Direct Supply awarded $22.5 million in tax credits

Will help finance expansion and 800 new jobs

The State of Wisconsin could award as much as $22.5 million in tax credits to Milwaukee-based Direct Supply Inc., which is planning to build a multi-story office building and hire 800 employees over the next seven years.

At a press conference this morning at the Direct Supply campus on Milwaukee’s northwest side, Gov. Scott Walker announced the tax credits would assist with the long-term care facility supplier’s expansion, which the company announced in March.

Expansion plans call for a five-story, 280,000 square-foot building to be constructed in place of an existing single-story building at its 10-building campus along Industrial Road.

The state certified Direct Supply under the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Enterprise Zone Program to generate the income tax credits, which are contingent on creating the 800 jobs over seven years and retaining its current workforce. Direct Supply currently has 1,100 employees at its headquarters campus on Milwaukee far northwest side and 100 employees at its Technology & Innovation Center at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Walker said the 800 jobs Direct Supply plans to add would each pay an average of $30 or more per hour.

“Those are exactly the kinds of jobs we need right here in the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin,” Walker said. “Direct Supply, with this new 280,000-square-foot facility … it’s going to be an anchor that says we want our top talent to stay right here in Milwaukee, we want our top talent to stay in Wisconsin. And that sends a message out to other employers, others who say, ‘You know what? If Direct Supply is doing that, we need to give another look at expanding our business.'”

Direct Supply has not disclosed the cost of the expansion project, but Bob Klein, chief administrative officer at the company, said a spring groundbreaking is “under consideration.”

“That question is open right now, as to exactly when the groundbreaking will be,” Klein said. “That’s one of the things that’s still got to be finalized.”

Klein said the 800 jobs will be added organically as the company expands.

“The announcement today will help us continue to attract and retain highly talented individuals to our state, our city, our company and our campus,” Klein said. “We need all the talent we can get, particularly among STEM-trained and experienced individuals, to continue our mission to improve the lives of America’s seniors.”

Bob Hillis, founder and chief executive officer of Direct Supply, thanked local and state government leaders and economic development organizations for supporting the expansion project and the company’s growth since it started with five employees in 1985.

“Direct Supply is proud to continue its investment and job creation on its campus on Milwaukee’s northwest side,” Hillis said. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the State of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee and partners throughout the community as we continue to grow our campus and add jobs.”

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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