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Trek to move distribution center from Oconomowoc to Johnson Creek
November 21, 2014 02:44 PM
Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle announced today that it will occupy a 250,000-square-foot industrial building in Johnson Creek that is being built by Brookfield-based Briohn Building Corp.

Trek will move its global distribution center from Oconomowoc to the Johnson Creek building, which will be fully operational by the end of 2015. The new building, located at 425 Resort Dr., will be 50 percent larger than the Oconomowoc facility.

Trek has 60 employees at the Oconomowoc facility and all of them will be offered the opportunity to move over to the Johnson Creek facility.

"We're excited about the expanded capabilities this new facility offers us," said Trek vice president of supply chain Roger Gierhart. "We have always been committed to Wisconsin and this new center is going to help us become more efficient, streamline our warehousing and delivery processes, and gives us space to continue our growth."

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Mixed-use developments proposed for two Milwaukee libraries
November 21, 2014 01:54 PM
The city of Milwaukee received two mixed-use development proposals for its Forest Home Library and three mixed-use development proposals for its Mill Road Library, in response to a request for proposals.

The city wants to see the libraries become part of mixed-use developments similar to The Standard at East Library project on East North Avenue and the Village Square project at 3427 W. Villard Ave., which both have library branches located within apartment buildings.

The public will be invited to review and comment on the development proposals for the Forest Home and Mill Road libraries. Public input meetings will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the Forest Home Library, 1432 W. Forest Home Ave., and on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at the Mill Road Library, 6431 N. 76th St.

The city received two mixed-use development proposals for the Forest Home Library.

Cardinal Capital Management and Journey House submitted a proposal for a $21 million project to demolish the Dental Associates building at 1135 S. Cesar Chavez Dr. and replace it with a four-story building with a 16,500-square-foot library space and 51 units of affordable housing, including 24 for youth aging out of foster care. Other tenants could include a coffee shop and office space for the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative. The project would seek low income housing tax credits and new markets tax credits. Eppstein Uhen Architects is the design firm for the project.

Gorman & Company, Mitchell Investment Properties and VJS Construction submitted a proposal for a $10.4 million project to renovate the Hills Building at 930 W. Historic Mitchell St. The project would create a 15,000-square-foot library space and 33 units of affordable housing. The project would seek low income housing tax credits, historic preservation tax credits and new markets tax credits.

Click here to see more information about the Forest Home Library development proposals.

The city received three mixed-use development proposals for the Mill Road Library.

Maures Development Group LLC, CommonBond Communities and Engberg Anderson submitted a proposal for a $13.8 million project for a city-owned lot at 7717 W. Good Hope Road, where they want to build a four-story development with a 15,000-square-foot library space, 46 to 82 units of affordable housing and either a 2,500-square-foot commercial space or a larger library space. They plan to seek low income housing tax credits for the project.

Gorman & Company, the Northwest Side CDC and VJS Construction submitted a proposal for a $6 million project at 7717 W. Good Hope Road, where they want to build a development with a 17,000-square-foot library space and a charter school space above the library. The partnership would offer to buy the current Mill Road Library building for use by a public charter school. They plan to seek new markets tax credits for the project.

The City of Milwaukee Housing Authority submitted a proposal for a $17 million project that would be built on the current Mill Road Library site at 6431 N. 76th St. The project would have a 15,500-square-foot library space and 60 affordable housing units in two buildings. Adjacent Health Department buildings at 7630 W. Mill Road would be removed. New space for the Health Department could be part of the project. The project would apply for low income housing tax credits, federal home loan bank funds and housing authority grants.

Click here to see more information about the Mill Road Library development proposals.

City officials have allocated $18 million for library redevelopment projects and plan to spend $4.5 million each for the redevelopment of four libraries: Forest Home, Mill Road, Capitol and Martin Luther King.

In addition the Tippecanoe Library will be renovated, but will remain in the same building.

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Springfield College to move Milwaukee campus to Walker’s Point
November 21, 2014 11:27 AM
Springfield College plans to move its Milwaukee campus from its existing location in downtown Milwaukee to a 22,178-square-foot space in The Timbers Building in The Tannery office complex at 700 W. Virginia St. in the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.

Springfield College’s main campus is in Springfield, Mass., but it also has 10 regional School of Human Services campuses, including one in Milwaukee. That campus is currently located in the Commerce Building at 744 N. 4th St. in downtown Milwaukee.

Jackson Street Management LLC plans to convert the Commerce Building, which is located across the street from the Wisconsin Center, into a hotel.

Springfield College recently signed a lease to occupy space on the fifth floor of the seven-floor Timbers Building, the largest building in The Tannery complex.

“(The space for Springfield College is) being built out right now,” said Ned Purtell of RFP Commercial. Purtell and Scott Revolinski of RFP brokered the deal for the The Tannery, most of which (excluding the Aurora Health Care headquarters building) was recently sold to Madison-based Sara Investment Real Estate for nearly $16.8 million.
Steve Pape of Greywolf Partners brokered the lease for Springfield College.

The lease brings occupancy of The Timbers building to well over 90 percent and the entire tannery complex has an occupancy rate of about 90 percent, Purtell said.

“(The Tannery is) doing very well,” he said. “I think more and more tenants want to be downtown or near downtown. That’s what’s driving it.”

The Tannery appeals to office tenants looking for “cool space” in old industrial buildings that have been converted to office space, similar to office buildings in the Historic Third Ward and at Schlitz Park, Purtell said. Those spaces appeal to tenants that are, “ trying to build office space to attract the young talent,” he said. “Going forward, all of those types of buildings are going to do well.”

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Sears to close Sheboygan Product Rebuild Center
November 21, 2014 11:29 AM
Sears Holdings Corp. will close its Sheboygan Product Rebuild Center and lay off about 30 employees in February, according to a WARN notice filed recently with the state.

The facility, located at 3353 Kohler Memorial Drive, will close on or about Feb. 22. The affected employee titles include sales support, backroom associates, consultative sales associates and merchandise-pricing associates, among others.

The move is the latest in a series of closures Sears has announced recently. The Sears store and Sears Auto Center at Memorial Mall in Sheboygan will also close in February, eliminating 31 positions.

The company will also close its store and Auto Center at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale and the Glendale Product Rebuild Center, laying off a total of 153 employees, beginning Dec. 7.

And Sears this year also closed its store at Regency Mall in Racine.

These are just some of several stores Sears is closing as the company tries to turn around years of struggle. Sears reported a net loss of $573 million in the second quarter.

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BizTracker: State’s unemployment rate falls to 5.4 percent
November 21, 2014 11:30 AM
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent in October and the state added 4,000 private sector jobs during the month, on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest report from the state Department of Workforce Development.

Read more in the BizTracker, a new service from BizTimes tracking business data across the state.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Voters set transportation as a priority
November 21, 2014 11:32 AM
Talk about misreading the outcome of an election. When it comes to the constitutional amendment to segregate the transportation fund, many of the pundits and prognosticators are so far off the mark it is laughable.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Craig Thompson, executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin.

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Biz Poll: Should Walker run for president?
November 21, 2014 11:33 AM
Should Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker run for president?

Vote now by answering today’s Milwaukee Biz Poll question and view the results so far.

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Weekend preview
November 21, 2014 11:34 AM
Too busy working to plan your weekend? We've got you covered with the OnMilwaukee.com Weekend Preview.

Click here for activity suggestions on this Milwaukee Holiday Parade weekend. OnMilwaukee.com is a media partner of BizTimes Media.

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Morning Headlines: State faces $2.2 billion deficit heading into 2015-’17 budget cycle
November 21, 2014 11:35 AM
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is projecting a $2.2 billion deficit heading into the 2015-17 budget cycle.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Nonprofit Weekly: LISC, Safe & Sound adopt crime prevention awards program
November 21, 2014 11:36 AM
Local Initiatives Support Corporation's Milwaukee chapter and Safe & Sound, Inc. are taking the lead on an awards program that has been honoring crime prevention measures in Milwaukee for the past 65 years.

Read more in today’s Nonprofit Weekly.

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Shops of Grand Avenue sale closes
November 20, 2014 10:13 AM
The sale of The Shops of Grand Avenue in downtown Milwaukee was finalized Wednesday.

The 293,596-square-foot enclosed mall at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. was purchased by Alliance Capital Invest, a New York-based real estate investment firm led by Alex Levin, which submitted the winning $16.5 million bid in an online auction in October.

Courtney Groff, the general manager for the Shops of Grand Avenue, said the new owner’s first order of business will be to reach out to local stakeholders over the next 30-45 days to gain insight into the needs of the downtown Milwaukee community.

“They hope to get input from and possibly collaborate with Westown Association, Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee Development Corp. (WAM DC), City of Milwaukee and Visit Milwaukee,” she said.

Redevelopment plans for the mall could include new uses. Mid-America Real Estate, which has been leasing the retail space at the mall, made the decision to hire the office leasing firm of RFP Commercial and will also be retaining an architect to explore creative ways to introduce new uses for at least a portion of the mall’s Plankinton Building.

“Alliance Capital Invest recognizes that the Plankinton Building needs to be revitalized and repurposed,” said Dan Rosenfeld, principal for Mid-American Real Estate-Wisconsin. “In an effort to broaden our reach and expand our marketing efforts so as to make sure we are capturing all user possibilities, we started building a team prior to closing.”

Mid-America was hired two and a half years ago by the previous owner of the mall, a group of Bank of America investors, as the property’s asset manager.

“Our focus going forward will be finding a co-tenant for the former Linens ‘N Things space,” said Rosenfeld. “This user locating across from T.J.Maxx could take the form of another retailer, an office user, or a specialty user such as a school and educational facility.”

“Alliance Capital Invest appreciates the history of The Shops of Grand Avenue and understands the hurdles and challenges facing the property,” Rosenfeld said. “They’re ready to embrace the challenge and devote the necessary resources needed to attract and retain the right users, in addition to marketing and continuing the capital improvement program we started.”

The strategy for the Shops of Grand Avenue will be mixed-use, Rosenfeld said.

“It calls for an open-minded approach about the best use of the Plankinton Building, and I truly feel that we’re moving in a positive direction for this property and for the community it serves,” he said.

Groff said many of the The Shops of Grand Avenue’s tenants have indicated optimism about the future of the mall. Over the past 12 months, T.J.Maxx, Walgreens and the majority of food court tenants have secured leases and long-term commitments.

Delia Luna, owner of 9Round, one of the mall’s newest tenants, said, “I’m more than excited to welcome the new owner and the changes they have planned for The Shops of Grand Avenue. This area is the heart of Milwaukee, and revival is needed.”

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Management team acquires Arandell Corp.
November 20, 2014 09:25 AM
Arandell Corp., a Menomonee Falls-based provider catalog printing and omni-channel solutions, announced today that board chairman Don Treis and his family have sold the company to president Brad Hoffman and other members of firm’s management team.

“We are excited to build on Arandell’s strong reputation for extraordinarily high quality and service, while creating new opportunities for growth for the company, our customers and our employees,” Hoffman said. “We’ve already seen some of that success in the last year, and we look forward to even more in the years ahead.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Over the past seven years, the Treis family prepared for a possible transition in ownership to a management team. The family selected Hoffman, who brought in the current leadership team and worked collaboratively with the family to develop and implement a succession plan.

“Arandell has been an important part of our family for the past 66 years,” Treis said. “We are proud of the strong business we’ve built over the last seven decades. We know that we are leaving it in great hands with Brad and the rest of the management team. They share our passion for the people of Arandell and its customers, which is why I’m confident they will continue to grow the company and create new opportunities for our customers and employees.”

Founded in 1922, Arandell provides high-quality pre-media, catalog printing, mailing, distribution, list management, database marketing, mobile solutions, logistics and consulting services to its partners in the retail and direct mail catalog markets.

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Zizzo Group acquires Clear Verve Marketing
November 20, 2014 10:27 AM
Zizzo Group, a Milwaukee-based integrated marketing firm, today announced it has acquired Clear Verve Marketing, an Elm Grove-based content and business-to-business marketing agency.

The acquisition Zizzo Group’s fifth in its 20-year history and one of several strategic moves the company has planned as it rolls out its new conversation marketing practice. The new practice works with companies to proactively facilitate conversations with customers, delivering messages through storytelling and interactive content across websites, online reviews, social media and friends.

Clear Verve Marketing, whose clients include Alverno College, CH Coakley & Company and Investor’s Bank, will continue to provide the same core services to its existing clients while offering expanded capabilities of ZG’s public relations, social media, web development and media buying services and its new Conversation Marketing Practice.

“Word-of-mouth recommendations top the list of how consumers now make decisions. Companies who harness the power of conversation marketing will turn brand believers into evangelists – sparking and maintaining conversations and engagement that drive consumer preference,” said Anne Zizzo, president and chief executive officer of Zizzo Group.

Christina Steder, former president and CEO of Clear Verve Marketing, will join Zizzo Group as vice president of integrated marketing, leading the integrated marketing practice area.

“Coming together with Zizzo Group seems to be a natural move that provides expanded services and depth to our clients, and will allow me the opportunity to lead a part of a larger organization and focus on my core competencies,” Steder said.

Also joining Zizzo Group will be Jackie Costa, account executive and Susan Schoultz, graphic designer.

The merged company is based in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward at 207 N. Milwaukee St.

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Bon-Ton reports another loss
November 20, 2014 10:09 AM
The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which has dual headquarters in Milwaukee and York, Pa., today reported a third quarter net loss of $11 million, or 57 cents lost per share, compared with a loss of $931,000, or 5 cents lost per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenue at the company, which operates department stores nationwide that include the Boston Store brand, was $642.7 million, down from $651.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Comparable store sales decreased 0.8 percent year-over-year.

“The quarter was disappointing in that we had solid momentum through mid-October, when traffic slowed and we saw unseasonably warm weather,” said Kathryn Bufano, president and chief executive officer. “While our subsequent performance did not meet our expectations, we did achieve numerous measurable successes that bode well for ongoing business. We drove double-digit sales growth in e-commerce, fueled by a meaningful increase in conversion. We increased the sales penetration of our Let Us Find It customer service initiative. We also increased penetration of our private label credit card sales which, we believe, demonstrates continued success of our Your Rewards customer loyalty program. In addition, we effectively managed our markdowns, resulting in a reduced net markdown rate in the quarter. We were particularly encouraged by the sell-through of recent receipts, which suggests our customer is embracing the newness in our merchandise assortments.

 “We are encouraged by our sales performance thus far in November and are eager for the holiday kick-off next week. As we look to the all-important holiday season, we recognize the challenges of continued consumer uncertainty, but we believe we are well-positioned to meet anticipated fourth quarter demand with compelling product and strong marketing throughout the season. We expect the environment to remain highly promotional and we have planned a robust calendar of events to showcase our exceptional values and strengthen our appeal to both new and existing Bon-Ton customers.”

The company expects to report a loss for 2014.

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Brady earnings down on sales mix, plant consolidation
November 20, 2014 10:07 AM
Milwaukee-based Brady Corp. today reported fiscal 2015 first quarter net earnings of $13.6 million, or 25 cents per share, down from $24 million, or 44 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Revenue was $310.2 million, up from $307.5 million in the same period a year ago. While foreign currency translation decreased sales 1.5 percent, total organic sales increased 2.4 percent.

Brady, which makes identification solutions including labels, signs and printing systems, attributed the earnings decline to a challenging sales mix and costs associated with plant consolidation.

“We were encouraged by our revenue growth in the first quarter, which marks the third consecutive quarter of organic sales growth,” said J. Michael Nauman, Brady president and chief executive officer. “Although we had organic sales growth, we continued to incur costs related to the consolidation of our manufacturing facilities and have been experiencing challenges in terms of sales mix. We have scaled back our facility consolidation efforts and our remaining facility consolidation activities will be executed in a manner that will allow us to maintain the highest service levels and least disruptions to our customers while still achieving efficiency gains over the long run. We expect to incur additional incremental costs from these facility consolidation activities in the near-term and expect to complete our facility consolidation activities by July 31, 2015. We are focused on executing business fundamentals to drive organic sales growth and improve profitability while investing in research and development, focusing on selected markets to drive organic growth, and building an improved, scalable digital platform that will generate value for Brady and its customers.”

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