Regional Round Up

Posted on Jun 1, 2016 :: Up Front
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Interstate 41 Corridor

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

Port of Green bay off to strong start in spring season

Higher water levels and an early thaw resulted in increased shipments through the Port of Green Bay during the month of April.

By early May, total tonnage was up by 51 percent, largely fueled by increased shipments of coal and petroleum products. As of May 12, more than 145,000 tons were shipped through the port, compared to roughly 96,500 during the same period in 2015.

In April, the first full month of operations, total tonnage was 125,690, up from 96,460 in 2015.

“April was the first full month of the 2016 shipping season and, when combined with a partial month of shipping in March, it’s been a great start,” says Dean Haen, director for the Port of Green Bay. “We saw increases in domestic and foreign inbound and outbound commodities and products.”

As of early May, 12 ships came through the port, one ahead of 2015’s pace. 

“The trend among ports on the Great Lakes is that we are seeing fewer ships coming through, but the increased water levels mean that one ship can carry more tonnage than in previous years,” Haen says. “Because of that, we are anticipating an increased amount of tonnage on fewer ships.” 

More than 1.9 million tons of cargo moved through the port in 2015.

St. Norbert partners with Marquette on new law degree

Marquette Law School and St. Norbert College initiated a new collaborative program for students working toward a law degree, called the 3-plus-3 program.

The program is considered the first of its kind in Wisconsin. It allows pre-law St. Norbert students to enroll in Marquette Law School after completing an initial three years at St. Norbert. Participants will graduate with both a St. Norbert undergraduate and Marquette law degree in six years — a year less than what is typical for getting those degrees.

To qualify for the new program, a student has to have an ACT composite score of 28 or SAT combined score of 1,260 and be in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

Eligible St. Norbert students will transfer to Marquette during their junior year and, upon successful first-year law school completion, the credits will be transferred back to St. Norbert for a baccalaureate degree.

AbbyBank enters Fox Cities market with Fidelity purchase

Moraine Park Technical College will offer two new information technology associate degree programs beginning this fall.

The new degree programs will be IT-Web Development and Design Specialist and the IT-Mobile Applications Developer.

“There’s a growing need for IT professionals, and these opportunities will provide students the necessary skills needed to compete in the IT field. These programs were developed with local business and industry support to help bridge the skills gap in this area,” said Lisa Pollard, Moraine Park’s associate dean of business and IT.

Because these two programs are similar in content, students can achieve both associate degree programs in five semesters if they choose. This option can provide students with additional skills and enhance their value in the labor market for years to come.

Currently, Moraine Park offers local certificates in content management, website security, iOS web application development and android web application development.

The certificates have been increasing in demand, with a total of 108 students served between the four local certificates since summer 2014.

Abbotsford-based AbbyBank has acquired substantially all of the assets and liabilities of Fidelity National Bank in a purchase agreement with the Medford-based bank.

The transaction will increase AbbyBank’s total assets approximately $85 million, to approximately $421 million. Following the transaction, and upon receiving regulatory approval, each of Fidelity National’s current branch locations — one in Medford and one in Appleton — will be operated as branches of AbbyBank.

Financial terms of the deal will not be publicly disclosed. Closing of the transaction is subject to the receipt of all required regulatory approvals.

“AbbyBank is excited about the opportunity to engage in this strategic transaction with Fidelity National Bank,” says Patrick McCrackin, AbbyBank’s president and CEO. “AbbyBank looks forward to the opportunity to provide Fidelity National’s customers the outstanding products and services that AbbyBank’s customers have enjoyed since its inception in 1968.”

Briess begins major plant expansion in Chilton

Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. expects to complete a 6,900-square-foot Insta Grains processing plant at its Chilton campus by this fall. 

The company recently selected Hamann Construction to build the new facility, which will help the company meet increased consumer demands for natural and gluten-free foods. Briess produces ingredients that add flavor, color and texture to a variety of foods, beverages, pet foods and craft beer.

Alliance Laundry invests in largest-ever expansion

Alliance Laundry Systems will add 225,000 square feet of new building space — including the construction of a North American Sales and Marketing headquarters — as part of an announced $62.6 million expansion to its Ripon campus.

Plans also detail the conversion of an existing warehouse into a manufacturing facility. Once completed, the new facilities are expected to add 200 permanent jobs to the local workforce. Work is scheduled to begin this summer.

This expansion is the single largest capacity-related investment in the company’s history and will ensure its continued ability to meet demand for its industry-leading laundry equipment, company officials say. The upgraded and new facilities will increase capacity across all brands and models.   

The new North America Sales and Marketing Headquarters will feature state-of-the art conference facilities and a digital showroom, and will provide a premium destination for current and potential Alliance customers.

“Alliance Laundry Systems has been headquartered here in Ripon for more than a hundred years,” says Mike Schoeb, Alliance president and CEO. “During that time we have developed a tremendous partnership with both Fond du Lac County and the state of Wisconsin. Those partnerships have allowed us to continue to invest in growing our business and keeping our workforce in Wisconsin. This expansion is another demonstration of our mutual commitment to our employees and the local community.”

Investment incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Fond du Lac County through the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation and the City of Ripon helped secure the expansion.

“Alliance Laundry Systems is an integral component of Fond du Lac County, the City of Ripon, and the I-41 Corridor,” says Steve Jenkins, president of the FCEDC. “This third expansion will have a tremendous economic impact and indicates that Fond du Lac is a great place to do business.” 

The new jobs generated by the expansion will include all aspects of manufacturing from assembly and fabrication to welding and engineering, as well as increases in salaried positions.

» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Regional districts secure Fab Lab funding

Three school districts in the New North region were among the initial recipients of the state’s Wisconsin’s Fabrication Laboratories Grants to finance facilities providing 21st Century job skills to the region’s workforce.

Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced the first 25 grants in early May. Florence County, Marinette and Southern Door school districts each received a grant of $25,000 in the first round of funding.

“Guaranteeing our students have the skills necessary to compete in our rapidly growing, technology-driven world is critical to our economy,” Walker said in a statement. “Fab Labs provide hands-on learning to the next generation of workers to provide our students with the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs. This ensures everyone who wants a job in Wisconsin can find a job.”

The Fab Labs Grant Program requires matching funds from each school district and is designed to prepare students for manufacturing jobs in the future. The awards support the purchase of Fab Lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior or high school students.

» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Little Rapids Corporation announces major upgrade

Little Rapids Corporation will invest $40 million to install state-of-the-art tissue making technology at its Shawano Paper Mill in Shawano.

The new crescent forming tissue machine will replace the existing tissue machine and significantly increase capacity.

“At a time when there is little good news coming out of the paper industry, we are very happy to be able to announce this project,” says Little Rapids CEO Kirk Ryan. “This is a very positive, strategic expansion of capacity as we look to the future.”

Little Rapids Corporation is a leading manufacturer and marketer of products for the healthcare, beauty, packaging and specialty paper markets. Headquartered in Green Bay, the family-owned business has facilities in Green Bay and Shawano. 

Ryan says the project will increase the mill’s tissue output by about 40 percent, enhance quality and expand the mill’s range of capabilities for product weight, fiber content, and pastel and deep dye colors.

Project construction will begin this summer, with completion expected in fall 2017.

» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Stoelting Foodservice to appear on Discovery Channel

Stoelting Foodservice, a division of The Vollrath Company, appeared in the May 12 episode of the Discovery Science Channel program “Machines: How They Work,” which will provide an inside look at one of the company’s soft serve yogurt machines.

Stoelting Foodservice announced its F231 Gravity Soft Serve/Yogurt Freezer was a featured product in May 12 episode. Additional air dates or online viewing options have yet to be published on the Science Channel’s website.

“We are very excited to be a part of the Discovery Channel program,” says Rich Koehl, general manager of Stoelting Foodservice. “The F231 machine is one of our most popular models, dispensing two flavors individually or combined as a twist and can be found in self-serve ice cream shops across the United States and around the world.”

Filmed at Stoelting’s headquarters and manufacturing plant in Kiel, the episode reveals with computer generated imagery, or CGI, how the numerous F231 machine components are built, assembled and tested.

The episode also highlights the F231 in a real-world application by exploring a Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt shop in nearby Manitowoc.

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