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12/13/2006

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WisBusiness Tuesday Trends
December 12, 2006

By Brian E. Clark

RISING

Madison-Milwaukee income gap

The median family income in Madison is now more than $64,000. Lagging far behind is Milwaukee, where the figure is less than $36,000 -- a gap of 80 percent -- according to a new report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. In 1991, the difference was less than 10 percent.

The growing income difference between the cities can be traced to Milwaukee’s declining manufacturing prowess and the rise of high-tech jobs in Madison – thanks in large part to UW-Madison, one of the top research universities in the country.

The report is called “A Tale of Two Cities.” It says that from 1950 to 2000, Madison’s inflation adjusted median family income climbed more than 225 percent. Milwaukee’s rose only 59 percent.

MIXED

Lands’ End

Dodgeville-based retailer Lands’ End is moving beyond traditional offerings of khaki slacks, goose-down jackets, other casual clothing to offer to lingerie, baby clothes and specialized equipment – including an iPod-wired beanbag chair the company hopes will be popular with teens. Under the guidance of president David McCreight, the company hopes to become more of a one-stop shopping experience.

Analysts are split on the wisdom of the move. Some say this is an attempt to put the successful Lands’ End brand on other merchandise, ranging from toys to flat screen plasma televisions from Sears. Skeptics, however, say this is another example of Sears – which bought Lands’ End in 2002 – diluting the Lands’ End brand.

FALLING

Mazomanie and Fennimore

Sunny Industries officials have notified state and local officials that the company plans to permanently close its plant in Mazomanie by Feb. 6. The shutdown by the commercial printer means 380 workers will lose their jobs. Mazomanie, in western Dane County, has but 1,200 residents.

The cause for the layoff is attributed to multimillion dollar lawsuits that are crippling the company. Sunny Industries is being sued for more than $7 million over unpaid loans following the purchase of new printing presses.

And in Fennimore, Rayovac has announced it will cut its staff by more than one-third in February and move some of its alkaline battery production to China. The company said 100 of the 275 employees at the factory, 70 miles west of Madison, will lose their jobs. That's a 36 percent reduction in employment for the Grant County plant, Fennimore's largest private employer. The town has a population of 2,387.

See a new WisBusiness story on layoffs in small communities: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=79460


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



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