Top bidder pledges $16.5 million to buy Shops of Grand Avenue
October 23, 2014 02:01 PM
The top bidder in the online auction sale of the Shops of Grand Avenue pledged $16.5 million to buy the troubled mall in downtown Milwaukee. The auction closed moments ago.

The mall was offered for sale on, which is handling the sale along with Rockwood Real Estate Advisors. The identity of the winning bidder was not immediately disclosed.

The starting bid in the auction sale of the mall was $4.75 million.

The property that is being sold is a four-building complex at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. with 298,109 square feet of space, and an adjacent 1,748-space parking structure.

The auction will not include the Boston Store building at 331 W. Wisconsin Ave., which is separately owned by Wispark LLC.

The value of the Shops of Grand Avenue, built in 1982, has fallen dramatically over the years as the mall has struggled with high amounts of vacant retail space. An investment group formed by New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. bought the property in 2005 for $31.7 million. In 2012 it was sold in a foreclosure auction for $8.5 million to a subsidiary of the mall's lender, a group of Bank of America investors.

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Community Bank & Trust to merge with Wisconsin Bank & Trust
October 23, 2014 10:28 AM
Dubuque, Iowa-based Heartland Financial USA Inc. has agreed to acquire Community Banc-Corp of Sheboygan Inc., the parent company of Sheboygan-based Community Bank & Trust, for about $52 million or 155 percent of the tangible equity of Community Banc-Corp at closing.

Heartland also owns Madison-based Wisconsin Bank & Trust, which will be merged with Community Bank & Trust. Community Banc-Corp shares will be converted into Heartland common stock.

Community Bank & Trust has assets of about $525 million, loans of $410 million and deposits of $429 million as of Sept. 30. It has a main office and three branches in Sheboygan, as well as branches in Sheboygan Falls, Plymouth, Elkhart Lake, Chilton, Glendale and Greenfield.

"Our board views this merger as an excellent move for the customers of Community Bank & Trust,” said Anthony Jovanovich, chairman and chief executive officer of Community Banc-Corp. “As we considered our strategic direction, including the importance of identifying a potential quality merger partner, Wisconsin Bank & Trust, backed by the deep resources of Heartland, stood out as an excellent fit. We are very pleased to partner with a strong company that operates under a proven business model and is well-known as a forward-thinking organization.”

“We are excited to expand the Heartland community banking business model further into Wisconsin,” said Kevin Tenpas, president and CEO of Wisconsin Bank & Trust. “We are impressed with the quality of Community Bank & Trust’s markets and the opportunity to serve more of the attractive Sheboygan area. We are also pleased to add a talented team of experienced commercial and personal banking professionals with an excellent knowledge of the communities and the clients they serve.”

According to Heartland, the acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015 and opens the Milwaukee area to future expansion.

Following the transaction, Heartland will have $6.4 billion in assets and 87 branches in 10 states. Wisconsin Bank & Trust will have assets of more than $1.1 billion, and 19 branches in Wisconsin.

“We are excited about the prospect of expanding further in Wisconsin,” said Lynn Fuller, president and CEO of Heartland. “Community Bank & Trust is an excellent fit for our community banking business model, and its locations match our desire to ‘fill-in’ attractive areas in or close to our existing geographies. Community Bank & Trust is a profitable and financially sound bank that presents an excellent opportunity to build on its solid market share with business and retail customers.”

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Point Loomis shopping center sold for $10.35 million
October 23, 2014 12:10 PM
An affiliate of Cincinnati, Ohio-based Phillips Edison & Company recently purchased the 160,533-square-foot Point Loomis shopping center on the south side of Milwaukee from an affiliate of Beachwood, Ohio-based DDR Corp. for $10.35 million, according to state records.

Point Loomis is located on a 14-acre site at the southwest corner of South 27th Street and Loomis Road. It has a 80,731-square-foot Kohl’s store, a 76,129-square-foot Pick ‘n Save store and a 3,673-square-foot Chase Bank branch building on an outlot. The shopping center has no vacant space. The property also has a surface parking area with 883 spaces.

The shopping center sale was marketed for DDR by Ben Wineman, Joe Girardi and Dan Rosenfeld of Mid-American Real Estate, according to a marketing flyer. Rosenfeld declined to comment on the deal.

Kohl’s has been a tenant at Point Loomis since 1981, Pick ‘n Save has been there since 1989 and the Chase Bank has been there since 1991. The tenants pay “well-below market rents,” with Kohl’s paying $4.34 per square foot, Pick ‘n Save paying $4.53 per square foot and Chase Bank paying $75,000 a year for a ground lease, according to the marketing materials for the shopping center.

The shopping center has pro forma net operating income of $759,025, according to the marketing materials.

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Generac acquires Pramac America assets
October 23, 2014 12:12 PM
Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems has acquired some assets of Kearney, Neb.-based Pramac America LLC, from Siena, Italy-based Pramac Industries Inc.

The transaction price was not disclosed.

Pramac America manufactures and distributes portable generators, water pumps and other related products under the Pramac, Powermate, DeWalt and Porter Cable brands under a licensing agreement with the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Generac purchased the Powermate brand, working capital and equipment from Pramac. It will also assume the licensing agreement for the DeWalt and Porter Cable brands. The entity will be renamed Powermate America LLC.

Pramac previously announced it will close its Kearney facility. That closure will still happen, Generac said, but it will retain the Marietta, Ga. location and operate the business from there.

Generac acquired the assets to expand its portable engine powered tools offerings.

“It will provide even greater distribution opportunities for both companies and allow Generac to leverage our combined scale and strength to create value for our customers in sourcing, distribution, manufacturing and product design,” a Generac spokesman said.

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Patrick Cudahy to build $12 million bacon plant
October 23, 2014 12:15 PM
Cudahy-based Patrick Cudahy LLC plans to build a new bacon slicing and packaging plant at its headquarters.

The addition will total 16,500 square feet, and is expected to cost $12.1 million. Patrick Cudahy plans to install high-tech slicing and packaging equipment to improve upon its production and distribution process, the company said.

Retail, deli and foodservice production lines will be overhauled to improve efficiency, the company said.

“We are excited to be making such a large investment into the future of Patrick Cudahy,” said Bill Otis, president of Patrick Cudahy LLC. “Everything we do in the development of our production facility is to further the growth of our brand and this will be a huge step. Our goal is that the technology implemented in this new facility will benefit both our employees and the people who purchase Patrick Cudahy.”

Construction on the new facility is expected to begin this fall, with a grand opening planned for November 2015.

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Koss reports loss on lower European sales
October 23, 2014 09:59 AM
Milwaukee-based Koss Corp., the high-fidelity headphone manufacturer, reported a fiscal 2015 first quarter net loss of $94,998, or a 1 cent loss per share, compared with net income of $79,402, or 1 cent per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Revenue was $5.5 million, down from $6.8 million in the same period a year ago.  

Koss reported a 2014 net loss of $5.6 million and 2014 revenue of $23.8 million, down 33 percent from 2013. The company, which recently suspended operations in Mexico because of low demand, attributed its continued earnings slump to lower European sales.

"Sales, especially in Europe, remain soft. We have begun to see the full impact of our cost reduction initiatives in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2014," said Michael Koss, president and chief executive officer. "Sales in Europe were off approximately $1 million with Ukraine and Czech Republic accounting for most of this sales decline compared to the same quarter last year. U.S. sales changes were impacted by a large promotional load-in order with a customer in last year's first quarter. When adjusted for that load-in sale, U.S. sales were actually higher this quarter as compared to last year."

Koss continued, "While we are certainly disappointed with recent sales figures, especially in the export markets, we have taken actions to significantly reduce our costs and conserve cash. These cost reductions included suspending our Mexico operations and curtailing the STRIVA product line development. There were also many other actions that helped reduce selling, general and administrative expenses by almost $1 million from last year's levels."

The company determined that based on the financial results, it would not declare a dividend for the quarter. Koss will determine whether to declare and the amount of any future dividends on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

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MCW launches new medical education brand
October 23, 2014 12:17 PM
With applications coming in by the thousands for its medical school campuses in Milwaukee and in Green Bay, the Medical College of Wisconsin today announced a new academic brand and logo for the school.

The new academic brand, “MCW,” immediately impacts the campuses in Milwaukee and Green Bay, as well as the Wausau-based Central Wisconsin campus, which is under review for accreditation.

The tagline for the new brand is “Learn. Live. Care. Cure.”

“We reached out to students, faculty, staff, academic and health care partners, and community leaders to engage them in the branding process,” said Joseph Kerschner, M.D., executive vice president of MCW and dean of the medical school. “The consensus was to create a brand that was inspiring, transformational, collaborative and engaging – the attributes which distinguish and define the MCW medical school experience across our campuses.”

More than 7,000 students already have applied to the MCW medical school for matriculation in August 2015.

MCW-Green Bay and MCW-Central Wisconsin (pending accreditation) will offer a three-year, immersive curriculum aimed at students with an interest in pursuing careers in primary care, psychiatry or general surgery. MCW-Milwaukee offers a four-year curriculum with additional scholarly pathways in specialty areas.

“The quality of the curriculum is mirrored across the campuses, but the type of student who is attracted to each campus will vary based on geography, intended career path, and the type of medical school experience desired. We are confident MCW has something to offer all prospective medical students,” Kerschner added.

The first class of students at MCW-Green Bay will begin classes in July 2015. Pending accreditation, the Central Wisconsin campus is expected to welcome its first class in July 2016.

The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school.

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Menomonee Falls senior apartment complex sold for $20.35 million
October 23, 2014 12:20 PM
An affiliate of Irvine, Calif.-based Sabra Health Care REIT Inc. recently purchased the Village at the Falls senior apartment complex in Menomonee Falls for $20.35 million, according to state records.

Village at the Falls is a 145-unit independent living senior apartment complex located at W129 N6889 Northfield Dr. in Menomonee Falls.

The property is part of a portfolio of 21 independent living facilities that Sabra acquired from affilates of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Holiday Acquisition Holdings Corp. for $550 million.

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Executives nominated for seats on MMAC board
October 23, 2014 10:01 AM
Seven executives have been nominated to assume seats of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

The nominees are: Alan Antoniewicz, president and chief operating officer of Spancrete; Giacomo Fallucca, president and chief executive officer of Palermo Villa Inc.; David Gay, managing partner of the Milwaukee office of Ernst & Young; Jeff Mueller, group president of Broan-NuTone LLC; Jonas Prising, CEO of ManpowerGroup; Gregory Wesley, equity partner and co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Group at Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan; and Ray Wilson, assurance partner of the greater Chicago market at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Directors re-nominated for three-year terms are: Carl Brown, Red Brown Kle;  Brad Chapin, BMO Harris Bank;  Jon Hammes, Hammes Co.;  Jerome Janzer, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.;  Aldo Madrigrano, Beer Capitol Distributing Co.;  John McDermott, Rockwell Automation Corp.;  Tracy Meeks, Seaway Bank & Trust Co.;  Gina Peter, Wells Fargo Bank N.A.;  Austin Ramirez, HUSCO International;  Michael Russek, Astronautics Corp. of America;  and Jon Splude, JWS Classics.

The new members will be up for installation at the MMAC’s Nov. 24 all-member meeting.

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Matola named president of Jacobus Wealth Management
October 23, 2014 12:23 PM
Dan Matola has been named president of Milwaukee-based Jacobus Wealth Management Inc.

Matola, who will continue to serve as chief investment officer and will also join the board of directors, will be responsible for day-to-day management of the business. Peter Bach, chairman and chief executive officer, will continue in his role.

Matola has worked at JWM since 2002 and has served as CIO since 2012. He holds a bachelor’s of business administration in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and graduated from the UW-W applied investments program. Matola also holds a chartered financial analyst designation.

“We are pleased to have Dan take the next step in his career with JWM,” Bach said. “In his new position, Dan will take on additional responsibilities, including a more active role in setting the organizational strategy, assisting in the navigation of an increasingly complex regulatory environment and guiding the firm across a rapidly evolving technology landscape.”

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Renovations completed at Lutheran Home and Harwood Place
October 23, 2014 12:25 PM
The Lutheran Home and Harwood Place announced they have completed an investment of more than $1.2 million in renovations of both properties, including 5,500 square feet at The Lutheran Home and 9,300 square feet at Harwood Place. 

The $750,000 Lutheran Home renovation includes the Chapel and Hardt Hall, a gathering space adjacent to the Chapel. More than $430,000 was given through grants for the Lutheran Home project from the City of Wauwatosa Community Development Black Group Program, the Siebert Lutheran Foundation, Mill Neck Foundation and more than 100 individual donors.

Harwood Place’s renovation coincides with the facility’s 25th anniversary celebration and includes $455,000 of work concentrated on the first floor of the building.

David Raysich, president of Plunkett Raysich Architects and chairman of the Lutheran Home Foundation board of directors, donated architectural plans for both properties.

“The impact of these projects is significant not only for the residents but the community as well,” said Scott McFadden, Lutheran Home and Harwood Place president and chief executive officer. “The new audio video technology will enhance the worship experience for all denominations who participate, as well as those who watch the broadcast in their rooms. We are so grateful for the donors and the community who made these renovations possible.”

The grand opening for the Chapel and Hardt Hall will be held at the Lutheran Home in Wauwatosa at 7500 W. North Ave. on Thursday, Nov. 6, from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

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Waukesha County to offer business expansion assistance
October 23, 2014 12:28 PM
The Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board has added a Business Services Unit to provide assistance to growing businesses in Waukesha County.

The unit will provide a single point of contact for all hiring and economic development inquiries from expanding businesses in the area. It is being offered in cooperation with the Waukesha County Economic Development Corp.

WCEDC and the WDB formed the business unit in response to business’ requests for financing assistance and access to qualified applicants during expansion projects.

“We see this as a way to serve businesses with critical talent and economic development needs, with greater efficiency,” said WDB president Francisco Sanchez.

“Our economic development corporation works through a network of trusted partners in finance, real estate, infrastructure and local governments in the county. The Workforce Development Board will serve the talent needs of our economic development clients seeking to expand their operations or relocate to a growing Waukesha County,” said Jay Mack, president of the WCEDC board.

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Garcia-Thomas encourages millennials to embrace opportunity
October 23, 2014 12:32 PM
Cristy Garcia-Thomas, chief diversity and inclusion officer and president at Aurora Health Care Foundation, tells young professionals “When the door opens, go through it.”

Garcia-Thomas offered that insight and four other pieces of advice at the 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference.

She was one of 10 local business leaders who each shared five tips with millennials at the event last week. A video of one leader’s speech will be released each day.

View a video of Garcia-Thomas’ comments here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Tanzanian ambassador seeks partnerships with Wisconsin
October 23, 2014 12:34 PM
In a lighthearted speech in which she poked fun at Wisconsin's harsh winters and noted that the shape of Wisconsin is very similar to that of her own country, the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania brought with her a serious message when she was honored at Marketplace 2014 Wednesday night.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. public information officer Mark Maley.

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Morning Headlines: ThedaCare to build $44 million cancer center
October 23, 2014 12:35 PM
ThedaCare plans to build a new $44 million regional cancer center on Appleton's north side that will integrate services in one location to better meet patients' needs.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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