Powering forward

New, current Manitowoc County manufacturers in growth mode

Posted on Mar 30, 2020 ::
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Manufacturing is the engine that keeps the economy in Manitowoc County rolling along. Not only are local manufacturers expanding, new ones are entering the market.

“There’s a lot going on and we’ve been fortunate to have this much investment,” says Peter Wills, executive director of Progress Lakeshore, the county’s economic development corporation.

One of Manitowoc’s biggest wins was Alliance Laundry’s $29 million project to purchase and renovate a former Manitowoc Cranes facility. The Ripon-based maker of commercial wash machines needed additional workers and decided to add production lines in Manitowoc to tap into another pool of employees.

“They are moving three lines here and hope to hire 230 employees by the end of next year,” Wills says. “This doesn’t take away from jobs in Ripon. There is just that much growth.”

Redline Plastics, which makes rotational-molded, vacuum-formed and line-bent plastics products, opened a new $12.5 million manufacturing facility. At 117,500 square feet, it more than doubles the size of the company’s operations, which Wills says will put it in position for future growth. Redline Plastics employs 70 but hopes to see that grow to 100 in the next couple of years.

In February, the Manitowoc Harbor received a $2.2 million grant from the Harbor Assistance Program for improvements, including new loadout and rail platforms. The improvements are needed for Konecranes, Broadwind Towers and Heavy Fabrications to manufacture enormous cranes for the U.S. Navy. Once manufactured, the cranes need to be tested and shipped fully assembled to the East Coast, Wills says.

“These cranes are huge — they can lift submarines,” he says.

In Two Rivers, Riverside Foods, which is owned by Lakeside Foods in Manitowoc, launched a $6.9 million expansion project that includes the addition of a new production line for its cheese curd product. 

“This is a significant investment to their facility in Two Rivers, and in the next three years, it is expected that they will be adding approximately 30 jobs,” says Elizabeth Runge, the community development director-planner for Two Rivers. “They are a significant employer in Two Rivers.”

The City of Manitowoc is in the process of purchasing more than 90 acres of land on the south side of State 151 and adjacent to Interstate 43 to create another business park. Wills says the I-43 Technology and Enterprise Campus is near capacity and there is continued demand for more space.

Beyond manufacturing

The purchase of the former Canadian National property in Manitowoc opens a new door for additional waterfront development near the city’s downtown, Wills says. Plans are still being developed for the 20-acre site along the Manitowoc River, but housing and a park with riverfront access will definitely be part of the project.

As part of the continued redevelopment of the property on the other side of Highway 42 from Lake Michigan, BayCare Clinic is building a $17 million clinic, which will open next year. The site already is home to Angelus Senior Living on the Lake, and Wills says the remainder of the property could be used for condos, single-family homes or commercial use.

In Two Rivers, a new 55-room Cobblestone Hotel will open this summer. The hotel overlooks two rivers that converge and then empty into Lake Michigan.

“This additional hotel offers another location to support the maritime, water and related recreational activities that people come and stay in Two Rivers for,” Runge says. “The community has wedding venues that the hotel can support, and the hotel is also a conference and meeting venue.”

Two Rivers continues to market several areas for development, including a 3.5-acre site located on the East Twin River, Runge says. That property could be used for mixed-use projects and is near the new Cobblestone Hotel.