Oshkosh wins D-League derby

New arena expected to jump-start development in south shore area

Posted on Mar 1, 2017 :: Regional Roundup
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

THERE WERE LOTS OF winners when the Milwaukee Bucks announced Oshkosh would be the home of its new NBA Development League team.

For the region’s basketball fans, it’s a local and affordable chance to see the pro game up close and personal, and watch budding stars hone their skills before jumping to the NBA. For Greg Pierce, president and CIO of Windward Wealth Strategies, it’s the realization of nearly two years of work putting together the private-public partnership that made the deal happen.

The biggest winner, though, just might be the city of Oshkosh itself, which will not only see an infusion of entertainment dollars from visitors attending games, but will also benefit from a fast start for the first major project in the recently created Sawdust District, an economically challenged area south of the central city along the Lake Winnebago shoreline.

In this case, development applies to much more than working with young basketball players.

“This is so much more than a basketball deal,” says Pierce, whose Fox Valley Pro Basketball group won a three-way derby that included Racine and Sheboygan to host the Bucks minor league affiliate. “This deal was about development and moving this city forward in a place that needs it.”

The City of Oshkosh has already approved plans for a privately financed, 3,500-seat arena that will host 24 home games beginning in November. The arena, which will also house a sports bar and team store, is expected to anchor the newly designated Sawdust District.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Pierce says. “Building a new arena, bringing the Sawdust District vision to life and expanding the sports and entertainment options in our region will have a transformative impact on our community.”

Sports, even the minor leagues, is big business these days. Dean Hunt, director of marketing and business development for Bayland Buildings, says that as long as the city is able to complete its cleanup of the site on time, his company will have the building ready for the start of the season.

The arena will be built on the site of the former Buckstaff Furniture Co. City crews have been working feverishly to finish clearing the site.

“The new arena will be the cornerstone of a revived central city that will attract visitors and greater development opportunities to Oshkosh,” Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings says. “Oshkosh is a boom town again because of the enthusiasm of people living here to make it that way again.”

» INTERSTATE 41 CORRIDOR

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

SECURA Insurance announces plans for new Fox Crossing headquarters

SECURA Insurance will break ground this spring on a new home office facility in the Village of Fox Crossing.

SECURA and the village reached a final agreement for the company to construct its new building on a 160-acre plot of land it owns along County Highway CB. The 300,000-square-foot facility will house 900 employees.

During the past 10 years, the company has increased revenue nearly 80 percent and grown its employee base by more than 40 percent. SECURA employs more than 500 people locally who will work from the new location, as well as 200 remotely, and the organization expects continued employment growth.

SECURA President and CEO Dave Gross says the new location positions the 117-year-old company for the next 100 years. The master plan for the site has incorporated potential for future growth. The company, which does business in 12 states, will look to sell its current headquarters.

» THE NORTHWOODS

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Oconto County Economic Development Corp. receives entrepreneurship grant

The Oconto County Economic Development Corp. was one of 11 organizations statewide to receive a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. grant to help develop or promote entrepreneurship.

Paul Ehrfurth, executive director of OCEDC, says the organization will use the WEDC funds to implement the entrepreneurship and succession portions of its economic development plan.

“This is important to the future prosperity of the county,” Ehrfurth says. “It’s a comprehensive strategy that we’re all excited about implementing.”

Also in the New North, the Center for Enterprise Development Inc. in Fond du Lac received a $40,000 WEDC grant to create a milestone-based certification and grant program for Fond du Lac County entrepreneurs completing key business development steps.

» THE LAKESHORE

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Energy companies select Two Rivers as site of state’s largest solar energy center

WPPI Energy and NextEra Energy Resources announced plans to build a 100-megawatt solar energy center with the capacity to serve more than 23,000 households.

WPPI Energy has entered a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy electricity from the solar energy center to serve its 51 member utilities and their customers across Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.

“This energy center will harness the state’s own sunshine to create clean, renewable energy, as well as good-paying jobs and increased tax revenue for the state and local community,” Mike O’Sullivan, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources, said in a press release.

NextEra Energy Resources plans to build and operate the Point Beach Solar Energy Center on land adjacent to its existing Point Beach Nuclear Plant near Two Rivers. The project will create 150 to 200 jobs during its construction period, which typically lasts six to nine months. The Point Beach Solar Energy Center is scheduled to come online in 2021.

» WEST CENTRAL

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Waupaca Foundry receives energy management certification

Waupaca Foundry’s gray iron foundry became the first U.S. metal caster to receive the accredited ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification.

The company earned the certification through energy conservation initiatives at its Division Street plant in Waupaca, one of three gray iron foundries it operates in the city. It also received a $100,000 incentive from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program.

The accredited ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification is an international standard confirming the gray and ductile iron casting supplier has created a system of continual improvement in energy use, efficiency and consumption.

To gain the certification, teams created and implemented a pilot program in energy management, then reviewed and checked data to ensure consistent results. The company received the certification after preparing for 12 months and undergoing an independent registrar audit.

Changes included converting to LED lighting, replacing outdated compressors with new, more efficient models, and expanding and networking electric and natural gas metering to a newly installed energy management system.