May 25, 2017
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The Agenda: Cyberattacks prove deadly to medium-sized companies

The Wanna Cry cyberattack that surfaced more than a week ago around the globe has now mostly faded. At least as far as most of the media are concerned.

Even though it shut down — or held ransom — some huge institutions, armies of government and industry IT security experts seemed to fight it to a draw within a few days of its appearance.

Unlike other recent malicious onslaughts, Wanna Cry seemed to bounce around a network without help. Attacks in the past have relied on humans to spread the damage. Hackers would usually do this by tricking someone to click on an attachment in an email that carried “the payload,” as the malware is often called.

Karla Krehbiel ( Johnson Bank photograph )

Karla Krehbiel: Five Steps to a Successful Acquisition


For many businesses, acquiring another company is an attractive way to grow. Just find the right target company, then enjoy new customers, trained employees and a proven sales process — all set up and ready to go!

It’s not quite that simple.

Once you’ve decided to acquire another business, there are some key issues to consider to ensure a smooth transition. Choosing the right business to acquire is only the first step, and subsequent steps can prove just as challenging.

Deb Terning ( )

Steve Donovan joins Community State Bank


Community State Bank has announced the addition of Steve Donovan as senior vice president and market president.

Donovan brings to CSB over two decades of banking experience and a wide range of financial knowledge within commercial lending, senior management and operations. Donovan’s primary responsibility as a market president will be commercial loan origination, which includes creating and developing long-term business relationships along the Racine and Kenosha corridor. “Steve is a great banker, community leader and developer of talent,” said president and CEO, Scott Huedepohl. “I’m excited to see him bring those skills and ideas to CSB.”

In addition to Donovan’s work experience, he also donates his time and talents towards several organizations within Racine and Kenosha counties.

Johnson Bank president Jim Popp. ( submitted photo )

James Popp named Johnson Bank president


James R. Popp, a longtime Milwaukee area banking executive, has been named president of Johnson Bank. He will also serve as executive vice president of Johnson Financial Group. Popp has had a career in financial services that spans nearly three decades. He most recently served as region head of JPMorgan Chase Bank in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

“Jim accepted our offer in March, and (Wednesday) it became official,” said Thomas Bolger, president and chief executive officer of Johnson Financial Group. “His industry expertise and stature in the region positions us well as we strive to build thriving futures on behalf of our clients and our communities.”

“Johnson Bank has a compelling story and is positioned to grow. They’re dedicated to doing what’s right for their clients, their people and their communities,” said Popp. “I’m excited to join this great team.”

Rex Davenport writes the weekly business column, The Agenda. ( Kenosha News )

The Agenda: Remote co-workers easier to like


Workplace experts have, for years, likened the people we share our time with on the job as our “work family.” I’m OK with the description, as long as we are honest about what it means. There are times I don’t want to share the same space with family members. And I’m sure there are times I annoy my workspace-adjacent Kenosha News team members.

Which is why I was not surprised by a piece I read in Fast Company a few weeks ago. The article reported that a survey of 25,000 workers across the nation found 66 percent of them said their favorite colleague isn’t located in the same office.

I can’t figure out which is the more compelling reason. Are our co-workers getting more annoying, or is this just the result of more employees working somewhere other than side by side with people in a fixed place?

Mary Fischer-Tracy ( )

SBDC adds three to staff


The Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside recently made three additions to its staff.

The Ladder is a weekly column that features workplace news about area residents. New hires, promotions, awards, personal or company recognitions, and any news about individuals relating to their profession or place of employment are welcomed. For publication, please send items to Rex Davenport, or call 262-656-6269.

Sherry Ludwig, owner of Bisou Lingerie, in her downtown Kenosha storefront. The lingerie sales were once located in the back of a consignment shop, but their popularity allowed her to expand and make that her retail focus. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Ventures: Bisou Lingerie


Sherry Ludwig wanted to create a little downtown Kenosha shop for women who wanted to feel special.

After years of operating a consignment apparel shop, she closed the resale business and launched Bisou Lingerie, a shop she hopes will become a destination for discerning shoppers.

Q: What is your start-up story? How did you get the idea to launch this business?

New United Hospital partnership will bring more insurance options

A recent partnership between Network Health and United Hospital System will bring a new set of health insurance options to employer groups in Kenosha County.

United Hospital System and its physicians joined Network Health’s network of providers on April 1. As of this month, employers in Kenosha County may purchase plans from Network Health to provide health insurance services to their employees.

Said Coreen Dicus-Johnson, Network Health president and CEO, “Network Health and United Hospital System are two local, community-based companies. Our partnership is a no-brainer.”

Gateway earns second recognition for workplace wellness

Gateway Technical College has for a second time been awarded a national workplace wellness award for its programs to promote employee and workplace wellness.

The Wellness Councils of America recently recognized Gateway with a Gold Award, which designates it as a Well Workplace. The award also puts Gateway on the List of America’s Healthiest Companies published annually by the organization.

“This is a confirmation that Gateway places value on the health of its employees,” said Debbie Miller, Gateway director of Human Resources and Wellness Committee co-chairwoman. “It also shows that we provide health and wellness programs in a very methodical, planned and meaningful way.”

Hannah Brencher speaks at the Strawberry Creek clubhouse for YP Week on Thursday. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Local young professionals urged to ‘let go’ and say yes to opportunities


A roomful of Kenosha area young professionals were on hand Thursday morning at the The Club at Strawberry Creek to hear how to be more innovative and more present in the world around them.

As part of Young Professionals Week in Wisconsin, author Hannah Brencher, recounted the path that took her from uncertain new college graduate to published author and TED presenter with a large following on social media.

Her first book, “If you Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers,” was published in 2015. Brencher is the founder and creative director of More Love Letters. Since 2011, More Love Letters has spread to more than 70 countries, all 50 states, and more than 100 college campuses. Brencher has been featured in The Wall Street Journal,, and Glamour among others.

The Kenosha streetcar, in a file photo from 2015. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

The Agenda: More streetcar lines? Yes, please


At the risk of receiving red-hot angry emails, nuclear voice mail messages and having my house egged — or worse — I have a suggestion. Maybe it’s time to talk about streetcar expansion again.

If you are still reading and want to scream at me about this, my phone number and email address can be found at the end of this column.

I would not normally bring this up, but a number of stories I have covered in the past two months have been connected, if tangentially, to streetcar system expansion. In most cases, it has been along the lines of, “Gee, if only the streetcar expansion had continued, then X would have worked out so much better.”

Construction continues on Fifth Avenue Lofts in downtown Kenosha on Friday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

The Agenda: Local resource could help downtown revitalization


On top of the pile of things I had intended to write about earlier was a news article about a large-scale luxury apartment project planned for St. Francis. That project changed direction just a bit last week.

While taking some time to win approval, the project by Kenosha’s Bear Development will feature 221 apartments in 11 buildings. With a bit of a slowdown in demand for apartments in the Milwaukee market, Bear’s original plan for three larger buildings with 315 units was downsized.

The new plan calls for mostly one-bedroom apartments with rents in the $900 neighborhood.

Megan Wells ( )

Future 5 Awards highlight outstanding local talent


Young Leaders in Kenosha (Ylink) has announced its 2017 Future 5 Young Professional Award recipients. The five will be honored at a reception on May 18.

The Future 5 Award honors emerging talent from the Kenosha County young professional community. Award winners are recognized for positively influencing quality of life in the community through professional accomplishments, civic leadership, community engagement, or volunteerism.

The five were identified and chosen through a process that collected approximately 100 nominations from business and civic leaders, as well as private citizens. The Future 5 Award, which debuted in 2014, is YLink’s largest annual event. It is one of its key strategies to highlight young and emerging talent in Kenosha County.

The Agenda: Uptown is waiting and waiting

It was encouraging to read an article in the Kenosha News earlier in the week about Uptown area business people and residents addressing how to bring more life into that unique part of our city. Deneen Smith’s article reiterated some of the bigger concerns facing the neighborhood.

As is the case in many cities, concerns often boil down to crime prevention, retail recruitment and community beauty. Clean-up efforts in Uptown have reportedly not gathered momentum, but there is no lack of desire and concern.

In the current fervor to save, revitalize or remake downtown Kenosha (pick your favorite term), Uptown could be left behind. At the moment, money, political attention, professional guidance and marketing assistance continue to pour into the central business district. There is no hue and cry for similar help for Uptown. And that’s a shame. No other geographic area outside of downtown has as much potential as Uptown.

Application period opens for community economic development award

The Wisconsin Economic Development Association along with award partners, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Wisconsin Counties Association and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities are soliciting nominations for WEDA’s Community and Economic Development Awards.

The awards recognize businesses, organizations, individuals, projects or communities that are making significant contributions that propel Wisconsin’s economy forward.

Awards recipients will appear in media and publications statewide, and recipients and will receive formal recognition at WEDA’s Community and Economic Development Awards event Sept. 13 in Madison.

From left, Shawnice Young, Joshua and Charrie Ferguson are opening the Sugar Boxx at 5700 Sixth Ave. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Ventures: Sugar Boxx offers ice cream novelties


A rolling family business will put down roots Saturday when The Sugar Boxx opens its doors at 5700 Sixth Ave. in downtown Kenosha.

The business, which offers all kinds of frozen ice cream novelties, came about when Charrie Ferguson and her husband, Joshua, became frustrated with the ice cream trucks that rolled through her neighborhood.

“We saw an ice cream truck come through our neighborhood once or twice, and the guy driving was, frankly, just rude,” Ferguson said. “It was a bad experience for the kids. We thought it would be awesome if there was at least a good ice cream truck for Kenosha.”

Indian Trail counselors Art Preuss, right, and Joel Sinden, center, talk with Keith Kemper, of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 18, during a trades showcase at the Union Club on Wednesday. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Skilled tradespeople giving schools an education


Wednesday’s trades showcase brought together Kenosha Unified School District counselors, administrators and technical education teachers with building and construction unions to learn about potential careers and apprenticeship opportunities for students.

As a Kenosha Unified transition teacher, Sue Johnson helps students move beyond high school.

“I love this because we have kids going into their senior year and aren’t sure what they want to do after high school,” Johnson said, pausing at a table manned by Julie Nelson, apprenticeship coordinator for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 118.

Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht talks to the media Thursday after the announcement of the Gateway Promise initiative on the Racine campus in February. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Gateway’s Albrecht to lead board of national association


Gateway Technical College president Bryan Albrecht has been selected by the America Technical Education Association Board of Trustees to serve as its president for 2017-19.

ATEA is an independent association devoted to excellence in the quality of postsecondary technical education with emphasis on professional development and workforce development

“It is an honor to be elected to serve as the president of ATEA at this important time in our nation's history,” said Albrecht. “Workforce training is as important today as it was in the 1920s. Technology and skills have changed the approach to training but our economic success is hinged on how well we educate our youth and adults.”

Michael Grivas, CEO, talks about his business, clients, and how the company came to locate in Pleasant Prairie. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

mg: standard exterior hides creative core


Unless you are in business-to-business sales or marketing, you probably don’t attend the mega trade shows that take place in expo halls all around the world. The size and scale of the exhibits at those events can amaze even the most grizzled attendees.

Many of the booths, displays and trade show environments that make their way to Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago and other cities for industry trade shows are the creation of Pleasant Prairie-based mg. Formerly known as MG Design Associates, the company designs, builds and services exhibits — both custom and rental — for a wide range of clients in a number of industries.

The 150 people who work at mg’s headquarters at 8778 100th St. are involved in virtually every phase of sales, design, construction and logistics for its clients. The company also provides add-on services to help its clients maximize their trade show efforts.

Colleen Deininger, left, established her brokerage in 1975. She was later joined by hear daughter, Calla Ricciardi, and her son. CJ Ricciardi. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

Colleen Realty merges with Century 21 Affiliated group


Century 21 Affiliated has merged with Century 21 Colleen Realty of Kenosha. The company will operate under the Century 21 Affiliated name and specialize in residential and commercial property sales.

"As respected and innovated real estate brokerage companies in their own right, the coming together of these companies means a heightened level of service for Kenosha area home buyers, sellers and owners," said Dan Kruse, president and CEO of Century 21 Affiliated. “We couldn’t be more excited to have Century 21 Colleen Realty join the Affiliated Family.”

Colleen Deininger established her brokerage in 1975 and joined the Century 21 system in 1978. Formerly a teacher, she left education to pursue a career in real estate to have more freedom.

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