Walker rejects Kenosha casino
January 23, 2015 11:57 AM
Gov. Scott Walker today rejected the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino project in Kenosha.

“After a comprehensive review of the potential economic impact of the proposed Kenosha casino project, the risk to the state’s taxpayers is too great,” Walker said. “Due to the compacts negotiated by Governor (Jim) Doyle, the current cost to taxpayers of approving the proposed casino project is up to $100 million and the long-term economic hit to the state budget would be a potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The Menominee Tribe expressed disappointment with Walker’s decision and said the Kenosha casino project would have improved the lives of the tribe’s nearly 9,000 members.

“Instead, one tribe – the Forest County Potawatomi and one goal of Governor Walker – the presidency, has led to a no for our people,” the Menominee Tribe’s statement said. “The tribe and our partners at Hard Rock International will meet in the next few days to discuss any options we have. Until then – we must remember all the Menominee Nation has overcome in more than 10,000 years – we will continue to thrive as a nation and will continue to be honorable partners for Indian Tribes in Wisconsin and around the nation.”

The Forest County Potawatomi Community’s Milwaukee casino is the only casino in southeastern Wisconsin. The Potawatomi strongly opposed the proposed Kenosha casino.

“Governor Walker and his administration gave the Kenosha casino project a thorough review, and we agree with his determination that this project is not in the best interest of Wisconsin,” the Potawatomi tribe said.

Walker’s decision comes a day after the Potawatomi announced that it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior on the grounds that the Bureau of Indian Affairs exceeded its legal authority in denying the tribe’s proposed gaming compact amendment that would have required the state to reimburse the tribe for any losses incurred at its Milwaukee casino if a competing casino is opened in Kenosha.

Although Walker said he needed to protect the state against being held responsible for any economic losses incurred by the Potawatomi if the Kenosha casino was built, the Menominee Tribe announced Thursday that it had agreed in its recent compact amendment to post a bond to protect Wisconsin taxpayers from any revenue losses incurred by Milwaukee casino. Under that compact amendment the Menominee Tribe agreed to pay the state $1 billion over the 25-year life of the compact, if the tribe was allowed to build a casino in Kenosha.

The Menominee intended to partner with Hard Rock International and its parent company, The Seminole Tribe of Florida, to develop the $800 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino project at the former site of Dairyland Greyhound Park. The proposed project included a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor with 3,100 slot machines, 75 table games, a 5,000-seat multi-purpose entertainment venue, 50,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and a 400-room hotel.

Some prominent social conservatives in Iowa said Walker, a potential candidate for president, could lose support in the state if he approved a casino in Kenosha. Walker’s critics seized on that threat in criticizing his decision to reject the Kenosha casino.

“This is an economic mistake of colossal proportions,” said state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. “As far as I can tell, this is the largest economic opportunity ever passed up by a governor in any state. Gov. Walker is turning down not only up to 10,000 good-paying jobs but also millions of new tourists and other significant economic development opportunities associated with this project – something that on a total bipartisan basis business leaders, local elected officials, community leaders and the citizens of Kenosha and Racine counties have recognized for years. I can’t help but wonder if the recent opposition of many Iowa conservative leaders played a role in the governor’s decision. If so, Gov. Walker has once again prioritized his own presidential ambitions over creating jobs and restoring economic opportunity in our state. The governor can no longer claim jobs and tourism are his top priorities, but perhaps pleasing Iowa conservatives are.”

Walker and his supporters are blaming former Gov. Doyle for gaming compacts that Doyle negotiated with the Potawatomi and other tribes saying those compacts made the Kenosha casino a risky financial proposition for the state.

“I am extremely disappointed in Governor Walker’s decision today,” said state Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester. “This is a huge loss to the Racine and Kenosha area. We all have a right to be angry and frustrated that we will not gain thousands of jobs, and an $800 million development will be lost. Unfortunately, we really have one person to blame, and that is Jim Doyle, for forcing the state into this no-win situation.”

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BizTracker: Unemployment rate holds steady
January 23, 2015 11:05 AM
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remained at 5.2 percent in December, according to preliminary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates released by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Read more in the BizTracker.

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Associated Banc-Corp reports higher 4Q, 2014 earnings
January 23, 2015 11:07 AM
Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp reported fourth quarter net income of $48.7 million, or 31 cents per share, up from $47.8 million, or 28 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Total revenue was $249 million, up from $248 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The bank’s net interest margin was 3.04 percent, down from 3.23 percent in the same period a year ago.

Associated’s provision for loan losses was $4.5 million, up 125 percent from the $2 million it allotted for loan losses in the fourth quarter of 2013. Net charge declined to $4.5 million, compared with $5.4 million in net charge offs in the same period a year ago.

Total nonperforming assets totaled $194.1 million, down from $203.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Full-year net income was $190.5 million, or $1.17 per share, up from $188.7 million, or $1.10 per share, in 2013.

Total revenue for 2014 was $991 million, up from $979 million in 2013.

“Overall we are pleased with this year’s financial results and accomplishments,” said Associated president and chief executive officer Philip Flynn. “We continued to grow our balance sheet, total revenues, and bottom line earnings. In addition, we have continued to make substantial investments in the bank, which will position us for the future while slightly reducing total expenses. We remain focused on opportunistic ways to deploy capital while delivering increased value to our shareholders. We are also happy to kick off 2015 with last week’s announcement regarding the acquisition of the insurance agency, Ahmann-Martin.”

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Katz Properties buys East Side apartment tower for $9.65 million
January 23, 2015 11:18 AM
An affiliate of Bayside-based Katz Properties Inc. recently purchased The Lodgewoods Apartments tower on the East Side of Milwaukee for $9.65 million, according to state records.

The 15-story, 76-unit building was constructed in 1954. It is located at 1121-25 N. Waverly Place, at the southwest corner of Waverly and East Juneau Avenue.

The building was sold by Mequon-based Lodgewood Apartments LP.

The building sold for well above its assessed value of $5.1 million, according to city records.

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Glenroy acquires PF Flexibles from PolyFirst
January 23, 2015 11:20 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Glenroy Inc. recently acquired Hartford-based PF Flexibles, formerly known as Pouch Converting Technologies Inc., from Hartford-based PolyFirst Packaging Inc.

An employee of PF Flexibles confirmed the sale. In addition, Glenroy recently acquired a 40,000-square-foot industrial building at 1480 Independence Ave. in Hartford for $2.4 million, according to state records. That building is occupied by PF Flexibles.

A spokeswoman for Glenroy declined to comment on the company’s acquisition of the Hartford building.

Glenroy is a custom converter of flexible packaging film and provides wide web printed and unprinted packaging film roolstock and stand-up pouches. The company has more than 150 employees and 226,000 square feet of facilities in southeast Wisconsin.

PF Flexibles is a contract manufacturer of pre-formed pouches in the flexible packaging industry.

PolyFirst is a manufacturer of flexible packaging.

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Irgens seeks $7.6 million in TIF for The Corridor
January 23, 2015 11:49 AM
Milwaukee-based real estate development firm Irgens is seeking nearly $7.6 million in tax incremental financing for The Corridor, the mixed-use project that the firm plans to develop at the Ruby Farm site in Brookfield.

The TIF funds will be used for roads, utility infrastructure, preservation of the Ruby House and Ruby Barn and a recreation trail, according to a report from the city.

The Corridor is planned for a 65-acre site between Bluemound Road, Calhoun Road, I-94 and Brookfield Lakes Corporate Center.

Irgens plans to develop the site with 500,000 square feet of office space, 135,900 square feet of retail space, 183,000 square feet of mixed use space. A hotel, possibly with a conference center, is also planned for project. The total amount of building space planned for the project is 823,000 square feet.

The value of the development planned in the entire project is estimated at $49.3 million by the city.

The northern portion of the site, near Bluemound Road, will have mid-box and outlot retail buildings. The central portion of the site will be mixed use with retail space, medical offices, wellness and fitness centers, and would be the site for the hotel and conference center.

The southern portion of the site is planned for office buildings, which could include multi-tenant buildings or corporate headquarters buildings.

“Irgens looks forward to moving into the next phase of The Corridor mixed-use development project and continuing to work with project stakeholders to make this a great and successful project,” said Mark Irgens, CEO and manager of Irgens. “There still is much work to do in making this a reality and getting the TIF entitlement process successfully completed is important to the project’s feasibility and ultimate success. The Corridor development plan is a commitment to create new and high value, state of the art product and quality development for Brookfield and our tenant clients, the ultimate users of the site.”

Infrastructure construction work at the site and construction of retail space is expected to begin in the spring. The infrastructure and some of the retail space could be complete this fall.

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Medical College awarded $1 million to help children with mental health needs
January 23, 2015 11:11 AM
The Medical College of Wisconsin has been awarded a $1 million grant to pilot a Child Psychiatry Consultation Program in Milwaukee County and 15 northern Wisconsin counties. The announcement came from Wisconsin Department of Health Services secretary Kitty Rhoades on Thursday.

“Mental health is important to the overall health and well-being of everyone in Wisconsin and is especially important for our state’s children and youth,” Rhoades said.  “Appropriately treating mental health issues at an early age will help prevent and avoid more costly interventions later in life.  This program will help children have better access to the mental health services they need by allowing a child psychiatrist from MCW to provide consultation to the child’s primary care provider.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20 percent of U.S. children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder; however, there is a shortage of psychiatrists with expertise in treating children with these disorders. This shortage has been felt particularly strongly in Wisconsin, and the CPCP is intended to provide much-needed assistance in the diagnosis and management of children and adolescents with mental health problems.

As part of the program, the Medical College will make available mental health professionals who will be able to support a child’s or adolescent’s primary care provider in diagnosing and managing mild to moderate mental health problems, and will ensure a referral support system for children and adolescents. This will include assisting with determining the most appropriate treatment, as well as making recommendations to other mental health professionals and community resources. Additionally, the Medical College will host training programs for primary care providers of children and adolescents to increase understanding of child behavioral health issues, diagnosis and treatment.

“We have a shortage of child psychiatrists in Wisconsin and nationwide, and primary care providers are often uncomfortable diagnosing psychiatric illnesses and often reluctant to prescribe psychotropic medications to their patients without guidance or input from a mental health specialist,” said Dr. Jon Lehrmann, the Charles E. Kubly Professor and Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College. “This program will provide education, community linkage and referral, and a specialized ‘safety net’ to pediatricians and primary care providers to confidently treat children’s mental health disorders.”

The CPCP grant will serve children and youth in Milwaukee County and in the following 15 counties in northern Wisconsin: Ashland, Bayfield, Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Price, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas and Wood counties.

Funding for the CPCP was created through Act 127 in response to recommendations from the Speaker’s Task Force on Mental Health.

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Workshop to address valuing your business
January 23, 2015 11:51 AM
BizTimes Media will host an interactive workshop designed to help business owners value their businesses and prepare them for sale.

The program, “What’s your business really worth—are you building a sellable company?” will be held on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Hotel, 375 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield.

Experts will offer information, advice and tools to help business owners increase the value of their companies and prepare them for a sale or acquisition.

Joel Nettesheim, principal, and Nancy Mehlberg, manager, at SVA Certified Public Accountants, will explain the concept of a “sellability score.” Panelists Daniel Eder, president of Reliable Door and Dock Inc. and Jim Lindenberg, owner and president of Lindy Enterprises, JML Holdings and Legends of the Field, will discuss their firsthand experiences with selling their companies.

For more information or to register, visit

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Weekend preview
January 23, 2015 11:52 AM
While the Packers fell in the playoffs last weekend, there are still plenty of Milwaukee sports to watch and other events to fill your time this weekend.

Make a plan with the Weekend Preview. is a media partner of BizTimes Media.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Cybersecurity talent shortage matter of economic and national security
January 23, 2015 11:53 AM
Today's weapons of choice for those who would attack U.S. interests are Trojan horse programs, denial-of-service attacks and password-cracking tools used to steal or corrupt digital data.

Having the right people in place to defend against such attacks has become a major cost, and recruitment challenge, for businesses in Wisconsin.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

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Morning Headlines: Lands’ End stock drops after preliminary estimates fall below expectations
January 23, 2015 11:54 AM
Lands’ End stock fell as much as 25.9 percent in early trading Thursday after the Dodgeville apparel retailer gave an advance look at its estimated results for the fourth quarter and full 2014 year that did not meet expectations.

Read more in today's Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Nonprofit Weekly: LISC, Safe & Sound announce crime prevention award winners
January 23, 2015 11:55 AM
Local Initiatives Support Corporation's Milwaukee chapter and Safe & Sound, Inc. this week announced recipients of the organizations' Crime Prevention Awards program, which puts a spotlight on the efforts of law enforcement and community members to reinforce neighborhood safety.

Read more in today’s Nonprofit Weekly.

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Potawatomi files lawsuit challenging BIA ruling
January 22, 2015 10:38 AM
The Forest County Potawatomi Community announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior on the grounds that the Bureau of Indian Affairs exceeded its legal authority in denying the tribe’s proposed gaming compact amendment with the state of Wisconsin.

Earlier this month the BIA rejected a proposed amendment to the tribe’s gaming compact that would have required the state to reimburse the tribe for any losses incurred at its Milwaukee casino if a competing casino is opened in Kenosha.

“This amendment would have clarified how the provisions of our 2005 gaming compact will be enforced,” said Forest County Potawatomi attorney general Jeff Crawford.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, along with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, wants to build a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino complex in Kenosha.

“The federal government’s decision only creates more questions and uncertainty for the Kenosha casino project,” Crawford said. “Good government requires clear rules, and we think the BIA violated those rules. We are confident that this unlawful decision will be overturned by the courts.”

The BIA also will review a recent agreement between the Menominee Tribe and the state to amend that tribe’s gaming compact. Under the deal, the tribe would pay the state $1 billion over the 25-year life of the compact, if the tribe is allowed to build a casino in Kenosha. The Menominee compact amendment provides the largest annual and overall payment in state history, according to the tribe. The tribe hopes the deal will help convince Gov. Scott Walker to approve its plans for the Kenosha casino.

Walker has until Feb. 19 to decide if he will approve or reject the project. However, the lawsuit by the Potawatomi against the federal government may not be settled until after the Feb. 19 deadline for Walker’s decision.

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Chick-fil-A may open restaurant at Drexel Town Square
January 22, 2015 10:35 AM
Chick-fil-A hopes to open a restaurant at the Drexel Town Square development in Oak Creek.

The City of Oak Creek Plan Commission will review the Atlanta-based chicken fast food chain’s application at its January 27 meeting.

The 4,876-square-foot restaurant would be located at 150 W. Town Square Way, immediately to the west of the Water Street Brewery that is currently being built in the development. It will include a drive-through, an indoor play area and an outdoor seating area. About 45 employees would work at the restaurant.

Chick-fil-A also has a restaurant at Regency Mall in Racine and recently opened restaurants in Brookfield and Greendale.

“I’ve heard two things when residents ask me about the town square,” said Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi. “One is ‘Are we getting a Chick-fil-A?’ and the other is ‘Are we getting a steak house?’”

Scaffidi worked with Chick-fil-A over the past several months to secure the Drexel Town Square location and is talking to potential steak house operators about opening a restaurant at the development, he said.

Drexel Town Square is the mixed-use development under construction at the 85-acre former Delphi plant site southwest of Howell and Drexel avenues in Oak Creek. The project will create a downtown for Oak Creek and will include a new City Hall and library, a town square, a mixed-use Main Street, apartments, restaurants, a four-story Four Points by Sheraton hotel, a Froetert medical center, a fitness facility and a big box Meijer store. Wispark LLC is leading a team of developers for the project.

There will also be about three or four restaurants in the Main Street portion of the development that Wired Properties is developing, Scaffidi said. Those may include options like sushi and Mexican food.

“We want to have a pretty wide spectrum of restaurants out there,” including both popular chains and unique local restaurants, he said. “Those details are still being worked out.”

“The decision by Chick-fil-A to pursue a location at Drexel Town Square is yet another indication of the strength of the retail market in Oak Creek,” Scaffidi said.

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Dielectric Corp. acquires Centerline Machine
January 22, 2015 10:59 AM
Dielectric Corp., a Menomonee Falls-based manufacturer of custom plastic and non-ferrous parts, sub-assemblies and finished products, announced today that it has acquired Centerline Machine Inc. of Waupaca at an undisclosed price.

Centerline Machine specializes in the machining and fabrication of parts and products made of steel, composites and exotic alloys. Its operations will remain in its facility, but it will now be called Centerline Machine Inc., a division of Dielectric Corp.

"With the addition of the Centerline Machine operation, we can now offer a wider range of machining, fabrication and prototyping services. This expansion will enable us to better serve existing clients and to diversify our customer base," said Dielectric chief executive officer Mike Esser.

Furthermore, the acquisition allows Dielectric to expand its service mix to include metal fabrication, laser cutting and abrasive waterjet material processing.

Dielectric has 127 employees, and Centerline employs 30. No employees were eliminated as a result of the acquisition, according to Dielectric chief operating officer Perry Pabich. He added that the plan is to grow employment at both locations.

In another move that expands capabilities, Dielectric has introduced the following technologies in its Menomonee Falls facility:

• A Northwoods four-spindle router with a large table for bigger builds and an automated tool changer for greater efficiency
• A new large-part inkjet printing machine to achieve faster drying times
• An additional HAAS VF-6, three-axis large table, vertical machining center with five-axis option for greater capacity

"We are committed to meeting our customers' changing needs through technology improvements and added capabilities. These recent purchases, along with the addition of the Centerline Machine facility, enable us to continue to provide the quality and service that our customers have come to expect from Dielectric," Pabich said.

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