Category Archives: Economy

Germany Worries About Decline of UK Market After Brexit

Remember that the reason Germany and other EU members fought Brexit so hard was due to their own self interests. They do not have Britain’s best interests at heart.

For the first time in years, German sweet makers have seen a significant drop in the number of exports to Britain, Stephan Nießner said.

The UK market makes up a significant proportion of Germany’s confectionary exports, with around seven percent of sweets produced in the country bound for Great Britain.


Sixty-eight percent of the cars produced in the city are shipped to the UK.

News that the German confectionery industry is suffering in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote comes as Angela Merkel insisted the reason her country enjoyed such a large surplus was because German-made products are in such demand.

Why Are We Protecting Shipwrecks?

I’m going to ask a politically incorrect question, but why are we protecting shipwrecks? What’s the public interest?

TWO RIVERS, Wis. – Dozens of people made a vocal call to Governor Scott Walker to help protect Lake Michigan shipwrecks.
Supporters people rallied in Two Rivers Sunday afternoon.

They’re hoping Walker will name a national marine sanctuary on nearby parts of the lake.

The governor recently pulled back the sanctuary nomination.

Demonstrators say it would bring exposure, tourism, and economic development to the area.

There are a few shipwrecks that are historically significant, but most of them are just human garbage that we left on the bottom of a lake or ocean. They make for interesting diving, but that’s about it.

From what the protesters are saying, the interest seems purely economic. That’s fine, but can we see some financial projections then? What’s the cost of preservation vs. the projected economic benefit? At least we can then make some decisions based on something tangible.

Hiring Outlook Strong for Wisconsin


March 13, 2018 – Employers in Wisconsin expect to hire at a vigorous pace during Quarter 2 2018, according to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey. Among survey participants, Wisconsin’s area employment outlook is the second best in the nation.

From April to June, 32 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 2 percent expect to reduce their payrolls. Another 65 percent expect to maintain their current workforce levels and 1 percent are not certain of their hiring plans. This yields a Net Employment Outlook* of 30%.

“Hiring intentions are stronger compared to Q1 2018 when the Net Employment Outlook was 21%,” said ManpowerGroup spokesperson, Amber Laurent. “The hiring pace is expected to pick up compared to one year ago when the Net Employment Outlook was 22%.”

West Bend Columnist Takes Shot at Local Business

There’s a lot of hate in this man.

The NRA is not the only outfit promoting the absolute, god-given right to own and use firearms wherever and whenever we want. We have our own local Delta Defense proudly flying the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag joining that chorus.

For those who missed the Delta Defense signs all over West Bend as it sponsors events and charities to purchase some aura of respectability, the company provides the base for a number of connected entities promoting armed concealed carry and self defense, trading on fear and based on the idea that we need to be ready at a moment’s notice to use deadly force against those who might do us harm.

Tim Schmidt and his wife, Tonnie, who was elected to the West Bend school board last year, founded Delta Defense in 2003. They first opened in Jackson. Then, they purchased the former Museum of Wisconsin Art building across from the West Bend Library, bailing out the museum’s construction loan with a grant from local economic development funds. Next, they got more help from the city to build their new headquarters on the hill behind Boston Store. West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, a proud “Three Percenter,” Second Amendment absolutist and staunch supporter helped engineer city support.

I’ll go on record in saying that Delta Defense has been a fantastic addition to West Bend and is a marvelous corporate citizen. They have expanded, provided jobs, and as Finke so disdainfully admits, has been a tireless contributor to dozens of local charities and community organizations. Delta Defense is the kind of company that people say they want a company to be.

I would also add that Finke is one of the local driving forces behind organizing the anti-gun protest that the students will be having next week. The same protest that the local school district decided to facilitate.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs


The US economy added 313,000 jobs in February. That was much stronger than economists expected and the biggest gain since July 2016, according to Labor Department figures published Friday.

“The headline number is pretty outstanding,” says Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, a job recruitment site.

The unemployment rate stayed at 4.1%, the lowest in 17 years.

Wages grew 2.6% compared with a year earlier, a few notches below the pace in January. That delighted investors: The Dow opened up 150 points.

Learning a Trade

This looks like a great partnership between the city and the school district.

A new apprenticeship with the city’s Fleet Service Division is giving three high school students a chance to learn automotive skills on a wide of array of vehicles.

At the same time, the department is grooming potential employees for the shop at a time when a large number of workers are retiring and technology is changing rapidly.

“I thought it sounded like it would be a really great opportunity to diversify my skills,” said Nathaniel Imrie, a Memorial High School junior. “There’s a lot of things here you wouldn’t see anywhere else.”

Trump Floats Tariffs

Bad idea.

Mr Trump tweeted that the US had been “decimated by unfair trade and bad policy”. He said steel imports would face a 25% tariff, and aluminium 10%.

However, critics argue that the tariffs would fail to protect American jobs and would ultimately put up prices for consumers.

Mr Trump’s announcement hit US markets, with the Dow Jones index closing down 1.7%.

Allow Mr. Friedman to explain:

Unions Want to Eat the Cake

This is kind of funny… except for the workers.

Unions representing about 35,000 Disney World workers say Disney is refusing to pay their members $1,000 tax cut bonuses.
Disney (DIS) announced the $1,000 bonuses last month for 125,000 U.S. employees. The company said at that time that the bonuses would go to full and part-time employees, including those represented by unions “currently working under existing union contracts.”


Disney said its offer to the union was a raise of 50 cents an hour or 3% of pay, whichever is greater.

As to whether the employees should get the same bonuses as other employees Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said, “Wages and bonuses are part of our negotiation process. We will continue to meet with the union to move toward a ratified agreement.”

The unions want to negotiate everything to do with the compensation plans – except when they don’t. They want the $1,000 bonuses paid outside of the contract negotiations even though bonuses would normally be something included in the negotiations. They know that it makes them look bad when all of the non-unionized employees are getting nice bonuses while they are mired in negotiations. Funny how that works.

Gulfstream to Expand in Greenville


MADISON – Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation announced plans today to create 200 new manufacturing and support jobs and to invest $40 million in expanding its Greenville facility. Gulfstream has been an important contributor to the economy in the Appleton area, and labels this as its most significant expansion in its nearly 20 year history in the region.

Purdue Will Stop Marketing Oxycontin

Wow. Excellent.

NEW YORK (AP) — The maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin said it will stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors, bowing to a key demand of lawsuits that blame the company for helping trigger the current drug abuse epidemic.

OxyContin has long been the world’s top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for privately-held Purdue, which also sells a newer and longer-lasting opioid drug called Hysingla.

The company announced its surprise reversal on Saturday. Purdue’s statement said it eliminated more than half its sales staff this week and will no longer send sales representatives to doctors’ offices to discuss opioid drugs. Its remaining sales staff of about 200 will focus on other medications.

Remember that Washington County joined the lawsuit against Purdue and other manufacturers last year.

LL Bean Ends Unlimited Returns

Some folks just ruin it for everyone.

L.L. Bean’s generous return policy is going to be a little less forgiving, after people have abused the policy and are returning items they bought at thrift stores and found in the trash.

The company, which has touted its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for more than a century, is imposing a one-year limit on most returns to reduce growing abuse and fraud.

The outdoor specialty retailer said returns of items that have been destroyed or rendered useless, including some purchased at thrift stores or retrieved from trash bins, have doubled in the past five years, surpassing the annual revenue from the company’s famous boot.

‘The numbers are staggering,’ CEO Steve Smith said. ‘It’s not sustainable from a business perspective. It’s not reasonable. And it’s not fair to our customers.’

Walker Proposes Handout to KC


MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker called Monday for giving paper-maker Kimberly-Clark Foxconn-sized job incentives to avoid the closure of plants in Neenah and Fox Crossing.

As Democratic lawmakers were announcing their own Kimberly-Clark plan, the GOP governor called for passing legislation to allow the state to give the paper company the same level of tax credits per job as Foxconn. 

Walker and Republican leaders have said they were willing to provide unprecedented tax credits to Foxconn because the deal with the high-tech company would be “transformational” for the state’s economy. Walker is now saying he’s willing to provide similar incentives for an industry that, while critical to the state, has shed thousands of jobs in recent years.

“To keep 600 jobs here in Wisconsin, I asked the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to offer Kimberly-Clark the same deal for jobs as Foxconn,” Walker tweeted.

Foxconn is at least bringing new jobs to Wisconsin in a new, growing, high-tech industry. KC is a marvelous company with a long history in the state, but it is also experiencing a negative global market shift. We should not use tax dollars to try to fight against market forces.

Foxconn Buys Building in Downtown Milwaukee


Foxconn Technology Group will buy a seven-story office building in the heart of downtown Milwaukee from Northwestern Mutual and will soon begin setting up office operations there.

Northwestern Mutual on Monday announced the pending sale of its full city block southwest of East Wisconsin Avenue and North Van Buren Street. The two-acre block has the seven-story, 132,806-square-foot office building where Foxconn plans to have employees, but also a large surface parking lot with space for new development, should the company choose. The pending land sale means Milwaukee will get a direct benefit from Foxconn choosing Racine County for its LCD screen manufacturing operations.

“From an investment standpoint, I’d say it’s the best remaining development site downtown,” Northwestern Mutual vice president of real estate Tom Zalesaid of the property.

Remember that most of the Democratic candidates for governor have said that they will roll back the Foxconn deal if they are elected.

Positive Job Report

The jobs report beat expectations, but the most encouraging numbers are in the wages and participation rates.

Lagging pay has been a persistent economic mystery. But many economists expect wage growth to accelerate in 2018, especially if the unemployment rate continues to fall, forcing companies to compete to attract scarce workers.

Economists warned about reading too much into January’s strong wage numbers — several times during the recovery, wage growth has appeared to accelerate, only to fall back to earth. But they said there was little doubt that the latest numbers were an encouraging sign.

“People have been wondering when the wages are going to start to rise in response to this tightness,” said Catherine Barrera, chief economist of the online job site ZipRecruiter. “I think that over the first six months of this year, we’re really going to start to see the wages rise.”


“People who are marginally employable suddenly become highly employable in a period like this,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist of RSM, a financial consulting firm.

The strong labor market is pulling workers off the economy’s sidelines. The labor-force participation rate — the share of adults either working or actively looking for work — has edged up recently, although it was flat in January. Diane Swonk, chief economist for the investment firm Grant Thornton, said she expected to see companies start trying to draw people into the labor force by letting them work from home or offering flexible schedules.

Google Expanding in U.S.


“We plan to hire thousands of people across the U.S. this year,” said Pichai. “Last year in the US we grew faster outside the Bay Area than in the Bay Area. To support this growth, we will be making significant investments in offices across nine states, including Colorado and Michigan.”

Typically considered a Silicon Valley company, the plans are consistent with Google’s U.S. hiring in recent years. The company currently has an office or a data center in 21 states.

The Alphabet-owned company will also open or build five new data centers in the United States in 2018. The company currently has six open data centers in states including Oklahoma, Iowa and North Carolina.

Fight for $15 Movement Calls for Strike

I’ll go ahead and predict now that their strike will be an utter failure. A few dozen stores across the nation will have a few employees walk out and the media will cover it like it’s a big deal.

The Fight for $15, the movement that has galvanized city campaigns to raise the pay of low-wage workers, is teaming up with the civil rights leader William Barber for a day of action in support of racial justice and voting rights.

The organization is calling on fast-food workers in two dozen southern cities to go on strike on 12 February, to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, which began shortly before the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there’s this:

The collaboration also shows that Fight for $15’s goals have expanded beyond higher wages at fast-food franchises toward fighting for racial justice and voting rights. Two ministers, Barber and Liz Theoharis, are heading the new effort, officially called “the Poor People’s Campaign: a National Call for Moral Revival”. They are seizing on the 50th anniversary of King’s campaign to relaunch the effort, and trying to make poverty the center of the national conversation.

 I think a lot of charity and non-profit groups make the mistake of diluting their mission. Agree with it or not, “Fight for $15” is a very clear mission with a tangible goal. It’s something that people can get behind. There are hundreds of organizations that are “fighting for racial justice and voting rights” – however they define those. What does Fight for $15 bring to the table that all of those other groups don’t?

West Bend’s New Development Manager

West Bend has a new Development Manager. And he blogs…

I hear a lot as I reach out to local businesses with the number one concern being workforce.  The City of West Bend is creating a blog to address certain topics related to Economic Development and the City.  This is intended to facilitate a discussion and you can find our blog on the City of West Bend website under “The WB-log”, along with various social media sites.  So follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn, the City of West Bend has some fun new and exciting things going on. You don’t want to miss out.

I know what you are thinking and it can be fun, interesting, and engaging. I could add a joke or two if you would like but I am under the impression everyone would prefer a list.  So here is my top 7 list of what needs to be mentioned to keep you engaged.

  1. Roads
  2. Target and Olive Garden coming to town
  3. Aaron Rodgers
  4. Foxconn (it’s an economic development blog) – And by the way… we can talk about this if you would like but talking about Foxconn is like trying to have a serious conversation with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the end you are just going to be thinking to yourself, “Can you believe this giant man is talking to me and is he doing a fake accent of himself?” It is just hard to take too seriously because of the magnitude of everything surrounding it. (I’m counting this as a mini blog within an blog)
  5. The Brewery
  6. The Bucks (That one is for me)
  7. Fleet Farm

Why am I taking the time to write this?  Well, I am your new Economic Development Manager for the City of West Bend.  The way I see this going and the way this will probably go are two totally different things most likely.  I want to take topics in the City of West Bend and Economic Development in an effort to have a conversation about them.  This is not going to be just me rambling, the City of West Bend wants to hear from you.  To prove it, here is my contact information.

Adam Gitter, Economic Development Manager

(262) 306-3108

Please feel free to ask the City of West Bend questions.  Whether it be on social media or you contact me directly.  In the future, writings can be short and sweet or long and bitter.  No special format, just discussing a topic.  If a conversation starts, then a goal for the blog has been met.  Please be respectful to one another, and know that my sarcasm and sense of humor is not for everyone. I just want to write about topics that I find interesting and I hear a lot about in my daily life on the job.

Walmart’s Scan & Go

Against my wishes, I had to transact some business at my local Walmart today and experienced their new Scan and Go system. Walmart, with a massive labor force and a frequent target of labor activists, is usually at the forefront of technology innovations that seek to mitigate their labor costs. As a secondary goal, they are trying to improve the customer experience. Here’s how it went for me:

Upon entering the store, a guy explained the system to me. Here’s the process:

  • Get one of their scanners or download their scanning app on your phone.


  • As you go through the store, scan the items as you put them in the cart. The carts also have packs of plastic bags mounted in the front, or you can buy their reusable bags.
  • When it’s time to check out, use the same scanner to scan a bar code on the self-checkout machine. That transfers all of the items to the self-checkout machine.
  • Pay.
  • Return the scanner to a charging station on the way out.


Overall, I really liked the process. It was easy to use. I could see the running tally of my purchases and verify the scanned price matched the posted price. I spent less than a minute actually checking out. I was buying some heavy stuff and I didn’t have to lift anything out of my cart. It was a quick, easy process.

It might be a different experience if you are buying produce or anything else that needs to be weighed. But for the vast majority of things, I preferred this process to a human cashier or a traditional self-checkout station.

There is a lesson here. A free market will constantly evolve and respond to pressures. In this case, the upward pressure on wages – both artificial and real – coupled with the increasing desire of customers to be empowered by technology in their consumer experience, is driving innovation like Walmart’s Scan & Go system. I doubt it’s the last incarnation of the technology-enabled purchasing process, but it’s a good system so far.

Businesses Respond to Wage Pressure

Um… yea. So?

More than 150 companies have announced bonuses or raises so far in 2018, as a sharp cut in the corporate tax rate produces a rare phenomenon–found money for corporations. Many CEOs credit the Trump tax cuts with boosting the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and generating more confidence about the future.

But CEOs aren’t normally altruistic, and it’s unlikely they’re throwing money around just to be generous. Instead, they’re responding to a tightening labor market by sweetening the deal for workers, at a time when Wall Street isn’t likely to care about rising labor costs–because the tax cuts will boost profits anyway.

The unemployment rate, at 4.1%, is at the lowest level in 18 years. There are roughly 6 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. economy, with more firms saying they can’t find the workers they need. Many economists think that should have pushed pay up by now—but it hasn’t, really.

The point is that the upward pressure on wages in the labor market has been there, but many businesses flat out lacked the money to respond. The lower tax burden afforded by the tax cuts frees up cash flows for businesses to respond to market forces in the labor market.

Starbucks to Increase Pay and Benefits After Tax Cut

But people are going to die… or something.

Starbucks plans to spend $250 million on new employee benefits, including a pay boost for domestic workers, in the wake of the federal tax overhaul.

The coffee chain will increase pay for its 150,000 U.S. hourly and salaried employees in April, following its regular annual raise earlier this month. It’s also taking its paid-sick time benefit national, allowing workers to save up time off to use for themselves or family, Seattle-based Starbucks said on Wednesday.

Starbucks (SBUX, -2.04%) becomes the latest U.S. company to pledge a portion of its federal tax-cut windfall to employees, which the coffee giant calls “partners.” Applesaid earlier this month that it’s giving most of its staff a $2,500 bonusWal-Mart Stores, meanwhile, plans to hike its starting wage to $11 an hour and give out $400 million in one-time bonuses.

Remember, Starbucks employees… not a single Democrat voted for the tax reform. It it were up to them, you wouldn’t be getting a raise.