Picking Wisconsin over Mississippi, Milwaukee Tool hopes to break ground by May

Company seeking local, state support for new building

The Milwaukee Tool headquarters on Lisbon Road in Brookfield.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:57 am

Milwaukee Tool is choosing to expand in Brookfield instead of adding jobs in Mississippi and hopes to break ground on a new office building by May, according to city of Brookfield documents.

The Milwaukee Tool headquarters on Lisbon Road in Brookfield.

The power tool company announced plans Friday for a 114,500-square-foot building along the north side of Lisbon Road across from its Brookfield headquarters. The building would be dedicated to office space and research and development and would allow the company to add 350 jobs over the next five years. The positions would be focused on engineering and software development with an average salary of $75,000.

To support the $32 million investment, the company is seeking $3.5 million in tax incremental financing from the city to fund land development and infrastructure costs.

In requesting the city support for the project, Barry Chavin, NAI MLG Commercial principal, said the company could not justify the investment and risk of expanding without the city’s investment.

“The timing is right for the property to be fully developed,” Chavin wrote in a request to the city. “ Milwaukee Tool is in need of locating this R&D/office building. The approval of the TID would allow Milwaukee Tool to expand the Brookfield campus rather than in another location in the state of Mississippi.”

Milwaukee Tool is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries and has manufacturing operations in Asia, Europe and Mississippi. The company announced in December it planned to add 660 jobs in Mississippi.

The company has also invested in its Brookfield campus, completing a 200,000-square-foot, $35 million office building last year and adding another 30,000 square feet of space while also updating the façade of the main headquarters building. Its employment has grown by more than 1,000 since 2009 to about 1,300 currently.

The $35 million expansion was supported by $6 million in tax incremental financing from Brookfield and $18 million in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Plans for the last major expansion called for the 3.5-acre parcel where the new building will go to be turned into a parking lot for Milwaukee Tool by 2020. Instead, the company is now planning a project that could add almost $17.2 million in tax value for the city.

Chavin’s letter says the company hopes to break ground by May of this year with the project being completed by May 2019.

But before moving forward, the company also needs to finalize an agreement with the state. Mark Maley, a WEDC spokesman, said the agency is working with Milwaukee Tool but declined to provide specifics about incentives citing ongoing negotiations.

In addition to the $18 million in tax credits award in 2016, the company received $2.05 million in tax credits and a $250,000 loan in 2012. The company has been verified for all of the 2012 tax credits and nearly $3 million of the 2016 award.

Maley said WEDC is not concerned about a company regularly coming back for additional state support and the agency regularly amends contracts to support additional growth.

“It’s a sign of growth. Our job is to help companies grow and expand,” he said. “There’s plenty of states that would be happy to take these jobs.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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