Menasha Packaging plans $5 million Hartford expansion
October 20, 2014 11:56 AM
Neenah-based Menasha Packaging Co. LLC is planning a $5 million expansion of its production capacity in Hartford.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Neenah-based Menasha Corp. that makes graphic packaging and product merchandising solutions, is expanding capacity to meet customer demand. It also plans to add 74 employees, some of whom will be at the Hartford plant and some of whom will be in support operations roles in Neenah.

The expansion will include new machinery and equipment, and the addition of a third shift to increase production. The facility is at 621 Wacker Drive in Hartford.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has approved $502,000 in economic development tax credits for Menasha Packaging over the next three years to assist with the project. The tax credits are contingent upon the company creating the agreed upon number of jobs.

“I’m pleased that Menasha Packaging—after looking at options in other states—decided to go forward with the expansion in Wisconsin, where the company has six facilities, said Gov. Scott Walker. “Manufacturing remains a vital component of Wisconsin’s economy and because of the successes of companies like Menasha Packaging, the state is outpacing the nation when it comes to growth in manufacturing jobs.”

“The commitment from WEDC was an important factor in our decision,” said Mike Waite, president of Menasha Packaging. “The capital investment in Hartford will support the company’s growth and allow us to continue to meet and exceed the needs of our broad customer base.”

Menasha Packaging has more than 2,400 employees at 30 facilities nationwide, six of which are in Wisconsin. About 900 of the employees are in Wisconsin.

The company expanded its Hartford facility to 269,000 square feet in 2010.

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InSinkErator’s Kenosha building sold for $10.3 million
October 20, 2014 12:14 PM
An affiliate of New York-based Gramercy Property Trust Inc. recently purchased the 160,000-square-foot building in Kenosha that will be occupied by an InSinkErator plant.

The building was sold by an affiliate of Rosemont, Ill.-based Venture One Real Estate for $10.3 million, according to state records.

Earlier this year, InSinkErator announced that it plans to establish operations in the facility, located at 5612 95th Ave. in the Business Park of Kenosha.

The building was previously used as an envelope manufacturing plant by Cenveo Inc., which ceased operations there in 2012.

InSinkErator, a garbage disposal manufacturer and a business unit of Emerson, expects to be operational in the Kenosha facility by mid-2015.

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Our Next Generation appoints new leader upon retirement of Dunn
October 20, 2014 12:20 PM
After more than a decade of shaping students in Milwaukee's central city neighborhoods, Bob Dunn, president and CEO of Our Next Generation, Inc., has retired and turned the nonprofit over to newly appointed leader La Toya Sykes.

Dunn, who joined Our Next Generation in 2003 after 12 years as president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Milwaukee, Inc., officially retired on Wednesday. While he originally planned to stay onboard at the organization for another year or two, some minor health concerns along with a need for fresh leadership prompted him to reconsider.
“To me, the agency is poised for dramatic growth, and I thought at my age, ‘Can I see that through?’” said Dunn, who is 67.
Our Next Generation emerged out of a group of volunteers who banded together in the 1990s to tutor and mentor youth in the central city. Today, the organization provides a spectrum of programs focused on academic support, career exploration and personal development for students in pre-K through 12th grades.
The nonprofit is headquartered at 3421 W. Lisbon Ave. in Milwaukee and operates two learning centers at Westside Academy at 36th and Brown streets and 32nd and Brown streets. The organization is also in the process of creating a designated teen center two blocks west of its home base.
Additionally, Our Next Generation offers programming at area businesses and schools across Milwaukee, including ManpowerGroup, UW-Milwaukee, MSOE and Saint John’s on the Lake, through its Outbound Learning program.
During Dunn’s leadership, the organization expanded both its reach and its identity, particularly after it acquired the site of its main center about five years ago, Dunn said.
“Since then the identity of Our Next Generation has really increased,” he said, adding that community recognition of the agency is “very positive” and that “the success of our program has been demonstrated.”
In the last 10 years, the high school graduation rate of Our Next Generation students has never dropped below 95 percent and has typically hovered between 97 and 100 percent, according to Dunn.
Along with establishing a permanent home for Our Next Generation and growing community partnerships through the organization’s Outbound Learning program, Dunn said he is particularly proud of the nonprofit’s involvement in the Washington Park Partners.
He’s even prouder of the students who have succeeded through the organization’s programming efforts.
“What I’m proudest of are the kids that have come through our program,” Dunn said. “If we look at statistics and environments they’re coming from and the obstacles they have to overcome, it’s a pretty bleak picture.”
Their accomplishments, in spite of the odds against them, are “a tribute to them,” he said.
His successor, Sykes, comes to the organization with a diversity of experience in education and college access initiatives. Sykes, who spent her childhood in Milwaukee, most recently served as managing partner of Milwaukee consulting firm Dampeer & Canady LLC. She is also board president of Lead2Change, Inc., a Milwaukee-based nonprofit and youth leadership organization.
Her career has also included serving as associate director of College Goal Sunday, a college access program facilitated by the YMCA of the USA, and director of outreach and access awareness for Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, which helps students navigate the student loan process responsibly.
As Sykes jumps into her new role today, she said at the top of her priorities will be a focus on continuing to elevate Our Next Generation’s profile and a commitment to ensuring students are aware of all their options.
“I just want to help our kids see the possibilities,” she said. “I want to get them to the next level, and I want to demonstrate to them that that is possible.”

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First Financial Centre building sold for $3.28 million
October 20, 2014 12:26 PM
The First Financial Centre, a 14-story office building located at the northeast corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee, was sold recently for $3.28 million, according to state records.

The 153,201-square-foot building, constructed in 1928, was purchased by Brookfield-based 700 North Water Tower LLC. The registered agent for the firm is real estate investor Bachan Singh.

The building was sold in an online auction by an affiliate of Miami Beach, Fla.-based LNR Property LLC.

The building has an assessed value of $3.9 million, according to city records.

Tenants in the building include Capital Investment Services, Lawyertemps Inc., Nicholas Compan, Inc., Lubar & Co., and Weiss, Berzowski, Brady LLP. The office space in the building is only 32.87 percent occupied, according to

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Costco buys site for Pleasant Prairie store
October 20, 2014 12:27 PM
Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp. recently purchased a 17.5-acre site in Pleasant Prairie, where it plans to build a 153,962-squasre-foot store.

Costco bought the site, located south of Highway 50 and east of St. Catherine’s Medical Center at 9555 76th St., from an affiliate of Greenwich, Conn.-based Starwood Capital Group for $3.8 million, according to state records.

Costco plans to have 150 employees at the Pleasant Prairie store, half of which will be full time employees.

Costco also has plans to build stores in New Berlin and Menomonee Falls and currently has stores in Grafton and Pewaukee.

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Midwest Engineering Systems buys Pewaukee building
October 20, 2014 12:29 PM
An affiliate of Midwest Engineering Systems Inc., an automation systems manufacturer, recently purchased the 100,000-square-foot industrial building at W238 N1800 Rockwood Dr. in Pewaukee for $4.35 million, according to state records.

The building was sold by Hartford-based Terrapin Properties LLC. The registered agent for Terrapin Properties is Verne Holoubek.

Midwest Engineering Systems recently moved to the building from its former location in a 55,084-square-foot facility at N26 W23445 Paul Road in Pewaukee. That building was purchased last month by XY Pewaukee LLC, a Brookfield-based investment group, for $2.9 million.

“The move to our new expanded location is an exciting time for all of us at Midwest Engineering Systems, who are earnestly working to make this transition seamless,” said Midwest Engineering Systems president Scott Woida. “We have spent the last six months renovating the facility to include everything we need to support our efforts become the top automation integrator in the nation.”

The supply of available industrial space continues to dwindle in Waukesha County, which had a 3.8 percent industrial space vacancy rate during the third quarter, according to Xceligent. The county absorbed 157,929 square feet of industrial space during the quarter.

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ACA drives growth for Mequon benefit management firm
October 20, 2014 12:31 PM
The Affordable Care Act has contributed to growth plans for Mequon-based benefit management solutions company Wonderbox Technologies LLC and its family of companies.

Menomonee Falls-based dental benefit management firm Scion Dental is part of the company structure, and plans to add 50 full-time and part-time positions due to steady growth driven by new client acquisition.

The company group also includes Menomonee Falls-based Vestica Healthcare, Menomonee Falls-based American Therapy Administrators and Ocular Benefits. The family of companies currently has 415 employees, and the group is in the process of adding almost 100 positions.

The group of companies, which offers automated benefit administration software and outsourced services to government and commercial payers, managed care organizations and health care delivery systems, is adding positions as it reorganizes around increased health plan membership and market opportunity.

"As the vast majority of our clients are from outside of the state of Wisconsin, we are proud to be in a position to create high quality jobs within our local economy," said Craig Kasten, co-founder and board chairman of the companies.  "It is always exciting to add new talent that inevitably brings further innovation and fresh thinking to the table.”

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Workforce Investment Board to host job fair
October 20, 2014 12:36 PM
The Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board and Mayor Tom Barrett will host a job fair at Serb Hall, 5101 W. Oklahoma Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 23, from 8 to 11 a.m.

The job fair will feature 75 Milwaukee-area employers with current job openings.

Barrett will be joined by representatives from a wide range of industries who will be ready to interview candidates at the Premier Hiring Event. To attend the event, job seekers must go through a pre-screening process by bringing a current resume to one of seven convenient locations around Milwaukee. A screener will review the resume and issue a VIP Pass to attend the event. The locations can be found at

“This job fair is a great resource for any Milwaukee resident who is currently looking for a job,” Barrett said. “I’m pleased by the variety and number of employers we have participating, and I want to encourage all job seekers to get a VIP Pass before the job fair so they can meet directly with employers on the 23rd.”  

Job seekers must be pre-screened prior to the event to receive a VIP Pass to get into the job fair.

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Wisconsin Eye posts video of Get Smarter Conference
October 20, 2014 12:38 PM
Wisconsin Eye has posted a video of the BizTimes Get Smarter Conference, which was held Friday at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

The first session of the talent development conference featured a panel of accomplished executives who shared their advice and ideas for the millennial generation of professionals about how to become leaders within their organizations.

The second session featured a panel of millennial executives who are poised to assume leadership roles within their organizations.

To view the video, click here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Five lessons for the young professional toolkit
October 20, 2014 12:40 PM
Climbing the workplace ladder can prove difficult if not equipped with the right skills to make it to the top. From busing tables at 15, to studying abroad during college, to heading up the Human Resources Department and eventually becoming president and COO of Cousins Subs, I've uncovered a few key tactics to overcome obstacles, advance professionally and navigate the ever-changing workplace.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Christine Specht-Palmert, who recently spoke at the BizTimes Get Smarter Conference.

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Gitomer: How's your networking working? Better if you follow the rules.
October 20, 2014 12:41 PM
I went to a networking meeting last week hosted by a formal networking organization called Business Network International.

Many of you know this group. They have meetings all over the world. This particular chapter meeting was in New York City, and is populated by sophisticated business people who are on fire.

NOTE WELL: NYC business people, in general, take no prisoners. This BNI chapter takes no amateurs. And their meetings are exceptionally well structured.

Read more in today’s Small Biz Strategies by Jeffrey Gitomer.

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Morning Headlines: Plasma collection center will create 50 to 70 jobs
October 20, 2014 12:42 PM
A busy area near Wausau is getting a new business that will have dozens of employees.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Manufacturing Weekly: Washington County school officials to tour manufacturers
October 20, 2014 12:43 PM
Six manufacturing companies and two health care providers will be welcoming teachers, guidance counselors and other staff from three Washington County school districts for tours on Thursday and Friday.

Read more in today’s Manufacturing Weekly.

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Wisconsin unemployment rate drops to 5.5%
October 17, 2014 10:35 AM
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development announced that the preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent in September, down from 5.7 percent in August and at its lowest since October 2008.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remains below the national unemployment rate of 5.9 percent.

The state gained 8,400 private sector jobs from August to September, on a seasonally adjusted, preliminary basis, according to the DWD. Over the past 12 months, Wisconsin gained 37,400 jobs.

The new numbers are based on preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The state's unemployment rate has reached a new post-Recession low at 5.5 percent, and the latest estimates show the private sector created 8,400 jobs over the month,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the DWD. “These and other indicators show Wisconsin's economy is growing stronger, which is great news for job creators and working families."

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Bucks add more members to ownership group
October 17, 2014 11:04 AM
The Milwaukee Bucks announced today that the team has added seven additional local investors to its ownership group, and for the first time acknowledged that New York hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan is a “substantial” owner of the team.

The new members of the ownership group include Gale Klappa, CEO of Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp. and Jon Hammes, managing partner of Brookfield-based Hammes Company.

The Bucks also announced that its ownership group now also includes the Partners for Community Impact LLC, a group of Milwaukee area African-American business leaders, which includes: Michael Barber chief operating officer of GE Healthcare; Valerie Daniels-Carter co-founder, president and CEO of V&J Holding Companies; former Miller Brewing Company executive vice president Virgis Colbert; Charles Harvey, chief diversity officer and president of the Johnson Controls Foundation, and Generation Growth Capital founder and managing director Cory Nettles.

“PCI represents a historic collective of African-American community and investment-minded business leaders,” Daniels-Carter said. “We see a unique opportunity to bring together a storied local sports franchise with a group of minority business leaders who are committed to ensuring that the benefits of this economic activity reach the full community. We think the PCI partnership model will be replicated throughout the NBA, particularly as a means of diversifying the ownership of NBA franchises.”

The local owners announced today join other local owners that the team announced in July including: Ted Kellner, founder and executive chairman of Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management; Jim Kacmarcik, president of Grafton-based Kapco Inc.; Craig Karmazin, founder and CEO of Beaver Dam-based Good Karma Brands; Michael Kocourek, president of Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Mid Oaks Investments; Keith Mardak, chairman and CEO of Milwaukee-based Hal Leonard Corp.; and Teddy Werner, senior director of business operations for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The announcement by the Bucks today also acknowledges for the first time that Dinan, a hedge fund manager and founder of York Capital Management, is also part of the ownership group with Marc Edens and Wes Lasry, who bought the team earlier this year from Herb Kohl. Dinan is a “substantial” owner of the team, said a Bucks spokesperson.

“Since I joined as an owner in July, I have already seen the huge strides we have taken on making the Bucks an integral part of the Milwaukee community,” Dinan said in a news release. “With these leaders joining the Bucks organization, the momentum on our side is undeniable. We look forward to utilizing their knowledge and expertise to build the future of Milwaukee.”

Klappa, Hammes and the Partners for Community Impact have all been approved by the NBA to be part of the Bucks ownership group, the team said today.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join with such distinguished fellow owners of the Bucks franchise,” Klappa said. “The talent in the front office, on the court and throughout the ownership is second to none. All of us are united in our goal of building the Bucks organization into an economic engine for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, providing quality jobs in the community, supporting economic growth and making substantive progress on building our statewide workforce.”

“I am thrilled for the future of basketball in Milwaukee,” said Hammes. “Being home to a strong franchise will pay off in the long-term for all of our local institutions and their athletic activities. I believe we have the ownership team to do great work and am eager to take our next steps toward making the Bucks a model for other basketball teams across the country.”

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