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MMAC’s economic indicators show mixed results; Koss hires Baker Tilly to replace Grant Thornton as auditor; MBBI names new board of directors; M&I Institutional Trust Services named best-in-class by PLANSPONSOR

MMAC’s economic indicators show mixed results

Five of 20 indicators of business activity in southeastern Wisconsin registered improvement in November, according to a monthly report by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

November’s five improvements match the number of upward pointing indicators posted in October (after revision).

“The number of upward pointing indicators in the local economy has inched forward in 2009’s second half,” said Bret Mayborne, economic research director for the MMAC. “But the metro area’s overall economic performance is unlikely to post significant gains until the metro area’s employment situation improves.”

Some of the key indicators included:

  • Metro Milwaukee’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate averaged 8.4 percent in November, a 3.1-percent increase over one year ago. November’s year-over-year increase is the smallest posted since January 2009. Milwaukee’s unemployment rate for November ranks lower than the 9.4 percent rate recorded nationally, but registered higher than Wisconsin’s 7.8 percent rate.
  • Employment in the metro area declined at a 5.9-percent rate in November vs. year-ago levels, slightly smaller than the 6-percent fall recorded in October. Job levels averaged 801,000 in November, a loss of 50,500 jobs over the past 12 months.
  • New unemployment compensation claims in the metro area fell for the first time in 21 months, down 4.5 percent from one year ago to 8,424.
  • The educational and health services sector (up 0.8 percent) was the only major industry sector to post year-over-year employment gains in the region. Among sectors with job losses, the heaviest percentage decline was posted in the professional and business service sector, down 12.7 percent from year-ago levels.
  • Passenger usage at Mitchell International Airport hit a record total of 725,048 people in November, 38-percent higher than a year ago.
  • Local housing and real estate indicators showed improvement in November. Metro area existing home sales rose for the eighth consecutive month, up 186.5 percent in November to 1,894. Mortgages recorded in Milwaukee County rose 13.5 percent to 2,444, following October’s 2.2-percent increase.
  • New car registrations fell 3.7 percent.
  • The value of signed construction contracts, as reported by F.W. Dodge for October, was $78.8 million, down 51.8 percent from October 2008.

Koss hires Baker Tilly to replace Grant Thornton as auditor

Milwaukee-based Koss Corp. has appointed Baker Tilly Virchow Krause as its new independent auditor.

Baker Tilly replaces Grant Thornton LLP, which was dismissed by Koss on New Year’s Eve.

The change was recommended by Koss Corp.’s audit committee and board of directors.

Koss Corp. is conducting an internal investigation of unauthorized financial transactions by Sujata Sachdeva, the company’s former vice president of finance and secretary, during fiscal years 2005 through the present. Koss estimates that the company may have incurred more than $31 million in damages from alleged embezzlements.

Baker Tilly will audit the restatements of Koss Corp.’s financial statements for the applicable periods.

Baker Tilly is a member of Baker Tilly International, the world’s eighth-largest accounting and business advisory network by combined fee income of its independent members.

MBBI names new board of directors

The Midwest Business Brokers & Intermediaries Wisconsin Chapter has appointed its new Wisconsin board of directors. MBBI is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting professional and ethical excellence in the business broker and intermediary community.

Serving on the MBBI Wisconsin Chapter Board are:

  • President – Scott Bushkie, CBI, M&AMI, President / CEO, Cornerstone Business Services, Green Bay
  • Executive Vice President – Tom Kintis, President, CGK Investment Banking, Waukesha
  • Secretary / Treasurer – Bill Hucovski, Owner, William D. Hucovski, CPA, Milwaukee
  • Chair of Promotions – Ed Krajcir, Broker-Owner, Sunbelt Business Brokers, Brookfield
  • Co-Chair of Events – Steve Peterson, Managing Director & Co-founder of Brass Ring Capital, Milwaukee
  • Co-Chair of Events – John Kielich, CPA, CVA, Managing Director, Kolb+Co. Corporate Finance, Brookfield
  • Chair of Sponsorships – Larry Berning, Business Development Officer SBA Lending, Wells Fargo, Milwaukee
  • Chair of Social Events – Chad Richter, Attorney, O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong S.C., Milwaukee
  • Chair of Continuing Education Credits – Russ Plewa, CPA, Vice President, M&I Bank, Milwaukee

“It is great to see the dedication of our members in their willingness to take on leadership roles within the organization as we develop the Wisconsin chapter,” Bushkie said. “I am confident this board can take the Wisconsin Chapter to a new level and their active participation helps make MBBI a dynamic and valuable organization for those involved in aspects of mergers and acquisitions in Wisconsin.”  

M&I Institutional Trust Services named best-in-class by PLANSPONSOR

M&I Institutional Trust Services (M&I) has been ranked the best-in-class provider, based on the results of the 2009 Defined Contribution Survey conducted by PLANSPONSOR magazine, for the third year in a row.

M&I also received the highest overall ranking for participant and plan sponsor services in the micro, small, and mid-market market segments (companies with retirement plan assets ranging from less than $5 million to over $200 million) based on the results of the national client survey.

“We are once again honored to receive this recognition,” said James D. (Jamie) Cahn, managing director of M&I Institutional Trust Services. “No one can deny that the markets have been extremely challenging throughout the past year. Despite these factors, M&I continues to maintain strong client relationships and, for the eighth consecutive year, has achieved top ratings for client satisfaction.”

For more information on M&I’s 2009 Defined Contribution Survey results, please visit and for M&I’s 2002-2008 results, see


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