MADISON - State faces $2.2 billion deficit heading into 2015-17 budget cycle
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is projecting a $2.2 billion deficit heading into the 2015-17 budget cycle.

That’s a sizable hole for Walker, who is contemplating a 2016 presidential run, to climb out of as he crafts his budget proposal due out early next year. Achieving a balanced budget will require scaling back program requests, especially if he wants to cut taxes further.

The deficit reflects how much departmental budget requests exceed projected revenues. It is included in a summary of biennial budget requests provided by the Department of Administration to Walker as he prepares an executive biennial budget for release in early 2015.

State agencies have asked to spend $37.2 billion in 2015-16, or 6.1 percent more than the current year, and $38.4 billion in 2016-17, or a 3.3 percent increase over the first year of the biennium.

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FOND DU LAC - Grande Cheese begins work on new home office
Construction is underway on Grande Cheese Company’s new home office and research center in Fond du Lac.

Grande Cheese Company maintains processing, aging and distribution facilities in seven locations throughout Wisconsin. Grande markets and sells its trademark cheese products through a distribution network serving independent pizzerias and Italian casual dining restaurants nationally. Grande’s whey products are marketed and sold domestically and internationally.

Several years ago Grande purchased 40 acres of land west of the Fond du Lac Surgery Center and announced its plans to replace its home office in Lomira. Its new corporate campus, located on Camelot Drive off the U.S. 151 bypass, will be developed in three phases.

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MIDDLETON - Spectrum Brands' profits rise
Spectrum Brands said sales increased in every category except pet products during the three months that ended Sept. 30.

The Middleton-based company had profits of $47.9 million, or 90 cents a share, on revenues of $1.18 billion in its fourth fiscal quarter compared with a net loss of $36.7 million, or 70 cents a share, on $1.14 billion in sales for the same period last year.

For the full fiscal year, Spectrum Brands earned $214.1 million, or $4.02 a share, on $4.43 billion in revenues compared with a net loss of $55.2 million, or $1.06 a share, on sales of $4.09 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.

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MADISON - T. Wall eyes apartment project on the 700 block of East Mifflin
Another big apartment building is in the works east of the Capitol Square, this one from T. Wall Enterprises for the Reynolds construction crane storage lot at 710 E. Mifflin St.

The developer is proposing 185 market rate units with about 200 underground parking spaces. Plans call for a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units with the potential of three-bedroom units if there is sufficient demand, according to District 2 Ald. Ledell Zellers.

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GREEN BAY - Metreau Apartments construction resumes next month
Construction of the Metreau Apartments is scheduled to resume Dec. 15.

Groundbreaking for the 107-unit building was held in May, then not much appeared to happen for months. Work was delayed by a variety of issues not uncommon with development projects, including the need to move an unrecorded fiber optic line on the property and more recently a shortage of available contractors.

All of that has been worked out, according to developer Dermond Property Investments of Milwaukee.

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Neenah, Oshkosh among top cities for hospitality jobs
Neenah and Oshkosh are among the top 10 cities in the U.S. for jobs in the hospitality industry, according to Talent Tribune, a data-driven human resources blog.

Using the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Talent Tribune listed the cities with the highest percent growth in leisure and hospitality jobs from August 2013 to August 2014.

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SUPERIOR - Neighbors' concerns may kill housing proposal
The developer of a new 50-unit senior housing complex under construction is floating the idea of another development in Superior.

This time, the 30- to 36-unit multi-family homes proposed would be constructed to house working families.

The proposed site for the new units would be in the 5200-5300 blocks of Hammond Avenue on city-owned land in South Superior.

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RHINELANDER - Petco to buy Drs. Foster & Smith
National pet-supply retail chain Petco has entered into an agreement to acquire Drs. Foster & Smith, a Rhinelander-based online pet store founded by three Northwoods veterinarians, Petco announced Wednesday.

Drs. Foster & Smith specializes in pet care and education and is known for its scope of veterinary expertise on prescription medications and products for dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, horses, pond life and small animals. The company employs 500 people at its Rhinelander operation, said David Hallisey, communications director.

Hallisey said he does not expect the acquisition to affect either company's job numbers.

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MADISON - UW-Madison deans say Morgridges’ $100 million gift is a ‘game changer’
The donation of $100 million to support development of UW-Madison faculty was big, blazon-it-on-the-Camp-Randall-scoreboard news. But its long-term impact will be even bigger, say University of Wisconsin-Madison deans.

UW-Madison officials on Friday announced the gift from alumni John and Tashia Morgridge, the largest single contribution from individual donors in the history of the institution. It will be used to match donations for endowed professorships, chairs and distinguished chairs in an effort to recruit and retain a world-class faculty.

The contribution is the lead gift of the university’s comprehensive campaign, which is currently in the planning phase. An official announcement of the campaign of ramped-up fundraising that Blank has been alluding to since shortly after her arrival on campus is anticipated in 2015 or 2016.

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MADISON - Businesses on edge after pair of State Street robberies
A pair of armed robberies targeting State Street stores has merchants concerned and police trying to figure out if the crimes are related.

The first robbery happened around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, when a man with a gun robbed Madison Modern Market, a home store at 310 State St.,  according to police.

The second was just before 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Life Is Good, a clothing and accessories shop at 514 State St., and also involved a man armed with a handgun, police said.

No one was hurt in either robbery, authorities said, but cash was taken from both stores.

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OSHKOSH - Pharmacy owner fined $350,000 for role in drug scam
An Oshkosh pharmacy owner was fined $350,000 for his role in a conspiracy to illegally sell prescription drugs, but avoided prison time under a sentencing agreement approved by a federal judge Tuesday.

Schultz Pharmacy owner Charles G. Schultz, 83, accepted responsibility for his role in the conspiracy and said the entire incident has been a nightmare for pharmacy employees and his family.

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EAU CLAIRE - City to buy more West Bank property for redevelopment
Eau Claire’s Redevelopment Authority plans to buy four properties next year in the West Bank Redevelopment District.

On Wednesday morning, the RDA ordered an appraisal for a warehouse and vacant lot on the 1700 block of Oxford Avenue. Online city land records show the properties are owned by Joseph and Mary Knickerbocker of Eau Claire.

The RDA plans to buy the Knickerbocker properties in 2015 and two others on Oxford Street: a large brick building used by Silvermine Stone Co. and Surface Designs, and a neighboring empty lot.

That would leave just two properties in the district — Hill’s Tax Service and a large office building owned by Cigan Properties — that the RDA hopes to acquire in future years.

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SHEBOYGAN - Boston Store building demolition could start next week
The Common Council approved a bid to demolish the former Boston Store building on Monday.

While the item was expected to lie over until the next council meeting, Common Council President Don Hammond said they wanted a quick approval in hopes that the company could start work in the next few weeks.

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MADISON - Four groups in the running for massive Hill Farms development project
Four development groups are in the running to buy and replace the home of the state Department of Transportation, a huge project that would become the largest state-owned office building in Wisconsin.

The state Department of Administration released the names of the developers Tuesday.

They are:

• McCaffery Interests (based in Chicago), Antunovich Associates, Plunkett Raysich Architects, Vandewalle & Associates, Ken Saiki Design, CG Schmidt, W.E. O’Neil Construction Co.
• Mortenson (based in Minneapolis), Wangard, EUA
• C.D. Smith (based in Fond du Lac), Gilbane, HGA, SmithGroup JJR
• T. Wall Enterprises LLC (of Middleton), Potter Lawson Architects, Miron Construction Co.

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MADISON – NerdWallet ranks Madison No. 2 of all U.S. cities for young entrepreneurs
Madison is the second-best city in the nation -- behind only Arlington, Virginia -- for young entrepreneurs to make their mark, according to NerdWallet.

The financial advice website says it looked at factors such as access to small-business loans; networking and mentorship; the local economy; and affordability.

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