Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates. This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director Robb Kahl
CBG is pleased to announce an addition to its team. Last week, Joseph (Joe) Davis, Sr. joined CBG as the DBE Development Director.
Transportation projects that are funded by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) participate in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. The program is legislatively mandated and applies to federal-aid highway dollars. Congress established the DBE Program in 1982 to:

  • Ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of federally funded contracts;
  • Help remove barriers to the participation of DBEs in federally-funded contracts; and
  • Assist the development of firms that can compete successfully in the marketplace outside of the DBE Program.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is responsible for administering the DBE Program. Under President Trump’s administration, and continuing into President Biden’s administration, WisDOT has worked cooperatively with the USDOT to improve Wisconsin’s administration of the DBE Program.

Successful administration of the DBE Program by WisDOT is a requirement for the receipt of federal funds. Bidders for a federally-funded project must meet DBE Program requirements in order to be awarded the project by WisDOT. In short, a successful DBE Program is necessary for everyone in the industry. 

To improve the DBE Program in Wisconsin and ensure that signatory contractors have the best possible shot at being awarded federally-funded projects, Local 139 and the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association (WTBA) cooperatively agreed to create a DBE Development Program at CBG. Joe is the right person to launch this important new effort.

Joe has been a proud member of the Wisconsin building trades for over 30 years, both as a journeyman and an instructor for an apprenticeship program. Most recently, Joe spent five years as a Regional Program Manager for WisDOT. Joe served as Alderman for Milwaukee’s 2nd District for nine years and as a Milwaukee County Board Supervisor for three years. Joe brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his work in public service and the building trades.

As the DBE Development Director, Joe will support growth and development opportunities for DBE firms and connect general contractors with qualified DBE firms. With Joe leading the DBE Development Program, Local 139, WTBA and CBG aim to ensure that Wisconsin successfully captures its fair share of federal transportation dollars, WTBA contractors are positioned to win WisDOT bids, DBE firms thrive, and Local 139 members have great work opportunities. Win-Win-Win-Win.

Please help us welcome Joe to CBG and the transportation industry. Joe may be reached at or 414-343-6025.
Building Wisconsin Together®
October is Careers
in Construction Month
Local 139 is committed to promoting our rewarding trade as career choice to meet the needs of our contractors and ensure there is adequate bench-depth of membership (which is necessary for the fiscal strength of our health and pension funds).  

We know you are proud of the work you do building Wisconsin, so we ask for your help this fall as we celebrate Careers in Construction month. Here are a few easy ways you can help: 
1. Promote the pre-apprenticeship program for high school students

Tell a student, parent, or educator about the pre-apprenticeship opportunity available through Wisconsin Operating Engineer’s partnership with Destinations Career Academy.  

  • Wisconsin’s online public charter school focused on Career & Technical Education
  • DWD certified pre-apprenticeship program 
  • Student remains enrolled at their current high school
  • Take 1-2 Operating Engineer pre-apprenticeship courses a semester
  • Basic Equipment
  • Basic Maintenance
  • Basic Grade & Math for the Trades
  • CDL Preparation
  • Complete apprenticeship requirements while still in high school

2. Promote and participate in the Externship Days at the Coloma Training Center
on November 8-9th

The Wisconsin Operating Engineers Externship Day is an opportunity for students, parents, and educators to:  

  • Tour the training center, including the indoor training arena
  • Test their skill on equipment simulators
  • Gain hands-on experience with mini excavators
  • Learn about apprenticeship opportunities
  • Interact with current apprentices and Operators
  • Hear from employers about opportunities that exist and what they are seeking in employees

Seeking operators and apprentices to assist at the event with the equipment, tours, and discussion. We also need more employers to participate in the employer panel.  

3. Help students in your community explore a career as an Operating Engineer

There are many ways to provide experience to students without getting behind the controls of a piece of equipment:

  • Coordinate with the training center to have a simulator visit your local school
  • Attend a career fair event and share your personal experience
  • Offer to provide a talk and tour of a nearby job that you are working on
  • Host students at your company to learn about the variety of careers available
  • Consider offering a job shadow on work experience to a student on work release

Details on Destinations Career Academy and the November 8-9th Externship Day are available at or for additional questions contact Laura Cataldo at 608-616-2835 or
Building Wisconsin Together®
From the News Stand
Thompson Confirmed as WisDOT Secretary
The Wisconsin State Senate voted 27-4 to confirm Craig Thompson (right) as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The vote came as Senators took up 39 gubernatorial appointments, including Dawn Crim as Secretary of the Department of Safety & Professional Services; Randy Romanski as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection; and Missy Hughes as CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Thompson has been serving as WisDOT Secretary-Designee since the start of Gov. Evers' administration in January 2019. Voting against his confirmation were Sens. Bradley, Kapenga, Nass and Stroebel. Sens. Jacque and Kooyenga did not vote.
WisDOT Releases Preliminary FY '22 Quantities
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of State Highway Programs has released preliminary construction quantities for state fiscal year 2022, which began on July 1 of this year. Additional information, including the department's quantity goals for the current fiscal year, will be released at the Oct. 7 WTBA Fall Meeting.

New Team Members Join WTBA
It was a busy week as three new staffers began Tuesday as members of the WTBA team. Please welcome:
Executive Director Steve Baas will lead WTBA after spending the past 16 years as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). Before that, he served as Press Secretary and Communications Director for the Wisconsin State Assembly for 11 years.
Direct line: (608) 268-2647
General Counsel Jodi Jensen brings 25 years of experience in law and policy to WTBA. Most recently, Jodi practiced administrative law before state and federal agencies in the areas of government procurement, business regulation, campaign finance and lobbying. Jodi previously served as chief of staff and legal counsel to the Wisconsin State Assembly Majority Leader and to the Assembly Speaker, as an executive staff member at the Wisconsin Department of Administration and as legal counsel to the Governor of Wisconsin.
Direct line: (608) 268-2646
Elise Nelson, Director of Grassroots Advocacy and Community Engagement, most recently served as the Manager of Public Affairs for Alliant Energy, capping off a decade in the utility industry. At Alliant, Elise spearheaded both state government relations and corporate efforts to strengthen relationships with a diverse slate of stakeholders to support the company’s political and regulatory strategy. Before her time at Alliant, Elise served as Legislative and Communications Director at the Public Service Commission and as staff in both houses of the State Legislature. Originally from Edgerton, WI, she resides on the westside of Madison.
Direct line: (608) 268-2643
Steve, Jodi and Elise join Director of Construction Management Matt Grove, Director of Policy & Finance Kevin Traas, Events Coordinator Catherine DeMarco and Administrative Support Michelle Klubertanz in representing the interests of Wisconsin's transportation construction industry.
Study: Union Construction Apprenticeships Rival Bachelor's Degrees on Key Economic and Social Metrics
La Grange, IL:  A new national study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) has found that on average, graduates of joint labor-management (union) apprenticeship programs in the construction industry are able to achieve near wage and benefits parity with other types of workers with four-year college degrees. 
The study, which analyzed ten years of data from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement released by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Census Bureau, comes as Congress is considering over $1 trillion dollars in new infrastructure investment that is expected to increase demand for skilled trades workers.
1st Annual Workers' Compensation-Premium Fraud Workshop
Jointly presented by Construction Business Group and the
National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Register now for the workshop which will be held at Sheraton Madison Hotel on November 16, 2021.

Speakers include, Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Mark Afable and
Attorney General Josh Kaul. 
Construction Business Group | 608-240-4170 |