Posted on Feb 1, 2012 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

 HIGHWAY 41 Corridor

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

Bellin, ThedaCare partner in unique Medicare pilot

Northeast Wisconsin health care providers are playing an integral role in an innovative Medicare pilot program designed to improve health care services.

Bellin Health, ThedaCare and a network of nearly 700 physicians have been picked to be a part of the Center of Medicare Services’ Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO). Only 32 health care providers in the country were chosen to participate, says Dr. Dave Krueger, medical director for Bellin Health-ThedaCare Healthcare Partners.

ACOs are part of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, which encourages their formation as a way to improve the quality of health care while slowing the growth of costs. By organizing health care teams, technology and knowledge around patient needs, the expectation is that ACOs can achieve better care for Medicare beneficiaries while slowing cost increases.

“We have a strong history of providing high-quality medical care while also holding down costs. Our collective work is often recognized throughout the country and being chosen to participate in this pilot program is a testament to the quality of care we provide to patients,” Krueger says. “The goals of the Pioneer ACO are to improve patient care and control the per capita cost of health care. To achieve those goals, the doctors and medical staff will need to work together to develop the right tools, personnel, and management competencies across each individual patient’s care needs.”

The ACO model defines a group of individuals – in this case, Medicare patients whose providers have an affiliation with Bellin Health-ThedaCare Healthcare Partners – and part of the payment to the health care organization is based on achievement of specific goals, including process measures, clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction scores.


Downtown Green Bay to get new apartment project

A new apartment project is coming to downtown Green Bay.

A developer is planning to invest $12 million to build 60 apartments on the Larsen Green property on N. Broadway Street in Green Bay.

General Capital Group of Milwaukee is buying four former vegetable processing plant buildings from On Broadway Inc. and converting them into a mixture of apartments and commercial spaces. On Broadway will also move its offices to the site of the project.

The new housing units will include nine market-priced apartments and 51 affordable housing units. Tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority are key to getting the project started, city officials say. WHEDA announces its grants in the spring, so the project may not happen if a grant is not awarded.

General Capital Group leaders say if the tax credits are approved construction would begin by 2013.


Retailer merger to create jobs in Green Bay

Shopko Stores is taking over Pamida, a general merchandise chain owned by the same parent company, and will create more than 120 jobs in Green Bay.

The State of Wisconsin is awarding Shopko up to $2 million in economic development tax credits as part of the plan to add jobs at the Green Bay corporate headquarters.

Once the merger is complete, Shopko will have nearly 350 locations in 22 states, and the company said it expects to open new stores starting in the second half of this year. Shopko has 55 locations in Wisconsin, including six Shopko Hometown stores, a smaller version of its traditional department stores that are the heart of an expansion effort.

As part of the deal, $80 million will be spent converting most of the Pamida locations into the Shopko Hometown format and brand. Pamida has 193 stores in 17 states.


Non-profit group buys Appleton country club

Community Outreach Temporary Services (COTS) purchased Riverview Country Club and plans to turn it into a community garden and green space that will be used as a workplace and job training site.

The former nine-hole golf course was sold for $2.6 million and will become Riverview Gardens.

The 77-acre course will eventually include 40 year-round greenhouses and more than two miles of bike and nature trails. The idea is that the greenhouses would help produce food that could be used by low-income individuals while also providing workplace training and jobs for people in need.

As for the clubhouse, it could become a community-based restaurant or an existing restaurant may run the facility.


Oshkosh business leaders start up angel fund

Angels on the Water is a new angel investment organization in the New North. The group was started by several Oshkosh business leaders.

Angels on the Water organizers hope to recruit long-term investors, who will commit a minimum of $25,000 to a fund that will invest in start-up or fledgling companies.

Alan Hartman, a business professor at UW-Oshkosh, is the group’s chairman and says members will commit no more than 10 to 15 percent of its total pool of money in any one company.

The State of Wisconsin has about 15 angel investing groups, including the Appleton-based NEW Capital Fund.


Valley Plating expands into new Green Bay space

Valley Plating & Fabricating is expanding its Green Bay operations.

The company, a division of Wisconsin Plastics Inc., expanded its fabrication operations to an 18,000-square-foot-facility located in the former K&K Warehouse building in downtown Green Bay.

In addition to the expansion, Valley Plating & Fabricating will seek to hire 15 to 18 steel fabricators.

The additional space will allow Valley Plating & Fabricating to offer more to its fabrication clients, including expanded services, capabilities, increased productivity and efficiency, says John Christensen, vice president of operations.

“Currently the majority of our fabrication work at the new facility is equipment for the mining industry, but we serve a variety of industries including marine manufacturers, heavy machinery manufacturers, the trucking industry, paper mills and the construction industry. As business grows, we have the option to expand in this location,” he says.


Alta Resources plans to add up to 300 workers in Neenah

Alta Resources in Neenah is looking to add up to 300 employees in the next six months.

The company says incredible growth led to a job fair in January to hire 100 people in customer care, information technology, sales and team leadership and that up to 200 more people will likely be hired in the next six months.

Alta provides outsourcing of business processing services for global companies. It employs more than 1,500 worldwide, including more than 900 in Neenah.


Agnesian HealthCare to build new Ripon hospital

Agnesian HealthCare bought 20 acres of land in the City of Ripon adjacent to the current Fond du Lac Regional Clinic location off Highway 23 to begin work on construction of a replacement facility for Ripon Medical Center.

Agnesian HealthCare and Ripon Medical Center have begun facility planning and development with plans to break ground in late summer or early fall 2012. Construction would likely finish 18 months after that.

While details have yet to be developed, Ripon Medical Center is looking to construct an 80,000-square-foot hospital facility and 25,000-square-foot medical office building.

The hospital selected C.D. Smith Construction as the project’s general contractor. Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Milwaukee, is the architect.

Business and community leaders “told us clearly they wanted access from Highway 23 and a commitment to remain within the City of Ripon limits,” says Katherine Vergos, Ripon Medical Center chief operating officer.




Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan counties


Thermo Fisher Scientific closing 2 plants in Two Rivers

Thermo Fisher Scientific will soon cease manufacturing at both of its Two Rivers manufacturing facilities.

Last fall, the company announced plans to close its steel cabinetry plant, putting 120 people out of work. Then in mid-December, the company said it would close its wood plant, putting another 190 people out of work.

Production is being moved to Texas.

Thermo Fisher did say it plans to keep 150 management and office positions in Two Rivers.


Kohler closing Arkansas plant, may move jobs to region

The Kohler Co. is closing a faucet-manufacturing plant in Arkansas and will move some jobs to Sheboygan County.

The company says it will close its plant in Malvern, Ark., and will shift work to facilities in Kohler as well as a plant in Sheridan, Ark.

The company says the 80 employees at the Malvern plant would be offered jobs at the Sheridan plant. Company officials did not have an estimate on how many jobs could be added in Kohler.


Great Lakes cruise ship to make Sheboygan port call

The 138-passenger Yorktown cruise ship, which tours the Great Lakes during the summer, will stop in Sheboygan seven times this year.

In Sheboygan, the Yorktown will anchor between the north and south breakwaters and shuttle passengers ashore and back during its one-day stop. Sheboygan is the ship’s only stop in Wisconsin. The Yorktown’s one-week cruises begin or end in Detroit or Chicago.




Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto counties

NWTC, MMC sign contract to train shipbuilders

Hundreds of current and future shipbuilders will be trained in Marinette thanks to a new contract between Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Marinette Marine Corporation.

Through the two-year agreement, NWTC will provide 130,000 hours of training to MMC new hires and current workers.

Focusing on electricians, shipfitters, welders and pipefitters, the training will be provided at the NWTC Marinette campus, MMC facilities and at the new NWTC North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, which opened Feb. 1 on Main Street in Marinette.

“MMC has a high demand for skilled workers, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity of teaming with NWTC and NCMMA to meet these needs,” says Marinette Marine President and CEO Chuck Goddard.

The agreement is another major step forward in training the workforce for the growing shipbuilding industry in the Wisconsin/Michigan region.

“At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, we are committed to meeting the marine manufacturing industry’s need for skilled shipbuilding workers,” says NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn. “We are truly pleased to build on our partnership with Marinette Marine and provide additional training opportunities for its workforce.”

Last fall, changing workforce demographics and skilled worker shortages in nearly all areas of the industry prompted the region’s major marine manufacturers to join together with NWTC and two other higher educational institutions to form an industry sector partnership, the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance.


Grocery store opens on Menominee Reservation

A new 12,000-square-foot Save-a-Lot opened recently in Keshena, bringing a grocery store to the Menominee Indian Reservation for the first time in eight years.

The store offers meat, dairy, frozen foods, produce, dry goods, housewares and cleaning supplies.

The Menominee Indian Economic Development Authority led the effort to get the store built. Smet Construction Services handled the building’s construction.




Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake counties


Reinhart plans $5 million project at Shawano plant

Reinhart FoodService LLC is expanding its Shawano distribution center.

The $5 million project is expected to be finished this spring and includes the addition of 20,000 square feet of freezer and cooler docks to the facility. The expansion also includes improvements to existing facilities.

Reinhart FoodService CEO John Roussel says the new facilities will allow the company to better serve its customers and better explore opportunities for future growth.


KI expanding operations, adding jobs in Bonduel

KI is expanding its manufacturing facilities in Bonduel, adding between 30 and 45 full-time employees by the end of 2013.

The manufacturer of furniture and movable wall systems began moving production in January from a plant in Pontotoc, Miss., to Bonduel. KI received $75,000 from the Village of Bonduel to help with the expansion.

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