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BizTracker: Manufacturing sector improves slightly in July
July 31, 2015 11:16 AM
A key measure of Milwaukee-area manufacturing activity indicated a slight improvement in July, although it continued to be in negative territory for the fourth straight month.

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

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OSHA cites Milwaukee manufacturer with 19 safety violations following employee death
July 31, 2015 10:20 AM
A federal agency on Thursday cited Milwaukee manufacturer D.R. Diedrich & Co. with one willful and 18 serious safety violations following an employee’s death in February.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed penalties of $169,495 to the leather manufacturer. D.R. Diedrich has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The citations stem from the Feb. 1, 2015 incident in which a 59-year-old maintenance worker was crushed and killed by a 1,500-pound steel roller.

OSHA said D.R. Diedrich failed to use proper safety guards that would have stopped the roller on a tanning machine from moving during service and maintenance. The man, who was inspecting the machine’s bearing, suffered fatal head and neck injuries. He was a 13-year employee.

The manufacturer was cited with one willful violation because it “failed to prevent unintentional operation of machines during service and maintenance.”

“Too often, we cite companies that ignore machine hazards in the hope that a tragic death like this one can be avoided,” said Christine Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “Machine hazards are among the most frequently cited by OSHA. Manufacturer-installed guards and industry-standard locking devices protect workers from operating machinery. Yet, each year thousands of workers are injured or killed because employers ignore machine hazards and do not train workers on safety procedures.”

Inspectors noted 19 serious safety violations at the Milwaukee facility, including:

-Lack of machine guards.
-Not training workers on machine safety procedures or evaluating procedures annually.
-Absence of electrical safety work practices, including exposing workers to energized parts, and failing to provide barriers and protective clothing to prevent workers from contacting live electrical parts and improper wiring.
-Failing to install standard railings to guard against falls of up to five feet from platforms and floor openings.
-Modifying forklifts without manufacturer permission.
-Annual audiograms for workers exposed to an average of 85 decibels annually were delinquent.
-Not evaluating and providing training for confined space hazards, such as chrome tanks.
-Failing to comply with respiratory protection requirements.

D.R. Diedrich is a manufacturer of tanned leather for use in the automotive, furniture and shoe industries. The company has about 130 employees.

The president of the company was not available to give a comment.

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Lipscomb to chair Milwaukee County Board
July 31, 2015 11:46 AM
Milwaukee County Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb Sr. has been elected chairman of the Milwaukee County Board.

Lipscomb fills the spot vacated by Marina Dimitrijevic, who has stepped down from her role as board chair to serve as executive director of the new Wisconsin chapter of progressive political organization the Working Families Party. He thanked Dimitrijevic for her efforts, saying she did an “extraordinary job of leading the board through tumultuous times.”

“I am humbled to be elected as board chairman, and I appreciate the support I received from a cross-section of supervisors who represent different areas of this community and various political persuasions,” Lipscomb said. “There is no question that the County Board has been through difficult times. But together, as a united body, we remain a strong policy-making body that can continue to improve Milwaukee County.”

Among the items on Lipscomb’s agenda are improving the quality of life in Milwaukee County through avenues including parks and transit.

“The Board sets policy, and policy should be aimed at making life better for the people of Milwaukee County,” he said. “I look forward to working with all Board members to accomplish that goal.”

Lipscomb was elected as First District supervisor in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012. His district includes Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills and part of Milwaukee’s northeast side. He was recently the co-chair of the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee.

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Mayfair Collection adds discount J. Crew store
July 31, 2015 11:26 AM
HSA Commercial Real Estate has announced its latest addition to The Mayfair Collection in Wauwatosa: a discount J. Crew store called J. Crew Mercantile.

The store is just the second opened under J. Crew Group Inc.’s new Mercantile model. The first was at a shopping center in Dallas that also has a Nordstrom Rack, the off-price Nordstrom store brand that has proven popular at The Mayfair Collection.

The J. Crew Mercantile store will be located between makeup retailer Ulta and Men’s Wearhouse as the shopping center completes its final phase. Phase 1 of The Mayfair Collection included 270,000 square feet of retail space anchored by Nordstrom Rack, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and opened in April 2014 on Burleigh Road just off Highway 45.

Construction on the Mercantile store will begin in August, and J. Crew expects it will open by year-end. J. Crew was represented by Dan Cohen of Mid-America Real Estate in cooperation with Nick Bruns of Open Realty Advisors.

“From the outset of this project, our strategy has always been to find best-in-class fashion brands that can attract customers throughout southeast Wisconsin,” said Tim Blum of HSA Commercial. “With this being J. Crew Mercantile’s second store in the country, we believe that we have further fulfilled that goal, and we are excited to have them as part of The Mayfair Collection.”

HSA Commercial broke ground on the second phase of the The Mayfair Collection in May. It will include a 45,150-square-foot Whole Foods store, a 140-room Hilton Homewood Suites hotel, a HomeGoods store and three Bartolotta restaurants, with a planned opening for Whole Foods early in 2016.

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Jason Industries reports loss on foreign currency translation
July 31, 2015 10:33 AM
Milwaukee-based Jason Industries Inc. today reported a second quarter net loss of $865,000, or 7 cents lost per share, compared with net income of $5.2 million, or $5,237 per share, for its predecessor company in the second quarter of 2014.

Jason Industries was formed when Milwaukee-based Jason Inc. merged with Quinpario Acquisition Corp. in June 2014, forming a global family of seating, finishing, components and automotive acoustics manufacturers. These quarterly results include $2.8 million in pre-tax restructuring, integration and transaction costs and $2.9 million in pre-tax share based compensation expense.

Operating income was $7.4 million, down from $9 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $187.6 million, down from $190.6 million in the second quarter of 2014. Revenue was impacted by $7.8 million in foreign currency translation. However, the recent acquisition of DRONCO added $3.5 million in revenue.

"We achieved solid performance in the second quarter, driven by volume strength and margin expansion in Acoustics and Components,” said David Westgate, chief executive officer. “Our focus on strong operational execution helped us overcome market softness in Seating and Finishing and continued foreign currency headwinds. We also successfully completed our strategic DRONCO acquisition, and our integration efforts are well underway."

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Modine profit falls on strong dollar, lower demand
July 31, 2015 09:52 AM
Racine-based thermal management systems and components manufacturer Modine Manufacturing Co. today reported fiscal 2016 first quarter net income of $5.5 million, or 11 cents per share, down from $14.1 million, or 28 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Operating income was $11.6 million in the quarter, down from $24.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $346.1 million, down from $392.5 million in the first quarter of 2014.

The company attributed the decline mostly to a $40 million negative foreign currency impact. Conditions in several key markets, including the Americas and Asia segments, also were unfavorable, Modine said.

“Although the business was challenged by weak demand in certain markets and unfavorable exchange rates, we delivered solid operating performance and continued to demonstrate excellent cost control,” said Thomas Burke, Modine president and chief executive officer. “Despite the expected, difficult year-over-year comparables in the first half of this year, we are on track to achieve our full-year earnings guidance.”

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Aurora awards $3.4 million for sexual assault, domestic violence programs
July 31, 2015 11:46 AM
Aurora Health Care today announced that it is awarding a total of $3.4 million in grants through its Better Together Fund to 23 community organizations, colleges and universities throughout eastern Wisconsin. The funds will be used to support the development and/or expansion of community-based sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and treatment programs.

Also as part of the Better Together Fund, Aurora awarded nearly two dozen federally qualified health centers and free clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin $6.6 million in April. Those funds are to help community-based providers improve access to primary care and behavioral health services.

The recipients of this latest grant are:
•    Advocates of Ozaukee County, Ozaukee County, $16,500 to further train crisis counselors, social workers and advocates to better assist the victims of domestic and sexual violence in Ozaukee County;
•    Association for the Prevention of Family Violence, Walworth County, $20,498 to expand domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy services for two at-risk populations that are currently being underserved in Walworth County – teens and elders;
•    Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, Brown County, $47,367 to add a crisis counselor to the organization and to provide additional counseling services to victims of sexual assault in Brown County;
•    Friends of Abused Families, Washington County, $25,000 to increase the capacity of the Transitional Living Program for victims of perpetrator violence;
•    HELP of Door County, Door County, $28,500 to expand the safe shelter program, allowing more families to stay in a safe shelter for extended periods of time;
•    Hmong American Women’s Association, Milwaukee County, $21,000 to support the Young Leaders Anti-Violence Program in increasing community awareness around gender-based violence;
•    Jewish Family Services, Milwaukee County, $48,325 to provide mental health and trauma-related counseling sessions to adults who are survivors of sexual assault and/or domestic violence;
•    Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan, Racine County, $17,200 to help operate and further expand sexual assault programming to help meet the growing needs of those in the county;
•    Marquette University, Milwaukee County, $209,429 to support the Creating a Safe Campus Environment program which works to prevent sexual violence and support survivors;
•    Meta House, Milwaukee County, $31,716 to provide much needed in-depth trauma services and advocacy;  
•    Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Milwaukee County, $20,455 to expand sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy services to the underserved population of LGBT-identified individuals in the Milwaukee area;
•    Near West Side Partners, Milwaukee County, $499,998 to staff the PARC – Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime – Initiative, which will help address sexual assault violence in the Near West Side neighborhood of Milwaukee;
•    Pathfinders, Milwaukee County, $30,000 to increase and improve sexual assault advocacy service delivery and capacity to underserved populations;
•    Reach Counseling, Winnebago County, $30,000 to expand support and services to victims of sex-trafficking;
•    Safe Harbor, Sheboygan County, $44,000 to increase capacity to serve victims of domestic and sexual abuse;
•    Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee County, $1.4 million to help with construction costs for the new facility and to provide a specially-trained sexual assault nurse and counselor on site at the facility for the next five years;  
•    University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Foundation, Brown County, $127,786 to develop  the Relationship and Sexual Violence Program, which will provide education around the topic of sexual violence;  
•    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, $255,000 to create a comprehensive approach to sexual violence on campus – increasing awareness of sexual violence, enhancing prevention and expanding bystander education;
•    University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha County, $407,750 to develop a collaboration between UW-Parkside, Carthage College, Gateway Technical College-Kenosha Campus, and Women and Children's Horizons, Inc., which will then create and provide a consistent, cohesive approach to sexual violence awareness and victim services;
•    Walworth County Alliance for Children, Walworth County, $34,000 to expand the Walworth County multi-jurisdictional sexual response unit;
•    Women and Children's Horizons, Kenosha County, $15,476 to support programs designed to assist victims of domestic and/or sexual violence in the county;
•    Women's Center - Waukesha County, $45,000 to support collaborative efforts with The Child Advocacy Center of Waukesha County and to help increase staff counseling capacity; and
•    Women's Resource Center of Racine, Racine County, $25,000 to support the expansion of emergency shelter services in the community.

“Aurora Health Care is proud to be working hand-in-hand with these dedicated community-based providers throughout eastern Wisconsin to help stem the tide of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Dr. Nick Turkal, chief executive officer of Aurora Health Care. “Aurora has never shied away from difficult conversations and community concerns. While we’ve been championing efforts to put an end to domestic and sexual violence for more than 25 years, we know that there is still much work to be done and that – together – we can make a tangible difference.”

The $3.4 million in grants to support sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and treatment programs are the final awards through Aurora Health Care’s Better Together Fund. In total, Aurora Health Care has provided $10 million in grants to help expand access to health care through community-based providers.

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Weekend preview
July 31, 2015 11:54 AM
Too busy working to plan your weekend?

Let OnMilwaukee.com’s Weekend Preview guide the way. OnMilwaukee is a media partner of BizTimes Media.

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Morning Headlines: Telemedicine grows in northeastern Wisconsin
July 31, 2015 10:52 AM
The situation quickly could have become tragic, if not for new technology that is playing an increasing role in medicine.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Nonprofit Weekly: Grammy winner to perform at Kenosha jazz festival
July 31, 2015 11:50 AM
The Mary Lou & Arthur F. Mahone Fund, of Kenosha, will bring nationally recognized jazz acts to Kenosha's lakefront on Aug. 15 to raise funds toward scholarships for college-bound high school graduates.

Read more in today’s Nonprofit Weekly.

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UWM to develop Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship with $10M gift
July 30, 2015 07:37 AM
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will create the Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship with a $10 million gift from Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, university chancellor Mark Mone announced on Thursday.

The center will act as a hub for UWM’s entrepreneurial programs, classes and initiatives for undergraduate and graduate students and will also cater to startup companies in southeastern Wisconsin.

The new center will be housed in a brand new building, to be constructed at the corner of E. Kenwood Boulevard and Maryland Avenue. The new facility will also have room for a new welcome center, where prospective students and UWM visitors will get their first impression of UWM’s campus.

About “20,000 footprints” come through on visits to UWM’s campus every year, according to Mone.

“They will get an eyeful of the entrepreneurial activities happening right there,” he said during a press conference on UWM’s campus Thursday morning.

The Lubar Center will serve entrepreneurs in all 14 of UWM’s schools and colleges and will allow for interdisciplinary and social entrepreneurship programs. The center will advance already existing entrepreneurial initiatives in the Lubar School of Business, the College of Engineering & Applied Science, and the School of Freshwater Sciences, among others, according to university officials.

Current entrepreneurial ventures on campus are rolling out in fragmented ways, Mone said.

The critical mass that can be achieved by having students work together will be “pivotal” and transformational for the school, he said, as the Lubar Center creates a sort of “nucleus” for entrepreneurs at every stage.

“This is a real win for students, faculty, staff and the community because this center embraces all, providing opportunities for participation,” Mone said in a statement. “For some, the goal will be bringing to market products and services. For others, it will be transforming lives in our region with social entrepreneurship.”

UWM is touting the new center as a community asset with resources available to entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. Mone believes it is the kind of asset needed to boost Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s statures in the broader startup community.

“As we add and work with other partners, we anticipate that this will have the galvanizing effect,” he said. “This will be truly one of the more promising activities and centers in the region.”

UWM plans to use the Lubars’ donation for both the development and operation of the center. Their $10 million will function as an endowment. UWM projects the building will cost $8 million, and the remaining $2 million will support operations. The university aims to invest a total of $25 million into the school by raising additional funds.

At the helm of the Lubar Center will be a director who will coordinate and manage center programming with UWM faculty members who already focus on entrepreneurship. Some of the courses offered within the Lubar Center will feature “ideas challenges” and will work to align entrepreneurship activities with classroom curriculum. Classes will be “interactive, team-oriented and project-based,” according to UWM.

The university will also welcome speakers to the center and will structure educational programming that enhances entrepreneurial learning and skill building.

UWM anticipates that the building will be operational by late 2017 or early 2018, Mone said, but will ramp up the center’s entrepreneurial programs before construction starts.

The Lubars’ recent $10 million gift follows another $10 million donation they made to the university in 2006 to endow professorships and student scholarships in the business school, known as the Lubar School of Business.

Sheldon argues that UWM is the “most important institution in the city” and acknowledges that some would make the case that “it’s the most important institution in the state.”

As an entrepreneur, himself, he is a top advocate for the next generation of entrepreneurs who can fuel job creation.

“If you can make someone an entrepreneur who will create jobs (and) who will give people the earning power to live a decent life, you’re going to create a more ideal community,” he said.

In addition to establishing Lubar & Co., Sheldon devoted his career to public service as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, and president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. He also co-founded and presided over the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

UWM plans to release more details of the new Lubar Center in the coming months.

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Common Council is last major hurdle for Bucks arena deal
July 30, 2015 10:43 AM
Now that the state Legislature has approved a public financing plan for a new arena in downtown Milwaukee, a few more steps need to be completed before shovels are in the ground.

The last major hurdle is approval by the Milwaukee Common Council. Contrary to some media reports, the Milwaukee County Board will have no say in the arena financing deal or the proposed Park East land sale to the Bucks owners for additional development that they plan to do around the arena.

The arena funding bill approved by the Legislature now goes to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. He says he will sign the bill. A time and place for the bill signing has yet to be announced.

The arena financing deal is subject to the approval of the Milwaukee Common Council. Alderman could begin debating the city’s portion of the deal in August and could vote on the matter in early September, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The city’s portion of the arena deal includes a $35 million parking structure and $12 million in tax incremental financing for public spaces including the live block public plaza next to the arena.

Also under the proposed arena funding deal with the city, the Bucks ownership would purchase the parking structure at Fourth Street and Highland Avenue and the former Sydney Hih building site from the city for $8 million, but the city would pay back that $8 million after the $12 million TIF debt is paid off from property taxes generated by the additional development the Bucks owners plan to do around the arena. That arrangement would provide an incentive for the Bucks owners to make good on their ancillary development plans, Barrett has said.

The arena financing deal is not subject to approval of the Milwaukee County Board. The county’s contribution for the arena project will come in the form of a $4 million annual reduction of state shared revenue funds for 20 years. That contribution is dictated by the bill approved by the Legislature. County Executive Chris Abele wanted the arena deal to include a provision that required the state to collect unpaid debts owed to Milwaukee County to cover that $4 million annual cost. The state Senate removed that provision, but county officials could still opt to request the state to collect the county’s debts.

The Bucks owners also want to acquire 10 acres in the Park East corridor from the county to build a mixed-use development district around the arena. The Bucks owners have offered to acquire the land “as is” for $1. After a yearlong RFP process no other developer has offered to pay a higher price for the land. The site is hamstrung by underground issues, including a storm sewer that needs to be relocated and concrete footings from the former Park East freeway that would need to be removed. It could cost nearly $10 million to rectify the underground issues on the Park East site, according to a county report.

The sale of the county’s Park East land also is not subject to County Board approval. Under a provision in the new state budget, Abele, who supports the land sale, only needs to gain support of either Milwaukee County Comptroller Scott Manske or a private citizen selected by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (a committee of the mayors and village presidents of the 19 municipalities of Milwaukee County) to approve the land sale to the Bucks owners (or to approve any sale of county land, other than parks).

The Park East land sale to the Bucks owners could be complete, “in the next few weeks,” said Teig Whaley-Smith, director of the Department of Administrative Services for Milwaukee County. The county executive’s office has been meeting with Manske on the land sale plans, Whaley-Smith said.

The Bucks are hoping to complete the arena funding and Park East land sale approval process to begin construction of the arena as early as October, Bucks president Peter Feigin said.

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Union and MCTS resume talks
July 30, 2015 11:33 AM
The Milwaukee County Transit System and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 today resumed talks on a new contract for the system’s bus drivers.

The two sides have been at odds for about a month on the matter. When talks stalled on June 30, MCTS drivers represented by ATU Local 998 stopped work for three days during one of the busiest weeks of the year for the bus system. The drivers resumed operation on July 4 without a contract resolution.

Today, the two sides hope to come to an agreement. According to MCTS spokesman Brendan Conway, the union is asking for $9 million more “than what MCTS can afford.”

The union has said MCTS is twisting the numbers, and the pay raises it refers to are already in the workers’ contracts. It has also expressed dissatisfaction with MCTS bringing in retired drivers as part-time operators to reduce overtime.

“MCTS has put $6.3 million in increased wages and benefits on the table in the next two budget years,” Conway said. “MCTS has agreed to cap the number of part-time drivers and is seeking pension changes that will make the transit pension plan stronger, and health care changes that help to control costs and keep monthly premiums affordable.“

MCTS said its total annual compensation and benefits cost per driver is between $81,878 and $94,060. If it concedes on the additional $9 million, MCTS says it would have to cut seven routes and 54 driver and mechanic positions.

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WaterStone Bank to open Fox Point branch
July 30, 2015 11:46 AM
Wauwatosa-based WaterStone Bank has announced it will open a new branch in Fox Point.

The branch, which will be located in an existing building at 8607 N. Port Washington Road, is expected to open in October. It will offer a drive-thru ATM and all other services offered at other branches.

This is WaterStone’s 11th branch. It also opened a branch in January in Brookfield and plans to open a new construction branch in Greenfield in September. Its other existing branches are in Wauwatosa, Franklin, Germantown, Oak Creek, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Waukesha and West Allis. It also has a commercial real estate loan production site in Minneapolis.

“This east side location is an excellent extension of our branch network,” said Doug Gordon, president and chief executive officer of WaterStone Bank. “We have numerous customers in proximity to this location and look forward to serving the community for all their banking needs.”

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Fiserv's Q2 earnings hit with debt charge
July 30, 2015 11:18 AM
Brookfield-based financial services technology provider Fiserv Inc. reported second quarter net income of $127 million, or 53 cents per share, down from $166 million, or 65 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2014.

Operating income was $326 million, up from $307 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $1.1 billion in the second quarter, flat from the second quarter of 2014.

The company took a loss on an early debt extinguishment of about $85 million during the quarter.

“We executed well in the quarter which led to solid financial results,” said Jeffery Yabuki, president and chief executive officer of Fiserv. “Our results for the first half of the year are in-line with our expectations, and reflect our commitment to delivering high-quality revenue growth, margin expansion and excellent free cash flow.

"We're pleased with our results through June, and fully expect to deliver on our full year financial expectations. We are executing well in our existing businesses and making strong progress with innovation based growth. When taken together, we believe this will contribute to further acceleration of our internal revenue growth in 2016 and beyond.”

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