3rd Quarter 2016 | Inside this issue:
Winfield Solutions Expands Presence in River Falls
This September, Winfield Solutions, a subsidiary of the member-owned agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes, expects to break ground on a 52,000 square foot facility in Sterling Ponds Corporate Park, located in River Falls, Wisconsin. The multi-million dollar facility will provide expanded space for their offices, laboratory, greenhouse, and research and development, and allows Winfield to transition from its leased space in nearby Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park. Winfield develops and sells plant nutrient and crop protection products.
The 13.2-acre site in Sterling Ponds allows Winfield to create a long-term master campus, that includes room for building addition(s) and pad for a second building.
In a separate transaction, Winfield will acquire a five acre site from the city of River Falls in Mann Valley. A small product testing facility will be constructed to expand on Winfield’s test plots on a lab farm operated by UW-River Falls.
The city of River Falls approved a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) incentive package for both sites.
Winfield estimates its River Falls investment at $10 to $20 million.
Learn more at www.winfield.com or www.landolakes.com.
Thank you Wipfli for your support
Sign of the Times: “Help Wanted”
A drive through any main street or industrial park in St. Croix County confirms the obvious…Businesses are hiring again.
The signs may differ but the message is the same, Help Wanted, Immediate Openings, Now Hiring, Positions Available, Apply Today, and in some cases, Sign-On Bonus Available. Businesses are looking for the same scarce resource, full- or part-time workers. Businesses with job openings are diverse: manufacturers, health care providers, construction companies, grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, metal fabricators, transportation, and auto repair shops. The list goes on.
As part of our business retention mission, EDC board members participate in site visits to local businesses. It is inspiring to hear the stories of our local entrepreneurs—their passion, their drive, and their pride in their people, product and service. Another consistent theme from these visits—a plea by employers to help them find talent.
How Did We Get Here?
How did we get in the position of more job openings than people to fill them? For years, labor economists forecasted the graying of the workforce and fewer young adults entering it. Post World War II Baby Boomers are retiring in droves and younger workers are not replacing them. There are simply fewer workers available.
Businesses also identify a mismatch of ideal skills in the eyes of employers compared to the demonstrated skills of job seekers. The term “skills gap” has become a popular phrase.
Work readiness is another subject of concern to employers who are frustrated by a workforce lacking basic math and reading skills, and a commitment to reliability and punctuality.
Training is key. We operate in a competitive global market that requires innovation. Many businesses are driven by advanced technology. Equipment priced at several hundred thousand dollars requires skilled operators to meet the demands of cost, quality, and on-time delivery.
So, What Are We Doing About It?
In St. Croix County we are lucky to have exceptional K-12 school systems. We have institutions of higher education committed to preparing the workforce to meet market demands. WITC’s annual report shows that within six months, 95 percent of graduates are employed, and 79 percent of graduates are employed in jobs related to their training. The creation of the Northwest Wisconsin Engineering Consortium is a great example of the collaborative efforts of UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, and UW-Eau Claire to develop and share core-engineering programs to help address the shortage of engineers in Northwestern Wisconsin.
St. Croix Valley employers are creating strategies to win the talent war. They are recruiting students in high-demand majors at universities and technical colleges and offering internships to help students make the leap from the classroom to the work world. They’re reaching out to local school districts to identify programs that will prepare students with the skills sets they’re looking for.
One Strategy—Capturing the Commuters
Being part of a major metropolitan area brings both opportunities and challenges. An estimated 52 percent of St. Croix County’s workforce commutes outside the county to work. (Conversely people who reside outside the County fill about 35% percent of jobs in St. Croix County).
Business leaders in River Falls launched Work River Falls in 2015 to tackle the commuter exodus head-on. Their message: “Reduce the Commute, Work Local.” The Work River Falls group is committed to increasing awareness of River Falls as a leading location in the region with a wide range of companies that require professional and technical positions. Local job opportunities are posted on the website by members of the initiative. Visit their website at www.WorkRiverFalls.com to learn more.
The River Falls model is a good one. It shows that top employers are concerned enough to work together as a way to fill jobs locally.
We need to work together to make the St. Croix Valley the destination of choice for business and the workforce alike. The Twin Cities captures many of our workers. Some will return to St. Croix County to live and work, wondering why they ever left. Some may choose to follow an entrepreneurial path and launch a business here. When that time comes St. Croix EDC and our local communities will be available to lend assistance.
Enjoy the colors of autumn.
National Retailers Find Hot Corner in New Richmond
Economists and city planners often use their own version of the 3 R’s to describe commercial development, and it’s not Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic. They say Roads, Rooftops, followed by Retail. A good transportation network is a big key to commercial development. Next, commercial development needs consumers who represent the critical mass in a retailer’s service territory. Better yet, the consumers have enough disposable income for goods and services. With good roads and concentrated residents, retailers may follow.
National retailers discovered a hot corner on the south side of New Richmond, Wisconsin this spring and summer. Three projects are underway in the southeast corner of State Highway 65 (Knowles Avenue) and Richmond Way-Dorset Lane. On June 24th, community leaders helped celebrate the ceremonial start of construction of a 19,000 square foot ALDI store. In mid-August, construction began on a 3-unit commercial development anchored by a locally-franchised Jimmy John’s, doing business as New Richmond Subs, LLC. It is owned and operated by the Brose family from New Richmond. Also in August, construction started on a Taco Bell restaurant. These pad sites are directly in front of St. Croix County’s Health and Human Services facility, which was converted from a closed grocery store. Other retailers in the immediate area include a Walmart Super Center and a locally-franchised Culver’s restaurant.
Worker’s Compensation Rate Reduction Lowers
Cost of Doing Business in Wisconsin
On July 26th, the state Commissioner of Insurance approved a 3.19% rate reduction for worker’s compensation rates effective October 1, 2016 for Wisconsin employers. In addition, manufacturing as an industry group will see a reduction of 5%.
“This rate decreases is good news for employers throughout the state and provides another indication that Wisconsin is a great place to work and do business,” said Governor Walker. “The overall decline reflects the commitment and investment of Wisconsin employers into the health and safety of their employees through effective risk management.”
The changes to the overall worker’s compensation rates were approved by the Office of Commissioner of Insurance, which were developed and submitted by the Wisconsin Compensation Ratings Bureau (WCRB). The rate decrease reflects overall rates, but not all industries may see a rate decrease in their premiums.
Despite growing medical costs in workers compensation, rates have remained relatively stable. Since 2006 the average annual net premium change per year was .14%. Workforce Secretary Ray Allen credited this to labor and management working together to create a safer work environment through collaboration, like suggesting statutory updates through the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council. In addition, the Division of Worker’s Compensation works proactively with employees and employers to help reduce workplace accidents and develop strategies designed to lower injury rates, helping lower costs.
Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to have a constitutional workers compensation law in 1911. Under that law employees receive no fault workplace injury coverage while employers receive workplace injury tort protection. Insurance costs are calculated by dividing employers into classification codes according to the level of risk associated with the work they perform. If an industry has lower accident costs overall, this is reflected in lower classification rates.
Most employers in Wisconsin are required by law to have worker’s compensation insurance. Customers with question about the law may contact DWD’s Worker’s Compensation Division by calling (608) 266-1340 or visit their website at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wc/. Questions about the development of the rates can be directed to the Wisconsin Compensation Ratings Bureau at (262) 796-4540 or online
Thank you WITC for your support
Phillips-Medisize: From Wisconsin to the World
By Brenda Bredahl
Phillips-Medisize has remained true to the original founders’ – Robert Cervenka and Louie Vokurka – vision of a contract design and manufacturing company that integrates people, processes and facilities. That philosophy has proven successful for a company that started in 1964 manufacturing plastic picture frames and Batman action figures in the founders’ hometown of Phillips, Wis.
Today Phillips-Medisize is a $700 million company with 4,300 employees and over 2 million square feet of manufacturing space at 17 production locations throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico and China. Phillips-Medisize is a leading, global outsource provider offering a full-range of capabilities from device strategy and design to clinical volume manufacturing of finished, labeled products.
The company recently announced that this fall it would join Molex LLC, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic, electrical and fiber optics systems, which employs more than 40,000 people in more than 40 counties. Phillips-Medisize is currently a portfolio company of San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capitol.
“Molex’s global scale in electronics, coupled with Phillips-Medisize’s strength in designing and manufacturing innovative products for medical device customers, will help us become a global leader in connected health solutions,” says Matt Jennings, Chairman and CEO of Phillips-Medisize.
Roughly 80 percent of Phillips-Medisize’s total revenue comes from drug delivery, medical device, primary pharmaceutical packaging and diagnostic products such as disposable insulin pens, glucose meters, specialty inhalation drug delivery devices, single-use surgical devices and consumable diagnostic components. The company also serves the specialty commercial markets (automotive, consumer/industrial and defense).
With Wisconsin locations in Hudson, New Richmond, Eau Claire, Menonomie, Phillips and Medford, Phillips-Medisize received the 2015 Business of the Year award from St. Croix Economic Development Corporation.
The Sky’s the Limit
Phillips Plastics was founded in 1964 when Robert Cervenka returned to his hometown of Phillips, Wis. The company continued to expand in Wisconsin with the Hudson facility opening as a design and engineering center in 1983, and the New Richmond facility in 1990 as a custom, low volume manufacturing facility. In 2010, Kohlberg & Company acquired the company and it continued to expand outside of Wisconsin into Europe, Mexico and China. Golden Gate Capital acquired the company in 2014, and recently acquired Medicom Innovation Partner, a leader of device strategy based in Denmark, along with Massachusetts-based Injectronics on the East Coast. This will allow Phillips-Medisize to expand its capabilities in the Northeast, which is an important global center of biopharmaceutical and medical device innovation.
In 2015, Phillips-Medisize announced a $30 million expansion at five facilities in Wisconsin that would add nearly 500 jobs. As part of that initiative, the company added 5,000 square feet to the Hudson Design and Development Center for medical and drug delivery device testing and engineering and to increase its pilot manufacturing area. In 2015, the New Richmond facility grew by 33,000 square feet, including additional controlled manufacturing and clean room space. The New Richmond plant is now dedicated to the manufacturing and assembly of diagnostic and surgical products.
“We are very excited about the growth that we continue to experience at Phillips-Medisize,” said Jennings. “Obviously this growth is a function of the trust and confidence our customers have in the ability to execute for them. The expansion is simply a manifestation of that trust. Having the right facilities at the right time and place is one of the company’s strategic pillars as well as having the right and most creative employees on staff. We will continue to invest in this business based on our strategic plan that we put into effect more than five years ago.”
The initiative also included an additional 17,000 square feet in Menomonie for a clinical and pilot facility dedicated to biopharmaceutical delivery products. In Wisconsin, the company is actively recruiting medical and pharmaceutical device technical engineers, quality professionals, mold technicians and other manufacturing, production and operations staff.
The SCEDC award is one of many recent awards bestowed upon the company. Phillips-Medisize received the 2016 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award for its support of employees who are called to active duty; the award is the highest level of employer recognition given by the U.S. government.
In addition, the Phillips and Menomonie facilities were recognized with the 2015 Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award, and the Eau Claire facility received the 2016 Sustainable Eau Claire Award for waste reduction, composting and recycling. And in late 2015, the company received recognition from the In-Mold Decorating Association for best in-mold decorated part.
Phillips-Medisize partners with local technical colleges and universities to ensure a strong workforce. An internship program employs some 35 students in engineering, maintenance, HR/IT/administration, health/safety, legal and corporate development/strategy. A rotational program introduces new graduates to various engineering disciplines within the company.
“These two programs have been a fundamental part of the company culture for more than 30 years,” says Jennings. “The best part is these programs allow students to learn from real-life situations and grow with the program. Most of the individuals in the rotational program began with us as interns. Nearly all of the individuals who go through our rotational program stay on as Phillips-Medisize employees. These programs also provide a welcome opportunity for our experienced engineers and managers to mentor others in the field.”
The company also works with local schools and robotics teams, Lego leagues and STEM programs as well, and employees are involved with Moving for a Cure, Relay for Life, Get it Dunn Run, Adopt-A-Highway and Red Cross Blood Drives to name a few.
Very recently Phillips-Medisize announced the creation of a strategic advisory board to guide and counsel the company on its continued growth and success. The first two appointees are biopharmaceutical company leaders with which Phillips-Medisize has professional relationships.
“This is the latest investment in partnering with our customers,” said Jennings. “This will strengthen our ability to understand and solve key drug delivery and connected health challenges.”
just the facts:
Design Development Center-Hudson
1201 Hanley Road
Hudson, WI 54016
Brenda Bredahl is a writer, editor and content specialist who lives in Hudson.
She can be reached at 715-821-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Croix Gear and Machining Expands
On Friday, August 19th, friends, family, employees, and community leaders helped celebrate the ceremonial start of construction on a 23,000 square foot addition to Croix Gear and Machining, 1651 Hanley Road, Hudson, WI. Once completed, the production space and administrative offices will total around 60,000 square feet.
Mayor Rich O’Connor and State Senator Sheila Harsdorf both spoke at the groundbreaking and congratulated Croix Gear for 50 years in business and the expansion. Senator Harsdorf read a special commendation signed by Governor Scott Walker, who toured Croix Gear in February 2014 during a stop in Hudson.
The company was founded in 1966 as Marine Associates to manufacture custom marine drive systems for fresh and salt water boats. Croix Gear and Machining operates as a division of Marine Associates to better reflect the design and manufacture of gears for numerous business sectors across the nation.
Derrick Building Solutions is the general contractor and the project is financed by Citizens State Bank and Wisconsin Business Development. Learn more at www.croixgear.com.
St. Croix EDC Recognizes 2016 Member-Supporters
Since inception in 1994, St. Croix EDC has operated as the independent economic development for St. Croix County, Wisconsin.
St. Croix County provides business and industry with an ideal combination of an attractive setting, major metro appeal, and favorable business conditions. St. Croix EDC assists with business retention, expansion, recruitment and new business incorporations throughout the county.
Public and private sector memberships support the EDC. The officers, directors, and staff thank the following 2016 members-supporters:
Platinum Level ($5,000 +)
St. Croix County
Gold Level ($2,500 - $4,999)
City of Hudson
City of River Falls/Municipal Utuilities
Xcel Energy Company
Silver Level ($1,000 - $2,499)
Bremer Bank NA
Citizens State Bank
City of New Richmond
First Bank of Baldwin
First National Community Bank
First State Bank and Trust
Hudson Hospital & Clinic
River Falls EDC
Royal Credit Union
St Croix Electric Cooperative
Town of Hudson
Town of Troy
Trient Technologies, Inc.
WESTconsin Credit Union
Wisconsin Business Development
Bronze Level ($250 - $999)
Badger State, Inc.
BMO Harris Bank
Chippewa Valley Technical College
City of Glenwood
Eckberg Lammers Law Firm
Eurofins BioDiagnostics Inc
Eichstaedt CPA & Accounting
First American Bank
First National Bank of River Falls-Prescott
Gavic Construction Corp.
Greystone Real Estate, Inc.
Hiawatha National Bank
Liquid Waste Technology
Lommen Abdo Law Firm
Market & Johnson, Inc.
New Richmond Utilities
Redmon Law Chartered
River Falls Area Hospital
River Falls Industrial Center
River Falls State Bank
Ross & Associates, Ltd.
Sandeen Agency, Inc.
Security Financial Bank
St Croix Business Park Corp.
St Croix Gas
St Croix Ventures
Stevens Engineers, Inc.
Town of Baldwin
Town of Kinnickinnic
Town of Warren
Village of Baldwin
Village of Hammond
Village of Roberts
Village of Somerset
Village of Woodville
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Associate Level ($100 - $249)
Air Motion Systems
Baldwin Area Medical Center
Catalyst Sports Medicine
CPR Wealth Advisors
Dunn Bros Coffee/Erbert &Gerberts
Erickson Oil Products
Harrington Langer & Associates
Hudson Area Chamber
JA Counter and Associates
McMillan Electric Company
Mills Fleet Farm
Mississippi Welders Supply Co.
New Richmond Area Chamber
PCM Global Solutions
Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services
Resultants For Business, Inc.
River Falls Area Chamber
Riverland Laser, Inc.
Ruder & Ware
Shafer Financial Services
Shefland Trucking Service
Skoglund Oil Co., Inc.
St Croix Advisor
St Croix Press
St Croix Valley Insurance Service
The Orchard Restaurant
Tiger Stone & Brick
Town of Forest
Town of Pleasant Valley
Twin Cities Metro
Twin River LLC
Valley Cartage & Warehouse
Central St. Croix News
Guinn Vinopal & Zahradka
Hudson Star Observer
New Richmond News
River Falls Journal
St. Croix County
Tribune Press Reporter
*denotes new member
River Crossing Update
About 100 members and guests of St. Croix EDC attended a June 15 paddleboat tour of the St. Croix Crossing construction zone. The 90-minute tour aboard the Avalon paddleboat included updates from representatives of the Wisconsin and Minnesota Transportation Departments. Credit: Nita Dusek Photography
(l to r) Piers 11 and 12 in the St. Croix River near the Wisconsin bluffs in St. Croix County. Credit: Mike Demulling
On- and off-ramps are visible in Oak Park Heights, MN (lower right corner) as well as the piers in the St. Croix River leading to St. Croix County, WI (upper left corner). Credit: Mike Demulling
Looking east at the Minnesota approach work. Credit:MnDoT
Looking east toward Wisconsin. Credit: Mike Demulling
Looking west toward Minnesota. Credit: Mike Demulling