UP FRONT – Regional Roundup

Posted on Dec 1, 2015 :: Up Front
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Interstate 41 Corridor

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

State’s first manufacturing mall opens in Neenah

The state’s first-ever manufacturing mall — where four businesses will collaborate and share customers —
has opened its doors in Neenah.

A one-stop shop for everything from engineering and product prototypes to metal fabrication and machine maintenance, the 12,000-square-foot building houses Grassroots Machining, Industrial Machine Services, J.W. Welding and Northern Compressor.

In addition to sharing products, services and sometimes customers,
the four businesses all have connections to Fox Valley Technical College, which took part in the November dedication event.

“In 21st-century business, collaboration is the stuff of growth,” says Amy Pietsch, director of the college’s Venture Center. “We are building a community of entrepreneurs and business owners who are able to stay connected
and collaborate.”

Cambellsport lands tool and die maker

Swenson Tool and Die has completed a move to Campbellsport that will position the company to both grow and better compete for qualified workers.

The company, which has grown to 60 employees in three years, began production in its new facilities in September. The move was financed by $300,000 in low-interest loans from Fond du Lac County, half financed by federal Community Block Grants and the other half from the county’s Small Business Revolving Loan fund.

Fond du Lac County has loaned about $11 million to Fond du Lac County businesses and has leveraged $95 million in total investments. These loans have helped create more than 600 jobs and retain another 200-plus.

 

» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Marinette Marine begins work on USS Billings

Shipbuilders at Fincantieri Marinette Marine have begun work on the 15th Littoral Combat Ship to be constructed at the company’s shipyards with the keel laying ceremony for the future USS Billings.

Led by primary contractor Lockheed Martin, ship sponsor Sharla D. Tester authenticated the keel of LCS 15 and watched as her initials were welded into a sheet of the ship’s steel, which ultimately will be mounted in the ship throughout its entire service.

“LCS 15 is the next ship to make the journey through our shipyard before joining the fleet, and will carry the spirit of Billings and this dedicated industry team, as she sails the globe,” says Jan Allman, president and CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine.

Billings is a flexible Freedom-variant LCS that will be designed and outfitted with systems to conduct a variety of missions. The industry team building Billings has delivered three ships with seven others in various stages of construction and testing.

The nation’s first LCS, USS Freedom, completed a U.S. Navy deployment in 2013, and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) is in the midst of its 20-month deployment to Southeast Asia. The future USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) was commissioned in Milwaukee on Nov. 21.

 

» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

New tourism tagline proposed for Green Lake County

“Relax, Retreat, Repeat.”

That tagline is part of a new tourism branding effort launched on behalf of the communities in Green Lake County.

Economic Development Partners presented the tagline to community leaders from the region in November. The tagline and other materials were developed in cooperation with the Green Lake Country Visitors Bureau as part of a re-branding effort launched by the collective communities of Green Lake, Ripon, Princeton, Berlin and Markesan.

Community and business leaders are looking to build off the momentum from the recent Discover Wisconsin TV episode that featured the five communities as one combined, regional hub for tourism.

Tourism plays an important part in the Green Lake County economy, with visitors spending $35.3 million in 2014, up nearly 1.6 percent from 2013.The industry provides nearly $15.3 in wages and generates $5.4 million in taxes for state and local governments.

 

» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Sargento Foods makes expansion move in Hilbert

Sargento Foods plans to expand its Hilbert plant and add 140 jobs.

Sargento CEO Louie Gentine, the third-generation family owner, says construction will begin soon on a 60,000-square-foot addition to the company’s Hilbert plant. The Plymouth-based company makes products for retail, food service and ingredients at the Hilbert plant, which currently employs 135 people.

Sargento Foods also operates production facilities in Plymouth and Kiel. The company operates a technical center in Elkhart Lake. The Kiel and Elkhart Lake facilities also are currently under construction as part of expansions that began earlier this year.

The plant in Hilbert, currently 144,000 square feet, was previously expanded in 2011. This latest project is expected to be completed by April.

Icebreaker Mackinaw prepares for winter’s ice

The United States Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw completed repairs at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay in preparation for winter operations on the Great Lakes.

Winter operations are especially hard on icebreakers and their endurance is paramount to shipping on the Great Lakes. Last winter, ice breaking started in December and lasted for 128 days, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The repairs were performed in the FBS U.S. Navy-certified floating dry-dock.

The 240-foot vessel was built by Fincantieri-Marinette Marine, sister company to FBS and member of the Fincantieri Marine Group, and delivered to the USCG in 2006.

3 Sheeps Brewing expands

3 Sheeps Brewing Co. will lease the former Coca-Cola distribution plant located in Sheboygan and refurbish the two buildings on the 3.4-acre site into a brewing campus featuring a taproom and outdoor beer garden.

With the 40,000-square-foot expansion, the brewery also will install new equipment to increase production and expand distribution.

“This expansion allows us to grow the business and meet our current demands while creating a destination for beer enthusiasts to enjoy our distinctive beers,” says Grant Pauly, 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. founder and brewmaster. “We have been pushing the limit of our capacity in our current facility. In order to continue to take care of our current markets we needed to take this next step.”

In response to requests from distributors throughout the United States, the brewery will begin selecting new territories to add to its current footprint throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

With the expansion and new equipment, production capabilities will increase from 28 barrels to 200 barrels per day. The proposed expansion plan will create at least 15 jobs in the community, more than tripling the brewery’s staff over the next three years.

Renovation of the property will begin in December with plans to open in early 2016. The larger of the two buildings will house the new brewhouse, as well as tanks, packaging equipment and offices. The second building will be transformed into the barrel-aging warehouse and taproom. 

The expansion project is in partnership with the City of Sheboygan, Investors Community Bank of Manitowoc, Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation, Sheboygan Redevelopment Authority and the Small Business Development Center at UW-Green Bay.

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