Here’s a roundup of economic development news from throughout Northeast Wisconsin. For links to economic development groups in the New North, visit www.thenewnorth.com/communitiesmap.
Highway 41 Corridor: Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac Counties
The New North Inc. is co-sponsoring the American Wind Energy Association Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton on March 31.
The seminar will focus on challenges and opportunities for companies looking to get involved in the wind energy industry. Topics include an overview of the industry in Wisconsin and nationally, manufacturing and component requirements of a wind turbine, component sourcing and value chain services.
For more information on the seminar, visit www.awea.org. For more information on the wind energy industry in the New North, and to view the Fall 2008 Wisconsin Wind Works Supply Chain Directory, visit www.thenewnorth.com.
Denmark didn’t find itself without a hometown newspaper for long. The 96-year-old Denmark Press, which was owned by Gannett Co., ceased publication in December. The Denmark Tribune, published by Greg Mariucci of Algoma, circulated its first edition in December. In January, Mark Hansen and Ryan Radue published the first edition of the Denmark News. Radue is a Village of Denmark trustee and co-owner of Radue Realty and Radue Homes. Hansen has been in the printing business for 16 years. His grandfather, Mervyn Hansen, and father, Lyle, published The Kaukauna Times. Other staff for the Denmark News include former Denmark Press employees Steve Arveson and Karen Nelson, as well as Matt Kapinos, who will manage advertising sales. Printing will be conducted at Metro Printing in Kaukauna, Wis., which employs two press operators that had once ran The Denmark Press. “This has been an exciting process, and we hope our readers embrace their new hometown paper,” says Radue. “Each member of our committed team of professionals has strong, personal ties to Denmark, which strengthens our goal to make The Denmark News a success for everyone involved, mainly for the Denmark community.”
Skyline Exhibit Resources recently moved into a new 40,000-square-foot facility at 3400 S. Packerland Drive in Ashwaubenon. The company name is changing to Exhibit Resource. Exhibit Resource is a full-service display firm specializing in trade shows and trade show management. The company offers exhibit management programs, custom printing and design services. Exhibit Resource has been in the area since 1991 and employs 22 people.
“Our new building gives us more warehouse space to store clients’ displays, installation bays for applying vehicle graphic wraps, an expanded showroom and also allows us to put our wide-format printers under the same roof with the rest of the operation,” says owner and president Carol Van Vreede. The new building will also house a flooring store called Floor U, supplying flooring services to trade show exhibitors as well as residential and commercial consumers.
Melissa Hunt recently joined the staff of the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation as a community development specialist. The position is a collaborative effort between FCEDC, Village of North Fond du Lac, City of Ripon, and City of Waupun with Ms. Hunt providing community development services to those three communities. Hunt’s duties will include coordinating and managing Community Development Authority activities, developing revitalization strategies, conducting public awareness and education programs and assisting business and property owners with improvement projects.
West Central: Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties
The January announcement that Cummins Inc. would close its manufacturing plant in Wautoma later this month came as “a total shock to nearly everyone in this area,” says Bill Wheeler, executive director of the Tri-County Regional Economic Development Corp., which coordinates economic development efforts for Green Lake, Marquette and Waushara counties.
“Cummins had just invested nearly $50 million last summer to retool this facility for emission control systems, so the announcement was a real surprise and unfortunately a sign of the times,” says Wheeler. “Most importantly is dealing with the 180 jobs lost. We don’t have a large industrial base to deal with, so this is a big hit for us.”
Cummins officials said in January that it would offer employment to some Wautoma workers at other Cummins locations, but that those opportunities would be “very limited.”
“While the immediate response is to help the former Cummins workers find new jobs or get retraining assistance,” Wheeler says, “we are also working closely with the Cummins corporate real-estate folks to establish the parameters to the future of the facility. We want to move quickly to get the word out and hopefully find a new owner to keep some of these jobs in the area. We have the tools available to make this happen between the Tri-County Revolving Loan Fund, Department of Commerce, Wautoma TIF and other area funds available to assist someone. This is an extremely viable building and we hope to find a new tenant for it.”
The Northwoods: Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties
Meanwhile, the Niagara Mill remains closed down despite reported offers to buy the facility from NewPage, which closed the plant last fall, citing slowing demand for coated paper. Ohio-based NewPage had promised to consider offers to buy the mill, but only from noncompeting companies. Now Marinette County officials are considering an adaptive reuse plan for the mill, using $15,000 in federal planning grant funds to study alternative uses for the mill and dam, which have been in service for more than 100 years. Don Clewley, executive director of the Marinette County Association for Business and Industry, says one possible use for the plant would include production of cellulosic (wood-fiber) ethanol.
The Lakeshore: Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties
Orion Energy Systems, based in Manitowoc, has been named the supplier of the year by Sysco Corporation for the second year in a row. Orion has retrofitted more than 60 facilities for Sysco, with fluorescent lighting technology that provides significant energy savings while providing more light at the same time.
Heavy Metal Fabricators was named Manitowoc County’s Industry of the Year in January at the Celebration of Champions dinner sponsored by The Chamber of Manitowoc County. Heavy Metal Fabricators manufactures large machines and machined weldments for the crane, marine, paper, foundry, petroleum and construction equipment industries. Heavy Metal Fabricators’s annualized sales have increased more than 300 percent in the past two years and the company has also added 40 jobs in that time. Heavy Metal Fabricators also completed a $2.75 million plant expansion in 2009. Wisconsin Nationwide Companies won the Chamber’s Business of the Year award for companies with more than 25 employees. Apple Chiropractic Clinics won the award for companies with 25 or fewer employees.