Posted on Jan 1, 2012 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer


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

Economic survey finds business owners optimistic

Businesses in Northeast Wisconsin are optimistic heading into the new year, according to the 2011 First Business Economic Survey of Northeast Wisconsin.

Sales and expenses were up for businesses in 2011, and going into 2012, companies are expecting sales and profitability to increase. In addition, 41 percent of businesses didn’t meet their in-house sales goals for 2011.

The 2011 First Business Economic Survey of Northeast Wisconsin was conducted this fall by the University of Wisconsin’s A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research.

In 2011, 56 percent of all survey respondents reported higher sales revenue, up from 51 percent in 2010. Costs, however, also went up with 62 percent of businesses reporting an increase in operating expenses. That’s up significantly from 2010 when 48 percent of businesses saw their operating expenses rise.

Pricing was another area that saw an increase with 55 percent of businesses reporting increased pricing in 2011, up from 36 percent the year before. Going into 2012, businesses expect that operating costs and pricing will continue to rise.


Circuit breaker aids Moraine Park program

A 13-foot-tall, 26-foot-long circuit breaker scheduled for salvage is now serving as a powerful learning tool for Moraine Park Technical College’s Electrical Power Distribution students. American Transmission Company donated a breaker to the college so it can add an electrical substation to its EPD program.

Electricity is delivered to homes, schools, hospitals, businesses and industries through an integrated system of generation facilities, power lines and substations. Moraine Park’s EPD program focuses on the transmission and distribution parts of this process. In a large substation, circuit breakers are used in system protection to interrupt any short circuits or overload currents that may occur on the network, as well as switching lines and routing power on a transmission system.

“Skilled workers are needed to install and maintain these devices and ATC made a donation to encourage the development and education of qualified workers to maintain and operate the electrical power grid,” says ATC senior construction coordinator Paul Roltgen.


M-B Companies completes Chilton expansion project

M-B Companies Inc. recently completed a new building in Chilton, which houses the manufacturers’ Airport Snow Removal Division.

A.C.E. Building Services of Manitowoc constructed an 11,250-square-foot Butler metal building that will accommodate parts for production and provide space for finished product to be detailed and shipped to the customer. The stand-alone facility features three large overhead doors that will allow M-B Companies to accommodate a variety of sweepers and other snow removal equipment that they manufacture.

M-B’s Chilton division is dedicated to the manufacturing of a variety of airport snow removal products, brooms, plows and snow blowers for many international and regional airports.


Survey: Fond du Lac firms need more workers

An extreme labor shortage throughout Fond du Lac County is looming, according to the 2011 Retirement and Departure Intentions Study released by the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce.

The area will be faced with an estimated 19,000 unfilled jobs by 2026 due to baby boomer retirements and a lack of new workers entering fields most in need.

Survey results show that most companies have not taken many new or innovative steps to help them retain retirees or attract younger workers in a competitive, shrinking labor market.


Tax credits aid expansion project at Winona Foods

Winona Foods Inc. of Green Bay is eligible to receive up to $75,000 in economic development tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to expand its manufacturing capacity, which could create up to 27 jobs.

Winona Foods, a leading maker and supplier of high-quality cheese to the food service, industrial and retail trade segments, is investing about $1.6 million in an expansion project that includes adding more production space and purchasing new equipment.


Peters leaving Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau

Lynn Peters, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, is resigning. She will continue her role with the bureau until her replacement is found.

Peters described her decision as “a move toward retirement,” saying that she intends to work but wants more time with her husband, who has been retired for several years.

“As much as I love this job, I’m ready to work fewer hours and be able to spend more time with my husband. This has been a tough decision for me to make, but I think this is a desirable position that will attract some excellent candidates,” she says.

The process of selecting a new executive director has already begun. Jerry Lintz with Gecko Hospitality has been selected to assist the bureau’s Board of Directors and search committee in conducting a nationwide search for candidates. The targeted time frame for the transition is spring 2012.

Peters joined the bureau initially in July 1986 as the director of sales and service. She left the bureau in 1990 to serve as the vice president of business and education partnerships at the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry before returning to the bureau as executive director in 1999.


Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan counties

Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry plans expansion

Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Co. says it will create up to 43 jobs as the result of a $7.5 million expansion in the former Mirro factory, in Manitowoc, that once made cookware.

The company is eligible for up to $210,000 in economic development tax credits through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to help fund the project.

The expansion involves adding two production lines and 35,000 square feet of building space. The first production line will be completed early this year and the second line will be finished by the end of 2012.

Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry was founded in Manitowoc in 1909. It has made nonferrous castings used in cars, diesel engines, medical equipment and small engines, as well as consumer products such as pressure canners and cast aluminum cookware.


Door County airport gets new fixed-based operator

Express Airport Services LLC of Appleton has been selected as the new fixed-base operator at Door County Cherryland Airport.

The fixed-base operator (FBO) essentially runs the day-to-day airport operation, including the sale of fuel and other basic auxiliary services to pilots. The previous operator, Maxair, withdrew from the airport at the end of October. The new deal is for 10 years.


Rockline Industries plans expansion, adding jobs

Rockline Industries, a manufacturer of wet wipes, is planning to invest $10 million in new technology and add a 6,000-square-foot expansion to its Sheboygan facility.

The company says the expansion has the potential to add up to 60 jobs locally.

Rockline recently signed an agreement with a large multinational company that led to the expansion.




Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto counties

Oconto hospital partners with Northern Health Centers

Northern Health Centers and Oconto Hospital & Medical Center have established a partnership with the goal of improving dental health services for residents in and around the Oconto region.

The announcement follows a deliberate, months-long process in which Northern Health evaluated its options to expand its dental services by partnering with other health care entities. Northern Health officials determined Oconto Hospital & Medical Center, which is supported by Bellin Health in Green Bay, was the best option.

Under the partnership, Oconto Hospital & Medical Center will lease Northern Health space within its facility. Northern Health Centers, established in 1986, will provide the hospital and medical center with dental services including preventive care; dental emergency, periodontal and basic restorative services; and education and outreach.

“Our partnership is a direct result of our ongoing efforts to enhance the health and wellness of this entire region,” says Laura Cormier, vice president of operations at Oconto Hospital & Medical Center.




Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake counties

Keshena college contributes $37M to local economy

The College of Menominee Nation (CMN) in Keshena has an annual economic impact of $37 million on the community, according to a new study.

The study, which was conducted by NorthStar Economics Inc. of Madison, determined the college’s impact based on activity during the 2010-11 school year on the Menominee reservation and in Shawano County.

The report says the largest economic impact comes from direct spending by the college’s operations, faculty, staff, students and visitors.

“With the college finishing its second decade of operations, we felt it was time to also set a benchmark for what CMN means for the region in financial terms,” says CMN President Verna Fowler.


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