Regional Roundup

Posted on Sep 27, 2019 :: Regional Roundup
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

interstate 41 Corridor

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

Gulfstream opens Appleton aircraft maintenance facility

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. opened its new $40 million aircraft maintenance facility at the Appleton International Airport. The facility increased Gulfstream’s local maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations and created nearly 100 jobs, with the potential for more in the next few years.

The nearly 190,000-square-foot building, northeast of the airport terminal, includes 101,853 square feet of space, which will accommodate 12 Gulfstream G650ER or G650 aircraft. In addition to offices, back shops and general support space, the expansion adds a new sales and design center and increased customer access to Gulfstream’s design portfolio.

The facility boasts several sustainable features, including sensitive land protection, a rainwater management system, enhanced control systems for heating and cooling, optimized energy performance and electric vehicle charging stations. It is expected to receive U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Ariens Co. announces $30M in plant improvements, hiring plans

Ariens Co. is halfway through a $30 million transformation of its Plant 1 that will allow the Brillion company to meet growing demand for its zero-turn mowers. The company’s five-year trend of double-digit growth is spurring the project, which should be complete next summer.

Ariens also is looking to hire another 150 workers for various manufacturing positions to meet its continued growth.

The transformation project touches all areas of the 320,000-square-foot plant and includes a new $19 million paint system, lasers, robotic welders, steel delivery bay and shipping docks. It also focuses on workplace enhancements in ergonomics, safety, air quality, automation to assist with heavy tasks and automated guided vehicles to move products.

Demand for zero-turn mowers is fueling Ariens’ growth, says Matt Meden, the company’s vice president of marketing. “That market is increasing by 500,000 per year, and each year, our share of that continues to grow,” he says. “We’ve done a lot of work on brand awareness, so when they get to a power equipment dealer or Home Depot or Lowes — where we also sell our products — they’ll be looking for us.”

Jewelers Mutual Insurance changes corporate structure

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. policyholders have approved a plan to convert the Neenah
organization’s corporate structure to a mutual holding company.

The conversion to a mutual holding company, previously approved by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and the Jewelers Mutual board of directors, will be effective upon issuance of a certificate of authority by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner, which is expected on or shortly after Jan. 1.

The change to a mutual holding company structure provides Jewelers Mutual with more flexibility to develop new and innovative products and services beyond its traditional insurance products, according to CEO and President Scott Murphy. In recent years, the company has launched its JM Shipping and JM Care Plan solutions.

Under the new structure, Jewelers Mutual Holding Co. will become the group’s new parent company, with Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., SI becoming a stock subsidiary company wholly owned by the mutual holding company.

While a mutual holding company structure would allow Jewelers Mutual to consider the sale of stock to raise capital, Murphy said it has no plans to do so. The company will continue to operate solely for the benefit of its policyholder members, and policyholders will have essentially the identical membership rights in the mutual holding company that they have today.

West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Training available for 41 workers affected by Waupaca Kmart closing

The Kmart located at 830 W. Fulton St., Waupaca, will close in November, affecting approximately 41 employees.

The Fox Valley Workforce Development Board is leading efforts to retrain and re-employ the workers. The board will work with Kmart store leadership to schedule an employee outreach session, which will include an overview of the services the board offers and the area Job Center, as well as information on unemployment insurance.

The employees also will be evaluated for job readiness and begin the process of finding their next role. In addition, these workers may be eligible for assistance from the National Retail Worker Dislocation Grant, which can direct up to $30,000 to each laid-off retail worker for retraining, housing and other support.

Waupaca Foundry recognized as business friend of environment

Waupaca Foundry Inc., a Hitachi Metals group company, received the 2019 Business Friend of the Environment Award in the category of environmental innovation. The iron component supplier was honored for outstanding leadership in integrating sustainable business practices throughout its manufacturing operations.

Sponsored by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the annual Business Friend of the Environment Award recognizes small, medium and large businesses in three categories: sustainability, the use of innovative technology and environmental stewardship. Nominees were from industries throughout Wisconsin.

Waupaca Foundry operates three iron foundries and machining operations based in Waupaca and Marinette. The award recognized Waupaca Foundry’s progress in reducing water use and wastewater treatment in key areas of manufacturing production.

In addition to reducing water use, the company recycles 555,000 tons of spent foundry sand and slag annually. Sand that can no longer be recycled is used in general construction, road construction, agricultural use and geotechnical fill. Air pollution control uses bag house air filtration and filter leak detection to maintain the highest pollution controls in the foundry industry.

The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Former Door County school could become housing development

Developers have shared their latest plans to turn West School in Sturgeon Bay into a 40-unit workforce housing development.

The project, which would be named Sawyer School Lofts, would include a minimum of eight units guaranteed for veterans.

Andy Dumke and Cal Schultz of Northpointe Developments said in addition to their own investment in the property, the school would be refurbished in part with historic tax credits and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority tax credits.

The development would help provide housing for working individuals and families — something that is in high demand in Sturgeon Bay, Dumke said.

“We are passionate about saving historic buildings and are excited that this building has the opportunity to live on with a new purpose,” he said. “If all goes as planned, West School’s 100th birthday will be celebrated with its rebirth as a place offering quality housing.”

The project still needs to make it through the local approval process.

Construction begins on state’s first large-scale solar facility

Construction is underway on Wisconsin’s first large-scale solar park. Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric have teamed up to build the Two Creeks Solar Park in Manitowoc County.

The facility will include 500,000 solar panels on 800 acres of land. It is expected to provide power to more than 33,000 homes.

The park will be in Two Creeks and the city of Two Rivers, near the Point Beach Nuclear Plant. NextEra Energy Resources LLC, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun and owner of the Point Beach Nuclear Plant, is developing and building the facility, which will operate as a subsidiary of the company.

The project will require 300 workers during construction, with three full-time personnel hired to operate the facility. Construction will ramp up this fall, and the project is expected to finish by the end of 2020.

The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Fincantieri Marinette Marine and Vigor deliver boats to Jordanian navy

Fincantieri Marinette Marine and Vigor announced the deliveries of two additional Response Boat-Mediums to the U.S. Coast Guard. These boats are part of an approved foreign military sale to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan through the Department of Homeland Security.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine was the prime contractor and program manager for the project, and Vigor built the vessels at its Seattle facility.

Key features on the vessels include FLIR night vision technology, push knees for added control with VBSS operations, and a composite aft deck hardtop for crew comfort. The vessels continue to use shock mitigating seats, Vector-Stick Integrated Control Systems, and port and starboard rescue wells for water retrievals.