Regional Roundup May

Posted on May 1, 2011 :: Up Front
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

HIGHWAY 41 CORRIDOR
Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac counties

Fond du Lac County shares info on growth areas

Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation (FCEDC) has released new, detailed industry profiles that reveal market opportunities for business growth in this area. FCEDC completed an in-depth industry analysis for the following seven targeted industries: advanced manufacturing (machinery and metals); advanced materials manufacturing; agribusiness, food processing and technology; biomedical/biotechnical (life sciences); printing and publishing; transportation and logistics; and energy (fossil and renewable), says FCEDC President Brenda Hicks-Sorensen.
These profiles not only gathered employment, sales, concentration of each industry and other facts for each industry, they also revealed gaps or unmet needs within each industry supply chain, Hicks-Sorensen says.
By closing those gaps, Fond du Lac will see more jobs, increased industry competitiveness and an attractive environment to lure new business to the area.
Hicks-Sorensen says these gaps are potential opportunities for existing businesses to expand and for new businesses to locate in Fond du Lac County.

FVTC extends partnership with robotics training firm

Fox Valley Technical College has become ABB Robotics’ third U.S. regional training facility.
FVTC is now offering technical training classes hosted by ABB Robotics, a leading supplier of industrial robots to current ABB robot end users and all others interested in becoming more adept at programming and operating industrial robots.
A year ago, FVTC and ABB announced an alliance that included the installation of seven ABB robots and related software and controllers in FVTC’s industrial training facility. The relationship significantly upgraded the college’s vocational and technical robotics training.
“FVTC understands the major role robotic automation plays in advanced manufacturing, and the value in educating both students and incumbent workers in building a highly-skilled and competitive workforce,” says Joe Campbell, vice president of the ABB Robot Products Group in the U.S.

Brown County wind farm plans put on hold

Invenergy LLC has cancelled plans to build a 100-turbine wind farm in southern Brown County, citing too many unknowns from state regulators.
Chicago-based Invenergy planned to build 100 turbines in the towns of Morrison, Wrightstown, Glenmore and Holland, but the project stood idle while the company awaited guidelines from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
According to a corporate statement, the move is “a business decision in which we could not justify continuing to make significant financial commitments in maintaining the Ledge (Wind Energy Center) project while uncertainty persists regarding relevant project regulations.”
Grant spurs expansion of Omro industrial park Omro is expanding its industrial park thanks to a grant from the Economic Development Administration.
The grant is part of the $8.8 million of federal grant money to the State of Wisconsin to assist ongoing recovery efforts as a result of recent flooding in regions of the state.
The addition, which is over 25 acres in size, features 14 lots priced at $10,000 per acre. Amenities include gas, electric, water and sewer. All lots have access to State 21 and the industrial park is just eight miles west of Oshkosh.
This expansion is estimated to create 70 jobs and spur over $3 million in private investment in the region, says Daniel Lenz, president of the Omro Area Development Corporation.
“We hope this expansion will usher in a new phase of economic prosperity for the community,” he says. The Omro Industrial Park was established in 1981 and is currently home to a variety of light industrial businesses.

Fond du Lac gaining new hotel, conference center

A former nursing home is being converted into a Best Western hotel and conference center in Fond du Lac.
The $9 million project includes the remodeling of the former three-story nursing home, adding a fourth floor and expanding the building to the east and the west.
Located at 1155 S. Military Road, the Best Western Premier is scheduled to open next spring. The hotel will have 101 rooms.

Area businesses named to ‘Companies to Watch’ list

Three New North firms will be honored this month as Wisconsin Companies to Watch, an awards program presented by the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network (WEN).
Aurizon Ultrasonics LLC of Kimberly; Cherney Microbiological Services Ltd. of Green Bay; and LIVEyearbook Inc. of Neenah (see “Personalizing Memories” on page 48.)were all named to the list.
The WCTW awards program is supported by the Wisconsin SBDC Network and the Division of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation.
The Wisconsin Companies to Watch list is comprised of second-stage companies that have six to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generate $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants.

Grande Cheese Co. makes plans to move headquarters

Grande Cheese Co. is moving its corporate offices to Fond du Lac’s south side from Lomira.The company purchased 40 acres of land west of Agnesian’s Fond du Lac Surgery Center and will use that area to build a new headquarters in the next three to five years. The current Lomira headquarters employs about 150 people.
“We are looking to the future and believe there are opportunities to grow,” says Wayne Matzke, president and CEO of Grande Cheese. “This site will allow us to build a new home office and technology center.”
Grande has a dicing and packaging facility in Fond du Lac, as well as a shipping and distribution warehouse. Combined, the operations employ 80 people. The move will not impact Grande’s major manufacturing facility in Brownsville.
Grande is a privately held firm that employs more than 750 employees at facilities in seven locations throughout Wisconsin. The company markets and sells its trademark cheese products through a distribution network serving independent pizzerias and Italian casual dining restaurants.

THE LAKESHORE
Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan counties

Sheboygan parts maker plans $18 million upgrade
J.L. French Automotive Castings is spending $18 million to upgrade two facilities in Sheboygan.
The company, which makes aluminum die-cast auto parts, says the changes to the two manufacturing plants are due to a new deal with Ford Motor Co. The deal includes production of the automaker’s new six-speed front-wheel-drive transmission cases and related converter housings.

Deal confirms new owner for Blue Harbor resort

Blue Harbor, a 182-room resort on the shores of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, is now owned by Claremont Cos., of Bridgewater, Mass., and New Frontiers Capital of Auburn Hills, Mich.
Madison-based Great Wolf Resorts sold it for $4.2 million to the two new partners. Great Wolf was looking to sell Blue Harbor since it was not meeting revenue expectations. The resort opened in 2004.
Blue Harbor’s new owners plan to renovate the resort lobby, its rooms and some outdoor areas.
Blue Harbor includes a conference center owned by the City of Sheboygan. Great Wolf will pay the city $2.5 million to settle its promise to pay room tax revenue through 2028 and property taxes through 2018.

Bay Shipbuilding lands contract for two vessels

Bay Shipbuilding Co. has landed a contract to build two new vessels in Sturgeon Bay by 2013.
The 303-foot platform supply vessels are for New Orleans-based Tidewater Marine, which provides support services for the offshore energy industry.
Bay Shipbuilding is part of the Fincantieri Marine Group, which also owns Marinette Marine.

THE NORTHWOODS
Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto counties

Online nursing education options expand in region
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Professional Program is offering nursing students in Marinette and Rhinelander the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in their own communities.
The bachelor of science in nursing completion program combines in-person and online courses. Each semester, one core nursing course will be offered on the campus of UW-Marinette and Nicolet College in Rhinelander while the other ones will be a mix of face-to-face and online formats.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education has accredited the program, which can be finished by working adults in two to four years.

State grant helps Pembine road project move ahead
Marinette County will receive a $55,000 grant from the state to reconstruct Marinette County R and improve access to ISP Minerals in the Town of Pembine.
The state says the project will create 10 jobs and preserve another 11 since it will help the company’s viability as it opens a second mine.
Marinette County is providing another $55,000 for the project.

WEST CENTRAL
Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake counties

Green Lake Chamber gets new executive director
Loni Meiborg is the new executive director of the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. She succeeds Ellen Koeppen, who left that role in December.
Before joining the chamber, Meiborg was marketing manager at Laser Excel in Green Lake. She has been an active participant in the Green Lake Chamber.
The chamber’s board of directors picked Meiborg because of her knowledge and experience in strategic marketing, event planning and the use of social media. She is now tasked to spearhead the initiatives outlined by the board’s three-year strategic plan, which was adopted last October.
The Green Lake Chamber has more than 200 business members.