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Daily Bread for 8.17.23: Well, Possibly in Madison with Lots of Federal Money

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 73. Sunrise is 6:04 AM and sunset 7:53 PM for 13h 49m 16s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

  Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1978, Double Eagle II becomes the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it lands in Miserey, France near Paris, 137 hours after leaving Presque Isle, Maine.


It’s not impossible, although it is uncertain, whether large sums of federal money will create a health tech hub in Madison, WI. Erik Gunn reports Wisconsin makes bid for health ‘tech hub’ under federal CHIPS Act:

Fifteen Wisconsin health technology companies, nonprofits and higher education institutions are teaming up on a bid for federal aid to establish a technology hub  under the CHIPS and Science Act passed last year.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), which organized the application and marshaled the participating organizations, announced the application Wednesday. The consortium is asking the federal Economic Development Administration to declare Wisconsin a Regional Tech Hub, giving the state access to $50-$75 million in federal funds under the CHIPS Act.

The proposed tech hub will help the consortium’s 15 members “coordinate technology development in ways that will enhance opportunities to advance new clinical care pathways, such as new ways to treat specific cancers,” the WEDC announcement states, with a focus on personalized medicine — developing treatments that take into account a patient’s distinctive genetic characteristics.  

….

According to the agency, the tech hub could improve collaboration and innovation among educational institutions, biohealth companies, manufacturers and investors in Milwaukee and Madison’s metro areas — sharing data, strengthening supply chains, coordinating their workforce strategies and addressing needs such as housing and transportation.

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Participants in the application include WEDC; the University of Wisconsin System administration and UW-Madison; health technology companies GE HealthCare, Rockwell Automation, Exact Sciences, Accuray and Plexus; BioForward Wisconsin, representing the state’s biotechnology, medical device and related industries; the Madison Regional Economic Partnership and Milwaukee7, both of which are regional economic development organizations; Milwaukee Area Technical College and Madison Area Technical College; Employ Milwaukee, which is Milwaukee County’s workforce development board, and WRTP BigStep, a jobs training nonprofit.

One can see what a legitimate “innovation” project entails: lots of money from someone or some institution (preferably private capital or alternatively the less-efficient option of federal money), existing organizations and institutions that can use the money productively, and large communities that are the cradle in which the project grows. 

Not every community needs an innovation center, not every university is (or should aspire to be) a research institution. Officials in communities like Whitewater that try to repurpose federal money meant for business losses from floods and auto industry layoffs into “innovation centers” don’t get innovation; they waste money on conventional buildings and failed startups. 

See also Whitewater’s Innovation Center: Grants and Bonds, Whitewater’s Innovation Center: Economic Development Administration Sends ‘Cease and Desist’ Letter Over Alleged Violation of Competition in Construction Requirements, Wisconsin State Journal: Work was stopped on Whitewater technology park due to federal rules violations, and The City Manager’s Dodgy Tale About Violations of a Federal Grant for the Whitewater Innovation Center.


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9 months ago

Instead of delusions of grandeur perhaps smaller communities should celebrate what they can or do excel at instead of grasping for the unattainable. The ROI on taxpayer money at all levels is nearly non-existent in this taxpayer’s opinion for the *innovation* center in Whitewater. So many other potential uses, if one thought creatively and proactively, exist for that largely seemingly vacant(like many office buildings post Covid) office building adjacent to the undeveloped technology park lots.