UP FRONT: Regional Roundup – May 2014

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

» Highway 41 Corridor

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

Meyer Theatre to develop banquet and office space

The Meyer Theatre in Green Bay will develop the two-story, former Daily Planet site next door into a theater banquet and office space. The first floor will be called “Backstage at the Meyer.”

The site, on the corner of Walnut and Washington streets, will provide space for pre-show events, such as dinners before performances, post-show parties, weddings and corporate functions. The space will accommodate up to 175 people for banquets and 300 for theater events. The second level will offer professional space for one or multiple tenants with parking in the Cherry Street parking ramp. The two levels are each 6,000 square feet.

Plans for the site were announced in February along with a $4.5 million capital campaign for the theater and the new development. The capital campaign will include $3 million for the building development, $1 million to double the current theater endowment and $500,000 for major maintenance work. The campaign will be chaired by Bob Atwell of Nicolet Bank.

The Meyer Theatre leaders anticipate breaking ground on the project this spring and opening in late fall 2014.

FVTC, with the help of Case IH/Service Motor Company, moves its donated Boeing 727 FedEx plane at the Outagamie County Regional Airport in preparation for the opening of the new Public Safety Training Center in January.  Photo courtesy of FVTC

FVTC, with the help of Case IH/Service Motor Company, moves its donated Boeing 727 FedEx plane at the Outagamie County Regional Airport in preparation for the opening of the new Public Safety Training Center in January. Photo courtesy of FVTC.

Donated aircraft moved to FVTC training center

A Boeing 727 aircraft donated by FedEx to Fox Valley Technical College was moved in February from an Outagamie County Regional Airport storage area to its new home at FVTC’s Public Safety Training Center.

The training center is being constructed on airport property as a part of the $66.5 million FVTC referendum approved by voters in a nine-county region in April 2012.  The airplane was donated to FVTC in fall 2012 by FedEx to help train police, firefighters and emergency responders deal with onboard emergencies, such as a passenger having a heart attack or a hijacker taking passengers hostage.

The center is a 75-acre complex that will allow multi-disciplinary public safety training in realistic settings, including a mock village, outdoor forensic laboratory and an emergency vehicle driving range. The project is estimated to cost $35 million and is set to open in January.

It is one of few public safety training centers in the country to integrate paramedic, police and fire training in one setting.

Ripon College capital campaign reaches goal

Imagine Tomorrow, Ripon College’s five-year comprehensive capital campaign, reached its $50 million goal in January with an original timeline of July 2015. The college is keeping the timeline in place and is raising its goal to $60 million.

“The original goal was established after a feasibility study based on where the economy was at that time,” says Wayne Webster, vice president for advancement. “Throughout this campaign, we realized we have greater potential and needs. We have many alumni and friends whom we have yet to involve in this process, and Imagine Tomorrow creates a unique engagement opportunity.”

Webster also says that the college has new leadership since the comprehensive campaign began in spring 2010: President Zach Messitte, who has several ongoing initiatives to propel the college forward.

“By increasing our goal, we keep the momentum going for a better future,” Webster says. “We want an achievable goal we can celebrate at the end.”

The college’s endowment at the end of 2013 was at an all-time high of $80.2 million. Since the beginning of the Imagine Tomorrow campaign, 42 new endowed funds have been established or are in the process, including 30 endowed scholarships.

Fox Cities Regional Partnership hosts visitors

The Fox Cities Regional Partnership hosted nearly 20 delegates from the Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Hospital Administration program in April. The delegation, composed of Eurasian mid- to senior-level health care executives, met with leadership from Fox Valley health care organizations to talk about health care management best practices and tour their facilities.

SABIT delegates from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Ukraine began their American tour in Washington, D.C., on March 28. They spent two weeks traveling across the country to gain insight into different health care services and providers.

A U.S. Department of Commerce representative contacted the Fox Cities Regional Partnership about the visit after finding information about the region’s health care assets on the partnership’s website. The representative said the Fox Cities was selected for its national reputation as a leader in high-quality health care at low cost.

The delegates visited with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley, the Orthopedic & Sports Institute of the Fox Valley, Neuroscience Group, Affinity Health System at St. Elizabeth Hospital, the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, Neurospine Center and toured Fox Valley Technical College’s new three-story, Health Simulation & Technology Center.

» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding Master Plan in final phases

A Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding Cluster Master Plan is in its final phases, say Door County officials. It was created to grow and upgrade the Bay Shipbuilding and Palmer Johnson Yachts facilities and equipment in Sturgeon Bay by partnering with the Door County Economic Development Corp. (DCEDC), the City of Sturgeon Bay and The Boldt Co.

The final phase of the plan includes updating hundreds of feet of the dock wall in the south yard of Bay Shipbuilding and associated dredging adjacent to the dock wall to make the area accessible and usable for ship docking, says Bill Chaudoir, DCEDC executive director.

Chaudoir says Bay Shipbuilding has submitted a grant application to the DOT Harbor Assistance Program for financial assistance for the new dock wall. The project is estimated to cost $9.3 million.

“It’s a very competitive process with other ports, but we’re hoping to get some financial support to let the company go forward with this project,” Chaudoir says.

The project will allow Bay Shipbuilding to better use the shipyard, particularly during the winter layup of the Great Lakes Shipping fleet when there are as many as 17 freighters in port for inspections and repair work, Chaudoir says.

The completion of the plan depends on the grant applications.

“I suspect that if all goes well, and they’re able to get some assistance, that the project will be started this year sometime,” he says.

The final phase of this cluster plan not only involves Bay Shipbuilding, which is a division of Fincantieri Marine Group, but Palmer Johnson Yachts. The two Sturgeon Bay shipyards worked with DCEDC to develop the Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding Cluster Master Plan in 2004, Chaudoir says.

“Both companies have invested millions of dollars in improvements in both equipment and building expansions over the years since the plan came out,” he says. “Both companies have undertaken projects, improvement and expansion projects that were outlined in this plan.”

For example, Palmer Johnson built two new buildings, added two expansions to existing facilities and invested in new equipment. Bay Shipbuilding built one new facility, added two expansions and invested in new equipment.

Chaudoir says the total invested by both companies so far is about $60 million, including $8 million invested by the state.

“One of the reasons we have our cluster plan is to define how they can work together,” Chaudoir says.

» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Hotel developers look at Oconto County

In 2013, the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation (OCEDC) launched a self-funded, county-wide hotel/motel feasibility study, and now that plan appears to be paying off, says Paul Ehrfurth, OCEDC executive director.

Typically feasibility studies are prepared by developers for particular sites of interest, but OCEDC took a different approach and funded the $8,000 study itself.

“Rather than just have the developer prepare a feasibility study for the Oconto Falls site, we elected to have a study prepared on a county-wide basis and to fund the study ourselves,” Ehrfurth says.

That way the study would not be proprietary to the developer, he says.

Since the completion of the study, two companies have shown interest in sites in Oconto Falls and Suring.

“The fact that we commissioned the study and have the study available gives us an opportunity to potentially attract developers that we would be able to educate relative to sites in Oconto County,” Ehrfurth says.

The study showed that the northern and southern parts of the county did not really have a good market, Ehrfurth says, but the central part of the county – which includes Oconto, Oconto Falls, Suring and Gillett – would support a number of facilities, making it a target for development in the Northwoods region.

He says that if the interested companies decide to move forward with a project in Oconto County, it may require some private investment, possibly from OCEDC, to build a facility in Oconto Falls or Suring.

“I think in both cases, if we came up with the private investment that they were looking for, that both of them would build a facility,” Ehrfurth says. “My guess is, in a county with a real feature like this, whoever strikes first is going to get the prize.”

Branching out

Read Felicia Clark’s feature about a proposed pilot project led by Oconto, Florence and Forest county officials to address what they say is the U.S Forest Service’s mismanagement of Wisconsin’s national forests that may have led to the closing of many Wisconsin sawmills in the last decade. See  ”Branching out”.

» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Horicon Bank purchases Baraboo National branch

Horicon Bank purchased The Baraboo National Bank’s Green Lake branch, which includes the fixed assets of the branch, loans and deposits. Horicon Bank President Frederick Schwertfeger says the acquisition will increase the bank’s assets to about $600 million and expand its locations to 11 communities. He also says that, pending regulatory review, it is expected that the sale will close in spring 2014.

“Green Lake is known as the best lake town in the Midwest, and we are grateful to be able to expand into this scenic community,” Schwertfeger says. “We look forward to offering convenient banking services and to forming new customer relationships in the Green Lake community.”

Horicon Bank has been a part of the Ripon and Green Lake area for more than 15 years, says Jeffrey Liddicoat, senior vice president of business banking in Ripon.
“Bringing (Baraboo National’s) Green State Lake Bank into the Horicon Bank family adds to an already strong presence in the Green Lake County and Fond du Lac County areas,” Liddicoat says.

BNB Chairman and CEO Merlin Zitzner says the transition should be seamless for customers.

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