Strauss Brands chief executive Randy Strauss said Wendesday the company plans to stay in Franklin, even though some Milwaukee officials were open to revisiting the possibility of a new facility on the city’s northwest side.
“After careful consideration, Strauss Brands has decided to stay in Franklin, our home for more than 50 years,” Strauss said in a statement. “We appreciate the ongoing support and patience of Mayor (Steve) Olson, his team and the City of Franklin.”
The statement also thanked Milwaukee Tom Barrett and other officials for their efforts to attract the company to the Century City Business Park.
“We honor and respect each of these communities and their residents. We wish Century City nothing but success in bringing other companies to what we are sure will be a thriving area of the city in the near future.” Strauss said.
Strauss Brands announced plans last year to build a 175,000-square-foot facility at Century City with 250 employees initially and potentially 500 within 10 years. The company’s chief financial officer said the potential to begin construction by the end of 2019 and the location’s proximity to Strauss’ current workforce were driving factors in the decision.
That plan, however, ran into opposition from community members who took issue with the company’s meat processing operations. After initially backing the project, Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the Century City area, switched his position and backed away from the deal. Within a few days the company dropped its plans before the project.
In his State of the City address, Barrett said the company was “shut down” before it had a chance to tell its story.
“Let’s remember what the results were: Good union jobs are gone, opportunities for workers in the neighborhood they live in have evaporated,” Barrett said. “In the end, Strauss continues to operate in a MIlwaukee suburb — far away from the neighborhoods where jobs are needed most.”
Before the Century City project became an option, Strauss had been in talks with officials in Franklin for a new facility in the southwest suburb. A Strauss affiliate paid $2.1 million for a 30-acre site along West Loomis Road just south of Ryan Road.
The Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that the Franklin Common Council had voted to change a May 2019 contract with Strauss, giving the company more time to move forward with its project.
S.R. Mills, CEO of Bear Development, the company developing the Loomis Business Park praised Franklin officials and staff, and the project’s success “is in no small part due to their efforts, patience and guidance.”
Bear Development plans to complete infrastructure projects at the business park this summer, allowing businesses to start construction this spring.