UP FRONT – New North

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

Officials at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon hope to build a 20,000-square-foot Federal Inspection Station to help boost the number of international flights and create jobs.

Global Gateway

Austin Straubel makes case for Federal Inspection Station

A bigger and better Federal Inspection Station (FIS) at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon could be on the way.

Brown County leaders along with U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, recently put forward a proposal to build and staff a $7.5 million, 20,000-square-foot FIS facility with full-time U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services staffing to clear international flights. They hope to secure a grant under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program to provide funding for the project.

If built, the new facility will be a huge economic shot-in-the-arm for the area, says Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach. “A full-service FIS will create jobs, enhance business development, create business opportunities and better serve the community at large,” he says.

Airport Director Tom Miller says commercial airlines have approached Austin Straubel about adding international flights, but that the current FIS facility couldn’t handle the increase. If the facility moves ahead, it “will provide our community with a great opportunity,” he says.

The airport has a small U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services office that handles 330 foreign aircraft arrivals annually as well as processing the more than 48,000 international commercial passengers coming through the airport and Green Bay’s two Fixed-Base Operators (FBO). That staff also processes more than 100 marine vessels annually at New North ports in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Marinette, Menominee and Manitowoc.

Miller says the U.S. Customs office has given written notice that it will relocate off the airport unless a passenger processing facility is provided.

Streckenbach says the FIS would create 46 additional jobs in the local tourism and airline industries and provide an economic impact of nearly $2.5 million annually.

“This new FIS is a necessity for airport growth and economic development and we need to work to make it happen,” he says. “As the state’s third largest airport, and one of only two commercial airports in Wisconsin with international status, it makes sense to build an FIS facility here and it will continue the positive economic growth that’s already under way.”

Project leaders are asking business and community members to show their support for the project by sending letters to Ribble’s office. The Congressman says the letters will help build a case for federal funding.

Showing Support

Business and community leaders are asked to write to Rep. Reid Ribble to support building a Federal Inspection Station (FIS) at Austin International Straubel Airport. Letters can be addressed to: Rep. Reid Ribble, 15 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. He can be reached via e-mail through his website, www.ribble.house.gov.

Songwriter/musician and Green Bay native Sam Brooker, left, helped the Nurture Capital group hook up with Nashville songwriter Jesse Rice to pen the country hit “Cruise.” Also pictured are members of the investors’ group, (from left) Brooker’s mother Judy Brooker, Arketype owner Jim Rivett and business consultant Ed Thompson.

FEATURE – Cruising up the charts

Local investors help fund hot country hit

The catchy, upbeat song “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line recently hit No. 3 on Billboard’s hot country songs chart. But even more impressive than its meteoric rise (and certified platinum status) is the fact that a group of Green Bay area investors helped make it happen.

It’s an unorthodox business model, but one that the backers – and the music industry – are finding is nothing short of amazing. “Nashville has been watching this model,” says Arketype president Jim Rivett, one of the principals in Nurture Capital, which has about 40 investors. “Everybody is kind of finding new ways of finding artists.”

Initially, the concept was proposed by singer/songwriter Sam Brooker, a Green Bay native and president of Artist Revolution. He connected the investors with Nashville-based Jesse Rice, who co-wrote the hit.

In late 2009, each of the investors in Nurture Capital pledged $4,000 a share over three years to support and invest in the songwriting and music publishing venture. About $180,000 was initially raised, and Rice was contracted to write at least 12 songs a year. Nurture Capital would own the rights to the songs and share in the royalties.

“Everybody is blown away by the concept,” says Brooker. “We’re definitely carving out our own thing.”

The song is the first major hit for Rice, who co-wrote the song with one of the members of Florida Georgia Line. According to Brooker, the song sold more than 100,000 downloads before the band even signed with a major record label. They are now represented by Big Machine, which also records country stars Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw.

Nurture Capital is thrilled by the success of the song, as well as that of Brooker and Rice.

“It’s about believing in somebody and their dream,” says Rivett.

“It is an investment, but it’s very unique. We don’t know what’s ahead,” adds investor and former Green Bay executive/consultant Ed Thompson, “but that’s part of the wonderment.”

To watch the “Cruise” video, go to www.youtube.com and search “Cruise Florida Georgia Line.”

– By Sharon Verbeten