UP FRONT: Regional Roundup – June 2014

Posted on Jun 1, 2014 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Highway 41 Corridor

Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac Counties

Country Club facilities upgrade underway

Butte des Morts Country Club in Appleton announced plans to upgrade its pool and practice areas, with completion slated for this summer.

Butte des Morts Country Club in Appleton announced plans to upgrade its pool and practice areas, with completion slated for this summer.

Butte des Morts Country Club announced a three-year, $3 million-plus facilities upgrade of the pool, pool house and a state-of-the-art practice area to be completed this summer.

The upgrades will be financed by a mix of club resources, including a capital campaign and a membership drive.

A new pool and pool house will replace the current pool, which is more than 50 years old, with new amenities, such as a zero-depth-entry children’s pool and an open-air, covered restaurant and bar area for family and social events. A new tennis court will be adjacent to the pool.

The new golf practice facility features a 3,200-square-foot bent grass putting green; greenside practice bunker; fairway practice bunker; 9,500 square feet of bent grass fairway with a chipping area, and 9,000 square feet of bluegrass fairway with a chipping area.

“We developed these plans based on a survey of our membership, which helped us determine priorities,” says Dave Bernard, Butte des Morts board president. “There was overwhelming support for a new pool as well as the other aspects of our project.”

Keller, Planners, Architects and Builders began work on this project in 2013. Work will continue until the opening of the golf season in 2016, Bernard says. The pool, pool house, practice area and expanded parking will open this summer.

The country club celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

Visitors spent nearly $411M in Fox Cities in 2013

Visitors to the Fox Cities region spent 5.4 percent more in 2013 than in 2012, totaling nearly $411 million. A study estimates that tourism spending sustained 5,557 jobs and totaled $90.2 million in income for Fox Cities residents.

“Tourism growth in the Fox Cities outpaced the state last year,” says Pam Seidl, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Our tourism economy is healthy and all signs point to another good year in 2014.”

Visitors to the Fox Cities spent $121 million on food and beverage, plus another $90 million for lodging, $89 million on retail and $56 million on recreation. The statewide economic impact study was conducted by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company.

Visitor spending has grown an average of 5 percent annually since 2010.

For the third straight year, the number of visitors to the state rose, this year reaching the milestone of 100 million people. This generated total business sales of $17.5 billion across the state. Tourism supported 185,500 jobs, with one in every 12.8 jobs in the state being sustained by tourism activity.

The convention and visitors bureau also announced it awarded a $100,000 Tourism Development grant to the Fox River Navigational System Authority for the construction of a visitor/interpretive center. The building will house an interpretive center and educational video theater to explain the history and future of the Fox River Locks System.

Located at Appleton Lock #3, the center will include a rest area with restrooms for those using the expanding riverfront trail.

H.J. Martin and Son adds 50 employees

H.J. Martin and Son of Green Bay added 50 employees, including 10 traveling skilled carpenters and flooring installers, says David Martin of HJ Martin and Son. The 10 newest positions are in the national retail services division, handling store fixture installations, store décor installations, multi-store rollouts, store resets and remodels.

The need for additional employees was driven by an increasing number of projects H.J. Martin has been able to secure with national retailers, Martin says.

“Our business is labor driven,” he says. “National retailers trust us to be responsive, safe and productive.”

The company worked with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Job Center of Wisconsin to recruit the new hires.


» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Hatco named Door County Industry of the Year

Hatco Corporation was named the Door County Industry of the Year during the Door County Economic Development Corporation’s 25th anniversary annual meeting in April.

Hatco is a leading manufacturer for the foodservice industry, specializing in the design, production, sale and service of equipment for foodservice operations.

AJ Frank, owner of Door County Trolley, received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Door County Trolley was launched in 2000 to provide transportation around the peninsula for tourists and visitors.

The DCEDC investors’ meeting was held at the Stone Harbor Resort and Conference Center in Sturgeon Bay and featured Gov. Scott Walker as the keynote speaker.

Bay Shipbuilding to build oil barges

Sturgeon Bay-based Bay Shipbuilding Company, an operating division of Fincantieri Marine Group, entered into several contracts with Moran Towing Corporation of New Canaan, Conn., to build three oil/chemical barges and two tugs to be operated together as Articulated Tug Barges.

The new vessels will be entirely built at Bay Shipbuilding’s facility in Sturgeon Bay and are scheduled to be delivered separately during the next 24 months. Construction already has started on the first units.

City of Kewaunee acquires lakefront property

The city of Kewaunee acquired an integral piece of property for its lakefront redevelopment plans this past March when it secured 3.5 acres from KHS USA, Inc. Vacant since 2003, the “Klockner” site has been a prime candidate for redevelopment.

This summer, the city will begin demolition, salvage and remediation of the former manufacturing facility. The city will collaborate with the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation and consultants to identify developers once the site is ready for improvement.

The redevelopment of the Klockner site is expected to eliminate blight while offering space to attract new businesses, increase the tax base and develop employment opportunities.


» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Florence County’s first TIF district receives certification

Florence County Tax Incremental District (TID) No. 1 received a final certification from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

The Multi-Use Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) District is located in the Town of Florence and encompasses 652 acres. The project will focus on industrial park expansion, industrial park infrastructure, an assisted living/senior housing development, an RV dump station along Highway 2, motel/hotel expansion, downtown redevelopment, Highway 2 commercial developments and a residential development.

The decision to implement a development project is based on using increased tax revenue that will be generated to pay for the upfront costs.

“Having a TID in place allows Florence County to competitively grow and attract the businesses needed by our residents and visitors,” says Wendy Gehlhoff, Florence County economic development director. “TIF is the best tool in Wisconsin to create jobs, increase tax base and add new products and services to our community.”

The county has approved a small TIF incentive for a new full-service grocery store project. Another project, a sawmill expansion in the industrial park, has passed the committee level. These two projects combined will create 25 to 31 new jobs in the area.

The next targeted project is a 25- to 30-unit senior housing and/or assisted living development facility. Florence County currently lacks elderly-friendly housing options for the growing retiree population to downsize and simplify. The median age is 49.7 years, 2.5 years older than surrounding counties.

Florence County has 4,500 permanent residents, but its population more than doubles in the summer and fall tourist seasons.


» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

WEDC grant aims to boost downtown Green Lake

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will help fund a feasibility study of transforming the former Green Lake public safety building into a downtown office building.

The proposed office building, called Hill Street Station, could create about 100 jobs for the community and increase traffic for downtown merchants, says Fran Hill, CEO of Town Square, a new community center in Green Lake.

“We’d like this to be kind of a flagship property in the downtown that demonstrates that we are serious in Green Lake County about creating jobs and being business friendly,” Hill says.

The city of Green Lake is receiving a $6,500 WEDC grant to help pay for the $26,000 study that will examine the top two floors of the former sheriff’s department building. The first floor is already being used as a 24-hour fitness center and commercial kitchen business incubator. Other funding sources include the city, private individuals and organizations.

In 2010, Green Lake County moved all county offices, including the sheriff’s department and courts, to a new facility two miles outside of Green Lake. That move left three vacant buildings on the main intersection of the city’s downtown.

A local nonprofit group, The Cornerstone Project Inc., purchased the property in 2012 and converted the main courthouse into Town Square. The 29-year-old former public safety building’s top two floors remain vacant. Cornerstone will update the systems, accessibility and aesthetics of the building, including adding an elevator and updating windows for efficiency, Hill says.

Town Square will apply for more grants this year to help reach its $2 million goal to renovate and open the rest of the building.

“This project will be a catalyst to allow people to see that the Green Lake area is not just a place to vacation, but a place to live, grow and invest in,” says Phil Burkart, co-chairman of The Cornerstone Project.