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News & Press: WEDC Corner

May 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
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WEDC loan helps keep company in northern Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded an $800,000 loan to Artisans Inc. in a move that will ensure the apparel company will retain its operations in northern Wisconsin.

The loan will help enable Artisans’ employees to purchase the 54-year-old Rusk County company from Gordon and Bev Dukerschein, who are retiring, and operate the business under an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Other companies had expressed an interest in purchasing Artisans from the Dukerscheins; however, they offered no assurances the business would have remained at its current location in Glen Flora, a small village just east of Ladysmith.

With the commitment from WEDC and additional financing from the Dukerscheins, Artisans will retain its 90 existing employees and is expected to create 11 new jobs over the next three years as the company continues to grow.

“Without WEDC’s loan, Rusk County was facing the potential risk of losing a major employer,” said Michael Wright, chairman and CEO of the company. “ESOPs are one of the few structures that allow employees, especially in rural areas, to participate fully in the generation of wealth that can sustain communities.”

“Artisans is a major employer in Rusk County, and WEDC is pleased to be able to work with the company and its employees to ensure it will remain in Glen Flora for years to come,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “We know northern Wisconsin faces unique challenges when it comes to economic development, and this is another example of how WEDC works with companies and communities in the region to help address those challenges.”

Founded in 1963, Artisans manufactures a variety of screen-printed and embroidered products that are sold primarily to retailers throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. The company serves the customized, handcrafted and high-quality apparel market in retail stores, resorts and events.

WEDC is providing Artisans with a seven-year loan under its Business Opportunity Loan Fund Program. In addition to repayment of the loan, Artisans is required to retain 72 full-time jobs in Glen Flora through January 2022 and to create up to 11 full-time jobs by January 2020.



Johnsonville commits to Wisconsin with expansion of corporate HQ

Johnsonville is expanding its global corporate headquarters in Sheboygan Falls with a 49,000-square-foot addition already underway and expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“This project will provide much-needed capacity to support the tremendous growth we’ve experienced over the last 10 years,” said Ralph Stayer, owner and chairman of Johnsonville. “Thanks to the state’s favorable business climate, we can keep growing right here in Sheboygan County.”

The project calls for Johnsonville to significantly expand its investment in engineering, research and development, and marketing as the company prepares for additional growth in its domestic, international and foodservice businesses.

WEDC is supporting the expansion by awarding Johnsonville up to $10 million in state income tax credits over the next five years. WEDC awarded tax credits to Johnsonville for previous expansions at Johnsonville’s Sheboygan Falls facilities in 2012 and 2015. Since that first award, the company’s employment in Sheboygan Falls has grown from about 700 to more than 1,200.

“With more than 1,200 employees in Wisconsin, securing Johnsonville’s commitment to grow here is important for the region and entire state,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “In addition to its own employees, Johnsonville’s vendors throughout the state directly and indirectly support more than 1,500 jobs statewide.”

Johnsonville also positively impacts the state economy by sourcing products from more than 500 Wisconsin farmers, producers and companies.



Manufacturer relocating from northern Illinois to Wisconsin

Prestige Metal Products is relocating its operations from northern Illinois to the Town of Bristol in Kenosha County, a project that will bring 46 jobs to the area and represents a $2.5 million investment for the company.

“Prestige Metal’s decision to relocate to Wisconsin is great news for Kenosha County and the entire state,” said Governor Scott Walker. “We continue to see more companies establish or expand operations in Wisconsin because of the pro-business policies we’ve implemented over the last six years. I congratulate the company for making the move and appreciate their commitment to Wisconsin.”

Prestige Metal, which was founded in 1945, is relocating from Antioch, Ill., to a building that has been vacant for several years. Home City Ice will be an additional tenant in the building, leasing 15,000 square feet.

WEDC awarded the company up to $165,000 in state tax credits over the next three years to support the project. The actual amount of credits the company receives is contingent upon the number of jobs created during that time. The Milwaukee 7 (M7) regional economic development group and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) also helped Prestige with the relocation.

Prestige Metals provides custom sheet metal fabrication services, specializing in stainless steel products. Prestige primarily serves the food processing equipment manufacturing industry as well as the pharmaceutical, food service, railroad, water treatment and transportation, industrial equipment, manufacturing and power generation industries. The company also offers contract manufacturing and assembly.

Prestige Metal is the latest company to expand or establish operations in Kenosha County. Since 2013, those projects have resulted in 6,500 jobs and nearly $1.25 billion in capital investment.



DuraTech Industries to expand manufacturing facility in La Crosse

DuraTech Industries Inc., which provides high-quality custom label printing services for customers worldwide, broke ground on a 47,300-square-foot expansion to the company’s manufacturing facility in La Crosse.

The $7.5 million project will help DuraTech continue to meet the growing demand for its products, and is expected to result in the creation of at least 50 new jobs over the next four years.

WEDC is supporting the expansion by awarding DuraTech up to $215,000 in state income tax credits over the next four years. The actual amount of tax credits received will be contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that time.

In addition, WEDC has approved an allocation of up to $6.6 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds to the city of La Crosse to provide financial support for the project. The city will issue the bonds on behalf of DuraTech, and proceeds from the sale of those bonds will help finance the construction. The city is also providing a $275,000 tax incremental financing grant to the development to provide vital gap funding for the construction of the new facility and redevelopment of the existing buildings.


21 school districts statewide receive Fab Lab Grants

WEDC awarded 21 school districts throughout the state with a total of nearly $500,000 in grants to establish or expand local fabrication laboratory (fab lab) facilities.

A fab lab is a high-technology workshop equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers, and plasma cutters. Through its Fab Lab Grant Program, WEDC is supporting the purchase of fab lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior, or high school students.

“Wisconsin’s fab labs are already making a difference around the state by helping students develop skills that will benefit them regardless of what career path they choose after high school,” said WEDC Secretary Hogan.  “Fab labs will undoubtedly benefit individual students, school districts, and Wisconsin’s economy as a whole.”

For a list of schools and more information on WEDC’s Fab Lab Program, visit


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