BizTracker: U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August
September 4, 2015 11:02 AM
The U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the smallest monthly job increase since March.

The Labor Department also said the country added more jobs in June and July than originally reported.

Read more in the BizTracker, BizTimes Milwaukee's collection of economic data reports.

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Region’s property tax levies drop 3% in 2015
September 4, 2015 11:29 AM
Aggregate property taxes collected in the southeast Wisconsin region fell by 3 percent ($121 million) from 2014 to 2015, with each of the seven counties in the region seeing individual declines – the first time that has happened since at least 2000, according to a new report from the Public Policy Forum.

The decrease in the region's aggregate tax levy was accompanied by an even larger (5.4%) decrease in the aggregate gross tax rate for property owners in the region, from $23.93 per $1,000 of equalized value in 2014 to $22.63 in 2015. This is the first year the region's tax rate has declined since 2008, according to the report.

According to the report, the "decline in levies resulted largely from the passage of Wisconsin Act 145." That legislation – signed into law in March 2014 – provided more than $400 million in additional state aid for the state's technical colleges, with a corresponding requirement that property taxes across the state be reduced by a roughly equivalent amount.

In the southeast Wisconsin region, Act 145 helped produce a $137 million decrease in property taxes levied by technical colleges, which caused the percentage of the region's aggregate gross levy that is derived from technical colleges to decline from 7 percent in 2014 to 3.5 percent this year, according to the report.

"The state’s effort to provide property tax relief via a change in the funding framework for technical colleges has succeeded…(but) it also has created a larger obligation for state taxpayers to finance the state’s technical college system,” the report states. “This increased pressure on state resources contributed to the substantial challenges faced by lawmakers during the recently concluded deliberations on the 2015-17 state budget."

The substantial decrease in the region's property tax rate is attributed not only to the reduction in levies, but also to growth in property values, according to the report. The 2015 property tax rates are closely tied to 2014 property values, which increased by 2.6 percent. Recently released data from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue show that in 2015, property values in the region increased for the second consecutive year (after five consecutive years of decline).

Every county in the region experienced an increase in property values, though there were disparities in increases across the region. For example, property values in Kenosha County increased by 4.8%, while those in Milwaukee and Walworth counties increased by only 0.7%.

The City of Milwaukee was one of only 26 municipalities in the region that did not experience an increase in overall property values from 2014 to 2015. Property values declined in Milwaukee by 0.6 percent.

The Public Policy Forum report was sponsored by Baird. It can be downloaded from the Forum’s website at

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62 to be laid off in Whitewater HyPro facility closure
September 4, 2015 10:41 AM
Waterford-based HyPro Inc. notified state officials that it will be shutting down its Whitewater facility at 840 Executive Drive. It expects to lay off approximately 62 employees on or after the close of the business on Nov. 2.

Some workers may be employed beyond that date due to business need and the winding down of the operation.

HyPro said the closure is a result of changing business circumstances and the decision to consolidate operations.

HyPro provides precision machining, finishing, assembly and other services to heavy-duty markets in the off-highway, on-highway, industrial, energy and transportation segments.

Besides Whitewater and Waterford, the company has locations in Elkhorn, Platteville, Rhinelander and Berlin. It is also in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Vinita, Okla. In total, HyPro has more than 700,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity.

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800-CEO-READ to move to Walker's Point
September 4, 2015 11:08 AM
Milwaukee-based 800-CEO-READ is moving from the Third Ward to Walker's Point where it will lease 23,410-square-feet from Independence First, 544 S. 1st. St.

The company, which is the former business and computer section of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, had been leasing 6,000-square feet on the third floor of 219 N. Milwaukee St. in the Historic Third Ward.
Massive growth over the last three years has meant it has also had to utilize 2,000-square-feet on other floors of the Milwaukee Street building, said Ryan Schleicher, author services specialist with 800-CEO-READ.

“We literally have pallets of books on four floors and have been renting space out of any place available,” Schleicher said. “This puts us all in one location.”

800-CEO-READ began on Wisconsin Avenue. As the bookshop opened new locations in response to the big box bookstores, the business arm of it, which eventually became 800-ceo-read, evolved into a backroom, online retailer.

The company’s primary clients are business authors, business schools and corporations.

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Milwaukee Chancery closing tomorrow
September 4, 2015 12:01 PM
In 1972, Chancery Restaurant & Pub opened in Racine marking the first time a restaurant in Wisconsin served complementary peanuts.

By the mid-1980s, Joe DeRosa had opened five Chancery restaurants in southeast Wisconsin becoming the first casual dining restaurant in Waukesha and the area’s most popular chains.

On Saturday, the Milwaukee Chancery, 4624 S. 27th St., will close its doors after 33 years.

The DeRosa Corporation said it will sell the building for ongoing and future development opportunities.

The company will offer an in-house career fair to the 35 part-time and five full-time employees to join one of the company’s other eight restaurants.

In addition, after 43 years the Harbourwalk Chancery in Racine, 207 Gas Light Dr. will be sold to Graves Hospitality Corp. of Minneapolis on Sept. 8. Graves Hospitality also owns the Harbourwalk Hotel Racine. The DeRosa Corporation announced to employees in March it would sell the building.  

The Racine Chancery was originally located on Highway 20 but reopened as the Harbourwalk Chancery along Racine’s waterfront in 1994. The former Highway 20 location is now a Jose’s Blue Sombrero, also owned by the DeRosa Corporation.

Four remaining Chancery locations will stay open: 7615 W State St., Wauwatosa; 11046 Port Washington Rd., Mequon; 11900 108th St., Pleasant Prairie; 2100 E Moreland Blvd., Waukesha.

“We are thankful to our many loyal customers who have visited our restaurants over the years,” DeRosa said in a written statement. “We are looking forward to continuing to develop our current restaurant concepts and menus as well as explore future development opportunities.”

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Nonprofit Weekly: Greater Milwaukee Foundation funds day of public access at Miller Park
September 4, 2015 11:40 AM
In continued celebration of its centennial year, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation will open up Miller Park to the community for free behind-the-scenes tours and activities on Sunday, Sept. 13.

The day of ballpark access, made possible by a partnership with Brewers Community Foundation, is the foundation’s latest monthly gift to the public. In July, the organization announced plans to help the Milwaukee County Zoo acquire snow leopards. In August, the foundation helped grant community members free access to area nature and ecology centers.

Read more in the BizTimes Nonprofit Weekly e-newsletter.

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Morning Headlines: Kleefisch to lead trade mission to Japan and Taiwan
September 4, 2015 11:44 AM
Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. executives will take part in an eight-day trade mission to Japan and Taiwan.

Read more in BizTimes Morning Headlines, a daily roundup of business and economic news from around the state.

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Weekend preview
September 4, 2015 11:54 AM
Not quite sure how to spend your long Labor Day Weekend?

From live music events to a bacon run and an art market, the Weekend Preview has all the leads on this weekend’s festivities. OnMilwaukee is a media partner of BizTimes Media.

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Mark Hogan named new CEO of WEDC
September 3, 2015 01:51 PM
Gov. Scott Walker today announced his appointment of banking executive Mark R. Hogan as CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Hogan replaces Reed Hall, who announced his retirement last month.

Hogan’s work experience includes almost four decades at M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank and BMO Harris Bank.  He retired in 2010 as M&I’s executive vice president/chief credit officer before signing on to serve as senior advisor to BMO Harris in 2011.

“Mark Hogan is a proven and respected leader in finance and business, and we are honored to have him as a partner in our efforts to grow the economy, create jobs, and keep Wisconsin heading in the right direction,” Walker said.  “Mark’s experience will be invaluable as WEDC continues to reform and improve processes to best serve the citizens of this state in developing economic opportunities for families all around Wisconsin.”

The WEDC has been in turmoil over the past several months after a state audit revealed several of the companies to which it has awarded state funds have not been thoroughly vetted or tracked. Some have failed, while others have not met job creation promises upon which the funding was contingent.

“I am honored to join the team at WEDC, and look forward to putting my experience to work for the people of Wisconsin,” Hogan said.  “We will continue to work in partnership with Wisconsin business leaders, so they can grow and expand and create more good-paying, family-supporting jobs.”

“I am glad to see that Mark Hogan has experience in the private and financial sector and I look forward to working with him,” said Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), a Democratic representative on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Board. “I am disappointed but not surprised that this leadership change was not discussed at the WEDC board meeting we held last week. While WEDC knew Reed Hall was leaving there was no discussion at that meeting of potential candidates, let alone the process for filling the role. A change of leadership was desperately needed at this agency but unfortunately, there are persistent problems with the structure of WEDC that Sen. (Julie) Lassa and I are working to address. We hope that newly appointed Secretary Hogan will work with us on this process.”

Hogan has served as Chairman of the Board for Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) since March 2015. He has also served on the boards of the Children’s Hospital & Health System, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, and the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee, the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County Historical Society, Marquette University High School, and Mount Mary University, among others.

Hogan and his family live in Wauwatosa.

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BizTracker: Most MMAC economic indicators point upward in July
September 3, 2015 11:19 AM
Most of the economic indicators tracked by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce improved in July over year-ago levels, according to the latest regional monthly economic report from the MMAC.

July was the 42nd consecutive month that more than half of the indicators tracked by the MMAC registered year-over-year improvement.

Read more in the BizTracker, BizTimes Milwaukee's collection of economic data reports.

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Joy Global 3rd Quarter profits down 37%
September 3, 2015 11:26 AM
Milwaukee-based mining equipment manufacturer Joy Global Inc. continues to face major headwinds with the slumping mining industry.

Joy Global today reported fiscal third quarter net income of $44.9 million, or 46 diluted earnings per share, down 37 percent from $71.3 million, or 71 diluted earnings per share, in the previous fiscal third quarter.

The company’s net sales for the quarter were down 9.5 percent to $792.2 million.

"Our financial results for the third quarter reflect an end market environment that is one of the most challenging seen in decades,” said Ted Doheny, Joy Global’s president and chief executive officer. "The further step down in commodity prices resulted in projects getting delayed and a lock down on cash from our customers which impacted our service business. We are accelerating our facility optimization plans and taking additional cost reduction actions to align with lower market demand. (It was a) tough quarter for us...”

Declines in commodity prices, slowing economic growth in China and slower than expected growth in the U.S. have hurt Joy Global’s performance, the company said. Overall, the global mining industry remains strained as miners navigate through a sharp and prolonged downturn, the company said.

"We are continuing to take proactive steps to better position the company for the eventual market recovery,” said Doheny. "Our focus remains on prudently managing the business through the current market downturn as well as providing the world-class service and technical expertise that our customers expect and need. We will continue to invest strategically in areas that provide value to our customers and returns to our shareholders."

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Johnsonville grillers included in Kenosha Beef recall
September 3, 2015 11:25 AM
Kenosha Beef International Ltd. is recalling approximately 89,235 pounds of pork sausage patty products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Sheboygan-based Johnsonville Sausage LLC announced that its Cheddar Cheese & Bacon Griller is part of the voluntary recall due to potential metal fragments. The company said a “handful” of incidents have been reported, but no injuries have occurred.

According to Johnsonville, the affected product is the frozen patty variety in the orange carton that contains both the “Best Flavor By” date of Dec. 29, 15 and the establishment number of EST425B. This recall does not affect the four-count ¼ lb. fresh Cheddar Cheese & Bacon Grillers.

The product was shipped to retail stores in 11 states, including Wisconsin and Illinois, and Johnsonville has asked those retailers to remove the affected products.

Consumers who have purchased the Cheddar Cheese & Bacon Griller in the orange carton are advised to check the “Best Flavor By” date and the establishment numbers, which are both in the same location at the end of the carton.

The date and establishment numbers also appear on the outside of the heat-sealed plastic bag as “425B BFB122915.”

Consumers with affected products can return them to retailers for a full refund or contact Johnsonville’s consumer affairs team to arrange for Johnsonville to send a self-addressed stamped envelope. Johnsonville will issue coupons for the full retail value or a check for the full retail value of $6.99.

The company said anyone who has already consumed the affected product and suffered no adverse reactions is not at risk.

“While we believe the risk to be minimal, we take no chances when it comes to protecting our consumers’ health and safety,” the company said. “However, because there’s the potential of this affected product being in the market, the voluntary recall was initiated.”

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HSA Commercial buys Mayfair Road office building for $3.3 million
September 3, 2015 11:29 AM
Mayfair Collection developer HSA Commercial Real Estate, has purchased an office building along Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa.

The firm bought the 45,321-square-foot bank-owned property on 2.16 acres at 3077 N. Mayfair Road for $3.3 million Tuesday.

Colliers International brokered the deal.

The office building is 84 percent leased to Milwaukee Career College through the end of 2020. It has been bank-owned since 2013.

Tim Blum, managing partner of HSA Commercial, said the goal is to redevelop the property into a mixed-use development.

“We wanted to control this building because it’s an important entry into the eastern portion of this district,” Blum said. “The district is important to us. We were concerned about who is on our perimeter.”

HSA will also ask the Wauwatosa Plan Commission on Sept. 14 to start redevelopment of the former Schwaab Stamp Factory, 11415 W. Burleigh St. Blum is not naming tenants but said he would like to add specialty retail that complements the merchants at the Mayfair Collection.

“There are many stakeholders in the city of Wauwatosa,” Blum said. “I am optimistic we can fulfill the vision of the city’s masterplan for this parcel.”

HSA Commercial broke ground on the second phase of the The Mayfair Collection, located at U.S. Highway 45 and Burleigh Street, in May. It will include a 45,150-square-foot Whole Foods store, a 140-room Hilton Homewood Suites hotel, a HomeGoods store and three Bartolotta restaurants, with a planned opening for Whole Foods early in 2016.

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Century City Housing Initiative to get $850,000 WHEDA tax credit
September 3, 2015 11:36 AM
The Century City Housing Initiative will receive a tax credit totaling $850,000 from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) as part of its High Impact Project Reserve program.

The award will be presented by WHEDA Chief Operating Officer Brian Schimming today during a 2 p.m. press conference on the city’s north side.

The High Impact Project Reserve program was created in 2013 by WHEDA in order to fund what was deemed an impactful Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) project. The winning projects are selected in a “special round” of tax credits held later than the normal round of credits announced every spring.

The concept of the program is to reward a project that has “strong economic development or redevelopment attributes, has significant community support, and/or has a tangible impact on job creation, job retention or job training.”

According to WHEDA, the Century City Housing Initiative is one of two projects chosen to receive a tax credit award as part of WHEDA’s High Impact Reserve program.  The second project is a multi-family development in Middleton called Meadow Ridge Middleton.

The Century City development represents an additional phase in Gorman &, Company’s Northside Housing Initiative designed to help stabilize and revitalize housing on Milwaukee's north side.

The project trains 40 previously incarcerated individuals to perform construction trades in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing and siding. Jobs are created using local residents and housing stock in being restored in historic neighborhoods.  These efforts are important to help attract and retain employers within Milwaukee’s 30th Street Corridor, one of the core areas in WHEDA’s Transform Milwaukee initiative.

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Port Washington Common Council approves Blues Factory development
September 3, 2015 11:54 AM
Plans for the Blues Factory, a Paramount Records-themed cultural and entertainment complex on a waterfront site in Port Washington, continues to move forward with the Common Council's unanimous approval this week of the project's concept plan.

The council also approved selling the parking lot where the Blues Factory, which will include and educational and cultural preservation center, a performance venue, banquet hall and restaurant, would be built, on a 15,000-square-foot parcel east of Harbor View Lane.

The Council will now begin negotiations with The Blues Factory developers to discuss sales price of the land and financial assistance.

“We’ll bring a package back to the council and then it is their hands,” said Randy Tetzlaff, director of planning and development. “We’ve made it clear that we still have a long ways to go.”

The 46-stall parking lot was previously the site of the Wisconsin Chair Co. and is subsidiary, Paramount Records. Wisconsin Chair operated Paramount Records until 1933.

It closed its Port Washington factory in 1954. The building was razed in 1968 and some Port Washington residents would prefer the land remain vacant, Tetzlaff said.

If built, a nonprofit organization will be established to operate the education/museum space.  The restaurant will be operated by a partner, said Blues Factory president and CEO Christopher Long.  

Construction could begin in spring 2016 and could be complete in spring 2017.

Long is also planning a summer roots music festival along the waterfront in 2017 to celebrate the centennial founding of Paramount Records.

“We’re really delighted by the unanimous vote of our concept plan, it shows strong support from the city and puts us in a position to move ahead with important discussions with investors and partners,” Long said.

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