Moving Right Along

Posted on Jul 1, 2011 :: Development
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of the Village of Hobart

Hobart’s Centennial Centre may only be two years old, but it’s having quite the impact.
The 603-acre development, which was approved in April 2009, features a mix of residential, industrial and retail properties.

In the past year, manufacturers EMT International and Centerline Machining and Grinding moved to new facilities in the business park, bringing a combined 250 employees. At the same time, the village has issued nearly 60 building permits – at a time when the housing market is still slow – for its Cobblestone neighborhood.

“We are very excited about how Centennial Centre is going. It’s just been unbelievable,” says Elaine Willman, Hobart’s director of community development. “Our mixed-use theme is coming to life – we have employees who can walk to work and we’re creating a very safe, adorable community with the new neighborhood.”

Willman says Hobart launched its Centennial Centre project in 2009 as a way to breathe new development into the village. While some initially scoffed at the project, the parcels of land platted for Centennial Centre’s new development in 2009 accounted for 10 percent of all parcels platted for new development throughout the entire state of Wisconsin.

“We’ve been able to make it work. We have had support from two wonderful manufacturers and the housing developer – Lexington Homes – has been spot-on in knowing what homebuyers are looking for: quality, affordable homes,” says Willman, adding the new homes cost between $150,000 and $175,000 and there are a lot of options so the homes don’t look the same.

Willman is still working on one key component for Centennial Centre – commercial and retail development. “That is one area we are still working on. We have businesses who are interested in coming out here – we already have 130 families and 250 employees here on a daily basis, but there are problems with financing so we are trying to work through that,” she says. “We are launching a strategic marketing initiative to bring in key consumer services.”

The next year should be another good one for Centennial Centre with both EMT International and Centerline Machining already at full capacity and talking about expansion, a new 48-unit apartment complex already under construction and plans to start a second neighborhood next spring.
“It’s phenomenal what we have been able to accomplish,” Willman says.

Not standing still
Construction crews are keeping busy at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon.
The state’s third largest airport recently finished work on a building to house snow removal equipment and saw Jet Air Group – one of the airport’s fixed based operators, complete a $2 million renovation of its airport facilities.

And this fall, crews will begin work on the airport’s new fire and rescue building. The current 5,000-square-foot building isn’t adequate to meet the airport’s needs, says Airport Director Tom Miller. The new building will total 20,000-square-feet and have four bays for equipment, plus a command center, kitchen, exercise area and space for the firefighters to sleep since the station is manned 24 hours a day.

The airport is just as busy on the inside. Through the end of April, airport traffic was up 3.4 percent over the previous year. “The combination, I think, of an extra-long winter and the Packers’ playoff success really helped us,” Miller says.

The airport also has a new marketing tool – www.flygrb.com – which allows travelers to book their trips online. The new website is backed up by a marketing campaign.

“Fly GRB has been very successful for us. Since the site launched in November, we’ve had more than 20,000 page views,” Miller says. “We really hope the campaign shows people how easy it is to travel from Green Bay rather than heading down I-43 to Milwaukee. We really want to decrease our leakage of passengers to the Milwaukee market.”

And this summer – for the second year in a row—Frontier will offer three non-stop flights a week between Austin Straubel and Denver. “It was very successful for them last year so they are coming back,” Miller says. “It’s a good move for us.”

The airport also remains a leader in sustainable practices. For example, the new snow removal building, certified LEED Gold, features geothermal heating and cooling, skylights and cisterns to collect rainwater for washing vehicles.

“We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do here,” Miller says.

Building plans

The Solberg Co., a global supplier of firefighting foam concentrates and equipment, has started work on a new manufacturing plant and business headquarters in Howard.
SMET Construction Service is constructing the two buildings, which total 26,800-square-feet, and Solberg is planning to move in this fall.

The manufacturing facility will be Solberg’s first one in the United States. Earlier this year, the company announced it would build a plant in the United States and move its headquarters here to help launch its products in the North and South American markets. Solberg previously called Bergen, Norway, home.

In downtown De Pere on the campus of St. Norbert College, construction crews are in the process of transforming the Sensenbrenner Memorial Union into the new state-of-the-art Michels Commons. The Michels family gave a $7 million gift to fund the project, which will include a ballroom, reception spaces and outdoor patios.

The new union includes a new college dining hall featuring a dramatic two-story atrium overlooking Third Street as well as a casual dining and gathering space with multiple big-screen TVs and other amenities. Michels Commons will open next May.

Getting off on the right foot

Small businesses in Brown County now have a new tool at their disposal — the Brown County MicroLoan Program, which was launched in March by Advance, Green Bay Chamber of Commerce’s economic development arm.

The program was launched to help small businesses and entrepreneurs who are having trouble getting financing.

The microloan program exists to boost the local economy through funding of entrepreneurs, emerging businesses and small businesses seeking to establish or grow their businesses. The program is available to for-profit businesses of all sizes and in all industries in Brown County.
Eleven banks are part of the fund, which has $590,000 in available capital to give to businesses.