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9/26/2006

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WisBusiness Tuesday Trends
September 26, 2006

By Brian E. Clark

RISING

University Research Park


In a first-ever economic impact report, the University Research Park on Madison's west side is credited with contributing more than $680 million to the local and state economy annually. The study said URP supports 9,100 jobs inside and outside the park. It also generates state and local tax revenue of more than $46 million each year.

Mark Bugher, director of the 255-acre research and technology facility, said the report was done to quantify the value of the park, which was conceived more than 20 years ago by UW-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Madison-area business community.† The report was prepared by NorthStar Economics.

The park is home 114 companies, most of which were founded on discoveries made at UW-Madison. The study found that the total annual payroll of park companies is more than $260 million, or an average salary of $62,000 a year for its 4,155 employees in URP. The average salary paid in the park is significantly higher than the state and county averages of $35,500 and $39,000, respectively.

MIXED

Spinach


Fresh produce got a black eye last week after at least one Wisconsin woman died and hundreds of other people were sickened around the country from eating bagged spinach.

But the bad news could have a silver lining for Badger State growers. After the Food and Drug Administration said the E. coli-contaminated spinach came from California's Salinas Valley, Gov. Jim Doyle urged Wisconsinites to eat the locally grown vegetable.

Wisconsin spinach won't be ready for several weeks and farmers are hoping that consumers will be ready to eat the leafy green crop again - as long as it grown in-state.

FALLING

Fuel costs


The cost of filling up our vehicles has declined by more than 50 cents in the past month, with the cost of a gallon of gas now below $2.40 a gallon. The free-fall could continue as refiners cut their margins, energy experts said. The price could even hit $2 a gallon by mid-October, they predict.

Similarly, the price of natural gas at the wellhead has plummeted 47 percent since this time last year, and the wholesale price of home heating oil is down 20 percent.

That means if winter is not especially cold, homeowners could save hundreds of dollars a month compared to last year, energy analysts are predicting. In Wisconsin, the average homeowner spent about $850 to heat his or her abode last winter.


Written exclusively for subscribers. Tuesday Trends is Copyright © 2006.



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