MADISON - Cellular Dynamics being acquired by Japanese company for $307 million
Madison-based stem cell company Cellular Dynamics International Inc. is being acquired by Tokyo-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp., the companies announced in a news release.

The deal was described as "an all-cash tender offer to be followed by a second step merger," with Fujifilm buying all shares of CDI stock for $16.50 per share, valuing the deal at about $307 million.

When the deal is completed, CDI will continue to run its operations in Madison and Novato, California as a consolidated subsidiary of Fujifilm. CDI had 155 employees at the end of 2014.

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APPLETON - State wage law cost taxpayers $200 million, study says
Inflated pay rates mandated on government projects cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than $200 million last year, according to a study released today by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

The group examined the state's prevailing wages laws, which establish minimum wages and benefits for workers on large public projects. It found state and local governments would have saved $200 million to $300 million in 2014 by paying market-based wages rather than prevailing wages and benefit rates, according to an analysis of 1,500 building and heavy construction projects totaling $2.2 billion.

A lawmaker working to repeal the law said the study is proof that action needs to come this session of the Legislature. Contractor groups said the study's methodology is flawed and eliminating the prevailing wages would hurt quality and lower wages. An industry group that supports repealing the law paid for the study.

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MADISON - Gogebic Taconite officially drops mine plans
A company that was looking to open a huge iron mine in northern Wisconsin has officially withdrawn its plans, the state Department of Natural Resources says.

Gogebic Taconite was considering digging a 4½-mile-long mine in the Penokee Hills just south of Lake Superior but announced last month it was closing its office in Hurley and future investment in the project wasn't feasible.

DNR officials announced Friday the company has withdrawn its pre-application notice.

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ALTOONA - Housing development going up where golf course once stood
A former 18-hole course — located along U.S. 12 just east of Eau Claire — is being converted into a housing development called Hillcrest Greens with a variety of options for everyone from young families to senior citizens.

Rooney Properties bought the land for $1 million in 2012 after the bank foreclosed on the golf course.

The 178-acre site will be developed in at least two phases. The first phase is under way and includes 90 single-family lots.

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MADISON - School District has big renovation plans if voters give OK to April 7 referendum
The Madison School District and board members are proposing to voters on April 7 a $41 million referendum that would expand or renovate 16 of the district’s buildings.

It’s the 13th referendum proposal posed to Madison voters in the last 20 years and would be the 10th to pass if voters oblige, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

If approved, the referendum would raise property taxes about $62 on the average $237,678 Madison home for 10 years. The district is still paying off $30 million in referendum debt for the construction of Olson and Chavez elementary schools in the late 2000s, according to the district. The final payment, for the Olson project, is due in 2026.

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WHITEWATER - A child's love for LEGOs sparks the start of a toy-tech company
Sometimes, the eyes of a child can envision possibilities adults might otherwise miss.

At least, that’s the case with 7-year-old Will Brandon, of Whitewater. Will loves his LEGO toys. Will also loves vehicles that move. His idea: to combine the two and create your own LEGO vehicles that can be driven around by remote control, making them “come alive.”

That simple wish from a child became the basis for a company, Meeper Technology, now with three full-time employees and three interns, and $250,000 in funding. It is also filling more than 200 orders for its meeperBOTs in a new maker space in Whitewater.

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MADISON - Badger Coulee transmission line wins PSC approval
The Badger Coulee high-voltage transmission line will be built, and it will follow a route from a substation near Holmen, north of La Crosse, to the Madison area, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) decided in a unanimous preliminary vote Thursday.

The 345-kilovolt line will keep the electricity supply reliable and sufficient, and will bring economic benefits to the region, agreed the three-member panel, all appointees of Gov. Scott Walker.

The 180-mile project, proposed by Pewaukee-based American Transmission Co. (ATC) and Xcel Energy, will cost an estimated $580 million. Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and the line is scheduled to go into service in 2018.

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LA CROSSE - Coulee Region officials lambaste PSC; groups threaten appeal
The “shocked” chairman of the town of Holland castigated the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s approval of a high-voltage power line route through his municipality Thursday as an “insult” that will inflict an “eyesore” on the community.

Even those who are happy that the line won’t go through their backyards tempered their joy with sympathy for Holland and insistence that the line isn’t necessary.

And members of the Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands said they may file a rehearing petition with the PSC and/or a petition for a circuit court judicial review challenging the legality of the decision.

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MADISON - UW-Madison vaccine protects monkeys from Ebola
An Ebola vaccine developed at UW-Madison is effective in monkeys and could join four other Ebola vaccines now in human trials, the university said Thursday.

The vaccine was created in the lab of campus virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka. It protected monkeys from Ebola virus infection in experiments conducted at a high-level containment facility in Montana, Kawaoka reported in the journal Science.

The vaccine uses a strain of Ebola that is safe because it is missing a key protein, university officials said. It can grow only in special animal cells engineered to contain the protein, they said.

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MADISON - Amid oil glut, frac sand mining layoffs to hit Wisconsin
As crude oil prices were dropping earlier this year, frac sand companies in Wisconsin maintained the glut of oil on the market would have little impact on their business.

But the jobs cuts are already starting, with a Chippewa Falls-based sand hauler this week announcing it was laying off 55 hourly workers beginning in May.

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GREEN BAY - KI Center expansion puts Green Bay in state’s top five
At 45,290 square feet, the KI Convention Center only ranks ninth among Wisconsin's convention centers.

The expansion now under construction would push it to fifth in the state, closer to where community officials and city leaders say Green Bay should be.

The 34,233-square-foot expansion will give the convention center almost 80,000 square feet of meeting and event space, just behind the 85,000 square feet at Madison's Monona Terrace.

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APPLETON - Downtown Appleton maps new course
Downtown Appleton is no longer "Downtown Cool." It's "One Great Place."

The downtown's new slogan and logo will pop up on College Avenue starting in May. The logo is shaped like a locator pin found on a Google map or online navigator.

Appleton Downtown Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group, introduced the new branding Thursday night at its annual awards celebration at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.

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MADISON – Cross says he'll resign if budget cuts, loss of shared governance maintained by Legislature
In early January, University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross wrote to UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone that the coming fight over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to slash System funding and spin it off from state control — then known only to the highest-level UW officials and some high-ranking lawmakers — would be bruising but necessary.

Wednesday, the early warning proved prophetic. Cross, facing withering criticism, told a UW-Milwaukee gathering of employees and students that he’d resign if he can’t substantially reduce the $300 million cut and preserve cherished employee protections including shared governance, tenure and academic freedom.

He said that while he promised to quit if things didn’t go well, he doesn’t plan on going away because he believes the Legislature and Walker are committed to reducing the cut. He also thinks tenure, shared governance and other provisions cherished by System employees will survive.

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DODGEVILLE - Lands' End recalls children's pajamas
Lands’ End is recalling 25 styles of children’s pajamas, sold online and through its catalogs for the past year, because the clothing does not meet federal flammability standards.

The Dodgeville company also reported lower profits for the fourth quarter and for the full fiscal year, and said the recall accounted for part of the drop.

Lands’ End said no injuries have been reported in connection with the sleepwear, which was sold from January 2014 through February 2015. The company said it is voluntarily recalling the clothing in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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BELLEVUE - DeLeers Architectural Millwork gets new owners
Tom Lisle, Jay Tomcheck and Steve Krueger, principals of DLM Holdings LLC, acquired DeLeers Architectural Millwork Inc., 1735 Sal St., Bellevue.

Lisle is chairman of DLM and Tomcheck president. Phil DeLeers is executive vice president of sales and development.

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