by Aaron C. Brault
Sheboygan County Planning and Conservation Dept. Director
With Brian Doudna, the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation Director and Chad Pelishek, the City of Sheboygan Director of Planning and Development, this list was created of many of the exciting economic success stories that were completed, continued and/or started in 2020 in Sheboygan County.
• County/State Transportation Investment – The largest transportation project by far is the $150 million State Highway 23 expansion that continued in 2020.
The project will reconstruct 19.1 miles of STH 23 as a 4-lane divided highway from US 151 in Fond du Lac east to County P in Plymouth.
Numerous STH 23 intersections will also be improved as part of the project. Another $5 million was invested in 15 miles of County roads and bridges along with over $3 million invested in approximately 15 miles of Town roads and bridges.
• Sheboygan River and Harbor Rehabilitation Project – While the main thrust of the project took place 5 years ago now at a cost of over $100 million, work still continues. This year saw another of the 9 Better Use Impairments (Degradation to Benthos) removed, (3 of 9 have been removed). Once all 9 are removed, the Sheboygan River can be removed from the “Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC)” listing maintained by the U.S. and Canada. There are 26 remaining AOCs in the U.S.
• South Breakwater Repair Project – In December 2019, Michels Corporation was subcontracted by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to complete the Sheboygan Harbor South Breakwater Repair Project. The breakwater pier extends approximately 1,250 feet into Lake Michigan and is a crucial safeguard for the harbor. The project is estimated to be $7.2 million and estimated to be completed in 2022.
• 7 Penn Apartments – In 2016, the County began studying what a higher and better use could be for the two parking lots it owned on Pennsylvania Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets. The study showed that the two lots were highly underutilized.
The study also revealed that the two parking lots would be more attractive if the three dilapidated homes that sat in between the two lots were razed and became part of the sale.
In 2020, Cardinal Capital Development opened a beautiful $15 million 66-unit apartment complex. It is expected that this project will generate about $200,000 in tax base since it did not require Tax Incremental Financing (TIF).
• Berkshire Apartment Complex – Approximately $9 million invested in a project that converted the old Sheboygan Falls Middle School into 54 senior-focused apartment rentals and nine family townhomes. The gym was updated as a new community center that will be run by the local YMCA. Project utilized TIF.
• JOHN MICHAEL KOHLER ART’S CENTER ART PRESERVE – An approximately $40 million investment, The Art Preserve’s 56,000-square-foot, three-level building will provide exhibition space and visible storage for more than 25,000 works in the Arts Center’s world-renowned collection, which includes complete and partial environments by more than 30 vernacular, self-taught, and academically-trained artists.
As a new satellite campus, the Art Preserve will complement the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s main location three miles away in downtown Sheboygan.
• U.S. Customs Facility – Approximately $5 million invested in a new customs and terminal building at the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport.
The new facility will further support our local economy, spur economic development, and attract more visitors. The Sheboygan County Memorial Airport is one of the largest general aviation airports in the state with approximately 40,000 annual aircraft operations, which has a $25.9 million economic impact on the local economy.
• Johnsonville Marketplace – Approximately $3 million invested. The Johnsonville Marketplace – a retail store showcasing the company’s products, people and history – opened in 2020 and also marked Johnsonville’s 75th anniversary.
• Four New Larger Subdivisions Broke Ground – Though the full extent of the economic impact is not known at this time, Sheboygan County saw a number of new subdivisions break ground for the first time in many years.
They include: a 15-lot subdivision in Sheboygan Falls (Norgaard Crossing), a 75- lot subdivision in Kohler (The Clearings), a 173-lot subdivision in Sheboygan (Stonebrook Crossing), and a 56-lot subdivision in Elkhart Lake (Victory Park). This will lead up to $100 million in development.
• Advocate Aurora Health – Approximately $324 million invested in a 115,000 sq. ft. new medical center and office building in the Village of Kohler. Advocate Aurora has over 75,000 employees, 26 hospitals and is one of 10 largest providers in the country.
• County Brownfields Assessment Grant – Over $75,000 of county funds have been invested in the Oscar redevelopment project performing environmental due diligence tasks.
The Oscar provides 240 apartment units targeting the local workforce. This $47 million project received HUD funding in exchange for providing affordable housing. Project utilized TIF as well.
• County Brownfields Assessment Grant – Over $110,000 of county funds have been invested in the Badger State Lofts redevelopment project performing environmental due diligence tasks.
Badger State Lofts provides 118 “loft style” apartment units targeting the local workforce. This $30 million project received HUD funding in exchange for providing affordable housing. Project utilized TIF as well.
• Morrelle Transfer and Warehousing – Approximately $14 million invested in a 313,000 Sq. Ft. warehouse expansion in the City of Sheboygan Falls.
Morelle is a family-owned local business that has been in operation since 1985 and is Sheboygan County’s largest “Class A” environmentally controlled warehouse space featuring sprinkler fire protection, dry food storage, onsite maintenance and short turnaround. Project utilized TIF.
• County Brownfields Assessment Grant – Over $50,000 of county funds have been invested in the Tannery Falls redevelopment project performing environmental due diligence tasks.
Tannery Falls provides 71 market rate apartment units. While ground broke in 2020, completion is expected in 2021. $11 million project. Project utilized TIF.
• Sun Graphics Expansion – Approximately $5 million invested in a project consolidating two operations after Sun Graphics acquired Franzen Graphics in 2019. Sun Graphics is a branding and advertising agency. Project utilized TIF.
• Sheboygan Marsh Multi-Purpose Educational Facility – The Kohler Center for Marsh Education broke ground in August 2020. The project will provide for a much-enhanced outdoor learning experience at the Sheboygan County Marsh.
Nearly every school district in the County sends over 1,000 middle school children to the Marsh for a two-day hands-on laboratory of learning. The building will house the learning center along with a new shower and bathroom facility for the County Park and Campground.
This is a $2 million project with approximately $350K of county funds contributing to that total.
• Amsterdam Dunes Preservation Area & Wetland Mitigation Bank – This project is expected to be approved in early 2021, Sheboygan County will be able to offer wetland mitigation credits to public and private local entities located in Sheboygan County.
While the County could sell credits outside of the County, the intent is to sell only to Sheboygan County entities to provide them affordable credits located in their own community.
The County has secured all the funding (2019) to cover its initial investment of $4.2 million and is expected to net $1 million or more on the sale of credits over time. These additional funds will be used to maintain (i.e. invasive species control) and enhance the property (i.e. trails).
• Viking Masek Expansion – The $4 million project officially broke ground in early November 2020 with expected completion in July 2021.
The building expansion will add 24,000 sq ft of warehouse/production space plus 9,000 sq ft of office areas including 36+ new workspaces.
Viking Masek, located in Oostburg, will also add an additional pub-themed gathering area, conference rooms, a sunny indoor commons area, and an outdoor courtyard.
• Acuity Insurance – This project completed construction on a third parking structure and a recreational building on its campus in Sheboygan with a value of $20.1 million.
In 2020, Acuity Insurance also hired 150 new employees. Continued growth of the Acuity campus does not utilize TIF.
• South Pier Riverfront Condominiums – Approximately $6.1 million invested in 21 new condominium units constructed in the South Pier District in Sheboygan. This is the second condominium project in Sheboygan since the 2007 recession. This project did not utilize TIF.
• Kingsbury Village – Approximately $6 million invested in 33 high-end apartments along the Sheboygan River. This project continues the re-investment of development along the Sheboygan River post cleanup. This project will utilize TIF for brownfield cleanup.
2021 Major Events
• NASCAR at Road America – The highest level of professional stock car racing competition is coming to Sheboygan County.
Though Road America has hosted the NASCAR Xfinity Series these past few years, this is the first time the NASCAR Cup Series will be present. The stock car major leagues will make their debut Fourth of July weekend.
Road America has an estimated $100 million annual impact on our local economy. This event will serve to further strengthen that success.
• Ryder Cup – The Ryder Cup is golf’s most lucrative event. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the economic impact was projected to be $135 million regionally with over 40,000 fans attending the event daily. The event was delayed until September of 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
While this list is not complete, it represents well over $750 million in investments and economic success in our community, much of which continued or started during an unprecedented time in our history.
While many businesses have been able to grow during this pandemic, many other businesses have seen negative impacts. Sheboygan County, the City of Sheboygan, and Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) will continue to collaborate and work to support our incredible business and community.
Residents and entrepreneurs should continue to reach out to the SCEDC or their respective unit of government if they have questions or we can be of assistance.
Though it was a trying year for all of us, Sheboygan County is blessed with great local employers and effective local government that continues to work together to invest in our community.