From “Wisconsin’s economy in 2011” — Our Wisconsin economy focused heavily on jobs in 2011. Even before taking the oath of office to start the year, Scott Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs during his first four-year term.

“We’ve got to show that Wisconsin is indeed open for business,” said Walker.

Most of the jobs created throughout the year came from small businesses a few at a time. But some major companies in Northeast Wisconsin contributed to easing the unemployment line.

Oshkosh Corporation looked to add 750 jobs to help build new trucks for the military.

Ariens in Brillion witnessed business growth at the snowblower manufacturer, adding a $3.8 million addition to its plant and hiring some 300 employees to meet customer demand.

Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac held job fairs to add 150 new workers.

Many businesses rebounded from the down economy adding on to their operations.

The Green Bay Packers announced plans to expand Lambeau Field. Team officials expect that will create 1,600 construction jobs.

Schreiber Foods in downtown Green Bay purchased the shuttered downtown mall with plans to build its new headquarters with hundreds of construction jobs expected.

Fox Valley Technical College witnessing a resurgence in older laid off workers heading back to school announced plans for an $85-million expansion at the school that will lead to additional staff as well.


From “What I Do: Judy Shackelford-Alberts coordinates events at the Edgewater” — I create and coordinate events and promotions to promote The Edgewater Hotel. I’ve always worked in hotels or vacation sales at the front desk or sales office.

Prior to coming to here, I was general manager for a limited-service hotel and discovered after only eight months that I loathe the operations end of the business.

I got into hotel marketing by closing my eyes and pointing at a list of degrees offered at Madison Area Technical College while meeting with my high school counselor. I earned an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management from MATC.

My responsibilities include budgeting, negotiating, market analysis, public relations, event planning, promotion creation, advertising, marketing design and proposal writing.

I’m originally from Madison and have lived in Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The skills I use were taught to me over 30 years of working in hotels.

I once worked for a woman named Kimberly in a hotel in Minneapolis. She was the sales director and I was the senior sales manager. She was honest in her approach of expectations and suggestions on how I could do better. She set the standards I still use today, mostly to be honest and work with integrity – then your customers will stay with you for your career. She was right. People do business with people they know.

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From “City building retires” — 

After a full life of making luggage in its early years, later training workers and then providing exercise for Eau Claire’s adults and children, the time has come to retire.

At least that’s the plan for the building at 1300 First Ave.

Fond du Lac developers intend to turn Eau Claire’s former Parks and Recreation building into apartments for people 55 and older.

Most of the building will remain intact, but it will be remodeled as 21 apartments. A section of the building will be torn down and replaced with a four-story wing with another 10 apartments, but Commonwealth Development (not to be confused with Eau Claire-based Commonweal Development) told the city it plans to match the look of the rest of the brick building.

Across Oxford Street, an auxiliary parking lot the city is selling with the building is planned for six townhouses for senior citizens.

Commonwealth paid a $2,000 option to buy the property for $290,000, Eau Claire finance director Rebecca Noland stated in an email. That option expires April 30, but the company can extend it until the end of 2012 by paying an additional $4,000. That extension allows the developer to apply for income-based senior housing tax credits from the state.

Plans submitted by Commonwealth proposed closing the deal by the end of 2012. Blueprints will be done and construction completed in 2013 of the apartment buildings currently dubbed “Oxford Square.”

The project’s status for property taxes is indeterminate, but the developer has agreed to at least some form of annual payment to the city.

If it proves tax-exempt, Commonwealth agreed to still pay the city a dollar amount equal to the taxes on the $290,000 purchase price. Should it be subject to taxes, it would yield about $700 per unit.

Based on the building’s storied history, this would be the first time in about 70 years that the building will not be publically-owned.

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From “Appleton single mom says becoming self-sufficient ‘a Christmas miracle’ —  APPLETON — When Jennifer Zastrow moved to Appleton in 2005, her list of goals was daunting — get a degree, find work, pay for a home, raise her kids.

But six years later, the single mother of three has a degree in interior design from Fox Valley Technical College, two jobs, a home in Appleton and the added perk of a $15,108.97 check to pay for a new car.

“It’s like a Christmas miracle that I got this far,” she said.

Zastrow, 34, was one of two women who graduated from the Appleton Housing Authority’s Family Self Sufficiency Program last week. The program helps low-income families that are receiving Section 8 rental assistance to meet career and life goals over roughly five years, and sets up a savings account for them along the way.

Most of the participants are single moms, said Rebecca Salzman, who was the program mentor for Zastrow and May Sue Lee, the two graduates.

Zastrow joined the program in 2005 after she moved to Appleton from Shawano. During her first year in the program, she met with Salzman every month.

As time went on, they didn’t have to meet as frequently but would still have coffee dates at Harmony Cafe, said Salzman, who described Zastrow as creative and humble.

Participants make a list of their obstacles and goals and meet with Salzman regularly to go over their progress. There are 33 people enrolled in the program but “not everyone finishes what they start,” Salzman said, noting that the five-year commitment can be a challenge. The first person graduated from the program in 1997 and since then 53 people have made it through.

Zastrow said the meetings with Salzman helped keep her on stay on track and meet her goals.


From “$1.5 million land buy OK’d” — JANESVILLE — With a land acquisition out of the way, the city of Janesville will now focus on drafting an agreement that could bring a medical isotope manufacturer and 100 or so high-paying jobs to Janesville.

At a special meeting Thursday, the city council voted 5-1 to spend just more than $1.5 million to buy an 84-acre parcel on Highway 51 south of the city.

The city’s option on the land expires Dec. 31.

The council earlier this month authorized the purchase if there was a signed development agreement between the city and SHINE Medical Technologies.

If the two sides reach an agreement, it’s unlikely to happen before the end of the year. Thursday’s action allows the city to buy the land without any conditions, meaning that if a deal with SHINE falls through, the city will own the property.

A startup company now based in Middleton, SHINE plans to produce molybdenum-99, an isotope needed for detecting heart disease and staging cancer. Mo-99, as it is called, decays to produce technetium-99m, which is used in approximately 50,000 nuclear medicine procedures each day in the United States. The U.S. now depends on other countries for its supply of Mo-99.

In Rock County, SHINE could join another medical isotope maker, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which plans to build a $194 million plant in Beloit and create more than 150 jobs by 2016.

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From “Nutrient management planning classes” — Producers in Northcentral Wisconsin are invited to attend a course designed to help them develop a nutrient management plan. They’ll enter soil test information into the SNAP-Plus software and do field mapping, manure management and crop selection. It’s highly recommended participants have current soil tests (no more than four years old, sampled on the basis of one sample per five acres, with 10 cores per sample, and analyzed by a DATCP-approved lab).

The regular “compressed” course is set in three locations: Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Jan. 10, 17 and 24 at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; NTC in Spencer, Jan. 12, 19 and 26 at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; or NTC in Medford, Jan. 13, 20 and 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the cost is $260, with participants reimbursed $200 upon completion.

A regular evening course will be held on Thursdays, between Jan. 12 and Feb. 16, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the NTC Spencer campus. The cost is the same as already noted.

A “refresher” course (for those who’ve taken nutrient management in the past four year) will be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at NTC in Wausau from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or Feb. 2 and 9, from noon to 3 p.m. at NTC in Spencer. This class is $130 with participants reimbursed $100 upon completion.

These courses are in partnership with UW-Extension and the conservation departments from Marathon, Clark, Taylor and Lincoln counties. For more information, contact Katie Mihlbauer at NTC, 715-803-1871 or

From “MATC commencement looks back over 100  years of history and into the school’s future” — Madison Area Technical College marks its 100th anniversary next year and continued celebrating it Thursday night during its mid-year commencement ceremony.

MATC President Bettsey Barhorst noted that construction was an inconvenience to navigate around for those attending the graduation ceremony at the Truax campus.

“But it does represent a very important time in the college’s history. Not only are we celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2012, but we’re also moving forward with important building projects,” Barhorst said.

MATC, also known as Madison College, serves about 40,000 people annually through a curriculum of technical, liberal arts and sciences and adult basic education. More than 1,800 students are graduating this session and about 200 participated in the commencement.

Frances Huntley-Cooper, the college’s district board chair, told the crowd that more than 80 percent of MATC students stay in the Madison College district and 96 percent stay in Wisconsin after they graduate, “ensuring the future of our great state.”

Stanislaw Luberda, who addressed his fellow graduates, is a returning student who had worked as a videographer for about eight years before pursuing a degree in visual communications at MATC.

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