Regional roundup

Posted on Mar 28, 2019 :: Regional Roundup
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Interstate 41 Corridor

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

UW-Oshkosh, Platteville expanding engineering education options

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville and UW-Oshkosh will partner to expand engineering programs in the Fox Valley.

The schools have solidified a degree partnership that aims to increase the number of engineers in the region. As part of the partnership, UW-Platteville will offer degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering through classes at UW-Oshkosh campuses in Menasha and Oshkosh. Students can also start in the already-existing UW-Oshkosh engineering technology major and follow the engineering track. The program will debut on the Oshkosh campus in the fall 2019 semester.

Through the program, students can live and study on the Oshkosh campus, with additional classroom opportunities on the Fox Valley campus. At the end of the program, students will earn a UW-Platteville electrical or mechanical engineering degree. Traditional undergraduate students in residence or nontraditional students in the region already working in comparable fields can complete the program in four years.

For nearly 15 years, UW-Fox Valley has been involved in a similar partnership with UW-Platteville, which offered a pathway for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or electrical engineering through a collaborative program that enabled students to complete the degree from the Fox Valley campus. The new memo of understanding solidifies the transition of the program to UW-Oshkosh.


St. Vincent Children’s Hospital pursues $10 million upgrade

HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital is launching a multimillion-dollar community fundraising campaign to make significant upgrades to its facilities and services at the HSHS St. Vincent Hospital campus, 835 S. Van Buren St., Green Bay.

Called “Join the Fight,” the project’s first phase aims to raise $10 million this year to transform four units in HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital: emergency care, pediatric and pediatric intensive care, and Child Life.

Known as a hospital within a hospital, HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital includes hundreds of physicians, nurses, technicians and caregivers who specialize in providing care for children — from emergency and cancer care to intensive and surgical care. In 2018, the hospital saw nearly 18,000 patients.

The HSHS St. Vincent/St. Mary’s Foundation is organizing the Join the Fight effort. To date, $7 million was raised during the campaign’s quiet phase. Those funds have allowed construction to begin on the pediatric emergency care unit, which is located within the main emergency department at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital.

Upgrades to the pediatric and pediatric intensive care units and Child Life space are slated to begin in the fall of 2019 with a completion goal of summer 2020.


West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Green Lake’s Heidel House announces it will cease operations in May

The owners of Green Lake’s Heidel House Resort & Spa announced that it will cease operations May 20. Fiore Companies of Madison, which owns the facility, continues to seek a buyer for the property, which has been for sale since 2016.

“The Fiore Companies have owned the Heidel House Resort for 35 years. We have been very committed to this property, its employees and to the Green Lake area, which is why we are saddened to make this announcement,” Stacy Nemeth, chief operating officer for Fiore, said in a press release. “Unfortunately, during the last decade, we have sustained financial losses, and operation of the resort in its current configuration is no longer a sustainable business model.”

To increase the resort’s appeal, it had added the Evensong Spa in 2006 and in 2014 hired Marcus Corp. to manage the property.

“Times have changed, particularly in the hospitality industry, and the resorts of yesteryear aren’t necessarily the resorts that are capturing the interest of a new generation of travelers,” Nemeth said. “Frankly, the Wisconsin Dells, which is only 50 miles away, has seen an extended period of growth and continues to be a tourism behemoth that is difficult to compete against.”

If no buyer for the facility emerges, Fiore Companies will pursue other development operations and work with the City of Green Lake as it explores opportunities, the press release stated.

The original Heidel House estate was built in 1890 as a private residence. It opened as an inn for guests in 1945.


The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Kohler Co. to close Sheboygan County engine division, move operations

Kohler Co. is closing its Sheboygan County engine division and moving the work to a plant in Hattiesburg, Miss., eliminating 325 positions.

In a statement, the company said consolidating the work at the Hattiesburg plant “will create a simplified customer experience and is not about reducing headcount or downsizing the company.”

The company and representatives of United Auto Workers Local 833 worked out an agreement that engine plant employees represented by the union will be able to transfer to other open positions at Kohler, including its growing generator operations. Employees also had the option to take a severance package.

“As part of the agreement, we will make available alternative jobs in Wisconsin for the affected associates,” Kohler’s statement said. “We remain fully committed to our headquarters in Wisconsin, where we continue to invest in our facilities and actively recruit for a wide range of roles.”

Kohler plans to invest more than $15 million in its Hattiesburg plant and hire 250 people there during the next two years.

One Sheboygan County line will be shut down by the end of September, with the entire operation closing by the end of 2019. Kohler’s engines are used in its generators as well as sold for use in lawnmowers and snowblowers.


Sheboygan studies the feasibility of adding a makerspace

Étude Group, a Sheboygan nonprofit, is studying the feasibility of creating a makerspace in Sheboygan’s FreshTech Innovation District.

A makerspace is a place where people with shared interests and diverse skills can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. Étude will introduce the concept of a makerspace and collect data through a series of focus groups, interviews and experiential making events hosted throughout the county.

The six-month study is being done in coordination with the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. and the City of Sheboygan, which are funding the study.

SCEDC Executive Director Joseph Sheehan compares a makerspace to a gym membership, relating that the membership offers access to instructional classes, recreational use of the facility and tools and layers of social structures that are accessible to people of all ages and skill sets. Instead of physical fitness, a makerspace membership would be an investment in creative or technical fitness.

People join makerspaces for access to tools and classes and maintain their membership because of the community. Working near others, instead of at home in a basement or garage, means that members can quickly get feedback, learn a new skill, problem-solve and connect.


The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Florence to host annual sustainable forestry conference

The 15th Annual Sustainable Forestry Conference will be held April 4 at the Keyes Peak Ski Lodge, 4960 Hwy 101, four miles south of Florence. This year’s conference focuses on “The Forest Industry: Tools and Rules for Success.” Forest industry tools and technology and rules and regulations related to doing business change frequently.

Organizers encourage individuals from regional wood products and logging businesses, elected officials, foresters and land managers, school board members and superintendents, utilities development staff, economic development directors, state government and other related associations, and resource agencies to attend.

Morning speakers will address forest health, Wisconsin’s Deer Management Assistance Program, keeping more money when buying timber, and digital age timber management. Afternoon speakers will address Wisconsin/Michigan DOT truck limits — permits, rules and regulations, mobile technology and forestry, and glue-laminated timber. The conference ends with Henry Schienebeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, providing a Wisconsin and Michigan legislative update.