UP FRONT: Regional Round Up – July 2015

Posted on Jul 1, 2015 :: Up Front
Andrew Schaick
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Interstate 41 Corridor

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

Oshkosh Defense wins rehab contract

An Oshkosh Defense M-ATV shown in the field. Courtesy: Oshkosh Defense

An Oshkosh Defense M-ATV shown in the field. Courtesy: Oshkosh Defense

Oshkosh Defense’s long history of building vehicles for the military continues to help the company compete for new government contracts.

In this case, it’s a bit of a turn on the phrase “what’s old is new,” as the company was recently awarded an extended contract to rehab 360 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles. Oshkosh Defense was the original equipment manufacturer.  The M-ATV Reset  program allows the U.S. Army to extend the life of its vehicles and upgrade them with the latest protective technologies.

Oshkosh Defense was awarded an initial contract to refurbish 500 M-ATVs in 2014. Another 300 vehicles were added in an initial extension. This latest addition to the contract brings its value to more than $115 million for 1,160 M-ATVs and options for an additional 1,440.

While not nearly as large as the contracts the company fulfilled before U.S. defense cutbacks, the latest expansion demonstrates the company’s experience and workforce enable it to succeed in a competitive marketplace, company officials say.

“Oshkosh’s operational capability and expertise ensures that soldiers operating in M-ATVs have mission-ready vehicles equipped with the latest protection and technologies for a full range of missions,” says John Bryant, senior vice president of defense programs at Oshkosh Defense. “As the OEM (original equipment manufacturer), Oshkosh can provide the best quality and speed for the vehicle reset — and ultimately get the vehicles back into the field where they are needed.”

Flying high for economic development

GO-EDC, a new public-private economic development organization serving the greater Oshkosh area, has been awarded the contract to complete the Aviation/Aerospace Cluster study for the aviation business park now under construction.

The $150,000 contract includes identifying and recruiting tenants for the new industrial park, located near Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, which would benefit the emerging aerospace corridor stretching along Interstate 41 from Fond du Lac to Brown counties. Markets under consideration include aircraft repair and overhaul as well as aviation-related manufacturing.

“This project is helping diversify the Oshkosh economy and grow more aviation businesses,” says Allen Davis, community development director for Oshkosh. “The jobs associated with aviation are well-paying and complement existing businesses in the region.”

GO-EDC’s partners for the aviation development include AeroInnovate, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, New North, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the Wisconsin Aerospace Consortium.

An all-natural brew

Badger State Brewing to power beer production with wind power. Courtesy: Image Studios Inc.

Badger State Brewing to power beer production with wind power. Courtesy: Image Studios Inc.

Green Bay-based Badger State Brewing announced it will be powering its operations 100 percent by wind power thanks to a partnership with Arcadia Power.

Now, there won’t be a wind tower going up in the parking lot anytime soon. With the new agreement, Arcadia will supply power to Badger State Brewing that is sourced directly from one of its Midwest wind farms. Using renewable energy sources is part of the company’s plans to support sustainable energy and reduce its carbon footprint.


» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

The future of wood chips

Wood chips don’t sound very high tech — until you are trying to develop a biodegradable computer chip that is made from — you guessed it — wood.

Not only would the chip be based on a renewable resource, but it would reduce the petroleum-based materials and associated toxins going into landfills. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the USDA Forest Laboratory Products have successfully created wood-fiber based chip materials and recently published the results.

While it could be years before the technology becomes widely available and cost-effective — current chip manufacturing is incredibly cheap— it could offer a new market for Wisconsin’s forestry industry to develop.

“We always need to be looking for value-added opportunities,” says Wendy Gehlhoff, director of the Florence County Economic Development Corp. “We have the primary green lumber, but we need to pursue secondary markets wherever we can find them.”

The majority of a computer chip is support material, with the computer part of the chip taking up just a few micrometers of the entire structure.


» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Cookie plant leaves

It appears Rippin’ Good cookies are leaving the community that inspired its name.

ConAgra recently announced plans to close down part of its cookie making operations in Ripon, including the  Rippin’ Good Cookie Outlet Store. Cookies have been a part of the Ripon identity since the 1930s, and the move is expected to result in 300 layoffs by the end of the year.

ConAgra, which acquired the cookie plant in 2013, says the decision was based on improving the operations of its entire network of production facilities. The company says declining demand and overall operating costs drove the decision.

The affected plant is the company’s west plant, which makes soft-baked and enrobed cookies. The company’s other Ripon-based plant, the east plant manufacturing wafer cookies, will remain open.


» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Brown is the new green

You’ve probably heard the cliché “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Well, in Manitowoc County they are taking that a bit to the extreme with a consortium studying how to convert dairy farm manure — dubbed “brown gold” — into other useful products.

Using a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and several Wisconsin-based companies have launched the consortium’s first project, Accelerated Renewable Energy, at Maple Leaf Dairy in Manitowoc County, which has a herd of 5,000 cows.

Large dairies can produce as much as 25 tons of manure each day, providing plenty of research material

for the group to work with.

Some of the potential products being researched include biogas, fertilizer, bioplastics, animal bedding and starter material for ethanol fermentation. The group will also be testing new separation and anaerobic digestor technology.

“This is a great example of a multidisciplinary public-private partnership happening right here,” says Troy Runge, an assistant professor with the Wisconsin Energy Institute at UW-Madison.

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