Vibe Tech Inc., a producer of vibration therapy equipment for medical rehabiltion, was the top winner in the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Competition. Owned by Jeff Leismer, the Sheboygan County business won $10,000 to help implement its business plan within the next year.
Vibe Tech was selected during a competition in mid-March when contest finalists had 15 minutes in front of a panel of judges to explain why their business plan was the best. The contest was organized and sponsored by the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Economic Partnership (NEWREP).
Other finalists and their awards are:
» Second Place ($6,000): Clifford Orsted of Door Landscape and Nursery, Door County.
» Third Place ($4,000): Hildegard and Dennis Bennin of Hilde’s Deli & Bakery, Calumet County.
» Fourth Place ($3,000): Joe Vosters, P.E. of Bill-Ray Home Mobility, Outagamie County.
» Fifth Place ($2,000): Kelly Czypinski, of Big Bubble Cup, Brown County.
The goal of the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Competition is to encourage the preparation of business plans for start-up businesses, making significant changes to existing businesses, or launching new products in northeast Wisconsin. In addition to NEWREP, other sponsors include New North, Inc., Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, WE Energies, Dominion, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business, University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Lakeshore Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Fox Valley Technical College.
» THE NEW NORTH: News affecting all 18 counties of the New North region
New North firms receive energy efficiency grants
Five Northeast Wisconsin businesses will receive a total of nearly $1.5 million in state funding for their energy efficiency efforts. The grants are being awarded as part of the Focus on Energy industrial grant program through the state.
The five companies are BPM in Peshtigo, Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products in Green Bay, Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, Procter & Gamble in Green Bay, and Thilmany Papers in Kaukauna.
“Promoting energy efficiency and green energy efforts has been one of the key focuses of the New North, Inc.,” says Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, Inc. “These grants will help make these New North businesses more efficient and save a substantial amount of money in operating costs.”
BPM, Inc., a producer of fine papers and specialty packaging solutions, will receive $227,700 to replace a fan pump on one of its paper machines. Georgia-Pacific will receive $125,000 for an optimization project. Mercury Marine will receive $270,000 to install three air collection systems. Procter & Gamble will receive $441,204 to install variable-frequency drives in two of its fans and modify a third. Thilmany Papers will receive $500,000 to improve the thermal efficiency and water usage on its paper machines.
Focus on Energy estimates that the projects will save the companies more than $1 million combined in annual energy costs.
Area manufacturers receive statewide honors
Several companies from throughout the New North received top honors during the 2009 Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Awards.
Oshkosh Corp.-Defense Division won the Grand Award in the Mega Company Division while American Orthodontics Corp. of Sheboygan received the Grand Award in the Large Company Division. Mayville Engineering Company Inc. received a Special Award for Community Involvement and Conservation Education and Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Company Inc. in Manitowoc received a Special Award for Industry Perseverance.
The statewide recognition program is co-sponsored by Baker Tilly, one of America’s largest accounting and advisory firms; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, a Midwest-based law firm; and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business association.
Three area firms named ‘Companies to Watch’
Three New North companies were recently named Companies to Watch by the Edward Lowe Foundation: Green 3 of Oshkosh, MailFoundry of Green Bay and Visonex LLC of Green Bay. The awards program honors second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace, exhibit innovative products, services or processes, or otherwise make their company “worth watching.”
New North representatives met with a delegation of about a dozen business people and researchers from Anhui, China, in March to learn about clean water initiatives. Overlooking the Fox River from the Warch Student Center at Lawrence University in Appleton, they heard presentations by Dennis Hultgren of ENVIRON International Corp.; Jay Grosskopf from The Boldt Company and Steve Laszewski of Foth. Mickey Judkins with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, Jerry Murphy of New North, Inc. and Gary Vaughn of Guident Business Services coordinated the visit. Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna welcomed the Chinese visitors and exchanged gifts. “I grew up in Appleton, and when I was a little boy we didn’t want to go near the river,” he recalled. “Today, because of the policies and regulations we’ve put in place, the river is now a place where people want to be.” Pictured, Lawrence student Jian Gong, who is from southwestern China, translates.
» HIGHWAY 41 CORRIDOR: Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago Fond du Lac Counties
BelGioioso Cheese plans $15 million expansion
BelGioioso Cheese Inc. has announced plans to grow its operations in the Town of Ledgeview in Brown County, with the goal of creating 79 new jobs over the next three years.
The company is constructing a 210,000-square-foot building that will become its office, packaging and distribution center. The total project cost is $15 million and will lead to new jobs at plants in Ledgeview, Denmark, Freedom, Glenmore and Sherwood.
“BelGioioso is proud to continue to grow our operations and create jobs here in Wisconsin,” says Mark Schleitwiler, vice president of BelGioioso Cheese Inc., which provides more than 25 varieties of Italian specialty cheese to food service and retail customers.
The Town of Ledgeview received a $339,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to extend water and sanitary services to support the BelGioioso Cheese expansion.
OTIE wins national award
Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises, which is owned by the Oneida Tribe of Indians, has received the 2010 American Indian Tribal Enterprise of the Year Award.
The company specializes in a range of engineering and construction services and provides services ranging homeland security and emergency response to traditional construction, remediation and infrastructure management.
The American Indian Tribal Enterprise Award recognizes profitable tribal-owned businesses that have a positive economic and social impact in their communities.
FDL plant to reopen after acquisition by Canadian firm
The former Charter Steel plant in Fond du Lac got new life recently when Central Wire Industries, based in Perth, Ontario, purchased the property, with the aid of $163,000 in tax credits from the state. Central Wire manufactures stainless steel and nickel-alloy wire. The project is expected to create 29 jobs and represent $3.3 million in total investment.
The former Charter Steel building at the corner of Hickory and Highway 151 is a 52,275-square-foot facility and has been vacant for approximately nine months. In addition to the state tax credits, Central Wire also received technical assistance from Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation. The facility is expected to reopen in late summer.
“This was a very specialized facility, and we are very fortunate to have found a user so quickly who can make good use of the building as well as bring 29 jobs to Fond du Lac County,” says Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, president of FCEDC. “The management at Central Wire has been phenomenal to work with, and I look forward to this new company becoming a part of the Fond du Lac County business community.”
Marian University honors businesses, organizations
Marian University in Fond du Lac recently honored area businesses and organizations during its annual business awards dinner.
Oshkosh Corp., a leading manufacturer of specialty vehicles and vehicle bodies, was named business of the year.
Orion Energy Systems of Manitowoc received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for successfully taking on the challenges of creating and growing a business.
Wayne Matzke, president and CEO of Grande Cheese Company, received the George Becker Business Spirit Award, which is presented to an individual whose good business practices have contributed significant benefits to the community.
A special achievement award was also given to those who worked together to help Mercury Marine to remain in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. This includes the Mercury management team and IAMAW and its members, as well as Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corp, the City of Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and State Sen. Randy Hopper.
FVTC ag education program inks partnership deal
Fox Valley Technical College is partnering with IH Case and Service Motor Company to provide area students with the latest advances in high-tech agricultural education.
As part of the deal, Case IH and Service Motor Company will provide the college’s agriculture program with the latest agricultural equipment and precision farming technologies. The college will receive new equipment every year for the next 10 years.
“There’s so much changing with agricultural machinery, and the technology can get outdated quickly,” says Kevin Sommer, vice president of Service Motor Company. “When FVTC graduates hit the job market, they’ll have the advanced skills they need to stay ahead of the technology curve.”
Green Bay incubator adds three tenants
Green Bay’s Advance Business Center has added three new tenants to its business incubation program.
The law offices of Malcore & Gaecke, LLC and Antiphon Law focus on providing legal representation within the various litigation sections of law including personal injury, criminal, child custody, divorce and business representation.
Life Church is also housing its administrative support functions at the Center while holding its worship services at The Grand in De Pere.
Northeast Wisconsin Family Care District has also joined the center. It represents seven counties that have created a planning group to develop and implement a model to provide long-term care services to elderly and/or disabled adults within an identified geographical area.
The center also announced that Yang Insurance Agency has graduated from the center and is moving into a new office at 119 S. Webster Ave. in Green Bay.
Beyond gaming: Oneida leaders look to diversify
Gaming revenue has been a primary economic driver for many Native American tribes over the past two decades, generating well over $20 billion annually. Wisconsin’s Oneida Tribe has been among the leaders in developing that revenue stream and recently completed a $4.1 million renovation of the tribe’s Green Bay casino, hotel and conference center. Nonetheless, tribal leaders say, it’s imperative that they develop additional sources of revenue – and not just because gaming revenue fell off by nearly 5 percent in 2009. The tribe has broadened its economic base in recent years, with expanded retail operations, organic farming, a golf course, a tribe-owned bank and a national engineering firm. Oneida Tribal Council Chairman Rick Hill says that’s just scratching the surface of the tribe’s potential.
“We’ve had a diversification plan on the table for a long time, and we have diversified some, but we know it’s time to push this forward,” says Hill. “I think in some ways we’ve been a little parochial in our approach and we need to develop more partnerships.”
That was a central message for the roughly 100 guests attending the Oneida Economic Summit March 17 at the tribe’s Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay. Besides Hill, speakers included David Ward of NorthStar Economics, New North Executive Director Jerry Murphy, Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel and Deron Marquez, an instructor at the UCLA School of Law and chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
Francine Skenandore, an attorney and Oneida senior policy advisor, says tribal governance structures sometimes create challenges to developing external partnerships, but that carefully crafted legal agreements can ensure that all parties benefit. “The important point is that we have to look outside our own community for those opportunities to grow and we can’t be so heavily reliant on gaming revenue for our future.”
Diversifying the Oneida economy has the additional benefit of creating more varied career opportunities for the tribe’s younger members, says Oneida General Manager Deborah Thundercloud.
» THE NORTHWOODS Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties Marinette
Marine begins $10 million expansion
Shipbuilder Marinette Marine has begun work on a $10 million plan to add space to one of its manufacturing facilities in Marinette.
Marinette Marine is expanding Building 10 to 578 feet in length, allowing more than enough space to contain the 378-foot LCS ships, which the shipbuilder is seeking to construct for the U.S. Navy.
The building addition is the first step by Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilder who bought Marinette Marine in 2008, to spend about $70 million in upgrades on the shipyard by 2014.
Menominee Tribe receives state funds for transit center
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin is receiving $4.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build a new transit center in Keshena.
The transit center, which is expected to be completed by July, is significantly larger than the outdated building it will replace. The 32,000-square foot facility contains office space, a bus storage area and includes green features such as a geothermal heating system, solar panels and natural lighting. The grant also includes funding for ADA-compliant minivans and buses.
» THE LAKESHORE Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties
Manitowoc firm receives redevelopment grant
Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin is receiving a $310,000 blight elimination and brownfield redevelopment grant from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to help fund construction of its new headquarters in Manitowoc. The grant will be used to help with the remediation costs associated with the construction of a five-story, 50,000-square-foot central service building at 801 York St. The site is adjacent to Dermatology Associates’ current facility, which the company has grown out of. When completed, the $6.7 million project has the potential to create 124 additional jobs.
» WEST CENTRAL Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties
Seagrave wins contractto supply Portland fire trucks
Seagrave Fire Apparatus, based in Clintonville, received a five-year contract to supply the City of Portland, Maine, with new fire equipment, including pumper trucks and aerial equipment. The contract is renewable for an additional five years. Officials from the city toured Seagrave’s factory and met with employees.
Seagrave officials say the full value of the contract is uncertain, but that a pumper truck due for delivery in 2011 has already been funded. Seagrave and Portland have a long history together. The city’s first motorized fire apparatus was a 1917 Seagrave.
Send business news updates and photos to [email protected].