ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – Expansion mode – New hospital planned in Shawano; manufacturers adding space, workers

Posted on Jun 1, 2012 :: Economic Development
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

At this time next year, construction crews will begin working on the highly anticipated new hospital in Shawano, which will replace the 81-year-old Shawano Medical Center.

The project is a major economic development undertaking for the community, says Steve Sengstock, executive director of the Shawano County Economic Progress Inc. (SCEPI). “It’s a huge community investment,” he says.

Area residents are excited for the new hospital, which will be located at the intersection of Highway 22 and County B next to ThedaCare Physicians clinic, says Shawano Medical Center President Dorothy Erdmann.

When the new hospital opens in 2014, the entire campus – which will include not only the hospital and ThedaCare Physicians clinic but also ThedaCare At Home-Shawano, ThedaCare At Work-Shawano and the Shawano Surgery Center – will be known as ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano.

“The new name describes the family of health care services we

offer in Shawano, and it makes it

easy for the community to

understand where those services are located,” says Dr. Dean Gruner, CEO and president for ThedaCare, which affiliated with Shawano Medical Center in 2011.

ThedaCare is working with

HGA, an architecture, engineering and planning firm from Milwaukee,

on the new hospital. The planned hospital will better reflect the trends seen in health care, namely an increase in outpatient care,

Erdmann says.

“The services between the hospital and clinic will be better integrated,” she says. “Throughout the whole design process, we will look at it from the patient’s standpoint – what works for them? We will look at the best way to deliver health care.”

There’s no firm design yet in place – Erdmann says a preliminary look could come later this summer or early fall. In addition, no price tag has yet to be attached to the project.

“We’re really at the investigation stage where we’re meeting with community members and seeing what they would be interested in seeing in the new hospital,” she says.

While ThedaCare is still in the planning stages of its expansion in Shawano, multiple Shawano County manufacturers are putting the finishing touches on or have recently completed their own expansion plans.

“It’s encouraging to see so many business owners ready to pull the trigger on expansion projects. It’s exciting,” says SCEPI’s Sengstock.

Some of the projects currently in the works include:

» Mod Tech Industries, a Shawano-based supplier of marine, hydraulic, truck, bus, railroad, agriculture and heavy equipment supplies, announced plans in May to build a new addition and add equipment to meet the growing demand for its products. The company expects to create 48 jobs within the next three years. Mod Tech is receiving $350,000 in tax credits from the State of Wisconsin for the project.

» Reinhart Food Service LLC is putting the finishing touches on a $5 million expansion project that will add more than 20,000-square-feet of freezer and cooler docks to its Shawano facility. “The new facilities will allow us to better serve our customers and create exciting opportunities for future growth,” says John Roussel, CEO of Reinhart FoodService, which distributes food and beverage products throughout North, Central and South America.

» Wisconsin Film and Bag is planning to add 11,000 square feet to its Shawano facility. The additional space will allow the company to add five more extruders. As part of the expansion, 24 to 28 people will be added to the payroll. Wisconsin Film and Bag creates a range of products such as large polyethylene pallet covers, plain polyethylene film and bags for shrinking products and layflat bags for food and industrial applications.

Sengstock says the last remains of the recession appeared to have left Shawano and he’s optimistic about the future. In the past year, the community caught a break after manufacturer Komatsu closed down and two companies filled that empty building, he says.

Wisconsin Film and Bag used a $1.8 million low-interest loan from the State Energy Program to open

an industrial plastic film recycling center. Big Lug, which assembles custom trailers for vehicles, moved into the other part of the vacant building.

Stepping it up

Expect to hear a lot more about Waupaca County.

On Memorial Day weekend, a new campaign rolled out to encourage travelers to stop and stay in Waupaca County.

The Waupaca County Visitors and Promotion Council (WCVPC), in partnership with eight municipalities, UW-Extension, and the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation, collaborated on a research project to uncover the Waupaca County brand and develop a strategic marketing plan that will empower the county to leverage its unique identity, says Dave Thiel, executive director of the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation (WCEDC).

The campaign is built around the slogan “It’s Your Day! “ and looks to raise the county’s profile, he says.

“The tourism sector is closely connected to the area’s retail and restaurant sectors in the county,” Thiel says. “Each year, tourists pump $100 million into our economy, and that surprises a lot of people. Since it’s such a large sector, we decided it only made sense to grow it more, so that’s where the idea of this collaboration came from.”

Outdoor activities focused around the water are a top draw for the county, which is home to the Chain O’ Lakes around Waupaca as well as the Wolf River.

Retailers, restaurants and hotels all benefit the most from tourists, who tend to come from southern Wisconsin and Illinois. There’s also the hope of drawing people from the Fox Valley, too, especially as gas prices go up; it’s an easy getaway.

The WCEDC became involved since there wasn’t a county-wide tourism organization and only three municipalities – Waupaca, New London and Clintonville – had chambers of commerce. “People who live here sometimes take for granted all of the attractions we have in our back yard. As a whole, the county has a lot to offer,” Thiel says.

Social media along with a new website are all part of the new campaign, which is funded through a Wisconsin Department of Tourism grant.

“Waupaca County’s economy is a lot like others across the state as a whole and built on three legs – manufacturing, agriculture and tourism,” Thiel says. “Raising awareness about everything we have to offer in Waupaca County is an essential part of this campaign.”