Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Supports Second Statewide YPWeek

In collaboration with over 40 private sector sponsors, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has invested $100,000 to organize and support the second statewide Young Professionals Week (YPWeek) during the last week of April (Apr 23-30).


YPWeek (photo – ypweek.com)

The workforce initiative, aimed at attracting and retaining young talent in Wisconsin, was created by the Milwaukee-based social architecture firm NEWaukee in 2012, and went statewide last year with WEDC’s support.

WEDC’s Rebecca Deschane, who helped build connections between NEWaukee and like-minded organization across the state interested in retaining and attracting talented young people, explained in a statement that “Seeing what NEWaukee accomplished promoting Milwaukee as a premier destination for young professionals, we felt the same formula could be applied to other cities throughout Wisconsin.”

The number of individual events scheduled for YPWeek has increased from about 100 in the inaugural statewide event to about 150 this year. Events are taking place in 15 communities this year, up from eight last year.

Young Professionals Week events are being held this year in Door County, Fond du Lac, Fox Cities, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids.

The week-long schedule of events will kick off with the Bubbler Awards, hosted by Pulse Young Professionals of the Fox Cities on Saturday, April 23 at the Platinum Flight Center in Appleton, WI. The “Bubbler Awards: Best Workplaces for Young Professionals in Wisconsin” shine a light on the companies who make great strides to accommodate the interests and needs of a shifting new workforce.

Nominated companies this year include Penrod (Milwaukee); LinkEHR (Madison); Greenheck (Wausau); Mortenson Construction (Brookfield); Wisnet (Fond du Lac); West Corporation (Appleton); GE Healthcare (Pewaukee); Society Insurance (Fond du Lac); Spredfast (Madison); and Red Arrow Labs, a Dohmen company (Milwaukee).

The Bubbler Awards is an ideal example of how YPWeek Wisconsin highlights the young professional voice. The nomination and selection process establish a framework for existing and emerging young professionals throughout the state to collaborate and brand Wisconsin as a workplace destination for Millennials.

The Bubbler Awards and other YPWeek events will also bring together key leaders in the community, at purposefully chosen locations that integrate the unique cultural assets with meaningful learning or social interaction. The activities are aimed at engaging the millennial workforce in experiences that are important to young professionals while educating employers on the important role these functions play in retaining young talent as their workforce.

Milwaukee Tool Breaks Ground on Headquarters Expansion in Brookfield, Wisconsin With Nearly 600 Jobs

Governor Scott Walker joined executives of Milwaukee Tool at their headquarters in Brookfield, WI to break ground on an expansion project to add a new corporate office building.

Milwaukee Tool

Milwaukee Tool (photo – Charles & Hudson/flickr)

Supported by the city of Brookfield, Milwaukee 7, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the company is undertaking a 200,000-square-foot expansion that includes a new four-story office building on campus, adjoined to the current facility.

Milwaukee Tool estimates that nearly 600 jobs will be added within the next five years, and most of these new positions will be focused on research and development in engineering and marketing, with an average salary of $75,000.

The company has already grown employment at this location from just over 207 in 2008 to 300 jobs in 2011 and approximately 800 now. This latest expansion will make Milwaukee Tool the largest employer in Brookfield, and one of the top ten in Waukesha County.

Milwaukee Tool Group President Steve Richman said in a statement announcing the groundbreaking that “Milwaukee Tool is dedicated to driving growth and creating new jobs in Wisconsin, and throughout the United States.”

Governor Walker likewise noted that “We’re happy to be here in Brookfield today to celebrate the expansion of Milwaukee Tool and work with them to provide state income tax credits for employee retention, job creation, and capital investment.”

Milwaukee Tool has been certified under the WEDC Enterprise Zone Program to earn up to $18 million in state income tax credits over a period of six years based on retention and creation of full-time employment positions and significant capital investment for both their Brookfield and Mukwonago facilities.

This new project brings significant Brookfield economic development benefits. Milwaukee Tool has redeveloped 190,000 square feet of former manufacturing space for their global research and development center. The opportunity to club METCO’s headquarters and R&D operations at this campus secures the company’s base at this location for the next generation.

Also, the potential impact on continued revitalization of this area of Brookfield is significant.  The significant expansion of the globally known and reputed Milwaukee Tool’s headquarters campus will also reinforce Brookfield as a community of choice for other major manufacturing and service firms considering locations for their operations.

Brookfield, WI-based Milwaukee Tool has been a manufacturer of heavy-duty power tools, accessories, and hand tools for professionals worldwide since 1924. It is now a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd. (TTI) (HKEx stock code: 669, ADR symbol: TTNDY).

Gale Klappa, co-chair of Milwaukee 7 and chairman and CEO of WEC Energy Group, noted that there is intense competition from across the country when these opportunities arise.  “Milwaukee Tool’s decision to expand here underscores the strength of our regional assets that make Milwaukee a premiere destination for manufacturing investment,” said Klappa.

Milwaukee 7 is a regional economic development platform for the seven counties of southeastern Wisconsin.

Wisconsin PSC Approves Riverside Energy Center Power Project in Beloit, WI

Alliant Energy’s Riverside Energy Center expansion, which will be one of the largest Wisconsin economic development projects in recent history, has received verbal approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to go ahead with the project.

Alliant Riverside Energy Center

Alliant Riverside Energy Center (photo – alliantenergy.com)

The project is a new $700 million, 700-megawatt combined cycle natural gas-fueled facility capable of serving more than 535,000 homes.

Alliant expects to create more than 1,000 construction jobs annually for three years while the project is under construction, and the project will also support local suppliers and businesses throughout the state and region. An additional 50 permanent direct and indirect positions will be created afterwards when the project is operational.

The project is expected to generate more than $250 million in total economic benefits. The Town of Beloit and Rock County will receive $3 million annually in utility shared revenue payments. The $700 million investment excludes transmission and AFUDC.

Not to mention the fact that the Riverside expansion will help ensure reliable service and stable energy rates in Alliant’s service territory and across the state. When it is completed in 2019, the new Riverside Energy Center will be the most advanced power facility in the state.

This new and efficient power plant, to be built near Alliant Energy’s existing 675-megawatt, natural gas-fired generating station, will replace approximately 640 megawatts of older, less-efficient Wisconsin coal and gas units which are scheduled to be retired by or before 2020.

Patricia Kampling, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO, said in a statement that “This highly efficient generating station will modernize our generating operations and further our transition to cleaner energy sources.”

Alliant chose the Riverside site for this project as the lowest-cost solution based on a two-year site selection process in which they evaluated 26 possible locations and 32 alternate proposals.

The site in question is owned by Alliant Energy, and is located in the Town of Beloit, just north of the City of Beloit, in Rock County. Alliant has multiple facilities at this location, including the original Riverside Energy Center electrical power station, a maintenance facility, and the Rock River Generating Station, which is a natural gas-fired power plant.

Madison, WI-based Alliant Energy Corporation (NYSE:LNT) has had a presence in the region for more than 50 years, and has provided utility service to Rock County for nearly 90 years. Alliant’s utility subsidiary Wisconsin Power and Light Company provides electric service to 463,000 customers and natural gas service to 185,000 customers across central and southern Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Launches Made in Wisconsin Program

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has officially launched a program called “Made In Wisconsin” to help companies in the state market the origin and quality of their products and services to consumers both within and outside the state.

Video – InWisconsin.com

Made In Wisconsin builds on the “In Wisconsin” brand introduced by WEDC in 2012 to provide a platform for marketing business opportunities and successes in the state.

WEDC was regularly being approached by companies interested in displaying a “Made In Wisconsin” logo on their products. As a pilot program, WEDC worked with a small number of Wisconsin companies who made this request, and worked out the necessary application process steps and logo options.

One of the pilot program participants, Alan Petelinsek, owner of Sussex, WI-based Power Test, said in a WEDC release that “Letting people know that they are produced in Wisconsin helps us share that our work is done with a level of craftsmanship that is widely known and appreciated.”

The new program that has now been fully launched allows the Made In Wisconsin logo to be adapted by participating companies to reflect their production processes. The logo options include Made In Wisconsin; Manufactured In Wisconsin; Produced In Wisconsin; Built In Wisconsin; Grown In Wisconsin; Invented In Wisconsin; Designed In Wisconsin; Engineered In Wisconsin; and Brewed In Wisconsin.

In order to use the “Made In Wisconsin” or “Produced In Wisconsin” logos, all or virtually all of significant parts, ingredients and processing that go into the product must be of Wisconsin origin. The product should contain negligible or no non-Wisconsin content.

If only a significant amount of parts, ingredients or processing is from Wisconsin, then the logo claim must be qualified as such. For example, the company may state: “Made In Wisconsin from U.S. and Foreign Parts.”

Similarly, in order to use the “Built In Wisconsin” or “Manufactured In Wisconsin” logos, the principal assembly of the product must occur in Wisconsin and the product’s last “substantial transformation” must have occurred in Wisconsin.

If a product has been designed in Wisconsin but manufactured in China, the company cannot likely use the Designed In Wisconsin logo as is. It may be required to be qualified in this manner – “Designed In Wisconsin – Made in China.”

Approved companies can participate in the program and use the logo at no cost. All they have to do is fill out a simple application stating how they will use the logo and certifying that the product or service on which they seek to use the mark fulfills program requirements. Once an application is approved, the company is allowed to download high-resolution image files for the specified use.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Vice President of Marketing Kelly Lietz spoke about the Made in Wisconsin program at the Manufacturing Matters! Conference in Milwaukee. “When we say a product is made in Wisconsin, that’s saying more than just where it was produced,” said Lietz. “It speaks to the attributes of the product itself. It’s a reflection of the quality of our natural resources and the honest, hard work and innovative minds of our people.”

Wisconsin companies can apply to join the Made in Wisconsin program on the Made.InWisconsin.com website.

Marquette-Aurora $40M Athletic Performance Research Center Will be Catalyst in Revitalizing Downtown Milwaukee

Marquette University and Aurora Health Care have announced plans to partner on a project to construct a state-of-the-art Athletic Performance Research Center in Milwaukee, WI that will serve as a national destination for scientific research in human performance.

Marquette Interchange Milwaukee

Marquette Interchange Milwaukee (photo – marquette.edu/aprc)

Located on the eastern edge of the Marquette University campus, the center will sit alongside downtown Milwaukee’s major freeway interchange.

The 250,000 to 300,000 square feet center spanning 12 acres and covering four city blocks will also help promote downtown Milwaukee economic development efforts by redefining a vacant corridor near the Marquette Interchange.

Marquette University is a Catholic and Jesuit university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee educating nearly 12,000 students from every state and more than 65 countries.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit health care provider serving communities in eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois through a network of 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics and 70 pharmacies in 30 communities. Aurora has more than 30,000 employees, including over 6,300 registered nurses and nearly 1,500 physicians, making it one of Wisconsin’s largest private-sector employers.

Aurora will be making a capital investment of $40 million toward the Athletic Performance Research Center project, to be built at a construction cost of $120 million. This is the single largest investment the company has ever made with a partner in its headquarter community.

The Athletic Performance Research Center will combine indoor playing fields for Marquette’s lacrosse and soccer programs, an indoor track, and a world-class athletic performance research facility led by elite researchers and clinicians from both Marquette and Aurora.

Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell, who made the announcement in his Presidential Address, said in a release that “This signature project represents a truly extraordinary opportunity to transform our region, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with Aurora Health Care.”

Lovell predicted that this center will become a unique destination and national model that spurs innovative research and significantly advances their missions.

Dr. Kristina (Kris) Ropella, Opus Dean of Marquette’s Opus College of Engineering, added that “The creation of such a facility gives us new opportunities that we haven’t seen before and also the opportunity to attract experts from all over the world.”

Nick Turkal, MD, CEO of Aurora Health Care, added that “We are looking forward to providing unprecedented research and training opportunities at this world-class facility, which will help serve as a catalyst in further revitalizing Milwaukee’s downtown region and be a driver for long-term positive change.”

Groundbreaking on the center is planned for 2017, with the goal of opening the facility near the time the Milwaukee Bucks open their multi-purpose arena and sports and entertainment district.

National Main Street Now Conference to Showcase Milwaukee, WI Community Development Successes

The 2016 Main Street Now conference is scheduled to be held May 23-25 in Milwaukee, WI. It is being organized in partnership by the National Main Street Center and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Main Street Now Conference

Photo – preservationnation.org

Main Street Now is the largest nationwide gathering of commercial district revitalization professionals in the United States. This year, the event is expected to draw more than 1,500 participants to Milwaukee, including Main Street directors, volunteers, architects, planners and consultants.

The conference will focus on challenges facing 21st century downtowns and commercial districts, while also tapping audience perspectives on community development opportunities. Attendees will learn about topics ranging from creating measurable economic impact to placemaking, the arts, and everything in between.

The conference agenda includes a range of educational sessions and two special training sessions. One of these is a one-day Main Street Preservation Short Course in which the National Park Service and the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions will show you how Main Streets can take advantage of their historic assets to drive community development.

The other one is a special pre-conference training for new Main Street Directors led by National Main Street Center staff and seasoned Main Streeters. This session will take a closer look at the value of the Main Street Approach, provide practical tips on being an effective and impactful leader, and discuss some of the common challenges new Directors face.

The Main Street Expo, to be held this year at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, is the place to find information, products, and services that can take local revitalization efforts to the next level.

While Milwaukee will serve as the primary location for the conference, other area communities will also share the spotlight. WEDC has worked with the National Main Street Center to organize mobile workshops for attendees to Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Rock, Racine and Dane Counties, as well as several Milwaukee economic and community development successess.

WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan said in a release that “Being selected as a co-host of this prestigious Main Street event speaks to Wisconsin’s national leadership in developing and implementing strategies that create and sustain vibrant downtowns and commercial districts.”

Darrin Wasniewski, downtown development program manager with WEDC, added that “Wisconsin is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to encouraging social connections between community residents through well planned, maintained and programmed spaces.”

Early-bird registration for the Main Street Now conference runs through February 29, with a final registration deadline of May 19.

What: 2016 Main Street Now Conference

When: May 23-25, 2016

Where: Milwaukee, WI

Wisconsin Transitions to Business Development Tax Credit Program

Starting Jan 1, 2016, Wisconsin’s Economic Development Tax Credit and Jobs Tax Credit programs have ceased accepting new applications. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has instead started accepting applications for the new Business Development Tax Credit (BTC) Program.

BTC Wisconsin

BTC Wisconsin (photo – inwisconsin.com)

BTC supports job creation, capital investment, training, and corporate headquarters location or retention by providing businesses located in or relocating to the state with refundable tax credits against their Wisconsin income/franchise tax liability.

If the amount of Tax Credits approved for a tax year exceeds the amount of tax due for the tax year, the excess credit amount will be refunded to the Certified Business.

Tax credits under BTC will be allocated from one calendar year to the next, instead of on the basis of the fiscal year. Applications will open Jan. 1 and close Dec. 31 or when all tax credits budgeted for the year have been allocated, whichever comes first.

For Calendar Year 2016, WEDC will allocate no more than $17 million in tax credits for certified businesses. This allocation is expected to result in the creation of 1,000 jobs and retention of 1,800 jobs through awards to 15 businesses.

In order to be eligible to claim tax credits in any year for which the business is certified, the certified business must increase its net employment in Wisconsin. Certified businesses are required to submit an annual project report documenting expenditures, training, job creation and retention as well as other contract deliverables.

The amount of tax credits awarded for job creation may equal up to 10 percent of the annual wages for eligible employees earning at least 150 percent of federal minimum wage. In an economically distressed area, the amount of Tax Credits may equal up to an additional five percent of the annual wages for eligible employees.

The amount of tax credits awarded for capital investment may equal up to three percent of the business’ personal property investment and up to five percent of its real property investment. For projects that involve a total capital investment of less than $1,000,000, the total investment must be equal to at least $10,000 per eligible employee employed on the project.

The amount of tax credits awarded for the location or retention of a corporate headquarters may equal up to 10 percent  of the annual wages of positions created or retained for eligible employees.

These changes have been made to streamline WEDC’s tax credit programs and better align them with the needs of  Wisconsin companies and those that may be considering locating here.

Bill Would Make Defrauding Wisconsin Economic Development Corp a Felony

A new bill introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature seeks to make it a Class D Felony to make false statements in loan, grant and tax credit applications to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

WI legislation SB 415 WEDC

Photo – wisconsin.gov

The legislation (SB 415) has been introduced by Green Bay State Senator Dave Hansen in the WI Senate, and by Powers Lake State Rep. Samantha Kerkman in the WI State Assembly.

The bill would make concealing a material fact or making a false statement to obtain economic development benefits from the State of Wisconsin a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

The bill also would make such applicants, including all their affiliates and successors, ineligible for economic development benefits for seven years from the date on which the act of fraud was committed.

The bill won’t be retroactively applicable, so it won’t impact existing recipients of Wisconsin grants, loans and tax credit programs administered by WEDC. If passed into law, this would the first such state legislation that explicitly makes defrauding the WEDC a punishable offense. However, Rep. Kerkman has previously authored similar legislation that imposes more severe punishments for defrauding the WI FoodShare benefits program.

The new legislation focusing on WEDC is one of several new measures proposed in the wake of an audit of the WEDC published earlier this year by Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).

LAB identified concerns with WEDC’s administration of economic programs in FY 2013-14, and made recommendations to improve the agency’s administration of grant, loan, and tax credit programs, and for its governing board to improve its program oversight and financial management. LAB also included recommendations to the Legislature and identified issues for legislative consideration.

The recommendations included modifying statutes to require the WEDC governing board to include in its annual economic development program report the total numbers of jobs created and retained as a result of all awards made since July 1, 2011.

LAB also recommended that the Legislature could consider modifying statutes to prohibit tax credits from being allocated based on project-related activities that occur before contracts are executed, and require all tax credit recipients to increase net employment in Wisconsin in order to be awarded tax credits.

After reviewing the LAB audit, Governor Scott Walker also called on the Legislature to enact reform to focus WEDC’s efforts on performance-based economic development tools that limit the state’s risk and to maximize the organization’s strengths. This includes a phase-out of WEDC loan programs, shifting funding for loan programs into performance-based tax incentives, and prioritizing funding dollars toward investments in education and worker training.

Governor’s Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit in Trego, WI

The ninth annual Governor’s Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit is scheduled to be held on Dec 1, 2015 in Trego, WI.

The Northwood’s summit brings together key stakeholders, including state agency leaders and staff, representatives from the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Technical College Systems, state and local chambers of commerce, government officials, businesses, tribal representatives and others.

Governor Scott Walker will kick off the one-day summit with an opening address. “Our administration has focused on key issues that benefit residents and businesses throughout northern Wisconsin, and we look forward to the Northern Wisconsin Economic Development Summit, where we’ll discuss how we can continue to move Wisconsin and this part of the state forward,” said Gov. Walker in a release announcing that registration for the Northwood’s Summit is now open.

In fact, the Governor’s opening address will be followed by a discussion about the Future Wisconsin Project, which takes a comprehensive look at what Wisconsin will look like in 20 years, and what can be done now to grow the state’s economy and prepare workers for the future.

The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation, Wisconsin Technical College System, and UW-Green Bay will lead this discussion, and will highlight a number of shared workforce development initiatives, including the new Engineering Technology program at UW-Green Bay.

After this discussion, the Summit participants will be joining one of five breakout sessions. The session topics include Broadband for Businesses and Telecommuters; Access to Capital for Community and Economic Development; Recreational Trail Development and Promotion; Opportunity and Prosperity for All: Special Populations; and one more about JobCenterofWisconsin.com, the state’s online public labor exchange.

In the Access to Capital session, key leaders from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) will provide an overview of state resources for economic development and housing.

Similarly, two post-lunch sessions will feature leadership from participating state agencies providing a briefing on the key issues within their agency as they pertain to northern Wisconsin. Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions of state agency leaders and interact one-on-one with agency leaders and staff.

Also new this year is that members of Governor Walker’s cabinet will be traveling during the week of the summit to visit businesses, local governments, and tribes throughout the Northwoods to highlight success stories and hear from local businesses and residents.

What: Northwood’s Summit

When: Dec 1, 2015

Where: The Heartwood Conference Center and Retreat, Hoinville Rd, Trego, WI 54888

SC Johnson to Invest in Racine Global Headquarters, Move Jobs to Chicago

SC Johnson has announced an investment of $50 million to $80 million for a modernization of its global headquarters in Racine, WI.

SC Johnson Racine HQ rendering

SC Johnson Racine HQ (rendering – scjohnson.com)

The modernization project will create an atrium that integrates a number of older buildings to create a new space and business neighborhoods in their existing campus, along with state-of-the art, collaborative workspaces to meet the needs of a global corporation in the 21st Century.

This latest investment is in addition to SC Johnson’s $28 million purchase of the former Sealed Air building in Mount Pleasant, WI earlier this year.

Founded in 1886 by Samuel Curtis Johnson, SC Johnson is still a privately-owned family business that is now in the hands of the fifth generation. The company is also still headquartered in the Johnson family’s hometown of Racine, but has now grown into a global giant that sells products in virtually every country around the world. SC Johnson now employs nearly 13,000 people, including about 2,250 in Racine.

While this latest investment decision is undoubtedly beneficial for Racine economic development, SC Johnson also announced that it would be relocating 175 existing jobs from Racine to Chicago within the next 12-24 months.

The jobs being relocated will be primarily marketing and sales related positions. No jobs are being eliminated by the company as part of the move, which has been initiated to give SC Johnson the opportunity to infuse the company with an even broader world-class talent base and diversify its business locations.

Kelly Semrau, senior vice president of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability of SC Johnson, said in a release that it’s important that they position the company for long-term success.

“Racine continues to be an important location for our global company. Yet we operate more than ever in a global competitive environment and we have to expand our talent pool to nearby Chicago to remain competitive,” added Semrau.

SC Johnson does not currently have any permanent employees in Chicago, and the location for their new office space in the city has not been finalized as yet. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that this announcement by S.C. Johnson is a vote of confidence in the City of Chicago.

“They are joining global corporations like Motorola Solutions, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Heinz and Oscar Mayer who have recently made the decision to grow and create jobs in Chicago,” added Mayor Emanuel.

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