• interstate 41 Corridor
Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac Counties
Fleet Farm buys Secura building, will open new corporate HQ
Fleet Farm Group LLC is purchasing the current Secura Insurance headquarters, 2401 S. Memorial Drive, Appleton, for its new corporate headquarters. Secura is moving to its new headquarters in Fox Crossing in October.
Fleet Farm plans to bring together personnel from six locations under one roof at its new 192,000-square-foot headquarters.
“We looked at a lot of locations, including some in other cities and states, and the current Secura location is perfect,” said Fleet Farm CEO Derick Prelle. “It allows us to stay in the Appleton area, and the Secura facility answers our needs. It is a perfect size for us, and it has been beautifully maintained.”
Approximately 500 Fleet Farm employees will be housed at its new corporate location, including as many as 70 jobs that will be transferred from Fleet Farm’s Brainerd, Minn., location. Fleet Farm plans to begin its move after Jan. 1 and have all its operations consolidated at the new headquarters by the end of March.
Nicolet National Bank to acquire Choice Bank, increase Oshkosh reach
Nicolet Bankshares Inc. announced plans to acquire Choice Bancorp Inc. and its wholly owned banking subsidiary, Choice Bank. The move will expand Nicolet’s presence in the greater Oshkosh marketplace to the lead local community bank as measured by deposit market share.
Based on the financial results as of March 31, the combined company would have pro forma total assets of $3.5 billion, deposits of $2.8 billion and loans of $2.5 billion.
“We have followed Choice closely since management and the board formed the bank in 2006 and admire what they have built in greater Oshkosh. Choice represents the perfect example of a franchise we look to partner with — a local community bank that has maintained a deep longstanding relationship with their customers and shareholders,” Nicolet National Bank President and CEO Mike Daniels said in a statement.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, Nicolet will acquire Choice with Nicolet being the surviving corporation. In the merger, Choice shareholders will receive 0.5 shares of Nicolet common stock for each share of Choice stock. Based on Nicolet’s closing price of $61.13 as of June 26, the merger consideration is valued at approximately $72.4 million, which excludes Nicolet’s pre-existing ownership of Choice shares.
Post-merger, Scott Sitter, president and CEO of Choice Bank, will join the management team of Nicolet and serve as senior vice president and commercial banking manager of Oshkosh and the Fox Valley. The customer-facing employees of Choice are expected to stay on in the same capacity.
Amtrak now offers bus service between Green Bay and Milwaukee
A new Amtrak Thruway Bus Service now provides two daily round trip buses between Green Bay and Milwaukee, with stops in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. The service provides seamless connections to and from Chicago using Amtrak Hiawatha trains.
“This service provides residents in the I-41 corridor with convenience, comfort and connection,” says Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson. “It expands options for passengers traveling for business or leisure.”
The service, being provided by Amtrak in coordination with the WisDOT, will allow travelers to make a same-day round trip between the I-41 cities and Chicago, as well as Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport, Sturtevant and Glenview, Ill.
The bus will be operated by Wisconsin Coach Lines/Coach USA Milwaukee. The new bus service addresses the gap in I-41 service that resulted from the Greyhound service cancellation last October. It supplements the existing Lamers daily roundtrip on I-41, and the Jefferson Lines and Indian Trails buses that travel on I-43.
• West Central
Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties
Shawano emergency homeless shelter to get permanent home
Shawano’s SAM25 emergency homeless shelter purchased a permanent location.
SAM25 (Shawano Area Matthew 25 Inc.) is a nonprofit organization that operates SAM’s House Emergency Homeless Shelter in Shawano. The organization is in its fifth year of operations and has been renting its current space from the City of Shawano since its inception.
The organization purchased a residential facility on Richmond Street. SAM25 Executive Director Jennifer Laude Bisterfeldt says the new space requires significant renovations but offers just the right amount of space for its goals. The building will double the facility’s square footage and will allow SAM25 to expand its footprint.
SAM25 purchased the space in April with savings. Now, it has embarked upon a capital campaign to raise $410,000 for the building’s renovations. It has already raised almost 70 percent of its goal. Since inception, SAM25 has provided more than 300 people with shelter at SAM’s House and offers on average of five to six households resource assistance each week.
• The Northwoods
Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties
Marinette Marine receives $1.1M DOT grant for shipyard upgrades
Fincantieri Marinette Marine received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration for upgrades to its shipyard, which will provide it with additional capacity to produce the Multi-Mission Surface Combatant and future ships.
“We have invested more than $100 million in recent years to improve our facilities and develop our workforce, and this grant allows us to continue modernization efforts and to solidify our shipbuilding center of excellence in the Midwest,” said Dario Deste, CEO of Fincantieri Marine Group. “These planned additions to the shipyard will make us more capable to build larger ships that our government customers desire.”
FMM’s shipyard consists of 12 buildings and 550,000 square feet of production capability for its 1,500 employees. As part of the new facility upgrade, Marinette Marine plans to acquire and install three additional 100-ton bridge cranes in a new hull-erecting building that is in the engineering and design phase.
Fincantieri Marinette Marine is one of four shipbuilders working with the U.S. Navy to design the new guided missile frigate, known as FFG(X). The competition for the $1.2 billion initial design is expected to wrap up in late 2020, and the Navy wants to build 20 frigates in the next 10 years.
If Fincantieri Marinette Marine wins the competition for the future frigate, it would be a huge windfall for the local Wisconsin community and entire Midwest, as conservative estimates suggest a multi–billion-dollar economic impact over the course of the program, according to Deste. Most suppliers on Fincantieri’s frigate would be from the Midwest.
The company is in serial production of the Littoral Combat Ships for the U.S. Navy, but the Navy has indicated a need for a slightly larger and more capable surface combatant.
• The Lakeshore
Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties
Cookware maker Tramontina closes Manitowoc facility, 145 jobs lost
Tramontina USA Inc. closed its Manitowoc cookware manufacturing facility, eliminating 145 jobs.
Sugar Land, Texas-based Tramontina, which began production in Manitowoc in 2005 after purchasing the site from Mirro, also plans to cut 100 jobs at its Texas operations where the cookware was assembled and packaged.
Marcelo Borges, president and CEO of Tramontina, cited production cost increases and higher tariffs as factors in the closing.
“Due to production cost increases over several years, our shareholders decided to cease manufacturing operations at our U.S. facility as a strategic step towards consolidating our production within the group’s existing factories in Brazil, which allows us to focus more on product development, sales and logistics in the United States,” Borges said in a statement.
After the announcement was made, Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels and Peter Wills of Progress Lakeshore issued a joint statement that several local businesses are hiring, including Lakeside Foods, Redline Plastics, Robinson Metal, Alliance and others. They encouraged displaced Tramontina employees to contact the Manitowoc Job Center at (920) 208-5817 to get assistance with unemployment benefits and applying for new jobs.
Chamber study names Sheboygan as one of state’s best places to live
A study released by the national Chamber of Commerce ranked Sheboygan No. 10 on its best cities to live in Wisconsin with populations above 25,000.
The ranking is based on five factors: employment, housing, quality of life, education and health. In addition to these five factors, the city is becoming a leader in tourism and recreation opportunities along with creating housing for all income levels and individuals seeking jobs within the community. Public transportation, a lively arts scene and multiuse trails are also on the rise to serve residents.
“Rankings like this one help in those efforts by showing the world all the good that’s happening here,” said Gary Dulmes, chair of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.