UP FRONT: Regional roundup – August 2013

Posted on Aug 1, 2013 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Highway 41 Corridor

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

Fox Cities Region sees lower economic rating

Outagamie and Calumet counties and the northern section of Winnebago County saw their economic growth ratings slip compared to the rest of the nation, according to an annual study by NewGeography.com, an online economic development publishing network.

The study assessed the nation’s 398 metro areas based on performance and robustness, measuring regions’ total economic outputs and grading the regions – the lower the score, the healthier the region.

The score is calculated from a weighted summary of the following categories:

» Recent growth trends: current and prior year’s growth rates.

» Mid-term growth: average annual 2007-2012 growth rate.

» Long-term trend and momentum: the sum of the 2007-2012 growth rates.

» Current year’s growth.

The rankings of the Appleton and Oshkosh-Neenah Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s) are above average. However, the Appleton region’s performance ratings dropped from 90 to 126 from 2012 to 2013, while the Oshkosh-Neenah region dropped from 52 to 101.

“To the extent that this sector is losing ground to the rest of the country, we should be very concerned,” says Larry Burkhardt, executive vice president of the Fox Cities Regional Partnership.

While the study is only a single measure of the region’s economic performance, Burkhardt still believes that it should be interpreted as a “wake-up call.”

“For many years, the Fox Cities Region has enjoyed strong economic performance, largely based on the growth and success of our primary industries,” Burkhardt says. “By importing new dollars into the local economy, these employers provide the revenue that supports the retail, service and professional sectors throughout the Fox Cities.”

MetJet establishes direct flight to Cancun

De Pere-based air service provider MetJet has a new direct flight route from Green Bay to Cancun, Mexico.
The company will begin offering the travel option starting Dec. 7.
The flight will depart every Saturday morning from Austin Straubel Airport in Ashwaubenon and will include a fuel stop in Fort Myers, Fla.
“We are excited to be able to offer residents of Northeast Wisconsin the opportunity to fly directly to Mexico,” says Michael Heisman, founder and owner of MetJet. “The five-and-a-half hour flight leaves Green Bay in the morning and makes a short refueling stop in Fort Myers. Our flight times allow for an early departure and a late return to maximize vacation time.”
A 162-passenger Boeing 737-800 jet will be used for the flight by Sun Country Airlines and will be operated as a public charter.

Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway receives grant

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway received a $125,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in New Franken for plans to restore 1,200 feet of Fox River shoreline at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay.
The plans are to develop a near-shore, shallow water fish habitat and increase the public’s ability to access the water. Dredging and capping operations to handle contaminants are planned for 2015. Habitat restoration plans have not yet been scheduled.
The parkway also was recognized by the Department of the Interior earlier this month as a national recreation trail. It is the first Wisconsin water trail to receive that recognition.
“The NTS (National Trail System) designation is a very important step in our efforts to share the past and present significance of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway with Wisconsin residents and visitors,” says Candice Mortara, board president of Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. “While the water trail on the Lower Wisconsin and portions of the Upper Fox River are already accessible to paddlers, other segments, such as the Lower Fox, are currently under development. We continue to seek support from individuals and businesses to improve access, safety and signage along the water trail.”


» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

North American Finishing invests in Suring facility

North American Finishing in Suring is completing the first stages of a $27 million investment. The customized hardwood flooring company established its production operations in the former Evenflo facility in Suring. The 117,000-square-foot facility has been converted to meet the needs of the company’s flooring production process. The investment will also add working capital and be used for equipment purchases and employee training.

“The Suring location was chosen for a combination of reasons. The unique layout of the plant fit well with the design of our state-of-the-art finishing line,” says Tim Flaherty, president of North American Finishing. “This, combined with a quality work force with extensive experience in the wood industry and the support from local communities, made Suring the obvious choice.”

The company’s investment is composed of financial assistance from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation revolving loan fund as well as private lending and investors.

“North American Finishing is making a significant investment to eventually create 250 jobs for the community,” says Reed Hall, secretary and chief executive officer of WEDC. “We are pleased to be a partner in such a major business development project for the area.”


» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Bayview Bridge reopens after restoration project

The Bayview Bridge in Sturgeon Bay reopened on July 4 after the Wisconsin Department of Transportation finished its restoration project, which began last fall. The $4.8 million project included structural steel repair, bridge painting and upgrades for the electrical and machinery systems.

“We’re happy the Bayview Bridge project was completed on time and regular traffic patterns have been restored in and around Sturgeon Bay,” says Jon Jarosh, director of communications and public relations for the Door County Visitor Bureau. “Ongoing bridge maintenance is vitally important for the safety and longevity of our bridge infrastructure, and it was a great opportunity for Sturgeon Bay to showcase itself while all traffic to northern Door County was rerouted through the city’s historic downtown waterfront.”

The project was conducted to extend the serviceability of the bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1978, and the last major repairs were completed in 2004.


Manitowoc and Kewaunee EDCs partner up

The Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County has partnered with the Kewaunee County EDC in an attempt to facilitate an economic recovery in response to the closing of the Kewaunee Power Station.

With the first round of layoffs already taken place, the economic impact is rippling through the county.

To get the plans rolling, the EDCs held a scenario planning process, inviting almost 30 leaders and stakeholders to discuss the future of the region and clarify the shared duties of growing the economy.

The Lakeshore Cluster Initiative has worked to enact the changes that economic developers would like to see in the region. The initiative, in tandem with the Manitowoc County EDC, helped detect assets in the county and will continue to enable the partnership of the two EDCs.

Manitowoc Crane’s Brazil facility completes project

Manitowoc Crane’s new EnCore facility in Passo Fundo, Brazil, completed its first project – the refurbishment of a Grove GMK6250L that fell into the port of Rio de Janeiro. The refurbished crane belongs to Sao Paulo-based Locar crane rental company. The newly reworked crane was returned after nine months of maintenance and cost 40 percent less than buying a new crane.

“This was a momentous project for us at the Passo Fundo EnCore facility,” says Rodrigo Stefanini, senior manager at EnCore. “The GMK6250L was EnCore Brazil’s first complete rebuild. It was a speedy and successful repair and we were able to witness the rewards of our efforts.”


» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Teams hired for Shawano hospital project

Construction partners have been announced for the Shawano Medical Center project. The Boldt Company, general contractor/construction manager for the project, announced the following subcontractors:

» Plumbing and mechanical – Tweet-Garot Mechanical of Green Bay

» Electrical – Van Den Heuvel Electric of De Pere and Parsons Electric of Minneapolis

» Fire protection – EGI Mechanical of Seymour

About 130 skilled tradespeople are expected to be employed on the site by summer 2014.

“On all of our projects, we put a focus on hiring skilled labor from the immediate region,” says Matt Peterson, Boldt project manager for the site. “Construction projects can be a boost to the immediate region not only due to employment, but from the expenditures those workers make in goods and services while they’re on the job.”

The new $50 million facility will be located on County B and Highway 22 and will be adjacent to ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano. The new location is expected to be finished in early 2015.


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