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Welcome to the electronic version of the Chronicle newsletter with news and information of interest to the business community.
St. Croix EDC Chronicle

4th Quarter 2016   |   Inside this issue:

SCEDC Seeks Nominations for
Businesses of the Year

St. Croix EDC is now accepting nominations for its 2016 Business of the Year awards program.

Categories include:
*Emerging Business of the Year (a start-up business that has operated in St. Croix County for five or fewer years)
*Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees)
*Business of the Year (30 or more employees)

A nomination form and guidelines can be obtained from St. Croix EDC nita@stcroixed.com or online at http://www.stcroixedc.com/content/16-business-year-nomination-form.

The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, December 16, 2016. Individuals may nominate a company in any of the categories or a business may place their company’s name in nomination.

The winners will be announced in January and will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Ready Randy’s in New Richmond.

The 2015 winners were 65 Vines, LLC (Town of Kinnickinnic), Emerging Business of
the Year; St. Croix Castings, Inc. (Village of Woodville), Small Business of the Year; and
Phillips-Medisize Corporation (Hudson and New Richmond), Business of the Year.

For more information, contact William Rubin or Nita Dusek at St. Croix EDC, (715) 381-4383 or nita@stcroixedc.com or bill@stcroixedc.com.

Corporate Site Selectors List
Top 10 Criteria: They’re Here

President's Column

Site Selection magazine recently released its list of Top 25 states, ranked according to business climate. For this ranking, a state either makes the Top 25 list or it doesn’t. Good news for Wisconsin. It made the 2016 list with a #25 overall ranking after missing out in 2015. Congratulations to Georgia for its #1 overall ranking for the fourth consecutive year. We tip our hat to the Midwest states on the list this year, including Ohio at #3, Indiana at #10, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan, all tied at #15, and South Dakota at #22. In the same issue, corporate site selectors also weighed in on the criteria they consider most important in evaluating locations for business and industry.

Their Top 10 list reads as follows:
#1 workforce skills,
#2 incentives,
#3 state and local tax scheme,
#4 transportation infrastructure,
#5 land/building prices and supply,
#6 workforce development,
(#7) cost and reliability of utilities,
(tie #7)higher education resources,
(tie #7), ease of permitting and regulatory procedures,
(#10) and quality of life

So, how does St. Croix County stack up? Let’s have a look.

Workforce Skills: St. Croix County has long had a reputation for an exceptional workforce—
educated, hard-working, and reliable. Employers and workers are lucky to have WITC, part of the Wisconsin Technical College System, as a workforce development partner located right in New Richmond.

The size of the workforce also matters in meeting the demands of employers. Long-term projections say St. Croix County will experience the fastest growth rate in the state between 2015 and 2040. Growth creates the potential for a larger workforce. The median age of our population is age 37 (ranked 13th in Wisconsin). This bodes well for labor force participation and growth of the workforce. As a member of the 10-county regional economic development organization, Momentum West, we are excited about partnering on proactive efforts to attract, retain, and train talent. See Momentum West’s Talent Retention and Attraction Strategic
Action Plan at momentumwest.org.

Incentives: Numerous incentives and financing programs are available at the local, regional, state, and federal level. The 7-county Regional Business Fund plays an important role in bringing financing to new and expanding businesses. Many communities in St. Croix County have long histories of using tax incremental financing as part of their economic development strategies. Wisconsin rolled out a manufacturing and agriculture production tax credit in 2011. For those two sectors, the corporate tax rate of 7.9% has declined to literally zero.

State and Local Tax Schemes: Wisconsin’s individual and corporate tax rates are trending lower. Local units of government in WI operate under levy limits. Fiscal belts have been tightened. Transportation Infrastructure: Interstate 94 plays an important role in St. Croix County’s economic well-being. Several interchanges have been rebuilt in recent years. The St. Croix River Crossing will open new opportunities to communities along the State Highway 64 corridor.

Land/Building Prices and Supply: A sign of an expanding economy is fewer available buildings. Rates are competitive. Land prices are less here than in the Twin Cities metro.

Workforce Development: Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development offers several programs that serve as conduits between employers, educational institutions and potential employees. Training programs, employment assistance, and working with employers to fill openings are a few of the services they offer. We are lucky to have WITC, part of the Wisconsin Technical College System, as a workforce development partner located right in New Richmond.

Cost and Reliability of Utilities: In St. Croix County, consumers have investor owned utility companies, rural cooperatives, and municipal utilities. All are competitive. Broadband investment has increased internet speed and access in parts of the county. Expanding broadband is a high
economic development priority.

Higher Education Resources: UW- River Falls is sometimes referred to as the University of the St. Croix Valley. UW-River Falls opened its Hudson Center a few years ago to serve degree-seeking working adults. WITC (New Richmond) and CVTC (River Falls) are great assets located here. Our proximity to UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire and several Twin Cities institutions of higher learning provide our workforce with breadth and depth of learning opportunities—all less than an hour’s drive away.

Ease of Permitting/Regulatory Procedures: Plan commission reviews and regulatory input from state agencies are facts of life for developers and general contractors. As a general rule, the smaller the community, the more flexible they are in moving reviews along. St. Croix County and communities therein do thorough work before approving. Quality of Life: According to the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission Annual Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Report 2016, businesses are telling us “many of their employees are moving to places they want to live and finding jobs secondarily.”


Quality of life rates high for businesses and residents in St. Croix County. For example:
• We raise our children with access to high quality K-12 schools.
• We have beautiful state, county and community parks. (Did you know the county recently purchased land along the St. Croix River for a future park?) Consider our exceptional rivers —the St. Croix (a National Scenic Riverway), Willow, Apple, and Kinnikinnic. Two lakes in our county are designated outstanding water resources; Perch Lake & Bass Lake.
• The county is partnering with communities, school districts, and nonprofit organizations to improve bicycle and pedestrian access and safety through planning and improvement projects.
• From our country roads to our main streets we have access to unique experiences—locally produced food, micro-breweries, distilleries, wineries, art and music festivals, and sports competitions, to name a few.

We greatly value our rural character, and we reap the benefits of being on the door step of the Twin Cities. One-part Wisconsin and one-part Greater Twin Cities Metro area with all its cultural diversity and amenities. Site selectors take note: Those top 10 attributes you’re looking for? St. Croix County has them.

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EDC Holds Member Appreciation at Barley John’s

St. Croix EDC’s board and staff hosted an enthusiastic group of member -supporters and prospective members on September 20th at Barley John’s Brewing Company in New Richmond, WI. Barley John’s opened its doors in September 2015 and features a beautiful taproom and commercial kitchen to compliment the industrial scale brewing operations. Brewery owner John Moore and wife Laura Subak were gracious hosts for the EDC event.

Learn more about 2017 EDC membership at www.stcroixedc.com/content/members or call (715) 381-4383.

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St. Croix County Health Center Opens

The ceremonial ribbon was cut on November 15th to mark the official opening of the new St. Croix County Health Center in New Richmond, WI. In May 2015 the county board approved $20 million in bonding to fund the project, comprised of a new, 50-bed skilled nursing facility, 10-bed dementia crisis center, and 40-bed assisted living facility created by remodeling the existing facility once the new center opens. The Health Center includes two enclosed courtyards and a town square that includes a club room, café, large group room and chapel. St. Croix County utilized two separate, $10 million general obligation bond sales for financing. In both cases, Moody’s Investor Service assigned its ‘Aa1’ rating to the bonds. The Aa1 rating is considered high quality and a very low credit risk.

New ESR Service Hub will Strengthen
Employment Opportunities for
Individuals with Disabilities in
Western Wisconsin

By Brenda Bredahl 

 

On any workday at ESR’s New Richmond, Wis., serviced hub, employees are completing contracted projects for companies in the St. Croix Valley and beyond.

Some are packaging fulfillment gift mugs going to National Geographic subscribers for National Refund and Marketing in New Richmond, while others ready the mailing. A group assembles plastic components for Prism Plastics, and several employees are working on a project for K-Sun Corporation in Somerset. Projects for K-Tek, Phillips Medisize and Norlake are underway as well.

In the ESR lunchroom, an individual waits for a ride from his job coach to Culvers restaurant in New Richmond where he works. Still others work on-site at Family Fresh and The Centre in New Richmond and at County Market, St. Croix Valley Cabinetry and the YMCA in Hudson. Small groups of individuals perform janitorial work at the I-94 weigh station near Hudson and provide laundry services to the St. Croix County jail.  These are just a few of the job opportunities ESR offers adults with disabilities.
 
Roots as St. Croix Industries
Once considered a “sheltered workshop,” St. Croix Industries was a unique venture started in 1974 by St. Croix County to provide employment for people with disabilities. The county dispensed of SCI in 2014 when board supervisors deemed the operation was no longer financially sustainable.

ESR, a private nonprofit organization, was chosen to replace the services of SCI in 2014, and it’s been a great fit, says Colleen Hammer, director of operations at ESR who served a key role in the transition as a former SCI lead staff. Founded as East Suburban Resources in 1964, ESR at first served youth and children with disabilities. Since the 1980s, ESR has connected adults who have disabilities with employment opportunities.

ESR offers center- and community-based pre-vocational services such as volunteer opportunities, tours of businesses and jobs sites, job shadowing, career building classes, job clubs, safety training, skills development, and informational and informal interviews with employers. It also operates a Chore Services Program that helps more than 60 low-income senior households with in-home duties.

ESR offers solutions to staffing needs for its business partners in three ways: production including assembling, packing, mailing and other services; developing connections and supporting individuals with disabilities in manufacturing, office, restaurant, hospitality, retail, clerical and custodial jobs; and job crews who work in packaging, shipping, assembly, custodial, assembly, clerical, laundry and other areas.

In addition to 120 staff members that includes job development specialists and direct support professionals, ESR employs about 250 individuals with disabilities at five production centers including New Richmond and Oakdale, Stillwater, Forest Lake and Cottage Grove, Minn., and some 110 individuals working at crew sites in Washington County, Minn., and St. Croix County, Wis. ESR owns 65 vehicles that transport up to 400 employees a day to its five facilities and off-site business partners.
 
New Facility Opens New Opportunities
ESR is currently leasing the former SCI space on the County Health and Human Services campus west of the New Richmond, but is preparing to move to a new 15,000-square-foot facility in the New Richmond Industrial Park in early 2017.

ESR’s annual operating budget is around $7 million, coming from various sources including business agreements, charitable contributions and governmental support.  The company is projected to earn almost $700,000 in production/crew contract revenue from area business partners in 2017.

“The new ESR service hub will function as our production center, and continue to be common place for individuals who work in jobs within the community and who might not work a full day, or act as a drop-in center for people to connect in non-work activities or for center- and community-based services,” says Hammer. “It is part of our mission to be very much a part of the larger community, and this space will help us accomplish that.”

She continued, “The possibilities are exciting. It’s a flexible open space that will be adaptable to many uses. For example, we could invite an artist group from the community to demonstrate their craft.  The design of the new building is great; we will have more space that will welcome community participation and connection.”

The service hub facility is close to retail and restaurants, including Goodwill, Dollar Tree, Walmart, Maurices and Culvers. Plus the new location is very convenient to many of ESR’s current business partners, including Phillips Medisize, National Refund and others.

“The hub will have great visibility in the industrial park, and the convenient location is a benefit to employees and current and new business partners,” said Hammer.

The new facility will have 9,000 square feet of production space in an open area as opposed to separate rooms at the former location.  A 600-square-foot multi-purpose room is designed for various uses, and 4,000 square feet of warehouse space will be directly attached to allow for efficient handling of business partner inventory.

In New Richmond, ESR supports 107 individuals including 66 working in the production center. Twenty-five people work in supported employment at business partner sites, and 16 people work in on-site crews.

ESR has established a new advisory board made of up volunteers to provide guidance on the needs of area employers and how best to utilize ESR resources and talent to meet those needs, said Rick Robbins, director of job development services at ESR. In addition, ESR hopes that the new location, visibility, associated activities and opportunities within the hub and community will benefit individuals and business partners they serve, said Robbins.

“Business partners who were customers of St. Croix Industries have stayed with ESR and know that hiring individuals with disabilities is an asset to their operations,” Robbins says.


just the facts:
ESR-Wisconsin
650 St. Croix Ave (as Feburary, 2017)
New Richmond, WI 54017
www.esrworks.org
 
Rick Robbins, director of job development services
rrobbins@esrworks.org
651-342-4459 direct
612-865-6952 mobile


Brenda Bredahl is a writer, editor and content specialist who lives in Hudson.
She can be reached at 715-821-8000 or brendabredahl@gmail.com.

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River Crossing Update


John Soderberg of New Richmond, Wisconsin and County Board Chair Rober Larson toured the bridge deck of the St. Croix Crossing on October 14th. For decades, Soderberg promoted a modern replacement bridge over the St. Croix River between St. Croix County, Wisconsin and Washington County, Minnesota. He was named a stakeholder for the 2003-2006 environmental streamlining process that was created by a Presidential Executive Order. The work of the 29-member stakeholders resulted in a Record of Decision from the Federal Highway Administration, inching the project closer to a reality. Congressional action in 2012 allowed for an exception to the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.


The final bridge segment was lifted into place on Tuesday, October 4. Construction crews are now building the remaining forms to fill the small, two-foot gaps in the bridge deck. Building the river crossing amounted to exact science to ensure accurate alignment and measurements. Early each morning the bridge was surveyed in several spots before the sun’s rays impacted the alignment.

This aerial photo from Mike Demulling shows the span of the St. Croix Crossing between St. Croix County, Wisconsin and Washington County, Minnesota. The project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2017.


At the beginning of December, crews removed the  formwork at the Pier 12 overlook. Photo from Dec. 1.

Fall Construction Updates

WinField Solutions

Construction activities for WinField Solutions are well underway at two locations in River Falls,
Wisc. Earlier this year WinField announced plans to expand its presence in River Falls. A 52,000
square foot facility for office, laboratory, greenhouse, and research and development functions
is under construction in Sterling Ponds Corporate Park. A smaller product testing facility near the lab farm operated by UW-River Falls in Mann Valley is also under construction. WinField Solutions is a subsidiary of the member-owned agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes. WinField develops and sells nutrient and crop protection products.
 

ESR

ESR is constructing a 15,000 square foot building in the
New Richmond Business & Technical Park (New Richmond,Wisc.).

ESR is a nonprofit agency that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other social needs by helping them gain meaningful employment and full participation in the larger community. EDC member Ross & Associates is the general contractor.

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More Fall Construction Updates

Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy is building a new service center in the southeast corner of State Highway 35 and Hanley Road in Hudson, Wisc. The center measures almost 26,400 square feet and will include office space, fleet/maintenance, and vehicle storage. A second building, containing 8,400 square feet, will be used for cold storage. Once completed, the new facilities will replace Xcel’s existing operations at Heggen Street and Livingstone Road in Hudson. Xcel out grew this space as a result of continued growth in west central Wisconsin.
 

Croix Gear and Machining

Croix Gear and Machining (Hudson, Wisc.) is adding 23,000 square feet to its existing facility at 1651 Hanley Road. Once completed, the facility will total 60,000 square feet. Croix Gear operates as a division of Marine associates, which was founded in 1966. EDC member Derrick Building Solutions is the general contractor.

 
  
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