MADISON – PGA Champions Tour event economic impact projected at $10-$15 million
The PGA Champions Tour golf tournament coming to Madison next year is expected to carry with it an economic impact of $10 million to $15 million.

Jack Salzwedel, CEO of the American Family Insurance Championship's title sponsor, said at a news conference Monday that conservative estimates put the benefit to Madison from the June 22-26, 2016, event in the tens of millions of dollars.

That fits with what has been listed by other events on the age-50-and-over Champions Tour and is on a level occupied by few sporting events in Madison.

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ARCADIA - Report: Ashley considers possible sale
Ashley Furniture Industries, which employs more than 4,000 people in the Arcadia area and is the largest employer in Trempealeau County, reportedly is exploring a possible sale.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the family-owned company based in Arcadia is working with investment bankers to look into a potential sale that could attract more than $3 billion.

Ashley confirmed Tuesday it is consulting with Goldman Sachs “to aid the company in an evaluation of a variety of investment alternatives and other opportunities to enhance the future growth and continued success of Ashley.”

Given speculation in recent media reports, company CEO Todd Wanek underscored that the conversations are very exploratory and that no decisions have been made to pursue any specific course of action.

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MADISON - Hilldale's $15 million renovation begins to open
The newest open-air corridor at Hilldale Shopping Center in Madison was unveiled Tuesday after nine months and $15 million worth of renovation.

While the 14 stores and restaurants will gradually open through the summer, including six this week, the new corridor offers more open space and better access to retailers.

The improvements to Hilldale are seen as a way to make one of the city’s oldest shopping destinations compatible and contemporary.

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MADISON - Health tech boom is no bubble, speakers tell Madison conference
Physicians today are getting burned out on their jobs, and electronic health records — while useful — are part of the problem, Sanaz Cordes, a former physician, told a conference in Madison on Tuesday. Many doctors spend two to four hours a day clicking and documenting details about patient visits, Cordes said, cutting into time spent in actual patient care.

Cordes, chief operating officer at healthfinch, a Madison startup that automates prescription refills for physicians, was one of the speakers at a panel on health technology companies at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. The explosion in health tech is not a bubble, and will not end soon, the panel agreed.

Some health organizations are spending $2 billion to $3 billion to install electronic records systems like those developed by Verona-based Epic Systems Corp., whose digital files cover more than half the U.S. patient population, she said.

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MADISON - State auditor: WEDC did not conduct staff review of questionable $500,000 loan
State auditors confirmed Tuesday that Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship job-creation agency failed to conduct a financial review of a struggling business that received a $500,000 state loan that is now in default and has not been repaid.

Previously, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. said it couldn’t locate underwriting documents for the loan made to Milwaukee construction company Building Committee Inc. after top administration aides pressed for it.

A State Journal investigation last month found that top Walker aides, including Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, pushed for the loan after meeting with the now-defunct company’s owner, William Minahan, and high-powered lobbyist Eric Petersen about the project in 2011. Minahan had made a maximum $10,000 contribution to Walker’s 2010 campaign and Petersen represents several Walker donors.

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FAIRCHILD - Questions greet planned sand mine
At 1,300 pages, the reclamation plan for the proposed U.S. Silica mine is the most comprehensive of any plan submitted in Wisconsin, said Julie Sznewajs, spokeswoman for U.S. Silica, during an open house and informational hearing Tuesday night at Fairchild Elementary School.

But some of the 60 people attended, including the County Board’s Committee on Planning and Development, had questions.

The mine, now called Fairchild Silica, a subsidiary of U.S. Silica, which operates mines in multiple states, would be built about three-quarters of a mile west of the village of Fairchild. It would be in the town of Fairchild.

A couple of people asked what would happen if the company pulled out without completing the planned $7.7 million reclamation.

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GREEN BAY - Larsen Green to be redeveloped in phases
Last week, it was announced that DDL Holdings LLC had agreed to buy the remaining 15.5 acres of the Larsen Green property from On Broadway Inc. Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said the mixed-use redevelopment project would generate an estimated $30 million in new property value.

The agreement would give DDL Holdings control over key land north of its redevelopment efforts that include the Titletown Tap Room, already-occupied office space and the future home of The Cannery public market.

The announcement spurred a host of questions about DDL's plans for the site, how much public investment future projects would require, how the developers will help untangle past public financing issues and what, in general, happens next.

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VERONA - PGA Champions Tour to add tournament in Madison area
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.

The Champions Tour, featuring pro golfers that are 50 and older, will make its debut at University Ridge in Verona on June 22 to 26, 2016. An 81-player field, vying for a $2 million purse, will not include Stricker because he won’t qualify until Feb. 23, 2017.

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NEENAH - Menasha Corp. acquires Canadian company
The Menasha Corporation says the company has acquired Portable Packaging Systems, Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario.

Portable Packaging will operate as part of Menasha Packaging Canada L.P., a subsidiary of Menasha Corporation.

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PLOVER - Golden County Foods workers may be terminated, rehired
Golden County Foods will likely have to terminate all 432 full-time employees as part of an ongoing bankruptcy process, but most of those workers are expected to be immediately rehired by a new owner.

Golden County Foods, based in Plover, reached a preliminary agreement May 22 for the sale of its assets to Monogram Appetizers, according to a letter released Monday from Golden County Foods to the state Department of Workforce Development.

As a condition of the sale, Golden County Foods will be forced to terminate all of its full-time employees immediately before the closing of the sale, the letter says.

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GREEN BAY - CityDeck Landing open house aims to fill open units
The developers of CityDeck Landing said the luxury riverfront apartment complex is nearly 75 percent leased less than two weeks before the building's first tenants move in.

T. Wall Enterprises will host an open house from 4-7 p.m. Thursday in an attempt to fill the remaining apartments.

Tyler Warner, the company's development manager, said less than 20 of the building's 76 residential units might be available by the time the first residents move in June 15.

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MADISON - Rockhound Brewery slated for old Lane's Bakery site on South Park Street
Recently established Rockhound Brewing Company is planning to set up a brewpub this coming winter in the first-floor commercial space of a five-story apartment project on the corner of South Park and Drake streets.

Sitting on the corner that used to house Lane’s Bakery, it will offer beer made on-site alongside upscale comfort food, guest taps, local wines and specialty drinks.

Owner Nate Warnke has been a home brewer for more than 10 years and has been scouting locations for months, settling on the near west side location in part due to the potential of an untapped market and his familiarity of the neighborhood as a resident.

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SHEBOYGAN – Common Council votes down Armory landmarking attempt
The Sheboygan Common Council Monday night narrowly defeated an attempt to give the Sheboygan Armory historic landmark status.

The council voted 5-6 to deny a request to declare the 1940s auditorium a historic landmark, a status that would put limitations on what changes could be made to the building’s exterior. It would not, however, have barred demolition of the building should the city decide to take that route.

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OSHKOSH - Man accused of stealing $9,000 from employer to pay bills
A 29-year-old Oshkosh man faces criminal charges after authorities say he stole more than $9,100 from his employer to pay for personal rent and utility bills.

Kyle C. Burns was charged Wednesday, May 27, in Winnebago County Circuit Court with one felony count of theft from a business and three additional counts of misdemeanor theft.

According to the criminal complaint, Burns wrote four checks, totaling $9,130.05 since Jan. 23, on a business account for Accu-Tech Again Inc., 151 W. Fernau Ave., using the owner’s signature stamp to endorse the checks, and then manipulated business records to make it appear each check was for a legitimate expense.

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MADISON - Leaders of northern counties say WEDC provides little help
Dale Kupczyk, executive director of the Ashland Area Development Corporation, says his organization has to throw away applications from Gov. Scott Walker's job-creation agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Kupczyk says WEDC assistance is not of much value to his community. One problem is that companies courting state incentives often require access to a four-lane highway. But Highway 2, which runs through Ashland County, has only two lanes.

He and other critics also say the agency’s tax credit programs don’t work because companies in his region are so small that the application process is not worth the effort.

Officials in other northern Wisconsin counties, saddled with high unemployment rates and poverty levels, have similar tales of being ineligible for economic development programs offered by WEDC, a public-private agency created in 2011 by Walker.

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