A dab of brilliance in the dead of winter

Posted on Jan 29, 2016 :: Editor , Editor’s Insights
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

“Mind-boggling.” That’s how Steve Jenkins describes the economic vitality along the stretch of Interstate 41 from Fond du Lac to Green Bay.

It’s impressive, “the amount of sophisticated manufacturing and talent located within 10 miles of either side of the Interstate,” says Jenkins, president of the Fond du Lac Economic Development Corporation, in this month’s New North feature. In the heart of the Northeast Wisconsin region, it represents the second-largest market in the state.

Federal highway signs have been installed since last fall and the designation is starting to show up on online maps. They finally acknowledge that the activity along I-41, which runs 175 miles from the Illinois border to Green Bay, is a force to be reckoned with.

To harness the momentum, a group of economic development professionals has recently reconvened an organization to promote business along the stretch. Renamed the I-41 Corridor group, Jenkins and others, including Rob Kleman of Oshkosh, Manny Vasquez of Appleton and Peter Zaehringer of Green Bay, it’s a collaboration to market the region. The new group is developing its goals and a strategy for attracting talent and more business — stay tuned for updates.

There’s no question development is heating up since we’ve come out of the recession, and the best way to find out what’s in the works regionally is by attending Insight’s seventh annual InDevelopment conference (see article).

Coming up March 23 in Appleton, the event will feature keynote speaker Ross Koepsel, specializing in the retail world, along with development updates from Green Bay and Appleton. Representatives of the Packer’s Titletown District, scheduled to break ground this spring, will present an overview of the project and field questions about opportunities for developers as the project unfolds in phases over the next several years. The first phase, which will include a four-diamond Kohler hotel and spa, Bellin health facility and Hinterland Brewery, along with portions of a 10-acre public plaza just west of Lambeau Field, should be complete before the start of the Packers season in 2017. For details or to register, go to www.insightonbusiness.com/indevelopment.

In our March issue, we’ll feature projects in the works from throughout the New North. This month, in our feature on commercial real estate, we offer a glimpse at existing commercial and industrial space in the regional market (see story). What’s interesting is that while vacancy rates in commercial and industrial buildings in the Appleton and Green Bay markets are very low, large spaces — bigger than 50,000 square feet — are hard to come by. Bottom line? The area is ripe for new construction, especially if the strong job market continues.

In our Brown County economic development report, we show you what’s happening in De Pere. It’s remarkable so much activity is underway on both sides of the Fox River, with St. Norbert College a solid anchor contributing to the success of retail stores, restaurants and office space in many renovated downtown buildings.

Just south of downtown De Pere sits a sleeper little company making innovative inroads in 3D imagery. Avatarium, a subsidiary of Wild Blue Technologies, takes 360-degree images of people, pets and objects and allows them to be created in sculpture form. You step into the booth — which is bright, like a tanning booth — and your complete image is captured. A few weeks later you can receive a sculpture. Nifty, huh? Click to read all about it.

Meanwhile, we hope our brilliant, yellow-themed cover story featuring Wisconsin Spice puts a little warmth into your February. Happy reading!

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →