Sheboygan Falls is development jewel
By Steve Jagler, of SBT
Sheboygan Falls, a city of 7,000 people, may be one of the hottest commercial real estate markets in the state.
In many respects, the city is benefiting from large commercial development in the outlying Town of Sheboygan Falls, which will be the home of Alliant Energy Corp.’s $140 million natural gas-fired power plant and Johnsonville Sausage’s $34 million plant.
The new jobs, which replace many manufacturing jobs that have been shipped overseas in recent years, will add more momentum to the revival of Sheboygan Falls.
The city has been rebuilding its downtown commercial district for several years, offering incentives to merchants, including:
— Low-interest loans up to $30,000 at 2% below prime for three-year terms for exterior building improvements;
— Facade grants of $1,000;
— Grants to cover half of the costs of outdoor signs.;
— Free interior and exterior design assistance;
— Revolving exterior maintenance grants of up to $750 for routine upkeep.
In addition, the town operates a streetscape program to improve pedestrian walkways and provide park benches, trash receptacles, historic light poles, a city clock, signage and cleanup days.
The incentives have resulted in more than 41 building renovations in the Sheboygan Falls Downtown Historic District and the Cole Historic District.
"From the real estate standpoint, we’re doing quite well. We have almost full occupancy in the retail area, our storefronts are filled and our industrial park is filled," said Nancy Verstrate, executive director of the Sheboygan Falls Chamber of Commerce & Main Street Program. "We have a wonderful downtown. We’ve got almost all of our buildings rehabilitated."
Johnsonville spokesman David Finch said the new sausage production plant, which will open in April, will eventually create 120 new jobs.
"We’re adding capacity. It’s all about meeting consumer demand," Finch said. "It’s a great time to be us. We’ve been growing our sales around 15% a year."
Feb. 6, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukeee