UP FRONT: Regional roundup – March 2013

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Bell Ringers

Leaders from First Business Financial Services Inc. had the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ closing bell earlier this year. First Business also made an appearance in NASDAQ Marketsite’s state-of-the-art digital broadcast studio that transmits about 100 live market updates to numerous networks. The company was featured in recognition of the underwritten public offering of 1.265 million shares, which closed on Dec. 21. First Business has been a NASDAQ listed company since 2005.


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

Port of Green Bay numbers down for 2012

The Port of Green Bay saw its 2012 numbers down 11 percent from 2011.

During the 2012 shipping season, 1,917,651 metric tons passed through the port. While those numbers are lower than 2011’s final figures, Dean Haen, director of the Port and Solid Waste, says the year ended on a positive note.

“Meeting or exceeding 2 million tons is considered a healthy season,” he says. “Although the Port fell just short of reaching the mark, we ended the season with positive numbers, despite the slowdown over the past few months.”

Haen says there were several factors that contributed to falling short of the 2 million-ton goal, including a mild winter which led to a 40 percent decrease in salt shipments and the low natural gas prices, which led to fewer coal shipments.

The port also saw a 10 percent decrease in the number of vessels that came through the port. There were 170 vessels in port in 2012, compared with 188 in 2011.

Downtown Green Bay launches new website

Downtown Green Bay has launched a new website with updated and comprehensive information about the Downtown, Olde Main and Broadway districts. The website, designed by Arketype, Inc. and managed by Downtown Green Bay, Inc. and Olde Main Street, Inc., can be found at www.downtowngreenbay.com.

The site is divided into six main areas: What To Do, Getting Around, Working, Living, What’s New and Districts/Contact/FAQs.

Downtown Green Bay, Inc. and Olde Main Street, Inc., are nonprofit organizations working to revitalize downtown Green Bay.

Lender purchases Valley hotels

Two Fox Valley hotels in receivership have a new owner.

LNR Partners, a Miami-based real estate investment firm, bought the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton for $17.8 million and the Holiday Inn-Riverwalk in Neenah for $2.8 million.

The hotels, which had been owned by Watermark Hotel Investors, were forced into a court-ordered receivership after defaulting on a $27 million balloon payment last summer.

RR Donnelley closing Greenville location

RR Donnelley is closing its Greenville printing facility next month.

In a notice filed with the state, the Chicago-based printing firm says changing market conditions are behind the move. The plant employs 47.

In the Fox Cities, RR Donnelley, which purchased Banta Corp. of Menasha in 2007, employs more than 1,000 people.

KI, a furniture manufacturer, has installed 480 photovoltaic solar panels at its Green Bay facility.

KI installs largest solar PV system in region

Furniture manufacturer KI has installed Northeast Wisconsin’s largest photovoltaic (PV) system at its Green Bay design and development facility.

The new 115-kilowatt array is composed of 480 PV solar panels and covers about 22,820 square feet of rooftop space. The panels convert sunlight into electricity, producing about 152,640 kilowatts of clean energy annually.

“KI remains steadfast in its commitment to sustainability and renewable energy,” says KI CEO Dick Resch. “This expansive solar PV system will help KI reduce its energy use and carbon footprint, all while educating visitors, employees and our customers about the benefits and importance of renewable energy.”

The system is the largest in Wisconsin Public Service’s territory, which covers 24 Wisconsin counties. Eland Electric Corporation mounted the solar panel system, which was manufactured by SolarDock, a Delaware company. The solar PV system was funded in part by a Focus on Energy grant. Additional funding was made available for the project from a WPS Bonus Bid Program grant awarded to Eland Electric to promote renewable energy.

School Specialty files for bankruptcy, seeks buyer

School Specialty Inc. of Greenville may soon have a new owner.

The supplier of education materials filed for bankruptcy protection in late January and will sell its assets to an investment firm. According to the Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the company has $494.5 million in assets and $394.5 million in debt. The company’s board of directors approved borrowing up to $175 million to help the company through bankruptcy.

Bayside Capital Inc. is the initial bidder for the company’s assets, School Specialty officials say. In connection with the filing, School Specialty says it has secured a commitment for $50 million in additional capital in the form of financing from Bayside Capital.



Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Waupaca chamber honors Waupaca Foundry

The Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce recently honored one of its largest employers as its business of the year.

Waupaca Foundry Inc. employs more than 1,600 people in the county and manufactures parts for the automotive, commercial truck, off-highway vehicle and industrial motor housing industries.

Waupaca Foundry’s sales rose by nearly 15 percent in 2012.

In 2012, the KPS Capital Partners purchased the business from ThyssenKrupp Waupaca and renamed it Waupaca Foundry Inc.



Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Marinette Marine opens latest building

Marinette Marine Corp. recently opened a new facility, Building 32, which will be used for cold outfitting of the vessels made at the Marinette shipyard.

The new building’s main floor has 49,367 square feet of production space, with four mezzanines that equal 17,000 square feet of production space. It features four bays with eight workstations for module cold outfitting, and each bay has a 63-foot-wide by 40-foot-high door. Eight booms mounted on building columns are equipped with gas and electricity and can be swung inside the modules for production. There are two cargo/personnel elevators, one servicing the north mezzanines and one servicing the south.

The building is part of a five-year, $100 million project to modernize the shipyard.



Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Manitowoc businesses earn honors

The Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County recently honored several local businesses and organizations.

PDJ Cutting and Fabricating won the Rising Star Award, which recognizes an emerging small business. HMF Family of Companies received the Neighborhood Development Award, which recognizes innovative real estate development projects.

The Corporate Investment Award was presented to Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry. The award recognizes a business that has made a positive impact on the community.

Tim Schneider of Investors Community Bank received the Economic Accelerator of the Year Award.

Plymouth business plans $6 million expansion

Glacier Transit and Storage Inc. has started a $6 million project to expand refrigerated space at its Plymouth facility to accommodate growing storage demands from cheese manufacturers and the food industry.

For the past two years, Glacier has operated near capacity and is now expanding to accommodate additional business and the potential for convenient and more efficient rail service for its customers. The first phase of the project is construction of an 87,020-square-foot refrigerated food warehouse building.

As part of the project, Glacier plans to add seven employees to its current workforce of 28. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is providing up to $70,000 in tax credits for the project.


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