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Public financing could cover half of costs for new arena
May 28, 2015 10:41 AM
State, local and Milwaukee Bucks officials are in the final stages of negotiating an agreement in which the public financing would cover approximately half of the costs of a $500 million new arena in downtown Milwaukee.
 
Under the terms of the proposed agreement as it stands now, according to sources:
  • The State of Wisconsin would pay $4 million per year - $80 million in all - to cover $55 million in bonding plus interest.
  • The state would also absorb $20 million in debt from the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
  • The state would be responsible for collecting another $80 million in debt currently owed to Milwaukee County.
  • The City of Milwaukee would build a $35 million parking structure and provide $12 million in tax incremental financing from ancillary development near the new arena.
  • The Wisconsin Center District would use its existing car rental, hotel and food and beverage taxes to pay off $93 million in bonds.
The public financing would be matched by $150 million from current Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan and $100 million from former owner Herb Kohl.
 
Under terms of the deal being negotiated, the boards of the Wisconsin Center District and the BMO Harris Bradley Center would be merged in to a new “super board” that would oversee the new arena and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The Marcus Center is currently owned by Milwaukee County. The Wisconsin Center District currently operates the Wisconsin Center convention center, the Milwaukee Theatre and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena. All of those downtown entertainment assets would be overseen by one board.
 
The Bucks are proposing to build the new arena on a site north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Along with a modern-looking, 700,000-square-foot, 17,000-seat arena, the Bucks’ plans call for a 60,000-square-foot public plaza that would exist as an entertainment site, known as the “live walk,” which would include a public space with a canopy and a beer garden at North Fourth Street and West Highland Avenue.

A mixed-use entertainment district would be built around the arena, including much of the vacant land in the Park East corridor. That development would encompass 1 million square feet, according to the Bucks’ plans, with space for hotels, residential units, offices, retail, arena parking and entertainment amenities. Additionally, the Bucks announced plans to construct a state-of-the-art practice facility on the west end of the Park East property. The Bucks’ current practice facility resides in leased space at the Archbishop Cousin Center in St. Francis.

Leading the design of the new entertainment hub is Populous, a Kansas City, Mo.-based architecture and planning firm. The Bucks have appointed Populous to oversee a group of global, national and local architects, including HNTB, also of Kansas City, and Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects.
 
According to architect Greg Uhen, the design of the space would create “connective tissue” that would connect the Park East property to other successful neighborhoods and developments in Milwaukee, including the former Pabst Brewery, Schlitz Park, Bronzeville, the Milwaukee Riverwalk, Old World Third Street and the Wisconsin Center District.
 
The principals in the negotiations hope to produce a final agreement by Friday. The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will meet in executive session on Friday at 10 a.m. in Madison. An item on the agenda of the meeting is listed as “Sports and Entertainment District.”
 
Two aspects of the deal that are still being negotiated include the naming rights for the new arena and an agreement about which entities would be responsible for any cost overruns for the construction project.
 
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International had offered in February to contribute $220 million for a new arena in downtown Milwaukee if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would have approved of construction of a new casino hotel and casino in Kenosha. Walker, a presumed presidential candidate, rejected the Menominee proposal.
 
After a groundbreaking in Portage today, Walker told The Associated Press he believed an arena financing agreement is close and he is hopeful to announce it by the end of the week.
 
Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin, a powerful conservative advocacy group today denounced the proposed public financing plan for a new Milwaukee arena. AFP state director David Fladeboe issued the following statement: “Our position remains unchanged: the new Buck stadium proposal is still a bad deal for Wisconsin taxpayers. Government shouldn’t be in the business of financing private sports stadiums. The current deal is based on fuzzy math, complicated accounting and taxpayer dollars. Whether it comes from the state, the county, the city or other authority, these are taxpayer dollars. This proposal needs to be rejected and the people of Wisconsin need to be protected.”

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Modine records Q4 loss on currency headwind
May 28, 2015 10:32 AM
Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co. today reported its fourth quarter and fiscal 2015 results.

The thermal management technology and solutions manufacturer recorded a net loss of $3 million in the fourth quarter, or a 7 cent loss per share, compared with net income of $119.7 million, or $2.49 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Operating income totaled $5.2 million in the fourth quarter, down from $6.7 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $363 million in the quarter, down from $390.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Modine attributed the 7 percent sales decrease mainly to the strength of the U.S. dollar, which resulted in a $36 million negative impact on sales, compared to the prior year quarter. The company also created a $3.2 million reserve for legal expenses in Brazil, a $7.8 million impairment charge related to goodwill in South America, and $1 million in restructuring expenses in North America, Europe and South America during the quarter.

“This was a solid quarter with year-over-year improvements in gross margin and adjusted operating income,” said Thomas Burke, Modine president and chief executive officer. “We achieved these results in the face of significant market and currency headwinds.”

For the full year, Modine reported net income of $22.8 million, or 45 cents per share, down from $131.9 million, or $2.72 per share, in 2014.

The company’s 2015 operating income was $52.7 million, up from $37.2 million last year.

And full year revenue totaled $1.5 billion, flat from 2014.
Modine attributed an increase in gross profit margin to a higher sales volume and lower warranty costs. It also recorded a $7.8 million goodwill impairment charge, $4.7 million in restructuring expenses and a $3.2 million gain on the sale of a wind tunnel during the year.

 “I am pleased with our fiscal year results,” Burke said. “Despite challenging markets and negative currency impacts, we improved our gross margin, generated earnings growth and delivered earnings within the guidance provided at this time last year. We continue to focus on improving our cost structure and operating scale production facilities around the world.”

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Marquette Law, Public Policy Forum create Milwaukee cultural needs site
May 28, 2015 10:56 AM
Marquette Law School and the Public Policy Forum have developed a new website to gain input on how to fund Milwaukee's cultural and entertainment needs.

Among the topics to be addressed on the site are whether more public funds should be used to fund “quality of life” attractions like the Milwaukee Symphony, Milwaukee County Parks and the Milwaukee County Zoo, and where those funds should come from.

The site is designed to gain insight from area residents about the cultural and entertainment assets in the region, and gather ideas about financing options for the facilities. Through a simulation, visitors to the site can construct a funding plan and determine revenue options to pay for that plan, and then publish their proposals on social media.

The Public Policy Forum released a report in September that detailed $445 million in cultural asset funding that will be needed over the next 20 years. The figure includes funding a new arena, completing deferred maintenance and making capital improvements to the Milwaukee region's cultural institutions, like the Milwaukee Art Museum, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and Milwaukee County Zoo.

The organizations plan to launch the site during On the Issues with Mike Gousha on Thursday, June 4, from 12:15 to 1:15 at Eckstein Hall on Marquette's campus. PPF president Rob Henken and Marquette Law School associate dean for academic affairs, Professor Matt Parlow, will discuss the site with Gousha. Registration for the event is available here.

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Wipfli adds cybersecurity offering
May 28, 2015 11:19 AM
Wauwatosa-based accounting and consulting firm Wipfli LLP announced it has added a cybersecurity offering to its Risk Advisory and Forensic Services practice.

The firm added the service as a result of the growing number of cyber attacks and data breaches occurring in the marketplace. Additional expertise from the employees of Assurity River Group, which Wipfli acquired in November, also made the expansion possible.

The cybersecurity offering will help clients identify, protect, detect, respond to and recover from cybersecurity risks through services including: cybersecurity risk assessment, IT security, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, social engineering, cybersecurity policy development, incident response and handling services, cybersecurity training and awareness, vendor management, business continuity, disaster recovery planning and digital forensics.

“Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT issue, it is top of mind for the c-suite and board of directors,” said Bob Cedergren, Risk Advisory and Forensic Services practice leader. “With breaches occurring on a daily basis, our clients are more and more concerned with protecting their data. It’s no longer a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’ We can help our clients stay vigilant and be confident in their security measures.”

The Risk Advisory and Forensic Services Practice also offers information technology risk assessments, disaster recovery, and IT security program and policy development.

“We go beyond focusing on just tools and technical solutions to support cybersecurity,” said Jeff Olejnik, director in Wipfli’s Risk Advisory and Forensic Services practice and former CEO of Assurity. “We work with our clients to create an internal culture of security awareness, we help management make better decisions on how to manage risks, and provide value-added response services to minimize the damage from a breach or cyber-incident.”

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Health Care Weekly: East Troy company gets FDA approval for voice disorder product
May 28, 2015 10:35 AM
East Troy-based RegenScientific has received FDA clearance for its Renu Gel injectable implant used for vocal fold injection augmentation. The company today began shipments of the new product to physicians and hospitals in the United States.

Read more in the latest Health Care Weekly.

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Morning Headlines: Walker says he would sign prevailing wage repeal
May 28, 2015 10:36 AM
Gov. Scott Walker would sign a bill repealing the state’s prevailing wage if it passes the Legislature, his spokeswoman said Wednesday. Laurel Patrick made the comments as an Assembly committee heard testimony on a repeal bill, which the committee later approved 5-4.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Bubbler Weekly: Storytelling agency launches at BizExpo
May 28, 2015 11:45 AM
As more than 2,000 Milwaukee professionals congregated at BizTimes Media’s 11th annual BizExpo last week, one pair of entrepreneurs used the day as a platform to launch a new business.

Read more in today’s Bubbler Weekly.

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Bill would abolish state's prevailing wage system
May 27, 2015 11:01 AM
The Wisconsin Assembly Labor Committee conducted a hearing on a bill to abolish the state's prevailing wage system for construction of public projects today.

Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) said he has enough votes in the committee to approve the bill and wants it included in the state budget.

Democrats said Wednesday's hearing was announced on short notice with little discussion in attempt to cram it into the budget.

The proposal would repeal a law that requires construction workers on certain government projects to be paid prevailing wages equivalent to what they would earn working on other projects in the area.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) have said they do not have enough votes in their respective chambers to repeal the prevailing wage law. They want to rewrite the law instead.

Supporters of the bill said the prevailing wage system artificially inflates the costs that taxpayers must incur for public projects.

Mike Nichols, president of the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, testified today in favor of the bill to abolish prevailing wages, thereby protecting taxpayers from higher costs.

"It's not really a competitive process," Nichols said.

James Hoffman, president of Hoffman Construction Company in Black River Falls spoke at the committee against the proposal to abolish the prevailing wage system. Hoffman said more than a third of his company's workforce is over the age of 50. The company needs to be able to attract younger workers to jobs that require employees to travel away from their homes to work on construction projects. The prevailing wage system also enables contractors to afford to provide adequate training and safety for workers, Hoffman said.

"The only way this is possible is by offering a living wage," Hoffman said.

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Faith Technologies to hire 800
May 27, 2015 11:51 AM
Menasha-based electrical, engineering and technology systems contractor Faith Technologies has announced it will hire 800 full-time employees across its 14 national locations by September.

The company, which currently has 1,900 employees, is growing as a result of increased demand from the industrial, data center/mission critical, multifamily/high-rise construction and health care industries as they expand.

Faith Technologies has not yet been determined how many of the new hires will be based in Wisconsin, said Mike Weller, chief operating officer. Its employees are spread pretty evenly among its facilities, which are located in: Menasha, Appleton, Pewaukee, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Plover, Sheboygan and Peshtigo, Wis.; Maplewood, Minn.; Springfield, Mo.; Atlanta, Ga.; Lenexa, Kansas; and Tulsa, Okla.

Weller said some of the company’s workforce is fluid and travels to job sites, so it would not make a difference where they are based.

“If these journeymen are willing to travel, then it really makes no difference where they live,” he said. “It all depends on the opportunity we have to have good candidates apply that meet our requirements.”

The company made the decision to hire 800 employees because of “strong opportunities in the backlog as well as being invited to the table on future opportunities in growth markets that we are able to participate in and be a strong player with,” Weller said.

About 365 of the available positions are in the company’s Excellerate business unit, which creates manufacturing solutions for the construction industry through pre-assembly, usually in its Menasha or Appleton locations. Available Excellerate positions include general assemblers, manufacturing leads, logistics managers, logistics specialists and onsite logistics specialists.

About 75 of the positions are in the industrial unit, and positions include journeymen, apprentices and helpers.

Other open positions include: tower technicians, electrical risk management technicians, service technicians, foremen, material handlers, superintendents, pneumatics installers, designers, engineers, estimators, and computer-aided design technicians.

Faith Technologies will hold a Milwaukee job fair on June 16 from 3 to 7 p.m., in addition to other job fairs near its facilities. For more information, visit faithtechnologies.com/careers.

“Faith Technologies is experiencing strong growth and now has the opportunity to add more than 800 positions, more than a 40 percent increase to our team,” Weller said. “The positions we are hiring for are long-term positions with the company, with many opportunities for career advancement. We are eager to bring new talent to our team across the country, and all are encouraged to apply.”

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BizTracker: Wisconsin banks report higher profit, increased lending in Q1
May 27, 2015 11:07 AM
Wisconsin's financial institutions reported net income of $259 million in the first quarter, up from $226 million in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Quarterly Banking Profile released today by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Read more in the BizTracker, which tracks local, state and national economic data.

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Vos hopeful Bucks arena deal can happen this week
May 27, 2015 11:24 AM
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he remains hopeful a deal will be reached this week on the public financing component of a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

Still, he said the state's share of the project will be significantly less than the $220 million Gov. Scott Walker originally proposed.

Read more at WisPolitics.com. WisPolitics is a media partner of BizTimes Media.

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Investment in DeltaHawk Engines will create 100 jobs
May 27, 2015 11:53 AM
An undisclosed investment will allow Racine-based DeltaHawk Engines Inc. to begin production on a new aviation engine and to create 100 jobs. The investment, announced Tuesday, was made by the Ruud family who established Racine-based Ruud Lighting.

Seven engineers will be hired immediately, and approximately 100 people will be hired in 2016, according to a statement released by DeltaHawk. The company will also likely work with Gateway Technical College to train workers for the jobs as they require particular skill sets.

The investment, which makes the Ruuds majority owners of DeltaHawk, allows for the commercialization of DeltaHawk’s first engine family and completion of research and development for higher horsepower engines used primarily in general aviation airplanes.

Compared to other engines on the market, the DeltaHawk engine has 8 percent lower fuel burn, 11 percent less full fuel payload, 18 percent faster maximum cruise speed, and 45 percent longer range.

After some tests and certifications, the engine is expected to go into production in December. The production facilities will be in DeltaHawk’s current Racine factory that was also purchased by the Ruuds.

"Our experience in transitioning innovative ideas from R&D to full-scale production is a perfect fit with DeltaHawk,” said Alan Ruud, founder of Ruud Lighting and a pilot himself.  “This company has great business potential and a keen focus on the pulse of the industry and their customers.”

Besides being efficient and powerful, the DeltaHawk multi-fuel engine is compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate going into effect in January 2017 that requires the general aviation industry to transition from leaded aviation gasoline. A reported 400,000 general aviation planes are said to be retrofitted with new engines by 2017.

“Not only is the DeltaHawk engine an industry game-changer but it will also be impactful to our local community as we hire in anticipation of beginning production,” said Alan’s son, Christopher Ruud.

Ruud Lighting was acquired by Durham, N.C.-based Cree Inc. in 2011.

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Lake Valley Camp appoints Schiller executive director
May 27, 2015 11:29 AM
Lake Valley Camp, a summer camp that works with Milwaukee youth from underserved communities, has named Dan Schiller executive director.

Schiller, currently program director of Playworks Wisconsin, will take the helm of Lake Valley Camp on June 15. He will succeed Jim Flint, the organization’s first executive director. Flint devoted 13 years to that leadership role.

“More than 13 years ago, we embarked on a journey to provide exemplary experiences to the urban students of Milwaukee,” Bill Kellogg, board president or the organization, said in an announcement. “Under the leadership of Jim Flint and with a passionate and dedicated staff, we have successfully enriched the lives of thousands of Milwaukee children and their families. We are excited to have Dan on board to continue the legacy Jim helped start.”

Schiller has worked for Playworks Wisconsin since 2012. He previously served as a clinical intern for Pathfinders, a program manager for Make-A-Difference Wisconsin, a foster and adoption specialist for Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin, partnership development coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee, and a research associate for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency/Children’s Research Center.

Schiller earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2012. He completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at UW-Madison in 2004.

Lake Valley Camp works with more than 400 area students each year, helping them build life and social skills.

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Johnson Controls’ heat, power plant to save U.S. Army $113 million
May 27, 2015 10:42 AM
Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. joined U.S. Army senior commanders today at Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground to break ground on a new combined heat and power plant. Scheduled to be completed by January 2016, the plant is projected to save the Army nearly $113 million over 19 years.

The new natural gas cogeneration plant designed by Johnson Controls will supply a substantial portion of the garrison's heating and power needs, and help APG— a $1 billion U.S. Army research and development resource— make progress toward energy resiliency, a critical mission for Army installments around the world.

"This plant will reduce our reliance on a third party for energy," said Jeffery Presgraves, contract officer representative for APG. "Since our research and military testing facilities directly support national security, reliable energy services are crucial."

Johnson Controls has helped APG reduce its environmental impact and operational costs since 2007 through multiple energy savings performance contract projects, utility monitoring and control systems, and new construction projects. In total, these initiatives will help APG benefit from more than $430 million in guaranteed cost savings.

"This plant represents the U.S. Army's continued commitment to energy resiliency, environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. We are proud to support that mission while updating facilities that help the Army's men and women at home and abroad," said Steven Spanbauer, global director of federal solutions, Johnson Controls Building Efficiency.

Under the energy savings performance contract, Johnson Controls is guaranteeing an estimated $113 million in savings—generated from the improvements—will pay for the project.

Johnson Controls has implemented more than 100 energy savings performance contract projects for various agencies, including the Department of Energy, Air Force, Navy, General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Justice Department and Department of the Interior.

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TEMPO Milwaukee elects new board members
May 27, 2015 10:55 AM
TEMPO Milwaukee, a membership organization that promotes the development of women leaders in the region, has elected four new board members.

New members are: Treasurer and secretary Kris Best, of BVK; director-at-large Marybeth Cottrill, of Northern Trust; director-at-large Vinita Paul, of Heartland Funds; and director-at-large Paula Pergl, of LauberCFOs, Inc.

Each new member was elected during the organization’s annual meeting, held April 16 at the University Club of Milwaukee.

TEMPO Milwaukee also approved its full board for 2015-16 during its annual meeting.

In addition to new members, the board consists of: Board chair Jayne Hladio, of U.S. Bank; past chair Linda Newberry-Ferguson, of Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin; governance Heather Fields of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; director, communications Lori Richards, of Mueller Communications; director, membership Sharon deGuzman, of Robert W. Baird & Co.; director, programs Mary Burgoon, of Rockwell Automation; director, Women’s Affinity Alliance Laura Lukas, of Johnson Controls; director-at-large Katie Clark, of Three Harbors Council; director-at-large Tami Garrison, of MillerCoors; director-at-large Cathy Girard, of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, Inc.; director-at-large Marilyn Krause, of The Lowe Group; director-at-large Jody Lowe, of The Lowe Group; director-at-large Linda Mertz, of Mertz Associates; director-at-large Rose Spano Iannelli, of Spano Pratt Executive Search; and director-at-large Ellen Trytek, of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

TEMPO Milwaukee’s chair and past chair serve two year terms, and directors fill their posts for three years.

The organization, headed by president and chief executive officer Jennifer Dirks, has a membership of about 300 women.

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