News From Around the North

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

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

Briess Industries, Plexus win state manufacturing honors

Briess Industries of Chilton and Plexus Corp. of Neenah were among seven manufacturers to receive a Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Award.
Briess won the top manufacturer prize in the medium company size category for companies with 100 – 299 employees. Briess was recognized for putting together a strategic plan eight years ago that has doubled its sales and operating income, giving the company a strong financial backbone. Briess has a diverse product portfolio, allowing it to maintain a competitive edge even when external issues may affect its markets. Briess is active in the community and encourages its customers’ demand to spur new product innovation, such as in the microbrewing industry.
Plexus received the Customer Commitment Special Award for the way it grows and delivers on long-lasting customer relationships. Plexus was recognized for its commitment to retaining its manufacturing presence in the Americas as it strives to help customers with their global product fulfillment strategies.
The accounting and advisory firm of Baker Tilly, the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP and the business association Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce sponsor the awards program.

Illustrations released of proposed expo center

The Fox Cities Exhibition Center Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to building and owning a convention center in downtown Appleton on the site of the former St. Joseph Middle School, released preliminary designs of what the building could look like.
Walt Rugland, who is leading the group and is a former Thrivent Financial for Lutherans executive, says the time is now to build the center, which the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel has agreed to manage.
“It’s important for the community to have a convention center and right now interest rates are low, construction costs are low,” he says. “The most risky thing is to do nothing. If Appleton doesn’t have a convention center, we’ll be left behind.”
Before the center is built, Outagamie County needs to agree to sell the property and the group needs to find a way to raise funds to build the center.

Fond du Lac hospital to get $25 million upgrade

St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac is spending $25 million on a project to upgrade space in existing patient care areas and create private rooms.
The project involves completing three open floors within the South Building, constructed in 2005-06 when the new emergency department, intensive care unit and Dale Michels Center for Heart Care were completed. Renovation of some existing floors on St. Agnes Hospital’s current patient building will result in 57 new private rooms. The new private patient rooms will open in early 2012.
St. Agnes is operated by Agnesian Healthcare.
Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. is serving as the architect for the project and CD Smith Construction is the general contractor.

Brown County microloan program gets off the ground

Advance, the economic development arm of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, has launched a Brown County MicroLoan Program. The progressive microloan program – only one of a few in the state – is geared to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The program represents the work of Advance and the 10 key financial institution partners participating in the program. They include: Associated Bank, The Business Bank, BankFirst National, Baylake Bank, Denmark State Bank, Heartland Business Bank, Johnson Bank, M&I Bank, Nicolet National Bank and Wells Fargo.
The program establishes a pool of funds intended 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. Loans are available for $5,000 to $100,000 and may be used for the purchase of machinery and equipment to be used in the business, inventory and working capital (including payroll), down payments for leased space, supplies, insurance premiums, legal and accounting expenses.

Outagamie Regional Airport adds direct flights to Memphis

With “Elvis” on hand, the Outagamie County Regional Airport in Greenville recently announced that Delta will begin flying non-stop flights to Memphis beginning June 5.
“We are pleased that Delta will be adding service to its Memphis hub,” says Airport Director Martin Lenss. “With the uncertainty of fuel prices, Delta’s decision to launch new nonstop Memphis service into the Fox Cities is a positive development for the Fox Cities.”

UW-Fox Valley selects interim leader after dean retires

Andrew Keogh is the interim dean and campus executive officer at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley following the retirement of Jim Perry.
Perry retired as CEO and dean in February after serving the college since 1993.
Keogh was CEO/dean of UW-Marshfield/Wood County for eight years until his retirement in 2010. He will serve in the interim role until a permanent CEO/dean is chosen for UWFox.
The goal is to have a permanent dean in place by the fall semester.

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto counties

Marinette Marine breaks ground on new building

Marinette Marine Corp. is building a new panel-line fabrication building to support construction of the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) at the facility.
The building includes automated systems as well as steel storage and storage for other raw materials and is expected to improve the first stage of ship construction by decreasing the distance the ship module assemblies will move during construction.
Marinette Marine also completed the expansion of its main indoor ship construction building. The expansion allows the building to house two complete LCS hulls and parts for two additional ships.
Marinette Marine Corp. is slated to build as many as 10 LCS vessels in the next several years.
These investments are part of a five-year, $100 million plan by the shipyard’s parent company, Fincantieri, to modernize its U.S. shipbuilding operations, which will benefit the LCS program.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus visited Marinette Marine in mid-March to observe how ship construction was going.
In 2009, Marinette Marine installed higher-capacity overhead cranes, plasma-cutting tables and pipe-bending machines to increase efficiency and capacity.
“We are very pleased to continue with our shipyard modernization capital plan, increasing our capacity for the LCS program and enhancing our capabilities,” says Richard McCreary, president and CEO of Marinette Marine.
“This plan has been carefully laid out to add the new, larger facilities with additional automation prior to the phase-out of select older facilities.”

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan counties

Two electric transmission facilities under consideration

The American Transmission Co. is proposing to reinforce the 345-kilovolt electric transmission facilities in eastern Wisconsin with the addition of two new substations – one in Manitowoc County and one in Sheboygan County – and new transmission lines.
The 345-kV network forms the backbone of the high-voltage grid, moving large amounts of power across long distances.
Electric generating capacity additions at Point Beach Nuclear Plant north of Two Rivers require reinforcement of the network in Manitowoc, Calumet and Sheboygan counties.
Depending on approvals, construction on the $173 million project could begin in 2016.
New transmission lines are needed as well by either converting a 345-/138-kV double-circuit line that runs about 51 miles in Manitowoc, Calumet and Sheboygan counties to a double-circuit 345-kV line that will connect the new substations, and construct a new, 18-mile, 138-kV line in Sheboygan County or by constructing a new 40-mile line linking the substations.

Kewaunee nuclear plant license extended to 2033

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license for the Kewaunee Power Station, east of Green Bay on the Lake Michigan shore, allowing the nuclear plant to run for 20 additional years until December 2033.
The commission concluded that Dominion Energy Kewaunee, an affiliate of Dominion Resources Inc., demonstrated “the capability to manage the effects of plant aging and that there were no safety concerns that would preclude license renewal.”
Virginia-based Dominion sells the power generated by Kewaunee to Wisconsin Public Service Corp., Green Bay, and Wisconsin Power & Light Co., Madison.
The two utilities, both former co-owners of the plant, have a contract to buy the electricity through 2013.

Sheboygan non-profit plans $5 million plant expansion

RCS Empowers Inc., which provides vocational and educational services to people with disabilities in Sheboygan, is planning a $5 million expansion.
The group’s board of directors approved an expansion project that would add 41,000 square feet to its West Plant location. The goal is to eventually link the West Plant with the North Plant on N. 15 Street.
The West Plant expansion will provide additional space to expand the RCS day services and special needs programs and will house the agency’s case management services, community employment, and administrative and residential services offices.
Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Once done, RCS will vacate its plant on Clare Street in Shebogyan. That facility is currently for sale.

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake counties

Regional group working to promote biotech careers

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, the College of Menominee Nation and educators from northern Wisconsin teamed up to create POSOH (pronounced po-SO), which means “hello” in the Menominee language, to encourage and prepare rural youth for careers in the bioenergy field.
The group is funded by a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will also link researchers from the College of Menominee Nation and the UW.
The program is designed to prepare youth for careers in growing areas that generate opportunities among the region’s families and tribal communities.

POSOH’s work will take place primarily in the region of the Menominee Nation, expanding to additional sites during the latter part of its five-year’s funding. Information gathered during a series of sessions will be shared with groups across the nation.

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