Five projects transforming SE wisconsin

Business environment

Amazon's fulfillment center in Kenosha.

InSinkErator project brings labs under one roof

When garbage disposal manufacturer InSinkErator opens its new headquarters and lab facility this July in Mount Pleasant, the company will bring together six separate labs under one roof.

Emerson Electric Co., InSinkErator’s St. Louis-based parent company, announced plans last year for the $34 million project at the southwest corner of Highway 20 and International Drive.

In addition, the company will spend $29 million to improve its existing Racine manufacturing facility. That project will improve workflow and make other changes to the facility. It will be complete in 2019.

The new 85,000-square-foot headquarters in Mount Pleasant will house 175 engineers and professional staff, who are currently located at InSinkErator’s headquarters on 21st Street in Racine. The facility will include 20,000 square feet of lab space, consolidating six labs from other locations in Racine County, said Carol Baricovich, director of global brand communications and government relations for InSinkErator.

“We are quite excited to bring all of our engineers and tech together under one roof and especially enthused about furnishing them with the latest technologies that will enable them to function in a more efficient, advanced and collaborative way,” she said.

Location played a key role in Emerson’s decision of where to place its new facility, Baricovich said.

“You can’t beat the convenient access we will have to the I-94 corridor and to our region’s airports to serve our customers and for our suppliers to visit us,” she said.

Baricovich said the new facility will include several new technologies, including a 3-D printer and a hemi-anechoic chamber, which absorbs sound reflections and helps engineers in their efforts to make disposals quieter.

Amazon’s massive Kenosha facility fulfills consumers’ needs

Driving north from Chicago on I-94, you cannot miss the gigantic Amazon fulfillment and distribution centers in Kenosha.

The 1.1 million-square-foot fulfillment center, which is roughly the size of 20 football fields, opened in 2015, while the 500,000-square-foot distribution center opened in late 2014.

The online retailing giant employs 2,500 at the site, which is just east of the interstate’s intersection with Burlington Road. As more shopping shifts online, Amazon will likely add more local employees. For example, the retailer announced plans last summer to hire 50,000 additional workers across the country, including some at the Kenosha site.

The facility’s conveyer belts, bins and multiple storage areas make it easy for employees to pick, pack and ship a range of merchandise, from books and DVDs to toys and baby supplies. Every product carries a barcode, so employees can easily find what they need in the giant facility with handheld scanners, and robots are used to move stacks of merchandise. The Kenosha fulfillment center is one of more than 70 regional Amazon centers in the United States.

Most full-time employees start out earning between $12.25 and $13.25 per hour and receive full benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) and company stock awards. The plant’s location right off the interstate makes it easy to attract employees from both the Milwaukee and Chicago metro areas.

When Amazon selected Wisconsin as a site for one of its fulfillment centers, the state offered the company $10.3 million in tax credits over 11 years through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Enterprise Zone Tax Credit Program for job creation and capital investment. Within a year of opening, Amazon had already met and exceeded its plans to hire more than 1,250 employees and spend $155 million on capital investment.

Foxconn complex a massive foreign investment in Wisconsin

Foxconn Technology Group’s plans to build a $10 billion manufacturing campus in southern Racine County will dramatically change the region for years to come.

The July 2017 announcement by Taiwan-based Foxconn is the largest-ever investment made by a foreign company in Wisconsin. The 22 million-square-foot campus will be used to build LCD screens, which are used in phones, TVs, computers and other electronic devices. Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, plans to hire up to 13,000 employees to work in Wisconsin by 2022.

To be located just east of I-94 and north of Highway KR in Mount Pleasant, the proposed Foxconn campus includes three buildings that top 1.5 million square feet.

Construction could begin as soon as April, according to air permitting documents submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The first building could open in 2019, allowing Foxconn to start assembling TVs and other products while work continues on the rest of the complex. While construction has yet to start, Foxconn has begun hiring and leasing space in a local industrial building to begin TV assembly operations.

Wisconsin beat out several other states for the new manufacturing facility. In making its decision, Foxconn cited the state’s strong manufacturing history, reliable power supply, access to Lake Michigan (making LCD screens requires water), high-quality university and technical college system, and close proximity to Chicago.

As part of its package to recruit Foxconn, the state promised $3 billion in incentives during the next 15 years for the project, as long the manufacturer meets defined investment and hiring targets.

To make the massive Foxconn complex possible, state and county entities are upgrading transportation and water and sewer infrastructure in the area. Village and county officials are providing a $764 million local investment in the project, including infrastructure upgrades. The state will spend an additional $252 million to expand I-94 and $134 million on local road construction projects for the Foxconn campus, while $160 million in water and sewer upgrades are planned. Foxconn estimates its operations in Wisconsin will generate about $7 billion in annual revenue once it is up and running.

Grand Appliance finds ideal location north of the border

When leaders at Grand Appliance Inc. in Zion, Illinois, began planning a new headquarters and distribution center, finding the right location to power the company’s continued growth was key. They found it across the state line, in Sturtevant in Racine County.

Grand Appliance moved in February into its new 137,000-square-foot facility on an 11-acre site in the southern portion of Renaissance Business Park off of Highway 20 and just east of I-94. The new location replaces the previous company headquarters in Zion and consolidates warehouses in New Berlin and Zion.

Construction began last July on the $8 million facility. It will bring a total of 144 jobs to Sturtevant, with 120 jobs being moved from the Zion headquarters and distribution center and the New Berlin warehouse, and an additional 22 jobs to be created during the next three years.

Grand Appliance president Mark Reckling said the new headquarters provides the company with the space it needs to meet the growing demand for its products and will improve service to its 20 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.

“Southeast Wisconsin provides an ideal location that supports Grand Appliance and TV’s growth plans,” he said in a statement when the move was first announced in March 2017.

Grand Appliance received financial incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the Village of Sturtevant for the project. The WEDC will provide up to $500,000 in tax credits over the next three years, with the final total contingent on the number of jobs created and the level of capital investment made, while Sturtevant is providing $450,000 in tax increment financing.

The family-owned Grand Appliance was founded in 1930. Over the years, it evolved from selling electrical supplies and light fixtures to selling appliances and mattresses.

Haribo to build first U.S. production facility in Kenosha County

It was sweet news for wisconsin when Haribo of America Manufacturing LLC revealed plans in March 2017 to build a $242 million, 500,000-square-foot production facility in Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County.

The Germany candy maker, which is known internationally for its Gold Bears gummy bears, plans to employ 385 workers at its first-ever North American production facility. Haribo of America Inc.’s corporate headquarters is located in Rosemont, Ill.

Haribo closed on the purchase of 136.8 acres in the Prairie Highlands Corporate Park in December. Plant construction will begin this year, with candy production slated to start in 2020 – the company’s 100th anniversary.

Haribo of America is the nation’s fastest growing confectionery company and starting production in the United States was important for future growth, said Hans Guido Riegel, managing partner. The company searched several years to find the ideal location to build its massive factory, said Rick LaBerge, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Based in Bonn, Haribo produces the top-selling gummy bear in the United States. Worldwide, the company produces 100 million gummy bears daily at its 16 production facilities in 10 countries.

Once the initial project in Pleasant Prairie is completed, Haribo plans to invest more than $300 million and create another 720 full-time jobs during the next 12 years, according to a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. report.

The project is supported by $21 million in tax credits from the WEDC. As part of the agreement, the company needs to create 385 jobs, make $220 million in capital investments, invest in job training and use other Wisconsin companies as suppliers.

Haribo is the first tenant in the new Prairie Highlands Corporate Park, which is located just west of I-94 and two miles north of the Illinois state line. ν

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