Biz Notes

LBWN and Impact Seven
A $6.2 million redevelopment project led by Layton Boulevard West Neighbors Inc. and Impact Seven Inc. earned recognition from Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago in March as the organizations were honored with the bank’s Community First Partnership Award. The award highlights the community revitalization work of the bank’s member institutions and their local partners, with an emphasis on saluting efforts around economic development and affordable housing. Town Bank, a key lending partner to LBWN and Impact Seven, nominated the organizations for an award for their Rent-to-Own Homes program, which over the course of 2013 and 2014 renovated 24 bank and city-owned properties on Milwaukee’s south side into inhabitable spaces. Along with 22 residential foreclosures that are now occupied, those properties encompassed a city-owned foreclosure along a commercial corridor of the Silver City neighborhood – home to retailer Our Daily Salt – and another mixed-use property that will eventually become home to a tailoring business. Rehabbed properties are located in Layton Boulevard West, Clarke Square and Muskego Way neighborhoods. Through the Rent-to-Own Homes program, residents are able to rent their homes for 15 years. Every month, LBWN and Impact Seven, who own the homes along with National Equity Fund, record a credit. By the end of the 15-year timeline, those residents will have a $36,000 credit toward the purchase of their homes. LBWN and Impact Seven accepted their award from Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago during a ceremony held in Madison on March 31. Each organization received $5,000 in unrestricted funds as part of the award.

‘America’s Best Employers’
Fourteen Wisconsin-based companies are among the 500 firms honored as “America’s Best Employers” for 2015 by Forbes magazine. In partnership with, Forbes asked more than 20,000 American workers at large U.S. companies, nonprofits, government agencies and U.S. divisions of multinational firms a simple question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely would you be to recommend your employer to someone else?” The top-ranked Wisconsin company was Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc., which ranked 10th on the list. Other Wisconsin-based companies on the list included: La Crosse-based KwikTrip/Kwik Star (61st); Fond du Lac-based Mercury Marine (82nd); Pleasant Prairie-based Uline (88th); Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inc. (124th); Milwaukee-based Highfield Manufacturing (177th); Verona-based Epic (198th); Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. (219th); Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. (240th); Dodgeville-based Lands’ End (355th); Green Bay-based Schneider (365th); Madison-based Colony Brands (398th); Brookfield-based Fiserv (415th); and Sussex-based Quad/Graphics Inc. (456th). The top three companies on the national list were Google, Costco Wholesale and Marathon Petroleum. To view the full list, visit

Kohl’s Department Stores
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Department Stores has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 Energy Star Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award. The award salutes the company for the measures it takes to operate with energy efficiency. Kohl’s has been an EPA Energy Star member since 1998 and now has more than 950 Energy Star-certified locations across the United States. Last year, 122 Kohl’s stores were certified. The retailer relies on the Energy Star portfolio manager to assess its facilities’ energy performance as well as look at ways to enhance its performance and incorporate best practices. When building new stores, Kohl’s also ensures the sites will be eligible for Energy Star’s “Designed to Earn” designation. These steps support the corporation’s goal of reducing its energy use in more than 112 square feet of building space by at least 20 percent by 2020, a goal set under the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge. Along with claiming an energy award this year, Kohl’s earned Sustained Excellence Awards in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and was recognized with a Partner of the Year Award in 2010 and 2011.

GRAEF, headquartered in Milwaukee, was recently honored with an Engineering Excellence Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies, Wisconsin Chapter, which also recognized its chief executive officer, John Kissinger, with the 2014 Chairman’s Award. GRAEF received an “Excellence” award for its University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Innovation Campus project. The City of Wauwatosa appointed GRAEF to design the campus’ infrastructure with a focus on sustainability. Along with surveying, grading and assisting with landscaping, the firm tended to roadways, utilities and storm water management on the grounds. The campus spans 58 acres and, upon completion, will feature research facilities as well as apartments, a hotel and an office park for private companies in the technology sector. Kissinger has served as CEO of GRAEF since January 2012, when he was also named president. He has been on the firm’s board of directors for the past 13 years and has worked for the firm since 1984 in roles including structural engineer, project engineer, project manager, principal and chief operating officer. Kissinger’s most significant projects include the Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the Wisconsin Center and the Lambeau Field renovation.

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