Racine manufacturer seeks park land for expansion

$3 million investment could add 20 jobs

Fischer USA Inc. wants to purchase a small portion of park land adjacent to its Racine facility to facilitate  a 10,000-square-foot expansion.

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Ryan Brath, president and chief operating officer of Fischer USA, sent a letter to city officials offering to purchase about three-quarters of an acre of Pierce Grove Park, which is directly east of the company’s facility at 3715 Blue River Ave. Fischer is offering the city $40,000 for the parcel and is also seeking an option to purchase another parcel to the south.

Purchasing the land would help facilitate an expansion of the company’s 38,000-square-foot facility. The company has had a presence in Racine since 1941 and has been in the current facility since 1956, but has maxed out its current space.

Fischer has 60 full-time employees at the facility manufacturing and repairing spindle. Brath said the company’s business has been growing steadily in recent years and has been spurred by increased work for the aerospace sector. About 60 percent of the work at the facility is for spindle repair, he said.

The Racine Common Council is expected to refer the offer to two committees next week for a full review. If the purchase goes through it would help clear the way for a $3 million capital investment by Fischer and could result in up to 20 new jobs over the next five years.

Brath said the company, a division of Switzerland-based Fischer Spindle Group, has been looking at potential options for two years, including potentially relocating.

“We’ve looked in every direction,” Brath said, noting the favored alternative has been to go to the east, but the only way to do that is to expand into the park.

He said the company has been working with the city and officials have been supportive of the plan. He said he also understands potential concerns about the city losing park space.

“We understand the value of the park, it’s one of the reasons we like to be here,” Brath said.

In a statement, Racine Mayor John Dickert noted the need for the city to keep existing businesses.

“Retaining and helping our existing businesses is important to the economic success of the city. With city assistance, this proposed project will secure Fischer in the city and allow them to continue to grow here, creating jobs and maintaining their investment in our community,” Dickert said.

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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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