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Downtown sites are leading contenders for new arena
April 18, 2014 11:00 AM
Two downtown locations are emerging as likely potential sites for a new sports and entertainment arena in Milwaukee.

"We want it downtown, and we can figure out the mechanics of where, but that I don't think will be the big sticking point," said Common Council president Michael Murphy Thursday's Milwaukee Press Club "Behind the Headlines" event.
One option is building the arena on the vacant space at the Park East corridor north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The other would involve tearing down the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre to make room for a new arena.
Alderman Nik Kovac said those are the two locations on the table as of now. Tearing down the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre is an idea being put forth by Rocky Marcoux, commissioner of the Department of City Development, according to the panelists.
"The obvious one is the Park East, because it's contiguous to here and it's a nice big lot, so that's the obvious one," said Kovac. "I think Commissioner Marcoux's point to look at something close to Wisconsin Avenue, partly because then you'd be a little more catalytic of existing facilities and closer to the existing hotels."
Kovac said other concerns could arise from building on the Park East.
"Certainly, the option of building in a new, unbuilt space and then leaving a trail of dead arenas and theatres doesn't make any sense," Kovac said. "Tearing them down and building where they were actually makes a lot of sense, and that location is slightly better. The location in the Park East isn't terrible, but I certainly think we should explore both. It's a downtown major American city, so it's not like there are a ton of locations."
Bradley Center board chair Marc Marotta said, "Rocky (Marcoux)'s idea bears a lot of consideration. It needs to be downtown, and it needs to be a facilitator of more economic development downtown. If it's downtown and it's a facilitator for greater economic development, the pie will be increased and not only would we build this, you hope that you can address a number of other issues as well."
Murphy said the U.S. Cellular/Milwaukee Theatre site poses some concerns, as well.
"Keep in mind the Milwaukee Theatre has $28 million in bonding they haven't paid for," Murphy said. "Tearing down a theater which isn't even paid for – and probably should have never been built in the first place – the reality is that's pretty tough to ask taxpayers to do. I think the Park East certainly is an option."
Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the Department of City Development, said, "There is no preferred site at this point" and "a number" of options that could be considered.
"There is broad consensus that a new arena should be built at the center of the region," Fleming said. "There are greater economic benefits of having an arena in a downtown location. At this point (the idea of an arena at the site of the Milwaukee Theatre and the U.S. Cellular Arena is) not a formal city position…The bigger issue is how do we come to a community consensus on a source of funding and what that will support in terms of community benefits."

The location will be determined after the funding issue has been addressed, he said.

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Children’s Hospital to open new clinic in Delafield
April 18, 2014 11:00 AM
Continuing its commitment to provide care closer to home for the children and families it serves, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin will open a newly constructed Delafield Clinic later this year.

The new facility is being developed and constructed by the Great Lakes Region of Ryan Companies U.S. Inc.
Initial improvements to the 5.1-acre site, located at 3195 Hillside Drive in Delafield, began earlier this month. Construction on the two-story, 30,000-square-foot building will occur over the summer.
The clinic will provide asthma/allergy; cardiology; dermatology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology; orthopedics and urology specialty care; primary care; imaging; and physical and occupational therapy for children and adolescents. It also will feature a lab and a pharmacy.
“Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is focused on helping children stay healthy and keeping health care costs affordable. The Delafield Clinic supports our vision to provide the best care for all kids in our community. The clinic will offer specialty and primary care that is more accessible for families in western Waukesha County with the same high quality care available to children at our other clinics,” said Marc Gorelick, M.D., executive vice president of Children's Hospital.
Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. serves as the project’s architect of record. Associated Bank has provided construction financing for the project.

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Fed grants include $3.2 million for streetcar
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Thursday announced allocations of $38.9 million in federal funds for 24 transportation projects in southeastern Wisconsin, including $3.2 million for the proposed downtown Milwaukee streetcar project.

The funds are part of the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. CMAQ’s goal is to improve air quality with specific transportation-related projects. CMAQ funds provide up to 80 percent of total project costs, with the remainder provided by the project sponsors. WisDOT, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission jointly review and recommend award approval. Projects are evaluated based on their potential to reduce vehicular trips, promote multi-modal connections and how they complement other local transportation planning priorities.
The Milwaukee streetcar would run from the Intermodal Station through downtown to the Lower East Side. The estimated cost of the project is $65 million. The city already had nearly $55 million in federal funds for the project, prior to the Thursday announcement.
The remaining cost would be paid for with local funding sources.
City officials are still working on plans for the streetcar.
Other CMAQ grants announced Thursday by WisDOT for southeastern Wisconsin transportation projects include:
-  $9.1 million for a new express bus service along the Wisconsin Avenue, UWM and Sherman Boulevard routes in Milwaukee.
- $8.1 million for new express bus service along 27th Street in Milwaukee County.
- $5.4 million for Milwaukee County to purchase 16 new clean diesel engine buses.
- $2.3 million to replace fixed route transit buses in Waukesha.
- $1.1 million for a marketing campaign for the Amtrak Hiawatha passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Chicago.

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Suites hotel proposed in Town of Brookfield
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
A 107-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel has been proposed for a site near Goerke’s Corners in the Town of Brookfield.

The hotel would be built on a site on Larry Court, according to a proposal submitted by Goerke’s Park LLP, which will be reviewed Tuesday by the Town of Brookfield Plan Commission.
The project is the second Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel planned in the Milwaukee area. Middleton-based Raymond Management Company is building a three-story, 110-room Home2 Suites hotel at 5880 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, near General Mitchell International Airport.
That hotel is expected to open in early May.
Home2 Suites is an all suites brand of extended stay hotels. It is part of McLean, Va.-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.



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MGS acquires plant in New York
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
MGS Mfg. Group Inc., headquartered in Germantown, announced it has purchased Hospira’s injection molding plant in Buffalo, N.Y.
 
The transaction is scheduled to close at the end of June this year. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The plant employs 120 people and runs 40 injection molding machines, ranging from 100-ton to 400-ton, producing parts for Hospira’s pharmaceutical and device businesses. As part of the agreement, the Hospira employees who work at the Buffalo facility will join MGS. No layoffs are planned as part of the purchase.
“This represents a strategic move for both companies,” says Paul Manley, MGS chief operating officer and chief financial officer. “MGS has made, and will continue to make, substantial investments in manufacturing technologies and capabilities to increase service to our healthcare industry customers. This opportunity with Hospira will benefit both of our organizations.”
“MGS’s expertise in cost-efficient custom manufacturing and molding of components and sub–assemblies better positions Hospira to meet customers' evolving needs for molded parts,” says Matthew Stober, senior vice president of operations for Hospira. “MGS meets or exceeds the ISO and FDA guidelines for single-use disposable plastics manufacturing and will ensure supply continuity is maintained at all Hospira facilities.”
MGS Mfg. Group is a leading supplier to the global plastics industry of tight-tolerance injection-molded components, injection molds, specialty multi-shot equipment and automation systems.

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Conference to share insights about Servant Leadership
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
BizTimes Media invites readers to attend “Foresight: Wisconsin Servant Leader Cities Tour” in Milwaukee on Wednesday, April 23.

The conference will take place in the Milwaukee School of Engineering Student Life and Campus Center at 1025 N. Broadway St.
The agenda will begin with opening remarks at 7 a.m. by Tom Thibodeau, director of the Viterbo Master of Arts in Servant Leadership Program, and Dick Pieper, non-executive chairman of PPC Partners Inc. Pieper has been one of Milwaukee’s leading advocates for the concept of servant leadership.
The following presentations will be provided at the conference:
* Cheff Jeff Malek, co-founder of Bizbrandfarm.com – “#7. Foresight – Is There An App For That?”
* DeAnna Leitzke, Pieper Family Endowed Chair for Servant Leadership at MSOE – “How My Journey Began.”
* Geneva Johnson, board member of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and retired president and CEO of Families International – “What I Have Learned That Goes Deep.”
The presenters will then answer questions in a panel discussion.
Pieper will cap the program with an update about the “World of Servant Leadership.”
Seating is limited. To register to attend or obtain additional information, send an e-mail to aimee.liepert@pieperpower.com.


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Waukesha State Bank plans branch at Hartland bowling alley site
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
Waukesha State Bank is working on plans to build a bank branch in Hartland at the current site of the Hartbrook Lanes bowling alley at 550 Hartbrook Drive.

The Hartland Plan Commission will review the proposal at its meeting on Monday.
Waukesha State Bank has branch locations in Waukesha, Brookfield, Delafield, Mukwonago, Muskego, New Berlin, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee and Sussex, but the bank has no branches in Hartland currently.
Bank executives could not immediately be reached for comment.
An employee reached at Hartbrook Lanes this morning said that Waukesha State Bank has an option to buy the property, but “nothing has been finalized” and the bowling alley will remain open for “another year at least.”
“They have an option to buy the property,” said the Hartbrook Lanes employee, who declined to provide his name. “We get so many offers (to buy the property) every year. (The bank) is just trying to see if they can do what they want to do.”
The bowling alley building was built in 1975 and the property has an assessed value of $1.23 million, according to Waukesha County records.

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Quarterly earnings dip at Associated Banc-Corp
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp reported first quarter net income of $45.1 million, or 27 cents per share, down from $47.3 million, or 28 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Associated Bank’s quarterly revenue was $243.1 million, down from $244.7 million in the same period a year ago.
The company’s net interest income was $164.9 million, up from $157.6 million in the first quarter of 2013. Noninterest income was $74 million, down 10 percent from $82 million in the first quarter of 2013. The bank attributed the steep drop to the drastic reduction in refinancing activity.
The firm’s total assets were at $24.8 billion, up from $23.2 billion in the first quarter of 2013.
"We are pleased with our solid results this quarter and remain optimistic about our long-term prospects.  This quarter's strong performance was driven by robust loan growth, particularly in our Commercial lines of business." said Associated president and chief executive officer Philip Flynn. "In this environment, we remain focused on our strategies to enhance efficiency and manage expenses. We will continue to look for opportunities to deploy capital which are consistent with our commitment of building long-term shareholder value at Associated."

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BizTimes Morning Headlines: Walker sticks with 250,000 jobs promise
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he doesn't think voters will punish him if he doesn't meet his 2010 campaign pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015.

Also Walker — who officially launched his re-election campaign this week — declined to say whether he would serve a full four-year term if he is re-elected in November.
Read more in today’s BizTimes Morning Headlines.

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BizTimes Nonprofit Weekly: Foti Chiropractic announces ‘Make Another Wish’ Campaign
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
After raising $10,500 to fulfill the wish of a Make-A-Wish Wisconsin child last year, Foti Chiropractic has launched a 2014 campaign to fund the wish of another deserving child.

Through the campaign, themed “Make Another Wish,” the Wauwatosa-based clinic is determined to raise $10,000 for a Make-A-Wish recipient impacted by a life-threatening medical condition.
Read more in the BizTimes Nonprofit Weekly.



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Weekend preview
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
Busy readers of the BizTimes Daily can get a jumpstart on the Easter weekend by reading the OnMilwaukee.com Weekend Preview.
For a roundup of events, click here. OnMilwaukee.com is a media partner of BizTimes.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Sheboygan says ‘nein’ to Germany
April 18, 2014 12:00 PM
Sheboygan-based Johnsonville Sausage LLC is holding tightly onto its bratwursts.

Read more about a ridiculous trade flap with the European Union in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by BizTimes executive editor Steve Jagler.

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Lines drawn in debate over new arena
April 17, 2014 05:00 PM
A day after an announcement for a new investment group to take ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks, Alderman Nik Kovac and Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen provided a glimpse of the debate that is sure to follow over public financing for a new arena.

Speaking in an interview with BizTimes after a Milwaukee Press Club "Behind the Headlines" forum at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday, Kovac expressed vehement opposition to any public tax dollars going toward the new arena.
"The NBA has been printing free money for 20 years. I'm not asking them not to make money. I'm just asking them to cover the capital investment that allows them to make money. I'm an old-fashioned guy; I still like capitalism," said Kovac, who represents Milwaukee Third District. "I don't believe in Vladimir Putin-style corporate socialism, which is what the NBA believes in. And you can quote me on that."
Kovac added, "The talk of contribution to me should be off the table – any public contribution that does not involve a direct return on investment. I will loan them money, I will bond them money, but in my opinion, we shouldn't be giving them a dime. It's a private business."
Kovac said taxpayer funding could be better spent on other priorities.
"Will I be glad you didn't leave? Yes," Kovac said. "Do I want to spend $200 million on you not leaving when I could have spent $200 million on public transit, on public education, on stabilizing our housing stock? It's not even close. When you actually look at the things the public expects you to invest money in, this is not one of them. (Owners of professional sports teams) have managed to create, frankly, an extortion racket, in which the public pays them or else. And they do that through a legal monopoly, which shouldn't be legal in my opinion, especially given that they're extorting municipalities that clearly have other needs."
Kovac said that if the public funding was through a loan, or a tax incremental financing (TIF) district, or if the new owners would be willing to pay property taxes on the new arena, it would be "a whole different" discussion.
"It's absolutely in the public's interest to give them a loan," Kovac said. "I just don't understand how it's in the public's interest to hand a billionaire another $200 million."
Kovac said he is a big sports fan, but there are other issues at play.
"I am all for professional sports. I'm a huge Packer fan; I'm a huge Bucks fan. I come to (Bucks) games, I go to Brewers game; I was just (at Miller Park) this week. I have the memories of 1982, the memories of 2001, of 1997; these are huge memories for me. They improved my life as an individual," Kovac said. "But as a taxpayer, I don't get anything out of it. As a taxpayer, I do get something out of public education. For instance, I got educated by the public schools. As a taxpayer, the price of my bus ticket doesn't pay for the full ride, but my taxes do. As an automobile owner, I don't pay for the roads except through my taxes. These are the things the public should be spending money on. These guys have a lot of money. They can afford to build the arena. It would just be dumb for them to build the arena with their own money when they could get other people's money for free. I have a fundamental philosophical disagreement with public risk and private profit. And I think the world is upside down in sports arena financing. And I think all municipalities are suffering for it."

However, Bowen expressed support of public funding to pay for some of the new arena's costs. Bowen issued the following statement:
"I want to thank former Sen. Herb Kohl for his commitment to our community. I commend him for working so diligently to keep our NBA franchise, the Milwaukee Bucks, right here in Milwaukee, and for passing the baton to new owners who are every bit as committed to team's success and the success of the community as Kohl himself. The generous donations of $200 million for a new arena are a great first step in assuring the public that a new arena can be built and the Milwaukee Bucks can stay in our community. The entire community, residents and businesses alike, should be proud of Kohl and his decision to build his legacy here in Milwaukee. The baton has officially been passed to new owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens, who are clearly committed to building on top of that legacy with new leadership and investment. As vice-chair of the Economic Development Committee, I am pleased by this huge boost to the future of development of Milwaukee County and southeastern Wisconsin. The new arena can be accomplished together under the deadline of 2017 with private and public buy-in that supports the arena and other public resources needed to expand our economy for a better Milwaukee. I hope all involved are willing to work together in the same spirit of generosity and community as Herb Kohl has displayed in these latest developments."

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State unemployment rate drops to 5.9 percent
April 17, 2014 12:00 PM
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development today released preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that indicate Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in March.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in February. The March estimate would put the state at its lowest unemployment rate since November 2008, and below the national rate of 6.7 percent, which was flat in March.

The preliminary BLS estimates also indicate Wisconsin also gained a seasonally adjusted 6,400 private sector jobs in March, a dip from the 6,900 nonfarm jobs added in February.

The state's monthly job and unemployment reports are preliminary and subject to significant revisions.

“For the first time in over a half-decade, Wisconsin's unemployment rate has dropped below 6 percent, and that's because our state's labor force and employment have increased and unemployment has decreased,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the DWD. “Even as these numbers are aligned with many other economic indicators showing (the) state is moving in the right direction, there is much more work to be done to develop our state's workforce and create more good-paying jobs for Wisconsin's working families."

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Badger Meter earnings jump 59 percent
April 17, 2014 11:00 AM
Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. today reported first quarter net income of $4.6 million, or 32 cents per share, up 59.3 percent from $2.9 million, or 20 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Revenue was a record $83.4 million, up 16.3 percent from $71.8 million in the same period a year ago.

The company attributed the earnings jump to both Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the northeast and a higher than average snow cover across the country in the first quarter of 2013, which was not as much of a problem in this year’s first quarter.

Favorable product launches and related lower research and development expenses also contributed to the earnings increase. Due diligence related to a potential acquisition that was not completed subtracted about $1.7 million from the earnings increase.

“We are pleased with the first quarter results, especially the first quarter record sales, compared to last year’s unusually weak first quarter. The sales increase was across the board, with higher sales of both residential and commercial municipal water products and flow instrumentation products,” said Richard Meeusen, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

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