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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Bousley, Kaufman, Deschane Re-Elected to MCABI Offices

All officers of Marinette County Association for Business and Industry (MCABI) were re-elected by unanimous ballot at the group's regular monthly meeting in Crivitz on Thursday, Dec. 1. New terms will start on Jan. 1. Returning officers are George Bousley of Niagara, Chair; Shirley Kaufman, Marinette, vice chair; John Deschane, Crivitz, secretary, and Fred Meintz, Peshtigo, Treasurer. Kaufman and Meintz are Marinette County Supervisors, Bousley is Niagara mayor, and Deschane is Crivitz village president. Kaufman chaired Thursday's meeting in place of Bousley, who was ill.

Main project of MCABI at this time is construction of the Wisconsin Maritime Center for Excellence, which is being built with the help of numerous grants, including a $500 million grant from the Wisconsin Building Commission that was awarded over three years ago, in July of 2013.

Half the building is to provide office space for Naval personnel and contractors working with Marinette Marine on its Littoral Combat Ship contracts, and the other half will serve as an incubator for fledgling businesses and manufacturers, with an emphasis on enterprises connected with the marine industry.

After nearly three years of planning, construction is finally underway with completion expected in late 2017.

The facility is bring built on former Tyco Fire Suppression property at 1320 Main Street. The site was purchased from Tyco in July for $500,000. In addition to the original $5 million grant there was a $500,000 Wisconsin Economic Development grant, and a $500,000 "Brownfields" grant for cleanup of pollutants on the site.

Bid of $3,696,900 from Moyle Construction Company for general contractor services was accepted by the MCABI Building Committee in late September, and Cullen Smet of Smet Construction was named site manager. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

Construction of the approximately 23,775-square-foot building is expected to take about 11 months, but some parts could be completed and occupied sooner.

Total budget for the building, approved by the MCABI Board of Directors on Oct. 27, is $5,769,087.69.

Finding a suitable site was the first hurdle encountered by Elections Director Ann Hartnell and the MCABI team. A grant requirement was that it be near enough for U.S. Navy personnel to walk to the Marinette Marine shipyard on the Menominee River in Marinette.

Cleanup of contamination at the selected site then had to be completed before construction could get underway. The cleanup was partly financed by the $500,000 Brownfields grant.

Hartnell updated the MCABI Board on construction progress at its meeting on Dec. 1. She said a retaining wall has been constructed on the back of the property and next to the print shop building. Level of the entire site has been brought up to nearly the level of Main Street. A ditch will provided needed drainage.

Contractors began pouring footings on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Hartnell said they have brought in additional people and put them to work in order to get as much done as possible while weather permits.

Steel for the walls will arrive on Monday, Dec. 19. Actual construction will start with the naval portion of the building. Water and sewer are in, as are natural gas and electric lines. The contractors can use natural gas for heating this winter and will have electricity to work with, "so that is a plus," she noted.

Meintz said the contractor wanted to use a rock ballasted roof construction, "and we said no...It looks like we are going to get our way on that."

Hartnell has been meeting with NWTC in regard to furnishings and equipment for training center portion of the building. MCABI cannot buy through them because they are a private 501(3)(c) non-profit corporation and not a municipality. MCABI is owned and financed by Marinette County, but operates as a private non-profit corporation and will own the new building once it's done.

Although completion is nearly a year off, Hartnell has been seeking occupants for the building.

Bellin provides wellness services for shipyard employees from a trailer that serves as a clinic on Marinette Marine property. Marinette Marine wants to remove the trailer, so offices for the clinic in the Maritime Center building are being discussed. She said if Bellin decides to rent the space, MCABI will have the area finished to meet their needs.

Hartnell said she checked to see if a wellness clinic would be an acceptable use, and was told it qualifies because it serves Marinette Marine employees.

If the agreement goes through Bellin would pay rent to MCABI. "It isn't final yet, but it's a possibility," Hartnell said. If it happens, it would be a 5-year contract and any cost to meet their needs would be paid off as part of that contract.

Construction of the MCABI incubator portion of the building is expected to start in late March or early April.

Board members reviewed bills before approving payment, which included $23,443.83 for installation of electric and natural gas lines, considerably less than the original estimate of $40,000.

In other business, the board tentatively approved the 2017 operating budget for MCABI as prepared by Hartnell. She said their allocation from Marinette County will be $83,070, down slightly from last year because it is based on population, and population again has dropped a bit.

Corporate members Stephenson National Bank and Wisconsin Public Service added $4,000 to the income, and there will be about $2,000 for administration of Marinette County's revolving loan fund. She said there could be some minimal income from rent for the incubator portion of the Maritime Center, "but not much."

The web page is being beefed up to include the Center of Excellence. Under capital purchases she included a new desktop computer and new lateral files, needed to comply with grant requirements.

Allocation for marketing was decreased, but the budget includes $11,000 from the "Fab lab" grant which provides innovative teaching for clients. NWTC is also to put money into the "Fab lab" project.

Meintz said if they are able to use the incubator for half of 2017 they will need more office help.

Hartnell is to have the final budget ready for board approval in January.

Meintz invited anyone with ideas or suggestions for projects for the incubator, or input for the budget, to contact him.

Hartnell reported she attended the Governor's Summit on Economic Development recently, "and brought back a few new tidbits."

The Veteran's Administration will announce a grant for veteran business startups or expansions, which she said is a true grant and something she will look at for the veteran business owners she deals with.

The governor also announced plans for investing $10 million in rural economic development through the rural Economic and Area Development Initiative, or "READI" grants. This program will use unallocated CDBG funds to provide grants and loans to help rural communities with economic development, workforce training and housing.

There is to be up to $500,000 for proposals to create or expand a business resulting in creation of low and moderate income jobs; up to $300,000 for workforce housing loans for proposals to attract new workers to rural areas by rehabilitating or creating workforce housing near the economic development project, and up to $20,000 for workforce training grants to train new workers at the proposed economic development project.

Hartnell said these grants are intended to drive job creation in rural areas and help lay the foundation for sustainable long-term growth in rural Wisconsin.

The Department of Financial Institutions is funding financial literacy for teachers who then teach a semester course to high school juniors and seniors.

There also will be more broadband dollars coming from the state in the next budget and that will keep happening until the state has a minimum of 10 Mbps. The federally recognized acceptable level is 25 Mbps, but many businesses require gigabyte broadband service.

Board member Al Mans reported that on Thursday, Dec. 8, a Business Leaders Information session will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Ironworks in Marinette. Sponsors are Kolbenschmidt, UWEX and CESA-8.

Deschane stated that at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, directors of the Wisconsin League of Municipalities will be at Crivitz Village Hall for a listening session focused on village and city officials.

Hartnell reported she has started working with the Village of Pound on "Golden Shovel" certification to help promote their business and industrial park. She said the Golden Shovel program is a lower cost option for smaller communities to market both public and private properties throughout the New North region. Fee per listing is $500 for the first year, but one business park is considered to be one listing even though it may include several contiguous development lots. Designated sites also will be listed n the state's online property data base. Renewal and updating for the listing will cost $150 for subsequent years.

Board member Gary Langer said he has had offers, and wondered why type of commercial buildings are available in Marinette County for rent, particularly along the Hwy. 141 corridor. He said businesses that are having problems finding employees at their current locations are moving some of their operations to satellite.

Hartnell said there isn't much along that Hwy. 141 corridor, perhaps one building in Crivitz, and one Patz warehouse that may or may not have heat and electricity.

Coleman Village President Glen Woulf said his village has at least one 10,000 square foot building available, and the old canning factory is available again. Both have heat and electricity, and the canning factory also has rail service.

Hartnell urged him and everyone to get all the information to her so she can get it on the state sale site.

There was discussion of potential businesses moving into the Pine Tree Mall and other areas in Marinette.

Kaufman said there are a lot of things happening in Marinette, including construction of the new Rec Center that is to start in January.

A Niagara board member said Niagara lost two huge customers because Dickinson County, Mich. would not accept fly ash in their landfill. She understood a couple of residents complained they didn't want the traffic on their road.

County Supervisor Dennis Marcely, also an MCABI Board member, said Northland Baptist Bible College, now known as Northland Mission, is supposed to have thousands of students coming from China to learn functional English. He said the current owners of the facility are doing everything they can to make it a going concern. It costs $83,000 a month just to keep the buildings heated, but they want to keep it going and hope to start building a college again.


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