UP FRONT – Regional Roundup – August

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

Internet connecting

New North redesigns website to be more user-friendly

Modern business owners know the value a good online resource can provide.

“I’ve used the New North website (in the past) because it helps me know what’s here,” says Dennis Allar, President of Allar Enterprises, LLC of Sherwood. “We have a group of people here with intellect where we can make something out of nothing – more collaboration and involvement can only help that.”

The New North Inc., an organization which works to promote regional development in the New North area, underwent a complete website redesign. Its former website served as a useful tool for businesses in the New North, providing them with region-specific business information. But the newly designed website aims to further meet the needs of users by improving and organizing information.

Gina Glover of Coalesce Marketing & Design (the business responsible for the redesign) highlights the user-friendly nature of the website, saying, “The new website is much better grouped. (The new) website can grow beyond its ability to stay focused on user experience, which was the case with the former site…there were so many things going on. The new site design gave a way to reorganize the efforts and communicate them in a way that makes sense to the user.”

The redesign was two-fold, emphasizing two new features: a focus on the organization’s strategic initiatives and also a new feature to make the New North region more accessible to internal and external business.

The new website prominently features the New North’s six strategic initiatives:

1. Attract, develop, and retain diverse talent

2. Foster targeted industry clusters and new markets

3. Support an entrepreneurial climate and small business

4. Encourage educational attainment

5. Elevate sustainability

6. Promote the regional brand

Each initiative is represented by its own “microsite” where users can find the initiative’s objectives, current projects and contact information for chairs overseeing the committees behind the initiatives.

A main component of the redesign includes an interactive map that not only shows businesses vacant commercial space in the New North, but gives them details such as estimated cost of the building, square footage, estimated utility costs and tax rates.

With the redesign, New North Inc. hopes to bring increased traffic to the site, including that of businesses outside the New North.

“The new website serves two audiences,” says Ann Duginske, R&D project manager for The New North Inc. “With it, internal audiences already in the region can easily find internal information. But, the redesign is organized for external users to explain what we do, and how to do business in the New North. For someone who doesn’t know about New North or its actions, the website gives them the tools to learn about business resources, educational resources and what it’s like to live in the region.”

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

Oshkosh Corp. sells 59 Strikers internationally

Oshkosh Corp. has sold all but one of 60 Striker airport rescue and firefighting vehicles in 2012 to international buyers. Four years ago, 80 percent of the company’s sales were domestic.

With increased international demand, the company is exceeding sales goals, as each year normally 120 to 140 airport vehicles are sold. With 60 vehicles sold before May, the company has high hopes for the rest of the year.

“Our focus on this was global. Four years ago, 80 percent of our sales were domestic. Now they’re 70 percent international,” says Kristin Michal, a spokeswoman for Oshkosh Corp. “We developed the truck around European and Asian standards so that we could satisfy domestic and international standards.”

Oshkosh Corp. credits its rise in international sales on recent media attention. The Striker was featured on shows such as BBC America’s “Richard Hammond’s Crash Course,” Discovery Science Channel’s “Heavy Metal Task Force,” and will be seen in the film “Total Recall,” debuting this month. This attention increased viewership to Oshkosh Corp.’s website.

To accommodate the international demand, the company has altered its vehicles’ designs to meet different market standards.

“The more than 1,000 customizable features on the vehicle help the company build each Striker to each airport’s needs and preferences,” says Oshkosh Corp. Senior Chief Engineer Jason Shively. Order locations for the Striker include South Korea, China, Poland, Spain, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Wausaukee Composites to close Gillett location

The Gillett facility of Wausaukee Composites will be ending its operations on Aug. 31.

Wausaukee Composites is a manufacturer of composite plastic and fiberglass components, and has additional manufacturing plants in Wausaukee, Cuba City and Owosso, Mich. The plant closing will put 45 employees out of work, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Kiel Area School District more energy efficient

U.S. Lamp, Inc., a wholesale lighting distributor in Green Bay, was commissioned by the Kiel Area School District for a lighting retrofit project.

Four schools in the Kiel Area School district — Meeme Elementary, Zielanis Elementary, Kiel Middle School and Kiel High School — are replacing previous lighting systems for more energy efficient alternatives. The four participating schools are saving $64,346 in annual energy savings, and $64,040 in incentives from Focus on Energy.

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Hot weather worries Wisconsin farmers

The near-drought conditions and high temperatures persisting throughout July posed growing problems for Wisconsin farmers’ crops, according to UW-Cooperative Extension agent David Laatsch. In Door County, temperatures didn’t allow for the fruit crops to grow. Early spikes in temperature in March caused early blooming for the crops and frosts in April made it difficult for crops to survive. Hopes for new growth in early summer months have been all but quashed by near-100 degree temperatures and a lack of rain. “In Door County, the fruit survival rate in some areas was as low as 3 percent.” says Laatsch. If these conditions continue, they could cause huge losses for farms without irrigation systems.

Mechanical Research project completed

A.C.E Building Service of Manitowoc recently completed a building project for Mechanical Research, a company in Newton that designs and manufactures seals and sealing devices. The addition is 6,535 square feet. The new building includes space for a crane, as well as an MR-24 seam room to be used for product assembly and testing. Construction of a new production and storage area for Mechanical Research is under way.

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Rural Health Initiative raises $7,655

A wine and cheese tasting event was held in New London to benefit the Rural Health Initiative in Waupaca County, which benefits farm families in the area.

At the event, 187 people attended the tasting, which offered samples of 40 kinds of wine and 40 different types of cheese. The event, held April 27 at Crystal Falls Banquet Hall, raised $7,655. The event was sponsored by a number of local businesses, including ThedaCare Physicians, Larson Cooperative, First State Bank, Waupaca Farm Bureau and Jay-Mar.

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

TEA grants bring jobs to Marinette County

Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) grants provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will bring better transportation and more jobs to a number of areas in Wisconsin, including the New North region. In Marinette County, $73,500 was allocated to a project to improve rail tracks. These improvements, in the town of Beecher, are for Thilmany Papers’ new rail yard. This project will create 15 new jobs and indirectly support 20 additional jobs. In the town of Pembine, $55,000 will be used to rebuild a county highway. This separate project will create 11 jobs and indirectly support an additional 10.

Ten TEA grants were given to Wisconsin, totaling $3 million in grant funding. This funding directly created 805 jobs throughout Wisconsin, and indirectly supported 830.

College of Menominee Nation adds degrees

The College of Menominee Nation, which traditionally offers associate and technical degree programs, will add two new bachelor’s degree programs at its Keshena and Green Bay campuses. These four-year degrees are a bachelor of science in Business Administration and a bachelor of arts in Public Administration. A degree in Business Administration consists of 120 credit hours, while a degree in Public Administration will consist of 121.

The associate degree program in these two subjects will still be available. The college will allow those who have earned an associate degree in either area to return and pursue a bachelor’s degree.

The degrees will have a combination of typical curriculum focus and a tribal component.

The bachelor of Business Administration degree, for example, will involve curriculum centered on the challenges and opportunities of business in tribal areas.

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