MADISON - Republicans move to restructure WEDC
Republican lawmakers on the Legislature's finance committee moved Thursday to restructure Gov. Scott Walker's struggling job creation agency, approving a plan to remove the governor as chairman, dramatically reduce the agency's reserves and eliminate a program that would fund regional loans.

The move immediately drew praise from the committee's minority Democrats. They declared that Republicans want to "fire" their own governor from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and demanded the GOP get even tougher on the agency.

Republicans countered that Walker proposed removing all elected officials from the board in the state budget he introduced in February. They said he wants to depoliticize the agency and called on Democrats to dial back the rhetoric.

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MADISON - Walker misses jobs campaign promise by about 121,000 jobs
Gov. Scott Walker made it only about halfway toward fulfilling his signature 2010 campaign promise — repeated in the 2012 recall — that 250,000 private-sector jobs would be created over four years under his leadership.

New figures released by the Republican’s office on Thursday show about 35,700 private-sector jobs were created in Wisconsin in 2014. Taken together with the previous three years, about 129,000 private-sector jobs were added during Walker’s term, or just over half what was promised.

Walker has said that meeting the 250,000 mark is still a goal in his second term, but he points to other figures to argue that he’s turned around the state’s economy. The figures released Thursday also show Wisconsin’s unemployment rate hit a new pre-recession low of 4.4 percent.

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MILWAUKEE - Alderman killed in crash
A Milwaukee alderman was killed in a motorcycle crash overnight.

Joe Dudzik, 56, representative for the city's 11th District, crashed his cycle near 75th and Morgan on the city's southwest side in a construction zone.

The crash occurred around 11:25 p.m. Thursday night.

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BEAVER DAM - Northwoods Paper adding 85,000 square feet to plant
Northwoods Paper Converting is getting an 85,000-square-foot expansion this year to the Beaver Dam plant as the company continues to grow on the East Coast as well.

According to company president Chad Abel, in the last three years the company has doubled in size prompting economic growth at its Pennsylvania plant — located in East Stroudsburg — and an expansion to the Beaver Dam plant on 230 Corporate Drive by the end of this year.

Currently the Beaver Dam plant is 155,000 square feet, with six production lines and 110 employees. Abel said the expansion will primarily act as warehouse space and he expects some new positions will open as some employees will transition to the new area.

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FITCHBURG – Madison suburb moving to expand bus service within community
Increased bus service within Fitchburg could be coming next year as the city mulls long-term solutions to transit issues.

Mayor Steve Arnold said he plans to budget more than $100,000 this fall to bring more Metro Transit routes to Fitchburg. Fitchburg currently contracts with Metro Transit to provide service.

Metro’s existing routes are concentrated along the Verona Road and Fish Hatchery Road corridors. Arnold wants to start by running two additional buses – one in each direction – four times a day through central Fitchburg, to the city campus off Lacy Road, and to Metro’s south and west transfer points during non-peak hours.

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MIDDLETON - Spectrum Brands completes purchase of Armored AutoGroup
Spectrum Brands Holdings said Thursday it has finalized the acquisition of Armored AutoGroup for $1.4 billion in cash and assumed debt.

The transaction gives the Middleton consumer products company brands that include STP motor oil and ArmorAll car protectant.

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MADISON - Two Madison companies land investments
Two Madison companies have brought in sizable investments.

NeuWave Medical has raised $25.3 million, according to papers filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Leading the investment round was Versant Ventures, of San Francisco, NeuWave CEO Dan Sullivan said. Past investors also participated, including Venture Investors, Madison, and H.I.G. Capital, Miami, he said.

Fetch Rewards, meanwhile, has raised $6.5 million. The Madison company, founded in 2013, has a free app that lets shoppers scan groceries as they put items into their cart, automatically applying any discount and issuing loyalty rewards.

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MIDDLETON - American Girl adds stores
American Girl is opening several stores this summer — including its first shops in Mexico — and has closed a temporary store that opened in Hawaii last year.

Meanwhile, the Middleton doll, book and accessories company is changing the name of its contemporary doll line and pairing it with new features.

American Girl’s Nashville area store will open on May 30 at CoolSprings Galleria in Franklin, Tennessee — the first of two U.S. stores set to debut this year. The second is expected to open in August in Scottsdale, Arizona, and will bring to 20 the number of U.S. stores. American Girl also has two stores in Canada.

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GREEN BAY - Baylake Corp. extends share buyback plan
Baylake Corp. directors extended the company's stock repurchase program, allowing for up to an additional 400,000 shares to be acquired.

The repurchase period was extended to May 30, 2016. It raises the overall repurchase amount to 1.2 million shares. Since the beginning of the program in 2013, 580,000 shares have been reacquired. Acquisitions are made at prevailing market prices or privately negotiated deals.

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GREEN BAY - County OKs up to $1 million for new Resch scoreboard
It took more than an hour of debate, but Brown County lawmakers voted Wednesday to spend up to $1 million to put a new video scoreboard in the Resch Center and ensure that the building remains home to men's college basketball.

The Resch, in Ashwaubenon, will get a new main scoreboard, two new auxiliary scoreboards and an upgraded control room as a result of the 23-3 vote late Wednesday night. Backers of a proposal to buy new equipment said it was needed to keep the facility viable as a sports facility.

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GREEN BAY - Hinterland rolls out cans of Packerland Pilsner
Hinterland Brewing is rolling out Packerland Pilsner in cans.

It's the company's first time packaging one of its beers in a 12-ounce can format, though "White Cap," a session IPA, has been sold in 16-ounce cans.

It's been a busy week for Hinterland, which also installed a 60-barrel fermenter earlier in the week, in part due to the popularity of its Packerland Pilsner that was re-introduced last fall.

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JANESVILLE - Environmental report supports SHINE's plan to build radioisotope plant
A draft environmental impact statement by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tentatively supports SHINE Medical Technologies’ plan to build a plant in Janesville to produce a critical medical isotope.

In the 417-page document, NRC staff recommends issuing a construction permit to SHINE — “unless safety issues mandate otherwise.” A safety review is still underway.

SHINE, of Monona, plans to make molybdenum-99, which decays to form technetium-99m, used in tens of thousands of medical imaging procedures every day. SHINE hopes to get its construction permit in 2016 and start commercial production of molybdenum-99 in 2018, with plans to provide more than one-fourth of the world’s supply of the isotope, the company said.

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BELOIT - NorthStar launches in Beloit
Just short of a year after breaking ground, phase one of the NorthStar Radioisotope Beloit facility has been completed.

On Tuesday media and other representatives got a look at the first development on the 32-acre site in the Gateway Business Park. The building features corporate offices, a call center and assembly line at 1800 Gateway Blvd.

The company is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to produce medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). If approved, it will be the first company in the United States to produce the radioisotope — a critical part of diagnosing cancer and heart disease in patients.

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MADISON - Walker dumps budget proposal that would have exempted WEDC records
Gov. Scott Walker’s office said Wednesday the Legislature’s budget committee should drop two new exemptions to the state’s open records law for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The troubled job-creation agency is scheduled to be discussed Thursday by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau prepared a memo for the committee suggesting the records exemptions could be wide-ranging.

But Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick told the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday that the exemptions were part of the governor’s proposed merger of WEDC and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and were intended to be scrapped along with the merger proposal.

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MADISON - MGE unveils new renewable projects as foes protest its use of coal
Madison Gas & Electric has drawn flak in the past year for a big jump in its fixed monthly electric rate and, recently, for its dependence on coal as a fuel source.

But in spite of the controversies, the 1,800 shareholders who gathered Tuesday for the Madison utility company’s annual luncheon meeting seemed a happy bunch.

In a question-and-answer session, MGE chairman and CEO Gary Wolter said that throughout the Midwest, about 70 percent of energy produced is from coal. He said MGE has switched its Blount Street power plant in downtown Madison from coal to natural gas and has worked to reduce pollution from the coal plants.

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