Regional roundup

Posted on Jun 1, 2017 :: Regional Roundup , Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer


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

Brillion Elementary School debuts STEM center

The Brillion School District hosted the dedication of its new STEM education center at Brillion Elementary School. The $1.5 million “Exploration Station” is the centerpiece of the district’s nationally recognized STEM education initiative that began at the high school level in 2005.

The two-story, 5,000-square-foot multipurpose area at the school has been rebuilt into a flexible and creative learning space where students can collaborate over hands-on projects, learn problem-solving skills, record data and professionally present their results. Students and teachers have been using the facility since late January as they have prepared for its first full year of use during the 2017-18 school year.

The Brillion community has rallied around this integrated approach to education. Brillion voters approved $350,000 for the project in a 2014 referendum. The Ariens Foundation and the Endries Family Foundation, both of Brillion, each contributed $400,000 to initiate private fundraising, and the final $355,000 was raised through company and individual donors from Brillion and throughout Northeast Wisconsin.


Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

M&M foundation seeks support for new rec center

The M&M Area Community Foundation, a working partner on the organization and development of a new community recreation center, is urging citizens of Marinette and Menominee counties to continue their pledges and contributions for the construction of the planned facility. The original conceptual estimate for the facility was $12 million as determined by architect Somerville. In the spring of 2016, Marinette’s Common Council unanimously voted to fund half of this cost, with a community-based fundraising group dedicating itself to raising the remaining $6 million from business, organizational and individual contributions.

As of early this spring, community members had donated $4.5 million to the project. Another $1.5 million was realized in savings through Marinette County’s partnership in lending the district money at a lower interest rate than the city could get on the bond market. At that point, the city had its $12 million in funds for the project.

Shortly after reaching the initial goal of $6 million of private funds raised, the actual bids for the project came in totaling $16.1 million. Knowing this meant the fundraising group now had to raise an additional $4.1 million, but also believing the facility needed to get off the ground, the Marinette Common Council approved to borrow the funds to bridge the gap.

The city has accepted bids and plans to start construction to ensure the project’s completion by the spring of 2018. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in May at the site next to Marinette High School.

Florence, Door counties receive fab lab grants

Florence County and Southern Door County School District were among 21 school districts throughout the state to receive a total of nearly $500,000 in grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to establish or expand local fabrication laboratory facilities.

The 21 school districts are receiving a total of $494,809 in fab lab grants from WEDC. Individual school districts were eligible for up to $25,000, and consortiums of two or more districts were eligible for up to $50,000. The program requires matching funds from each district.


Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Johnsonville to expand global headquarters

Johnsonville and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announced that the company will expand its global corporate headquarters in Sheboygan Falls. Construction on the 49,000-square-foot addition, which will feature a member development center, additional workstations and an expanded fitness center, is already underway and expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The project calls for Johnsonville to significantly expand its investment in engineering, research and development, and marketing as the company prepares for additional growth in its domestic, international and foodservice businesses.

WEDC is supporting the expansion by awarding Johnsonville up to $10 million in state income tax credits over the next five years. WEDC awarded tax credits to Johnsonville for previous expansions at Johnsonville’s Sheboygan Falls facilities in 2012 and 2015. Since that first award, the company’s employment in Sheboygan Falls has grown from about 700 to more than 1,200. The company plans to add nearly 100 jobs over the next five years.


Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Waupaca Foundry recognized for military support 

Waupaca Foundry Inc., a Hitachi Metals company, received the Patriot Award in recognition of extraordinary support of employees serving in the Army Reserves. Kyle Myszka, a metallurgist at the Marinette ductile iron foundry, nominated his supervisor, Joe Keske, and Human Resources Manager Phil Eatherton for their support while he served in Army Reserves officer candidate school.

All are employed at Waupaca Foundry in Marinette. Myszka worked with plant leaders to plan a path for military service and entered officer candidate school in August of 2016. It is Waupaca Foundry’s policy to hold all jobs open for employees engaged in active military service.

The company also received two distinctions from the American Foundry Society. At the 121st Metalcasting Congress, it was honored with the Divisional Plant Engineering Award for core room expansion improvements at two gray iron foundries located in Waupaca.

Additionally, the iron casting supplier earned Best in Class for a ductile iron suspension casting converted from aluminum that achieved one of the Detroit Big Three’s lightweighting objectives for a major automotive platform.

Retired CEO Gary M. Gigante received the Peter L. Simpson Gold Medal for long-term contributions to the sustainability of the metalcasting industry through environmental stewardship, technological advances and the development of people in the industry. Director of Research and Process Development Gregory Miskinis received the Award of Scientific Merit for major contributions to the metalcasting industry through industrial research, mentoring newcomers to the industry, and service to the Northeastern Wisconsinchapter of AFS.

Bank First National acquires Waupaca Bancorporation

Bank First National Corp., the parent company of Bank First National, announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which Bank First National Corp. will acquire Waupaca Bancorporation Inc., the parent company of First National Bank. The cash and stock transaction has a total value of approximately $76.3 million.

This transaction represents a strategic and financially attractive combination for both companies’ shareholders. Based on the financial results as of March 31, the combined company will have total assets of $1.8 billion, loans of $1.4 billion and deposits of $1.5 billion.

Under the terms of the definitive agreement and upon consummation of the transaction, Waupaca shareholders will receive a combination of cash and stock for each share of Waupaca common stock, subject to proration based on achieving consideration mix of 70 percent cash and 30 percent stock.

The boards of directors of each company have unanimously approved the merger agreement. The transaction is expected to close later this year and is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by Waupaca’s shareholders. Upon consummation of the transaction, all Waupaca offices are expected to open as Bank First branches.

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