UPAF kicks off campaign with $11.86 million goal
March 4, 2015 11:42 AM
The United Performing Arts Fund is approaching its 2015 campaign with a goal to pull in $11.86 million after completing a record primary campaign last year that tallied more than $11.7 million.

The organization, which serves as a funder and advocate for southeastern Wisconsin’s performing arts community, announced its campaign goal during a kickoff event held Tuesday at the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The event, sponsored by Bostik, was headlined by performances from three UPAF Cornerstone Member Groups – First Stage, Milwaukee Ballet and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Imbedded within UPAF’s overall fundraising goal is a push to up proceeds generated by the organization’s flagship UPAF Ride for the Arts bike fundraiser, which is sponsored by Miller Lite. The organization hopes to raise $600,000 through the May 31 fundraiser and plans to offer extra encouragement to participants to boost their pledge totals.

UPAF also has its sights set on ramping up workplace giving campaigns and leadership giving in order to reach its $11.86 goal.

This year’s campaign, slated to run through June 9, is being chaired by Patty Cadorin, vice president and chief of staff to the CEO of BMO Harris Bank; Tom Cardella, MillerCoors CEO; and Mark Sabljak, publisher of the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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Redevelopment proposed to turn former Goldmann’s building into health center
March 4, 2015 12:10 PM
An affiliate of Milwaukee-based Phoenix Investors LLC has submitted plans to the City of Milwaukee to redevelop the former Goldmann’s department store building on Historic Mitchell Street into a health center.

Under the plan, the building would become the new home of the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, which is currently located at 1711 S. 11th St., Milwaukee. The first floor would have a medical clinic and space for a future dental clinic and retail space. The second floor would have a behaviorally health clinic, a physical therapy room and administrative offices.

The exterior of the building would also be renovated. The design firm for the project is Milwaukee-based Vetter Denk Architects Inc.

The Phoenix Investors affiliate purchased the two-story, 42,000-square-foot former Goldmann’s building in November for $550,000. The store closed in 2007.

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First Bank Financial Centre to open downtown office
March 4, 2015 10:42 AM
Oconomowoc-based First Bank Financial Centre plans to open an SBA lending office in downtown Milwaukee this spring.

The bank has leased its first Milwaukee County location, a 1,684-square-foot space at 400 E. Wisconsin Ave., from Curry-Pierce Limited Partnership. Tim Janusz, Kevin Schmoldt and Nathan Smith of NAI MLG Commercial handled the transaction.

First Bank’s downtown office will provide a convenient location for Milwaukee businesses seeking an SBA lending resource, the bank said. First Bank Financial Centre is the top SBA lender in Wisconsin, providing a total of $75 million in SBA financing through 239 loans in 2014.

“SBA lending is a strength of our organization, and we’re proud to bring this financing option to area businesses,” said Mark Mohr, president and chief executive officer of First Bank Financial Centre. “We work hard to lend to local small businesses, as we consider them to be the backbone of our economy. These customers appreciate our quick turnaround and local decision making, allowing them to concentrate on their businesses. We take great pride in being a small part of their success.”

First Bank has opened six new branches in the past three years. The community bank recently completed a 25,000-square-foot addition to its Oconomowoc headquarters.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” Mohr said. “We strive to contribute to the vitality of the communities we serve. Our customers have responded favorably to our approach and our growth is a reflection of that.”

Mark McCune, executive vice president and chief lending officer, will spend part of his time at the new office, which will also staff a commercial lender, a mortgage lender and a retail banker. The retail banker will primarily support the commercial lenders, offering deposit services for business customers.

First Bank Financial Centre has 12 full-service branches and two loan offices in Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington and Dane counties. It has about 250 employees.

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Assembly committee approves 70 mph speed limit
March 4, 2015 10:21 AM
The Assembly Committee on Transportation approved Tuesday increasing the maximum speed limit on Interstate highways in Wisconsin to 70 mph.

“I am very pleased,” said Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc), author of the bill. This is a common sense bill that Democrats and Republicans support.”

The committee rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to establish a 65 mph limit for commercial vehicles.

“Highways are safer when traffic is flowing at the same speed,” Tittl said. “Split speeds for commercial vehicles disrupt that flow.”

Traffic safety engineers said the safest point to set the speed limit is the point at which 85 percent of the people are driving at or below. The current 85 percentile speed on numerous highway segments throughout the state is more than 70 mph.

“Increasing the speed limit is primarily about safety and bringing traffic closer to that 85th percentile,” Tittl said. “That change should help to make our interstates and freeways safer.”

The committee voted 14-1 in favor of the 70 mph limit. The bill will head to the Assembly floor later this month.

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Physicians Realty Trust recovers from loss
March 4, 2015 11:25 AM
Milwaukee-based real estate investment trust Physicians Realty Trust today reported fourth quarter net income of $2 million, or 4 cents per share, recovering from a loss of $638,000, or a 4 cent loss per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The company, which focuses on health care facility acquisitions and leasebacks nationwide, reported fourth quarter revenue of $19.7 million, up from $6.5 million in the same period a year ago.

PRT made $104.8 million in investments in the fourth quarter, which included 24 buildings totaling 575,449 square feet and one medical office building term loan.

For the full year, Physicians Realty Trust recorded a net loss of $4.4 million, or a 12 cent loss per share, compared with a net loss of $2.6 million, or a 13 cent loss per share, in 2013.

The company’s 2014 revenue was $53.3 million, up from $17 million in 2013.

PRT has made $172 million of investments so far in 2015.

“Including these newly acquired facilities, we have grown our portfolio from $124 million in gross real estate assets at our IPO just over 18 months ago to over $990 million today,” said John Thomas, president and chief executive officer of PRT. “We continue to focus on the growth and quality of our cash flow and dividend coverage. We are very proud of the quarterly normalized funds from operations of 22 cents per share achieved during the fourth quarter, an increase of 22 percent over the third quarter, and an increase of 57 percent over the fourth quarter of 2013. Total revenue for 2014 was $53.3 million, compared to $17 million in 2013, an increase of 213%. We are excited about our growth trajectory and our team’s execution and ability to continue to source the highest quality health care providers and their facilities, as we strive to become the leading owner of high quality health care facilities in the US.”

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Artisan Partners insiders selling shares
March 4, 2015 12:09 PM
Milwaukee-based Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc. has agreed to sell 3.8 million shares, or 5.2 percent of its outstanding equity, to buy shares of subsidiary Artisan Partners Holdings LP held by its executives and employees.

When the transaction is complete, Artisan Partners will have increased its public float of class A common stock by 3.8 million shares.

Citigroup is acting as the sole underwriter for the offering, and may offer the stock for sale in one or more transactions on the New York Stock Exchange, in the over-the-counter market, through negotiated transactions or otherwise at prevailing market or negotiated prices.

Artisan’s stock was trading this morning at $45.88 per share, down from its Tuesday close at $48.12.

In its fourth quarter earnings report, Artisan president and chief executive officer Eric Colson indicated the company experienced a "volatile, but positive year for our business." Increasing its public float could reduce the company's stock fluctuations.

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Wellness Summit to focus on mental health
March 4, 2015 12:15 PM
The theme of the 2015 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Wellness Summit presented by BizTimes Media will be “The Competitive Advantage of a Mentally Healthy Workplace.”

The event will take place Friday, March 27, at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel on Moorland Road from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

A panel of speakers will provide insights on several aspects: techniques for managing stress; identifying the warning signs of mental health problems; the importance of mental health for overall wellness; and best practices for creating a mentally healthy workplace.

The keynote panelists will include:

  • Craig Modell, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist who is the owner and director of the Stress Management and Mental Health Clinics in the Milwaukee area. Modell is a consultant and trainer in skill development and stress management in the workplace.
  • Paula Carlton, DNP, a doctor of nursing practice with Aurora Advanced Healthcare in West Bend. She works closely with physicians to identify and treat patients suffering from mental health problems. Her practice features a strong emphasis on patient education and wellness.
  • Dawn Zak is the associate director of Mental Health America of Wisconsin. She has more than 27 years of experience in the mental health and substance abuse field. She developed and provided statewide training and coordination for workplaces on mental health, substance abuse and wellness.

BizTimes invites all of its readers to attend the conference, which will be especially insightful for business owners and other executives, including human resource directors and office managers.

After the panel discussion, several exhibits and breakout sessions will take place, providing the latest and greatest insights about wellness, including nutrition, fitness, stress management and best practices for implementing a wellness program.

To learn more about the conference and register to attend, visit

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Tax return fraud: A one-two punch
March 4, 2015 12:30 PM
An epidemic of scams and fraud have forced the IRS and several states to continue to develop safeguards and checkpoints.

John Kuehn of Milwaukee-based Komisar Brady & Co., LLP advises businesses on ways to protect themselves against scams in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog.

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Morning Headlines: Ashley Furniture turns down controversial $6 million tax credit
March 4, 2015 12:17 PM
Arcadia-based Ashley Furniture has decided not to pursue a $6 million tax credit that the state’s job-creation agency board approved last year with terms that would have allowed the company to cut its state workforce in half.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Real Estate Weekly: Quad to move commingling operations from New Berlin to Pewaukee
March 4, 2015 12:18 PM
Sussex-based Quad/Graphics Inc. has leased the second of two warehouses in Pewaukee that were formerly occupied by American TV & Appliance and plans to move its commingling operations there from New Berlin.

Read more in today’s Real Estate Weekly.

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Rally carries local stocks to new highs
March 3, 2015 10:11 AM
The U.S. stock market soared to record heights Monday, sparking the stocks of several companies based in southeastern Wisconsin to also rise to near 52-week highs.

The S&P 500 scored its fifth record high of the year, adding 12.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,117.39.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 155.93 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,288.63 on Monday, scoring its fourth record-high close this year.

Much of the buzz on Wall Street centered on the Nasdaq Composite, which added 44.57 points, or 0.9 percent , to 5,008.10 on Monday. The tech-heavy index has closed above 5,000 only twice before in 2000 and is approaching its all-time record.

The stocks of 19 companies based in southeastern Wisconsin are trading at or near 52-week highs. Those companies include Associated Banc-Corp, Westbury Bancorp Inc., Johnson Controls Inc., Fiserv Inc., Johnson Outdoors Inc., Ziegler Cos, Journal Communications Inc., Snap-on Inc., A.O. Smith Corp, Badger Meter Inc., Sensient Technologies Inc., MGIC Investment Corp., Bank Mutual Corp., Kohl’s Corp., The Marcus Corp, Waterstone Financial Inc. and Quad/Graphics Inc.

The strong rally prompted Bruce Bittles, chief investment officer at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., to declare that the market is “overbought and overbelieved.” Bittles noted that the latest economic data suggests that the rate of growth in the economy is slowing from last year’s pace.

“Our largest concern is that liquidity in the stock market has been drawn down and needs to be replenished before stocks can move significantly higher. There is an inverse relationship between liquidity and sentiment. When investors become excessively optimistic, it generally means that a large portion of their investable funds are already committed to equities,” Bittles said.

True to form, the market dipped slightly this morning, with the Dow falling 93 points, the Nasdaq losing 33 points and the S&P 500 dropping 11 points.

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Germantown landscaping firm to expand
March 3, 2015 10:22 AM
Germantown-based David J. Frank Landscape Contracting Inc. will expand by adding 100 new jobs.

The company will host a job fair Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Hilton Gardens Hotel in Milwaukee at 11600 W. Park Place.

The company currently employs 250 people but plans to hire up to 100 more to meet the demands of its fast-growing design, construction and maintenance business. Immediate openings include positions for construction crews, general laborers, landscape maintenance technicians, truck drivers, customer service reps, office help and more.

“We believe that our success is directly related to the quality of our staff, and we’re committed to developing this important resource by providing ongoing training, great benefits and real career opportunities,” said David Frank, president and chief executive officer. “We hope to talk with candidates in person this weekend, but we are always accepting applications online at”

“We normally do not have a spring job fair as the majority of our employees are permanent/full time staff members, including many that have been with us for 20 or more years and second-generation employees. This year, however, based on our projected growth and construction backlog, we are adding positions in almost every department. Great news for DJFLCI and for people looking for long-term opportunities in our field,” company spokeswoman Mara Adair said.

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Redevelopment planned to convert historic building near Schlitz Park into apartments
March 3, 2015 10:32 AM
Rick Wiegand, the owner of the Ambassador Hotel and the Ambassador Inn, is planning another redevelopment project to transform the former F. Mayer Boot and Shoe Co. building into an apartment complex.

The building, constructed in 1892 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located at 100 E. Pleasant St. near the Schlitz Park complex near downtown Milwaukee. The six-story, 193,988-square-foot red brick building is known as the Milwaukee Fortress Building.

The cost of the redevelopment project is estimated at $52.7 million. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. in January agreed to provide up to $9.15 million in historic preservation tax credits for the project.

Work is expected to begin this year and be completed by 2019. Once completed, there will be 176 apartment units in the building.

The building is currently used for office space, but is only about 40 percent leased.

The building is located near an area that is attracting a significant amount of new apartment development including Mandel Group Inc.’s North End project and Rhythm, a seven-story 140-unit apartment development planned for a site at 1632-1640 N. Water St.

Wiegand could not be reached for comment.

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McDonough named president of Franklin Energy
March 3, 2015 12:08 PM
Kevin McDonough has been named president of Port Washington-based Franklin Energy Services LLC.

McDonough will report to Paul Schueller, chief executive officer of the energy efficiency program implementation firm.

“Franklin Energy continues to expand its portfolio of services through industry-leading technologies, new talent and innovation in program services,” Schueller said. “This is the ideal time to leverage Kevin’s leadership and focus on meeting our clients’ energy, brand awareness, and customer satisfaction goals.”

McDonough has 30 years of energy efficiency experience, most recently as Franklin Energy’s head of program operations. McDonough was formerly general manager for Honeywell’s utility business. He graduated from Duke University and holds an MBA from Boston College.

As president of Franklin Energy, McDonough will be responsible for growing the company nationwide.

“Franklin Energy has positioned itself as a preeminent energy efficiency implementer with expertise and technology across all markets – commercial and industrial, small business, residential and multifamily,” McDonough said. “I look forward to working with such a dynamic team of experts and driving business forward.”

Franklin Energy was founded in 1994 and has more than 400 energy efficiency program expert specialists on staff.

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Kohl’s Cares pumps more than $21 million into hospital programs
March 3, 2015 10:14 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. spread more than $21 million among 164 hospitals across the country last year, the company announced today.

Donations stemmed from the Kohl’s Cares Hospital Program, a 15-year-old program that benefits children’s health and wellness initiatives with funds generated through the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program.

The Kohl’s Cares Hospital Program functions to “meet the unique needs of communities nationwide with customized programming and public events that provide important services and information at no cost to thousands of families every year,” Bevin Bailis, Kohl’s senior vice president of communications and public relations, said in an announcement.

“We are inspired by what our hospital partners accomplish in the communities where we live and work and are proud to join forces to keep children healthy and well,” Bailis said.

Hospital outreach programs address a spectrum of children’s health issues, such as injury prevention, childhood obesity and asthma awareness.

Among Kohl’s hospital partners is Milwaukee-based Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

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