bank and constructing a 5,012 square foot building with two drive-through service lanes on the 1.2 acre site.

Chick-fil-A has only one other Wisconsin location in Racine. But it has been on a major expansion binge with 27 new locations opened so far in 2014, including stores in Rockford and Elmhurst, Illinois.

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JANESVILLE - Blackhawk Bank eyes downtown Janesville location
A Beloit-based bank with eight locations in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois plans to open a branch in downtown Janesville.

Janesville’s plan commission on Monday forwarded to the city council a three-year lease agreement with Blackhawk Bank for the 2,800-square-foot building at 200 W. Milwaukee St. The plan commission gave the plan a favorable recommendation.

The bank, which plans to open early in the third quarter, will pay $1,400 a month for the life of the lease, with an option to buy the property for $275,000 at the end of the three years.

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WESTON - Lincoln Contractors Supply moving to new, larger location
A construction equipment supplier expects to have a new, bigger location open in Weston by the end of the year.

Lincoln Contractors Supply Inc., currently located at 5207 Westfair St. in Weston, plans to construct a new facility on a 4.3-acre site at 6652 Highway J.

The new operation will have two buildings on-site — an 18,000-square-foot sales, service and rental building, and a 16,000-square-foot building for cold storage  of off-season equipment, Lincoln Contractors vice president Keith Turtenwald said.

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COLUMBUS - American Packaging Corp. announces $22.6 million expansion
American Packaging Corp. will undergo a $22.6 million expansion at its facility in Columbus including additional production equipment and a new technology center.

While many phases of the current expansion are already under way, people will begin to see construction activity outside of the facility soon. The project is set to be completed in December.

The expansion involves adding 37,000 square feet for a new finishing department.

The Columbus facility operates in a 440,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility and supplies rotogravure printed material to the flexible packaging industry.

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MADISON - Former American TV head raising questions about closing
Last summer, Len Mattioli, the former American TV & Appliance owner known as “Crazy TV Lenny,” agreed to a deal that he said cost him millions but promised to save the company he spent much of his adult life building. Today, he’s just another creditor seeking to be paid by a company he suspects “outmaneuvered” him.

In February, the furniture, appliance and consumer electronics company filed for protection from its creditors and last month closed all 11 stores. Nearly 1,000 people in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa lost their jobs.

The announced closing came six months after Mattioli said he agreed to a money-losing deal he thought would help save American TV. He and others are now raising questions about whether the company will make good on its debts as it gets ready to sell a large chunk of its assets — five stores and a 19-acre vacant lot — for $20 million.

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MADISON - Appeals court rejects Act 10 challenge
A federal appeals court has upheld Governor Scott Walker’s signature collective bargaining law.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that the law limiting collective bargaining for most public employee unions does not infringe on the constitutional rights of workers, rejecting a court challenge brought by two unions in Dane County. Those groups claimed the law, commonly known as Act 10, violated their rights to free association and equal protection under the law.

The decision is one of several rulings that have upheld Act 10, although the controversial law continues to face unresolved legal challenges. The state Supreme Court is currently reviewing another case, which deals with how the law applies to unions for local government and school employees.

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