Regional Roundup

Posted on Jun 1, 2021 :: Regional Roundup
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

interstate 41 Corridor

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

EAA to add education, training space with museum expansion 

The Experimental Aircraft Association broke ground on the “Project 21” initiative, including the first expansion of the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh in more than 20 years. The two-story, 30,000-square-foot facility connected to the EAA Aviation Museum will bring year-round aviation education and training to current and future aviators. 

The $6.2 million project, completely funded via a capital campaign separate from EAA member dues, will feature a Pilot Proficiency Center and a hands-on Youth Education Center. These facilities are adjacent to the museum’s Eagle Hangar and will allow individuals and groups to experience all of EAA’s resources on a year-round basis.

The Pilot Proficiency Center will feature a state-of-the-art skill-building and training center for general aviation pilots, combining safety forums with simulator training sessions that address key flight safety issues. The facility will focus on improving pilots’ overall aeronautical decision-making skills.

The Youth Education Center will bring aviation-centric experiences to the museum year-round. The 15,000-square-foot center will provide youth, parents and teachers access to interactive and project-based activities aimed at inspiring and nurturing the
next generation of aviators.

Project 21 is phase one of EAA’s long-range plan for its museum, which will transform the facility into one that encompasses history, training and education. Completion of construction is expected by May 2022, with a grand opening scheduled for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 in July of that year.


Study finds Mercury Marine delivers $5B economic impact

According to a new study conducted by Envision Greater Fond du Lac, Mercury Marine has a $5 billion-plus annual economic impact on the Fond du Lac community — an increase of more than $1 billion per year from five years ago.

The study shows Mercury continues to be one of the top employers in Wisconsin, now employing nearly 4,000 people at its global headquarters in Fond du Lac. Mercury’s employment in April 2020 was more than double what it was during the recession of 2009 and is now close to triple that number. Additionally, Mercury has a total employment impact of more than 11,000 jobs in the Fond du Lac community, meaning that each job at Mercury Marine supports an additional two full-time positions in Fond du Lac County.

The study also showed Mercury’s impact on retail activity in the region has increased 80 percent since 2016, accounting for more than $336 million in community retail sales. The strong economic trend is predicted to continue, given the unprecedented demand for boating, fishing and outdoor recreation.  

Earlier this year, Mercury introduced its new 7.6-liter V12 600hp Verado outboard engine, the largest outboard engine in the company’s history, which has already garnered new business and allowed Mercury to develop plans for future growth in Wisconsin to support new product and technology development.

Since 2008, Mercury has invested more than $1.5 billion in research and development and expansion to its global headquarters. More than 80 percent of the work completed during that growth was done with Wisconsin-based companies. 


Los Angeles promoter takes over former Oshkosh festival grounds

Los Angeles-based promoter Danny Wimmer Presents signed a long-term lease with the owners of the former Ford Festival Park in Oshkosh.

The 200-acre Ford Park Live venue previously hosted longtime music festivals Country USA and Rock USA, which both drew about 200,000 people annually but were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. The two festivals then shut down for good when their promoter, Neenah-based Hypervibe Inc., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in October.

Ford Park Live announced performances by Billy Strings on June 18 and 19, Chevelle on June 26, and Halestorm on June 27. Seating is available in pods of four to six.


The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Cruisers Yachts, Marquis Yachts announce ownership changes

Florida-based MarineMax Inc., the world’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer, has acquired KCS International Inc., better known as Cruisers Yachts, headquartered in Oconto. Cruisers is recognized as one of the world’s premier manufacturers of premium yachts.

In late April, Cruisers announced the expansion of its capacity with the purchase of the 216,000-square-foot production facility of Marquis/Carver Yachts in Pulaski. The expansion will allow Cruisers to more than double its capacity over time.

When Cruisers announced the purchase, it said it anticipated hiring approximately 150 additional crew members to work at the acquired Pulaski facility and approximately 75 additional crew members to work at its Oconto facility.

With over 100 years of heritage, Cruisers has successfully navigated through various industry cycles and grown through innovation and product leadership. After launching the Cantius yacht series in 2011, Cruisers’ growth
and market share accelerated.

The company successfully navigated through the 2020 pandemic, producing revenue of over $75 million. Cruisers’ dealer network includes SkipperBud’s and Silver Seas Yachts, which were acquired by MarineMax in October, plus five recently added MarineMax locations. Combined, MarineMax accounts for nearly half of Cruisers’ revenue on an annual basis.


BPM Inc. breaks ground on water resource recovery facility

BPM Inc. – A Specialty Paper Mill in Peshtigo broke ground on a water resource recovery facility adjacent to the paper mill at 200 West Front St. BPM employees will run the new facility, which will be used exclusively to treat water used in the papermaking process. The targeted completion date is Oct. 1.

“The $5 million investment in treating our paper mill effluent is a business decision with several factors impacting it.
It provides BPM control of our overall water treatment and reuse as we strive to become even more environmentally sustainable. It also shows the community our commitment to long-term manufacturing in Peshtigo,” said Jim Koronkiewicz, BPM’s general manager.


The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Rockline Industries announces expansion, will double production


Rockline Industries Inc., a family-owned wet wipe manufacturer, is expanding a factory in Sheboygan — a $19.7 million project expected to create 54 jobs over the next three years.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is supporting Rockline’s expansion with up to $380,000 in state income tax credits over the next three years. The actual amount of tax credits Rockline will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period.

Rockline plans to double its household disinfecting wipes manufacturing capacity, with most of the expansion taking place at its factory at 1113 Maryland Ave., Sheboygan. Two new production lines are planned at a cost of $19.7 million.

In addition to the 54 jobs expected to be created by Rockline, an economic modeling study estimates the project could indirectly generate 25 additional jobs in the region. Those new jobs are expected to generate $127,467 in state income tax revenue annually.


City of Manitowoc, state officials mark completion of crane project

The City of Manitowoc, along with Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, celebrated the completion of a crane in the Port of Manitowoc that is securing existing jobs, creating new jobs, and bringing a source of major economic development to the region.

Supported by WisDOT Harbor Assistance Program grants in 2020 and 2021 — totaling approximately $3.5 million — the completed crane will handle 140-ton loads when it is put into service at a U.S. Navy base on the East Coast. Designed and assembled by Konecranes with components constructed by Broadwind Heavy Fabrications, the crane was loaded fully assembled onto a barge for transport through the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Manitowoc’s harbor improvements include structural upgrades to the building site and a section of rail that allowed this crane, as well as future ones, to be tested and loaded for transport.


West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Heidel House nets WEDC grant, plans to reopen this summer

The City of Green Lake received a $250,000 state grant to help renovate and reopen the Heidel House Hotel and Resort. The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will support substantial redevelopment of the interior buildings to reopen the hotel and resort, which had been closed since May 2019.

The city is working with Green Lake Hotel Group LLC, which purchased the 18-acre property in 2020. The hotel is renovating public and common spaces, restaurants and guest rooms. The property will include two bars and two restaurants, an indoor pool, fitness center, game room, gift shop, business center and conference facilities. The hotel is slated to open this month.

The property will be franchised as the Heidel House Hotel and Conference Center under the Ascend Collection by Choice Hotels International and will employ an estimated 48 people. Guest rooms will have new bathrooms, flooring, window treatments and furniture. Restaurants will include added space, a new lobby, a bar and new flooring.

Heidel House was originally built in 1890 as a private estate, and in 1950 it became Heidel House Resort, serving locals and tourists in Green Lake for over 70 years. The hotel has 115 rooms with outdoor amenities including a pool, recreation areas, docks and direct access to Green Lake.