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The Network Effect
The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Submit questions by visiting Slido.com and entering the event code #ASK4BIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

Good evening --

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and our organizational efforts to inform and ensure an effective community response.

Today's highlights include the Governor's business and economic development budget proposals, a preview of our next Lunch(UP)date and a recap of our latest Virtual Industry Meeting.

GOVERNOR'S BUDGET: BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Over the weekend, Gov. Tony Evers announced economic development plans that will be part of his 2021-2023 Executive Budget, including:

-- Providing the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) with $200 million to assist small businesses in recovering from the pandemic, including assistance with job retention and rehiring;
 
-- Providing more than $29 million for workforce development initiatives, including $8 million for pandemic recovery grants to local workforce development boards, and $10 million for the Fast Forward program supporting training for individuals, businesses, and organizations affected by the pandemic; and
 
-- Creating a $100 million venture capital fund under the direction of the WEDC to jumpstart innovation and startup growth coming out of the pandemic. This fund of funds investment program will require that at least 20 percent of the total funds under management be invested in minority-owned or women-owned firms or in businesses located in underserved areas.
 
The Governor unveils his full budget proposal tomorrow night, Feb. 16.

LUNCH(UP)DATE WITH PUBLIC HEALTH MADISON & DANE COUNTY

Leaders from Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) and the City Attorney’s Office joined us last week for Lunch(UP)date, the Chamber program presented by Perkins Coie where you can take a break and enjoy lunch while staying connected, curious and informed.

PHMDC officials offered clarity on Emergency Order #13, which took effect Feb. 10 and eases some restrictions on indoor and outdoor gathering limits, updates face covering requirements, and lifts certain restrictions on games and competitions, among other changes.

Officials also discussed different scenarios for how gathering limits are determined, how data models and orders from other parts of the state and country impact our local health orders, and the data thresholds taken into account when considering the accelerated easing of restrictions in the future. They said a frequent question relates to how capacity limits are enforced for games and competitions, with everyone other than paid employees (such as coaches and referees) counting toward the total.

For a comparison of what is allowed under the previous order versus the new order, click here.

There were several bright spots shared, as well, particularly relating to vaccinations. According to Doug Voegeli, Pandemic Operations Section Chief for PHMDC, 14 percent of Dane County’s population has received both vaccine doses, and more than half of residents 65 and over have received at least one dose.

PHMDC leaders say we remain limited by supply, pointing out that while individuals in Phase 1B are eligible starting March 1, they may not get vaccinated until closer to mid-March as individuals in Phase 1A continue to go through the process. However, they say the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will help increase vaccine administration, with 178 Walgreens locations statewide receiving about 18,000 doses a week starting this week. Officials also anticipate emergency-use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine late this month and having those in hand around mid-March.

View the full recording of Lunch(UP)date here.

Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) President & CEO Jason Fields will be our guest for our next Lunch(UP)date on Thursday, Feb. 25. Register for that event here.

VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP

Last week, the Chamber hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as business membership organizations assessed their current needs and shared projections for the three phases of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak: relief, reopening and recovery.

The participants were united in their determination to provide vital services and resources to their members. That includes assisting with business plans and financing options, including the latest phase of the Paycheck Protection Program.
 
Most attendees said they are looking to return to in-person events, conventions and conferences by summer or fall, though they acknowledged that plans could change quickly. Several said public and consumer confidence will be critical to the success of their members, who are cautiously optimistic about the coming months.

The Chamber has also convened lenders, manufacturers, developers and commercial property owners, hoteliers, retailers, and leaders in the non-profit sector, banking and finance, healthcare, health and wellness, legal and accounting services, education, child care, construction, design, insurance, technology, biotech, healthtech, arts, culture, entertainment and sports as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

SPRING PRIMARY ELECTION TOMORROW

Tomorrow, Feb. 16, is primary day for the spring election, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There is a race for State Superintendent on the ballot, along with a number of local races depending on where you live. That includes three primaries for Madison Common CouncilDistrict 9District 16 and District 18.

The top two vote-getters in each race advance to the general election on April 6. To see what's on your ballot, how to register and where to find your polling place, visit MyVote Wisconsin.

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For a full archive of previously shared resources, visit madisonbiz.com/covid19.

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