Monday . August 29 . 2016     |      Search
28

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

If raw numbers are a clear indicator of decline or growth, the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport's operational statistics in the last half-decade would seem uninspiring. Yet those stats don't reflect the millions of dollars the county-run airport and private developers have spent in the last few years to upgrade and modernize the facility and boost its use.

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23

(Janesville, WI) Elliot Hughes, Gazette

The highest offices in a downtown Janesville building soon will be occupied by at least 80 employees of SHINE Medical Technologies after the city council approved a tax increment financing deal Monday.

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21

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Mike Mathews, the Innovation Center's operations director, said his six tenants have grown to occupy 70 percent of office and manufacturing space at the 22,000-square-foot business incubator at 2949 Innovation Drive.

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19

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Blackhawk Community Credit Union plans to build a branch in Janesville on the city's south side, an expansion the credit union says is intended to key on new business growth.

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18

(Beloit, WI) Erin Kelly, Beloit Daily News

Golf enthusiasts may have a new place to tee off.

Geronimo Hospitality Group filed an application with the City of Beloit to construct an indoor entertainment venue with a golf simulation lab in the Ironworks complex at 625-701 Third St, according to city records.

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17

(Madison, WI) Kathleen Gallager, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Badger Fund of Funds said Tuesday it has raised more than $10 million of capital from private investors, double what was required by the state legislation that launched it.

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16

(Janesvillle, WI) Gregg Bosak, SW Workforce Development Board

A recent award of $150,000 to the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (SWWDB) will help to improve the region’s and Wisconsin’s already strong apprenticeship program and job opportunities. 

Titled WAGE$ (Wisconsin Apprenticeship Growth and Enhancement Strategies), the project is expected to help register new apprenticeships in 12 high-growth occupations in Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, and IT industries, expanding upon already-existing programs, many of them already offered through schools such as Blackhawk and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

“We have a nationally-recognized apprenticeship program, but to keep and improve upon this status, we need to ensure our talent development continues to grow and expand,” said Rhonda Suda, CEO of the SWWDB. “Apprenticeships are an outstanding way for individuals to enter and grow in high-wage careers.” 

It is anticipated that statewide up to 1,000 new apprentices and 542 additional incumbent workers will undergo training and skills development within a five-year period. The federal grant of $5 million to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) came from the U.S. Department of Labor. DWD’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) awarded the local grants. 

DWD and the SWWDB will work in collaboration with the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association (WWDA) to develop a framework to help promote and deliver registered apprenticeship programs. Existing programs such as Veterans in Piping (VIP) provided by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the 18 Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA), and the Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) programs will be leveraged to provide entry points for specific underrepresented populations. 

WAGE$ is the latest step DWD is taking to modernize and position apprenticeship programs as a national model. Nationally DOL hopes to train and hire more than 34,000 new apprentices over the next five years.

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16

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

An industrial building that once housed a Janesville candy maker will now house steel for a roofing supplier with roots in the eastern United States, a local commercial real estate firm said.

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02

(Rock County, WI)  According to the quarterly release of the 2016 Rock Ready Index, Rock County’s economy continues to exhibit both growth and stability characteristics. Highlights from the Q2 report include the following:

Unemployment rates, as measured by annual averages, continued to track along levels that were common during 2005-2007. With rates hovering around the five percent mark and job openings consistently exceeding the 20,000 threshold, employers are ramping-up their employee retention and recruitment efforts. Increased wages to enhanced benefits packages, as well as a host other creative approaches, are increasingly becoming the norm vs. the exception. In response to these trends, www.JobsInRockCounty.com was developed as a tool for the human resources community, third party recruiters and job seekers. Since its launch earlier this spring, this online employment and information portal continues to gain favorable attention from employers and job seekers alike.

Rock County’s residential market continues to surge upward, as Q2 2016 established a record setting pace for price points and transactional activities. With average single-family home prices exceeding $151,000 and the total number of sales approaching 750, the residential supply chain has definitely been reinvigorated. Dormant subdivisions are now active; isolated infill lots have become attractive development sites; and discussions regarding those Phase II or Phase III developments are being revisited.

From a disposable income lens, the area’s cash registers are ringing at a brisk pace: Q2 2016 set yet another record at $3.34 Million. Since 2014, the County’s sales & use tax collections have exceeded the $3 Million threshold seven out of ten quarters. If the economy remains on its current trajectory, there is a strong chance that total collections for YR 2016 could exceed $12.5 Million.  

Energy consumption, as measured by the number of meters and usage, continued to display more weather vs. economic related shifts. Even when factoring in steady commitments to energy efficiencies – across different utility customer segments – energy demand remained strong. 

Lastly, the dashboard’s Project Profile section provided a sampling of various economic development projects that were announced during Q2 2016. Five of the six highlighted projects represent existing businesses that are expanding. Meanwhile, one project represents the continuation of sizable residential investments in or near Edgerton’s Central Business District.

The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and Energy Consumption (Meters & Usage). Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.

For additional information, visit www.RockCountyAlliance.com .

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28

(Janesville, WI)  Catherine W. Idzerda, Gazette

From July 18 through Friday, the Janesville School District is hosting the Global Ambassador Academy at Kennedy Elementary School and Franklin Middle School. This year's academy included 63 students from China, 14 from Mexico and about 100 local children.

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26

(Madison, WI) Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

The state Commissioner of Insurance has approved a 3.19% rate reduction for worker's compensation rates effective October 1, 2016 for Wisconsin employers. In addition, manufacturing as an industry group will see a reduction of 5%.

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19

(Beloit, WI) Erin Kelly, Beloit Daily News

About 500 Alliant Energy powered homes in Janesville and Beloit run on clean energy from a new solar facility in the Town of Beloit.

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18

(Janesville, WI) Gary Kohn, Blackhawk Technical College

At a time when the intricacies of a new economy create challenges for today’s manufacturers, Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) is proud to call JP Cullen a long-time partner and the winner of the 2016 Technical Education Champion Award.

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09

(Beloit, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

When Beloit Corp. closed its doors in 1999, the hulking foundry on Third Street in the heart of downtown was sealed up like a massive, 750,000-square-foot cocoon.

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06

(Beloit, WI) Matt Cordio, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Business Blog

After hearing Kerry Frank, founder of Comply365 share her story about moving her fast-growing tech startup from Illinois to Beloit, Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference I was interested in heading down to this city located about an hour southwest of Milwaukee to see what is going on.

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29

(Edgerton, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

Two businesses hope to move to a new Edgerton building before the year is out.

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25

(Beloit, WI) Ryan Silvola, Beloit Daily News

After acquiring three facilities in Rock County in 2016, Ozinga is looking to hire up to 25 employees in the Rock County area as soon as possible.

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25

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

40 entrepreneurs have entered the Block 42 Business Challenge, a contest that former health care industry consultant Quint Studer and his wife, Rishy Studer, launched in late May to help redevelop a mini-block of circa-1851 commercial properties the couple bought late last year on North Main Street.

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23

(Rock County, WI)

A report highlighting the use of the County’s web-based career preparation and readiness platform, which is powered by Career Cruising, was released today. The Spring 2016 Inspire Rock County Report provides a snapshot of the activity, engagement and trends generated from this workforce development tool. A brief summary of the report’s findings are provided below.

The number of students and/or young adults actively using or building-out their Academic and Career Plans (ACP) continues to increase annually. To date, nearly 184,000 logins and more than 230,000 page views have been recorded. At the end of the 2015-2016 academic year, student ACP’s recorded more than 6,500 saved careers and nearly 3,000 higher education targets.

Student and career coaching engagements, as measured by message board posts, are rising too. To date, approximately 3,000 message board posts have been recorded. While this year’s posting total was 10% higher than last year, there is plenty of career coaching expertise and experience – ready and available for student use.

With more than 200 work-based learning activities, divided into 12 distinct categories, there are ample opportunities to connect educators and students with area businesses. Whether looking for internships, job shadowing, company tours and more, participants can leverage the Inspire Rock County platform to make those value-added connections.

As preparations for the fall academic period are just around the corner, this Report serves as a general reminder regarding the utility – as well as functionality –  of the Inspire Rock County platform. As districts continually explore ways to embed this career readiness and preparation tool into their overall programming, these engagement metrics are expected to advance, accordingly.


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07

(Janesville, WI) Gary Kohn, Blackhawk Technical College

ManpowerGroup, the Milwaukee-based company considered the international leader in innovative workforce solutions, has contributed $25,000 to Blackhawk Technical College's Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (AMTC) in Milton. 

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06

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

When it comes to home sales, a term that has not been thrown around much in Rock County over the last decade is "seller's market." But if sale trends continue, it could become the buzz phrase for the local housing market this summer.

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05

(Milton, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

Milton High School has received an estimated $26,500 in grants that will fund college-and career-ready initiatives, the school district said in a news release.

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02

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Janesville's restaurant-heavy stretch of North Milton Avenue is getting another restaurant under a developer's plan released Friday. The city of Janesville released in a memo Friday that a local developer is seeking city approval to build a 3,000-square-foot Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant at 2085 Morse St., on a 1-acre lot just east of Menard's off North Milton Avenue.

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25

(Janesville, WI) Elliot Hughes, Gazette

Less than five minutes after the Joint Review Board assembled Thursday, Janesville's newest tax increment financing district was created.

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21

(Milton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

After receiving city approval, business owners hope their new brewpub will be operating in Milton's Goodrich Square by next spring.

The brewpub will be called Milton Brewing Company and located at 302/304 S. Janesville St., next door to Northleaf Winery.

Winery owners John and Gail Nordlof own the property and will lease it to brewpub owners Wayne and Betsy Lubke. The winery and brewpub will be separate but complementary businesses, Wayne Lubke said.

“We think that the customer base, the dynamics and the type of customers that come to the winery are similar to those types of customers that like to explore craft beer and brewpubs. We think the demographics are very similar,” he said.

A restaurant also is planned. Renovations at the property will add hundreds of square feet to accommodate a kitchen and brewing area, Lubke said.

The city council on Tuesday approved the brewpub under a few conditions, including that all venting must be toward the winery to the north and that no exits or windows will be built or added on the south side.

“Brewpubs and wineries are very popular in Wisconsin, so we are excited to have this kind of unique opportunity come to Milton,” Hulick said.

“It'll be another of the many reasons to find and come into Milton and spend time in Milton.” Lubke said. “We're very excited.”


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17

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

There is no river of chocolate flowing through Impact Confection's candy factory on Janesville's north side.

And no army of small men perform choreographed songs to warn against the dangers of gluttony, greed, television and consuming too much chewing gum.

But inside the walls of Impact Confections are conveyors that carry thousands of brightly-colored, sour candy gummy worms. The worms shimmy and shake their way through hundreds of yards of machinery staffed by dozens of workers in white lab coats.

And that's just one of more than a dozen types of candies Impact makes at a production facility that's like no other in Janesville.

Impact houses its production floor—and since late last year, its corporate headquarters—in a 180,000 square-foot facility it's operated at 4017 Whitney Way since 2011. 

During a recent tour, plant Manager Barb Estervig told The Gazette that Impact is seeing a boom in demand for candies it produces and plans to meet it head-on.

Estervig said Impact Confections candy making production is due for an expansion in equipment and candy handling rooms later this year or early in 2017.

That will gear up the company to nearly double candy production in Janesville.

Impact was formed in a 1981 in a residential kitchen in Roswell, New Mexico, initially as a specialty lollipop maker. The company grew from there to become a major candy producer.

Impact's biggest move came in 2004 with its purchase of Warheads candy, a brand that produces several lines of tart and extremely sour candies made in flavor intensities that range in sourness from tart to so-sour-you'll-break-into-a-cold-sweat.

In 2004, Impact also bought Melster, a candy producer that had operated in nearby Cambridge since 1919.

The two companies relocated production to Janesville in 2011, and production here has grown year over year to meet rising demand in major consumer markets in the U.S., Canada and Australia, Estervig said.

At the end of 2014, Impact moved its corporate headquarters from Colorado to Janesville, where it renovated the business offices and decked out meeting rooms, hallways and even stairwells in Technicolor hues reminiscent of the classic Hasbro board game Candy Land.

The offices look out over Impact's growing production, handling and packaging floor.

In Janesville, Impact now employs about 100 full-time, permanent workers and up to 250 seasonal workers. Estervig said the company will be looking to ramp up hiring, although she said she couldn't say whether the bulk would come through full-time hires or seasonal work.

“It's exciting. We've grown like a weed since 2011. We've got the space here in Janesville to eventually produce twice what we do, and we're going to start moving that direction soon,” Estervig said.

The company plans to buy a second mogul, a piece of candy making equipment the size of a large truck trailer that injects hand-mixed ingredients into trays full of corn starch that can be stamped into forms to create any shape of candy the company designs.

The mogul machine is used to make dozens of types of candies that Impact produces in its on-site kitchens, including sour gummy worms.

A second mogul machine would allow Impact to double capacity in Janesville as demand pushes higher.

The company could then meet growing demand for candies the company now produces, including, among others, Warheads candies, Melster wrapped saltwater taffy, marshmallow candies and a growing line of seasonal chocolate-coated candies that Impact coproduces under contract for chocolate giant Hershey, Estervig said.

“For consumers, candy is one of the few items that you can consider as pretty much recession-proof," Estervig said. “It's inexpensive, and people buy it when times are good or bad.”

As Estervig spoke, hundreds of fresh-made, orange marshmallow circus peanuts poured down a gleaming metal funnel the size and shape of an elephant's head and trunk and rifled through a conveyor into a machine sealed packages bound for the candy aisles of retail stores.

The marshmallow circus peanut has been a staple of mass-production candy for long enough that it has gained status as “heirloom” or “nostalgia” candy. It's in the same realm as candy wax lips and candy cigarettes.

The circus peanut's curious banana flavor, which is in no way reminiscent of how peanuts taste, is a decades-old enigma and perhaps the greatest selling point of the 2-inch candy.

Impact even jokes on its website that the circus peanuts it makes aren't necessarily famous but “infamous.”

Yet the circus peanut is no punch line at Impact. It's serious business.

In-house subsidiary Melster has made the corn syrup and sugar-based candy peanuts for decades, and Impact now dominates the market share for circus peanuts. 

All told, the company produces 6 million to 7 million pounds of circus peanuts a year using its candy-stamping mogul machine, Estervig said.

Some of the work at Impact, such as the company's wrapped saltwater taffy, is still done with hints of old-world candy making.

“You can't change some processes much. We still do it the way you see it on done on a carnival midway,” Estervig said.

Albeit, on a much grander scale.

The taffy-pulling and packing room is manned by at least a half a dozen workers who take warm, freshly mixed flavored taffy and manually stretch it into manhole sized slabs that they pile onto machines that work taffy from loops the size of rolled room carpets down to bite-sized pieces that are auto wrapped in waxy paper, just like at the county fair.

Like Impact's other lines, the taffy is packaged for wholesalers and distributors who supply to large retailers such as Dollar General, Wal-Mart and Target, Estervig said.

During the plant tour, workers in Impact's taffy-pulling room were stretching yard after yard of “Fall Festival” taffy.

Behind the room's thick plastic safety curtains, the air was thick with the smell of pumpkin spice.

Estervig said the overriding smell of sugar and confection inside Impact Confections is something most plant workers stop smelling 10 minutes after their shift starts. But for Estervig, those first 10 minutes are a reminder of the sweet industry she works in.

Earlier in her career, Estervig had worked at a processing plant that made Goodyear tires.

“I can tell you that the smell of fresh pumpkin spice taffy beats the odor of fresh rubber, hands down,” she said.


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16

(Town of Beloit) Neil Johnson, Gazette

As Alliant Energy engineer Kim Halverson drove along a gravel access road behind Alliant's Riverside Energy complex, he motioned toward dozens of steel posts in arrow-straight rows nearly 200 feet long.

The posts are a framework, part of a rack system that will support thousands of solar-collecting panels in a 2.3 megawatt solar energy facility under construction at Alliant's facility on Beloit-Rock Townline Road.

“I call it The Vineyard,” Halverson said.

It's not a bad analogy. Grapes on the vine might be nature's most capable sun-harvester. Yet the solar energy field in the town of Beloit might have one up on the grape.

Grapes can't move, but Hanwha's solar panels can.

Alliant is partnering on the project with Korean solar energy firm Hanwha Q Cells USA. The rows of solar collecting panels—7,740 in all—are geared to tilt in electronically-controlled motion to track the sun across the sky.

As early as June, Alliant plans to activate its seven solar-collecting arrays built on 17 acres of capped coal-ash landfill along the Rock River.

It's the largest solar field ever built for use by a Wisconsin utility and the first of its size here to use technology that moves solar panels to more efficiently track the sun.

Hanwha is paying to develop the $5 million project and will own and operate the solar facility. Hanwha plans to analyze the solar collectors' efficiency and output daily and seasonally.

That will give Alliant time to study how solar energy production performs at the facility, Halverson said.

If over the next decade the solar plant performs as expected, Halverson said, Alliant has an option to buy the site from Hanwha.

Meanwhile, through a 10-year power purchase agreement, Alliant plans to buy solar electricity and push it out to the grid in tandem with electricity from Alliant's other generation facilities at the town of Beloit site.

Alliant would sell the electricity to customers at market rates.

Halverson, who is the project's manager for Alliant, said the solar arrays will collect and convert enough of the sun's energy year round to power the equivalent of 500 residential customers, which he called a “conservative” estimate.

Earlier estimates by Alliant were that the solar array could generate enough power for as many as 2,000 residential customers.

The solar arrays are being built in a semicircle with an access road at the rim of a terraced hillside that breaks the site in two halves--the high end and the low end of a manmade mound.

Unlike many of the mounds along the Rock River between Janesville and Beloit, the hump at Riverside complex wasn't built by ancient Winnebago tribes. It's a capped coal-ash landfill, a dumping ground where utility operators for decades buried remnants of coal burned at the now-defunct, Rock River generating power plant at the east end of the Alliant property.

“That's maybe the most significant thing about this site,” Halverson said. “It's the first time in Wisconsin anybody has built a solar energy site on top of a (reclaimed coal ash) landfill.”

SLOW TO SOLAR

The state Public Service Commission estimates that electric utilities in Wisconsin can now produce two megawatts of their own solar electricity—a sliver of less than 1 percent of the total power state utilities generate.

The utilities sell less than one-quarter of that capacity to customers, according to the PSC.

Solar makes up the smallest cut of electricity generated and sold by Wisconsin utilities through the use of renewable energy sources, including hydropower, wind and biomass.

Wisconsin is among 38 states in which state law permits utilities to buy solar power through purchase agreements with companies that own solar systems but aren't registered as utilities.

That's how Alliant and Hanwha's partnership is set up, and it's the largest such arrangement involving solar energy in Wisconsin.

The bulk of solar electricity is still generated by private residents, municipal energy cooperatives or businesses. Those are commonly rooftop panels on homes or commercial buildings.

Some utilities here are beginning to carry out modernization projects that would retrofit coal or gas-fired plants to operate more efficiently and cleanly.

Some utilities, including Alliant, are phasing out aging coal-fired plants and replacing the lost capacity with plants that use cleaner burning natural gas—an energy source which is in abundance in the region and can be supplied through pipelines.

Many power utilities are offering a growing blend of renewable energies. Some, like Alliant, are spending millions of dollars outfitting their own offices and electric plants with solar panels intended to increase the efficiency of their own operations.

Alliant plans to build another solar field alongside the planned, 700-megawatt, gas-fired power plant the company plans to break ground for this summer at the Riverside Energy complex.

Alliant has said it would use that solar plant to offset operations at the gas-fired plant.

That solar plant, along with one now being built, will eventually give Alliant access to up to 4.3 megawatts of solar power for sale and for its own use at the Riverside Energy complex.

While that would still be just a fraction of Alliant's overall energy portfolio—including all renewable sources—it's the biggest commitment yet by a Wisconsin utility to jump into solar.

Such moves are somewhat tied to the looming draw-down of coal burning for electric generation—part of a federal plan to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases

But in other ways, the shift is tied to goals the state has set through its Renewable Portfolio Standard, a benchmark that requires utilities to offer renewable energy.

The town of Beloit solar energy plant allows Alliant to make small steps toward meeting state benchmarks for offering renewable energy alternatives to customers.

Plus, the solar plant offers a suitable use for a former landfill parcel that otherwise would be unused.

RECLAIMED SITE

Normally, solar arrays are mounted on pilings sunk into the ground, but state and federal rules prohibit development on capped landfills that disturbs or breaks open the soil, Halverson said.

To meet state Department of Natural Resources approval, the project had to be specially engineered.

Designers decided to use pre-cast concrete ballasts, 1,655 of them, which are designed to float on the soil that caps the landfill and bear the weight of the solar panels and racking system.

The 7,740 solar panels weigh a total of 189 tons, according to Hanwha product specifications and project notes. Then there's the weight of the pre-cast concrete, reinforcing steel and drive shafts that make up the racks that hold the panels.

Because the ground on landfills can shift more than on other sites, project engineers designed metal I-beams to tie the solar panels and racks into the concrete slabs using a special, bolted boot that can adjust the racks up and down if the soft terrain shifts.

That would prevent the rows of solar panels from becoming skewed and washing other nearby panels in shadows, Halverson said.

A NEW LANDMARK

Looking east across the solar arrays is the former source of the coal ash that filled Alliant's landfill, the now defunct Rock River Generating Station.

It's a large, red brick powerhouse on Townline Road with white and red candy-striped stacks.

That's a well-known landmark for regional air traffic and for anyone driving along Interstate 90/39 between Janesville and Beloit.

The plant, owned by Alliant, hasn't run in any capacity for more than a decade.

Soon after the solar arrays begin operating and even before Alliant finishes building its planned, 700-megawatt gas-fired plant at the Riverside complex, the old coal plant is going to be gone.

Alliant decided early in 2015 to demolish the old plant and nearby outbuildings. Halverson said the plan is to tear down the plant and its smokestacks before the end of the year.

Halverson said Alliant tried to convince investors to buy the huge facility for reuse, potentially as an indoor sports complex.

The Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport has a flight pattern that runs above Alliant's Riverside Energy complex, and the new solar field will act as a visual reference for pilots the way the old coal plant now does.

Halverson said the solar panels would produce a flash similar to sunlight reflecting off water that at times would be visible to airplane pilots.

But he said the Federal Aviation Administration has determined the solar arrays will be beneath the threshold for visual ground distractions.


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14

(Milton, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Blackhawk Technical College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center was full of smiles on Friday as six teams of high school students competed in “Junkyard Wars.”

Beloit Turner, Edgerton, Evansville, Janesville Craig, Janesville Parker and Milton students all were greeted by piles of junk including farm implements, car parts, flea market finds and more. During a sixth-month period Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) instructors rounded up a total of five dumpsters full of scraps for the big day. Students were then told they had three hours to try to create art. “Junkyard Wars” was based on a cable television program of the same name.

Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) supplied the welding and fabrication equipment, and one welding student per team to assist the high school welders with more complex equipment.

BTC welding instructors Mark Prosser and Jeremiah Johnson said "Junkyard Wars" was a great recruitment tool. Although the high school students are currently enrolled in metals classes at their high schools, they said it was a great way to learn what BTC has to offer while delving into the creative side of welding.

“It’s very exciting. We love getting area high school students in and experimenting in all our programs. It’s definitely a new way to think about welding as producing art,” said BTC Vice President of Learning Diane Nyhammer.

Turner High School students Reed Farr, Nick Skokut, Mark Zamora and Anthony Babcock explained how they were creating a “giving tree.” They used a large pipe as the trunk, vehicle springs as leaves and cam drive rods as the branches. They had even found a metal swing to suspend from their tree. Reed Farr said the team was working well together and having a lot of fun. They plan to take their creation back to their high school to show it off.

Mitchel Delabarre, a former Turner student who is currently attending BTC, was at the event to advise the Turner students on safety.

“Santa needs his helpers,” Delabarre said.

Although artistic expression was important, he said winners always get points for adhering to safety rules.

Turner student Reed Farr said coming to BTC was a great opportunity. He said he loves welding and dreams of opening his own welding shop one day after studying business management.

“I love being able to fuse metal together and the workmanship,” Reed Farr said.

Delabarre said being in the welding shop was like home to him, and the skill he gained there was something he wanted to share with younger Turner students.

Beloit Turner teacher Nolan Otremba said the students were thrilled to use their creativity as opposed to learning in the classroom. At Turner, he said, there is no shortage of students interested in welding. He noted his metals 1 and metals 2 classes are full.

The team from Milton won the contest, with their creation of a motorcycle. Beloit Welder’s Supply gave each member of the winning team a $125 gift certificate. All participants in Friday’s event also received a $15 gift certificate from Tractor Supply Co. from the American Welding Society.

Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. BTC has five campus locations in Monroe, Milton, Beloit and Janesville offering more than 50 programs including two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas.

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13

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Industrial supplier W.W. Grainger has started to push past the Great Recession blues and into growth mode in Janesville.

The impact is apparent in construction work to the company's business offices at its sprawling facility at 401 S. Wright Road.

And the change is perhaps most tangible right now in Grainger's 320,000-square-foot warehousing and distribution space, which less than a year ago was half empty.

Now, one Grainger subsidiary, vehicle fleet supplier Imperial Supplies, is filling that open warehousing space.

After relocating to Janesville from Green Bay earlier this year, Imperial has hired 47 warehouse workers, all but a few of them local workers, and it's ramping up distribution operations here.

Imperial officials said Thursday that Imperial could double its workforce in Janesville in just a few years as the company continues a growth spurt that led to it relocating from a smaller warehouse space in Green Bay to Janesville.

Grainger announced the addition of Imperial's distribution to Janesville late last year. It's one change that has pushed Grainger's employee headcount at its Janesville facility to 960.

That's more employees than the company had in 2015, prior to a wave of outsourcing that sent 30 Grainger support jobs to Panama. And it's more employees than the 920 that Lab Safety had at Grainger's Wright Road facility in 2008, when Grainger opted to combine its supply lines with Lab Safety. 

The facility now has the second-highest employee count of any of Grainger's 384 U.S. locations, Grainger officials said during a tour and a ceremonial grand opening of its Imperial operations Thursday.

That's a change from the period between 2013 and 2015, when Grainger was shedding jobs to outsourcing and was moving its distribution work out of Janesville after selling to implement manufacturer Ariens three subsidiaries that distributed out of the Janesville facility.

Almost all Grainger employees affected by that sale got jobs at Ariens in Grainger's Janesville facility, Grainger spokesman Joe Micucci said.

Grainger in the last few months has been holding hiring fairs amid a whirlwind of interior construction to reconfigure and add space in its business offices, half of which it shares with Ariens.

Ariens leases office space at Grainger, and the two companies are separate. Its offices are split for legal reasons. Ariens also leases about half of Grainger's warehouse space in Janesville.

A construction project that spanned last fall through March this year added 300 office spaces in Grainger's facility, and another office build-out on the second floor is underway.

On the fourth floor, a newly renovated area reorganizes sales, marketing, finance e-commerce and distribution and customer support divisions. Already, a few clusters of office workers have been set up in overflow areas.

“We're literally starting to grow faster than our construction can keep up with,” Grainger Vice President Bill Koenig said Thursday.

Grainger is based in Lake Forest, Illinois, and it supplies a range of facilities maintenance products, mainly to other businesses.

In the Midwest, companies have begun to expand in the past two years, and Grainger is seeing growth in demand for its products, particularly through e-commerce, Koenig said.

Koenig would not specify how much Grainger could grow, but he said the fact Grainger is adding more office space signals the growth could be significant.

"Anyone walking around here should be able to see that," he said. “We're planning to grow in this market, and we will because it's a great market for labor,” Koenig said.

He said Imperial is poised to grow the same way.

“There are still lanes here that aren't open yet, so, as you start getting more product to receive, we need more people to put it away, and more people to pick, pack and ship it. That's the growth,” Koenig said.

Imperial's shift in distribution work from Green Bay to Janesville came because Imperial was out of space at its facility in Green Bay.


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(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News

For the 10th time, building products distributor ABC Supply Co. Inc. has been honored with the Gallup Great Workplace Award.

The award recognizes the top workplaces throughout the world in terms of employee engagement, which Gallup describes as “being emotionally invested in, and focused on, creating value for the organization.”

“When this company was started, it was with a dream to take care of our customers better than anyone else,” said ABC Supply Co. chair and co-founder Diane Hendricks. “Our dedicated associates all over the country have made that dream a reality. They are the reason for ABC’s success.”

ABC Supply, headquartered in Beloit, is one of 35 companies in the world to be recognized with the award in 2016 and one of just three companies to receive the award every year since it was created.

President and CEO Keith Rozolis shared that ABC Supply’s success is a result of being an associate-first company. ABC’s goal is to create opportunities for people to grow and succeed.

“At ABC, if you work hard, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And we know that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our customers,” Rozolis said. “Our associates embrace this idea every day, and it shows in their passion and commitment to each other and to our customers. We are like a big family, committed to helping each other achieve our goals and dreams, and that is what makes ABC special.”


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(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette

Parker High School senior Hunter VanZandt decided early on in high school that college wasn't for him.

VanZandt has decided he wants to be an electrician.

"I'm going to get into an electrical apprenticeship through the union after high school," he said. "College isn't for everyone. The trades are a good way to go for a lot of job opportunities."

It's students such as VanZandt that companies such as J.P. Cullen & Sons hope to reach. Cullen held its second construction career fair Thursday at its 330 E. Delavan Drive headquarters to introduce students to careers in construction.

Joe Schwengels, construction superintendent and apprenticeship committee president at J.P. Cullen, said partnering with local schools helps identify future workers in the skilled trades.

"One of the benefits (to having the career fair) is trying to get the information out to the schools so that they help promote a career in construction," he said. "We need to raise the awareness both to the schools and the parents on the opportunities that a career in construction presents. Number two is having a way to create that pipeline through working with the schools."

"With the economy improving and the construction industry growing, we're coming out of a recovery area," Schwengels said. "A lot of people have drifted away from the trades. So we're either not finding the right qualified people or enough people industry-wise."

The fair featured hands-on demonstrations in ironwork, masonry, carpentry, concrete, welding and heavy equipment, Schwengels said. It drew students from 14 school districts throughout Rock, Walworth and southern Dane counties.

"One of the things a lot of students and parents see in construction or perceive wrongly is the lack of opportunity, but in reality it's the reverse," Schwengels said.

Mike Williams, training coordinator for the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, said his trade needs younger workers to replace the ones who retire.

"It's just trying to find the young people willing to do the physical labor," Williams said. "The millennials, I guess. There's just not a lot of guys that do it anymore."

Williams said it's important for the trades industries to engage young people.

"It's a growing system that we're needing to fill," Williams said. "I think college is great, and I have nothing against it, but I think there's been too much emphasis in the schools on it. The skilled trades are a very rewarding career, and we're seeing more and more that we're going to need the future minds starting to get an interest in it."

Joe Kruser, a Craig High School teacher, echoed those sentiments.

"We have a pretty good emphasis on the trades in our schools now, and the community is involved trying to change the perception for parents and the school system and make them realize that the trades are a good career path," Kruser said.

He said misconceptions persist that construction careers pay low wages, have poor work conditions, are for less-educated people and offer no room for advancement.

"I can get up there and talk to them about trades, but them getting information in this setting right from the source is outstanding," Kruser said. "It's good to be here to open students' eyes."

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02

(Edgerton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Edgerton School District is one of five area districts receiving a $25,000 state grant to create Fabrication Laboratory, according to a news release from the governor's office. Each grant requires matching funds from the districts.

A Fabrication Laboratory, or Fab Lab, is a space for students to get hands-on experience on concepts related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The Edgerton School District hopes to have its Fab Lab set up by fall, Superintendent Dennis Pauli said.

“Providing our students a Fab Lab experience will introduce them to STEM content and skills required to compete in a global market place,” Pauli said, according to a district news release. “The Fab Lab will be a state-of-the-art classroom designed to transform thinking, promote innovation and support the district's commitment to providing students a rich variety of STEM opportunities.”

The 2015-17 state budget includes $600,000 for 25 Wisconsin school districts receiving grants through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, according to the release.

STEM occupations are projected to grow 17 percent through 2018 and pay 26 percent more on average than non-STEM jobs. They've grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years. By 2018, it's estimated more than 1.2 million STEM jobs in the country will be unfilled because of a lack of trained applicants, Pauli said in the release.


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(Rock County, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

The tourism industries of Rock County continue to grow, as noted by the most recent Tourism Impact Data released by the WI Department of Tourism. 

In 2015, Rock County's total tourism revenue jumped almost 9 percent—the third-largest growth among Wisconsin counties—to $220 million because of new events and attractions, according to a Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau news release.

One example is the Rock County Historical Society, which now offers more dynamic and interactive tours.

Another example s the Heavy Bombers wartime airplane show coming to the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport this summer, which will boost Rock County's (tourism) economy, Rebout said.

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(Rock County, WI)

According to the quarterly release of the 2016 Rock Ready Index, Rock County’s economy continues to move along is growth-orientated trajectory. Highlights from the Q1 report include the following:

Unemployment Rates, as measured by annual averages, hovered around their lowest rates in a decade. Parity among the MSA, state and national rates between the low-to-mid five percent figure reflects the economy’s overall underlying stable climate. Meanwhile, regional job postings again exceeded the 20,000 mark for 12 out the last 17 quarters. Locally, Rock County’s job market is characterized as both active and aggressive – as documented by the diversity of employment postings that can be found by visiting www.JobsInRockCounty.com
 
In response to a strong local economy, the residential market continues to exhibit upward movements. Average price points for Q1 2016 represented the highest rates recorded in nine years. Although sales and listing figures tracked lower than prior quarters, this downward shift is attributed to a depleted housing stock versus a weak economy. Consequently, home builders are responding to this demand – as noted by an uptick in the number of single family home permits that have been issued throughout the Janesville-Beloit MSA.
 
Local spending for goods and services, as measured by the County’s sales tax collections, remained strong as Q1 2016 set another record by exceeding $3 Million – an increase of nearly 11% from Q1 2015. Since 2014, collections have exceeded the $3 Million threshold six out of nine quarters.
 
Energy consumption, as measured by the number of meters and usage, continued to exhibit seasonal influences. Despite these weather related impacts, demand across various market segments remained strong.
 
Lastly, three speculative building projects – two in Janesville and one in Beloit – totaling 355,000 SF are highlighted in the dashboard’s Project Profile section. These announcements are key for two main reasons: (1) these projects will increase the available Class A building inventory within the County, which has been depleted due to strong demand; and (2) it sends a clear message into the marketplace, specifically as it concerns the economic health of the Janesville-Beloit MSA.

The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and Energy Consumption (Meters & Usage). Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.

For additional information, visit www.RockCountyAlliance.com .


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(Janesville, WI) Courtesy of Blackhawk Technical College

 Dr. Tracy Pierner, a Wisconsin native with eight years of experience in the Wisconsin Technical College System, was named the fifth president of Blackhawk Technical College Thursday following a meeting of the school’s district board.

Pierner, currently the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Mich., will succeed Dr. Tom Eckert, who is retiring.

Pierner, who will officially assume his new duties on July 1, was given a two-year contract with a salary of $170,000 per year. The BTC District Board holds an option to renew the contract for one additional year after the June 30, 2018 expiration of the deal.

“I am truly humbled to be selected by the Board for this job,” said Dr. Pierner.  “This has been a goal of mine for many years and I’m excited to have the opportunity to return to the Wisconsin Technical College System.”

Barbara Barrington-Tillman, the BTC board chair and head of the presidential search committee, said Pierner brings a mix of teaching, administrative and private business experience that should suit Blackhawk’s needs not only with students, faculty and staff but with district residents who rely on BTC as an important economic engine in the area.

“From the outset, the Board was impressed with Dr. Pierner’s dynamic personality, his energy and enthusiasm,” said Barrington-Tillman. “His breadth of experience in technical education and his background as a dean, instructor and engineer will fit in well with BTC’s current needs and future development.”

“Throughout the selection process, the Board sought a president who would inspire our educational community and build on the foundation created more than 100 years ago. We are excited to bring Dr. Pierner here to lead BTC into the next chapter of its history.”

Pierner, who is originally from the Green Bay area, earned his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1993; his MS in Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1997; and his doctorate in Technology Management-Manufacturing Systems from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., in 2006. He also completed a one-year leadership program for college administrators at The Chair Academy in Madison, Wis., in 2005.

Pierner has 19 years of experience in technical education in a variety of teaching and administrative positions.

 Prior to becoming vice president of academic affairs at Henry Ford in 2013, he was in charge of the school’s career and technical education programs. He joined Henry Ford after spending five years as the dean of technical education at Aiken Technical College in Aiken, S.C. While at Aiken, he also served as an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at South Carolina State University.

At both Aiken and Henry Ford, he was considered a strong proponent of online educational services and flexible delivery options for students.

Pierner, 46, began his career in technical education at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, where he was a lead instructor and curriculum developer in four programs – Electromechanical Technology, Automation Engineering Technology, Electronics Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology. He also served as a student adviser and facilities planner at the WTCS institution.

Following graduation from the University of Wisconsin, Pierner spent five years as an engineer for Rockwell Automation in Appleton and Cleveland, Ohio, and six years as an engineering consultant for Kimberly-Clark Corp. in Neenah.

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(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

The Janesville School District has received a matching technology grant of $25,000 from the Wisconsin Technology Initiative.

The initiative is funded by John and Tashia Morgridge through the Tosa Foundation, according to a news release from the district.

Over the past five years, the district has received more than $700,000 in grant funding through the Wisconsin Technology Initiative, which provides students and teachers with increased access to interactive whiteboard technology, according to the news release.

"With this grant, we will expand and extend the technology that is available to staff and students in several schools," Robert Smiley, chief information officer for the district, said in the news release. "It takes everyone's effort to create and sustain a strong educational technology program, and working with foundations is one way our district is funding innovative technology for our classrooms."

The school district will use money already budgeted for information technology to match the grant. The money will be used to purchase SMART Panels for 13 classrooms, according to the news release.

Classrooms at the following schools will be receiving SMART panels:

Craig High School

Parker High School

Edison Middle School

Franklin Middle School

Marshall Middle School

Harrison Elementary School

Lincoln Elementary School

Madison Elementary School

Roosevelt Elementary Schoo

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(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

Blackhawk Technical College and UW-Rock County have reached an agreement allowing students to transfer credits from BTC toward obtaining a bachelor's degree at UW-Rock.

The agreement assures the acceptance of any applied associate degree graduate from BTC into the UW Colleges bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree program.

"This agreement continues the longstanding commitment BTC has in partnering with the University of Wisconsin Colleges to increase options for students from all different walks of life and career paths," said Ed Robinson, vice president of student services at BTC. "Transfer students typically have a high graduation rate, so well-crafted articulation agreements often contribute to a student's success at the university."

The transfer agreement is open to students who have earned an applied associate degree from BTC with a grade point average of 2.0 or better on a 4.0 scale.

Robinson said the agreement will help ensure students understand which courses will transfer and help them make better course choices to can save time and money.

"For some students, it is necessary for them to start their academic career at a technical college," Robinson said. "However, this agreement encourages students to consider additional degree attainment at a UW College. Consequently, the articulation agreement provides a guide for students who are considering a four-year degree."

UW Colleges/UW-Rock County will accept 60 credits in transfer for BTC courses fulfilling the requirements of the applied associate degree. Students who are accepted with 60 transfer credits will be classified as juniors in the bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree program.

Students would then complete 60 additional credits to meet the 120 credits required for the UW Colleges bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree.

"I think it's a win-win for UW-Rock and BTC students," said Kristin Fillhouer, associate dean for student affairs at UW-Rock. "It allows us to offer some additional education for those students who maybe want to move up in a career, move up in the company they are with now or explore their options."

Fillhouer said the transfer credits wasn't possible before. The UW System has discussed agreements with the Wisconsin Technical College System in the past, but this agreement is new, she said.

"We had talked last year, but this has been a work in progress," Fillhouer said. "We do currently have students in the program."

A formal signing ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Monday, April 25, at UW-Rock County.

"I think it's a really great way for folks to stay in Rock County," Fillhouer said. "This is really a nice fit for those who gravitate to hands-on learning."

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11

(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

The new Stateline Family YMCA Beloit branch site at the Ironworks Complex was bursting with activity Saturday.

As part of its groundbreaking ceremony and family festival there were children leaping through bounce houses, families running along the river and guests touring the facilities.

At 10 a.m. the crowd congregated for the ceremonial turn of the dirt by local officials. Hendricks Commercial Properties President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Gerbitz thanked ABC Supply Co. founder Diane Hendricks for instilling her vision, drive and passion for development in downtown Beloit.

With the new YMCA project, Gerbitz said her vision will continue to move forward. He thanked supporters of the YMCA, its leadership and board as well as Corporate Contractors Inc. for its quality workmanship.

“The YMCA offers so many programs beneficial to the community,” Gerbitz added.

Diane Hendricks said Beloit gave her, and her late husband Ken, opportunity. She then thanked everyone for making the beautiful community project possible.

Corporate Contractors Inc. President Brad Austin thanked Hendricks and Gerbitz for making Beloit better every day, and Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said Beloit is grateful to Hendricks and her team.

After the groundbreaking, runners, walkers and joggers joined in the Hard Hat Hustle, a 5K fun run/walk which took participants through downtown and along the river.

Jennifer and Andy Yeadon and their daughters Emma, 12, and Sadie, 12, came out for the run to show their support. Jennifer Yeadon said her two daughters have been in the growing gymnastics program at Stateline Family YMCA for years.

“The updates will be awesome for the community and those who go there,” Jennifer Yeadon said.

Miss Beloit Katie Zibert and Miss Outstanding Teen Montana Fallin were volunteering with kids’ activities and patiently waiting their turn to get into the “wrecking ball” bounce house. Fallin said the new location is more local, and Zibert said it will allow Beloit to hold more events downtown.

Saturday’s event kicked off the capital campaign to raise the $1 million left for the new facility. In addition to all the activities in the parking lot there were tours of the site, with renderings to help the community learn about all the new facility will offer.

The new YMCA is on schedule to open in February of 2017. The 80,000-square-foot site will feature an 8,300-square-foot wellness center, a Hangout Kids area for youth 7 to 14, designated exercise studios, an indoor aquatics center with lap and whirlpools and a slide, child care facilities and more.

The move was made official last year after Diane Hendricks donated the space and offered to take over the old site.

So far, the YMCA has raised $8.8 million through corporate sponsors, including Regal Beloit, which donated funds for the fitness center, and Kerry Ingredients, which donated funds for a kitchen and classroom space.

Donations to the YMCA Capital Campaign can be made in person or by calling 608-365-2261.


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06

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Janesville's chamber of commerce hopes a locally produced video showing life throughout the seasons in Janesville can become a tool to help local companies land employees.

Just one day after Janesville video production firm Drywater Productions released the video, “Janesville: Community of Choice,” the three-minute montage of snippets of Janesville culture, including winter snowshoeing and sledding, mud volleyball, show skiing and splash park fun already is getting viewed by thousands on social media.

As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 30,000 people had shared it on Facebook.

Forward Janesville President John Beckord said the film is part of a new approach to labor recruitment and workforce development.

The three-minute video was assembled and produced from dozens of hours of footage shot during different seasons and took 18 months for Drywater to produce.

“We're going to frame the community in as favorable a way as we can, obviously,” Beckord said. “You're trying to get your foot in the door with people to get them to consider Janesville and Rock County as an option.”

The film is targeted to reach professionals and skilled workers who would have the choice of dozens of similarly sized cities throughout the Midwest.    

“The idea was basically to put together a video that can be used by (local) corporate human resources managers and small staffing groups. It would be used for viewing by prospective talent, people who're being recruited by companies to come here, work here and live here," Beckord said.

The film is set to music and has no narration.

One 30-second sequence includes a seamless flow of scenes of smiling, mud-spattered residents enjoying ears of sweet corn at the annual corn roast and mud volleyball at Traxler Park, evening footage that was shot from above the carnival concourse at the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds, open-air concerts at the amphitheater in Lower Courthouse Park and families exploring the Rotary Botanical Gardens in summer and during the gardens' winter light show.

The video includes pop-up and drop-down graphics that provide facts about Janesville.

Drywater producers pitched the concept as a friendly and straightforward way to sell some of the city's most attractive and pleasant aspects to people who aren't familiar with the community.

The film funded by local corporate sponsorships was unveiled Tuesday night at Forward Janesville's annual dinner at the Holiday Inn Express.

It's part of an emerging plan by Forward Janesville designed to help companies sell to prospective employees not just their workplace but the city as a whole.

“We're thinking of ways to get across that a big asset for them can be the community. They're selling that in recruitment as much as anything,” Beckord said.


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31

(Madison, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of Alliant Energy

Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) received verbal approval today from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to expand its Town of Beloit Riverside Energy Center campus. 

“This is a major step forward as the Riverside project is a critical part of our mission to provide reliable, cost-effective energy to our customers for many years to come,” said Patricia Kampling, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO. “This highly efficient generating station will modernize our generating operations and further our transition to cleaner energy sources.”

The project is scheduled to break ground this fall, with construction ramping up in the spring of 2017 and then operations commencing by 2020. This $700 Million (+) investment represents one of Wisconsin’s largest, private sector economic development projects. The project will support more 1,000 construction jobs and once operational, the expanded Riverside Energy Center will provide a sizable utility shared revenue boost to both the Town of Beloit and Rock County.

The Riverside Energy Center expansion was first announced in late 2014; it quickly gained widespread support in the Beloit area, Rock County and throughout Wisconsin. When complete, the Riverside expansion will be capable of powering more than 535,000 homes.

For additional information, visit Alliant Energy online.

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(Rock County, WI) In response to strong demand, three speculative building projects are advancing in the Janesville-Beloit MSA. Combined, these projects represent 355,000 SF of new, Class A Industrial / Warehouse space. Two of out of the three projects will occur in Janesville, while the third project will be located in the City of Beloit. These spec projects are slated to begin construction this spring/summer, with an anticipated fall 2016 market delivery date.

4298 Capital Circle II, located in the Janesville's East Side Business Park, will have an initial 100,000 SF footprint and an expansion capability to reach up to 200,000 SF. Gilbank Construction, Inc. will be providing construction services for the project, while Angus Young Associates provided the architectural, design and engineering services. Bill Mears, Coldwell Banker McGuire Mears & Associates, is handling the property's marketing / brokerage activities. This is the second (Janesville) spec project for Badger Property Investments principles Tom Lasse and Terry McGuire.

100 Innovation Drive, located in Janesville's STH 11 Business Park, will have an initial 150,000 SF footprint and an expansion capability to reach up to 300,000 SF. The property is being developed by Greywolf Partners, Inc. and Scott Furmanski, CBRE's Milwaukee office, is responsible for the project's marketing / brokerage services. 

To facilitate both of these spec projects, the City of Janesville provided a Tax Increment Financing package.

2400 E. CTH P, located at the WI/IL Stateline in Beloit's I-90 Business Park, will have an initial 105,000 SF footprint and an expansion capability to reach up to 420,000 SF. The property is being developed by Hendricks Commercial PropertiesCorporate Contractors, Inc. will be providing construction services, while Angus Young Associates provided the project's architectural, design and engineering services. Chase Brieman, CBRE's Madison office, will be handling the project's marketing / brokerage services. 

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, "These projects reflect the strong industrial and warehousing demand that exists within the Janesville-Beloit MSA."

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

One of the focuses of the Janesville School District for preparing students for their futures is through classes in STEMproject based learning that integrates knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and math across the curriculum. Janesville uses Project Lead the Way, the nation's top provider of STEM curriculum, as its model.

COLLEGE AND CAREER READY

"What we're trying to do with STEM is the four C's; critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity," said Kolleen Onsrud, curriculum coordinator for the district.

School district officials say a big part of workforce readiness is providing a curriculum that teaches skills to fill the demands of local businesses.

Onsrud said STEM is different than just learning science or just learning math independent of one another. STEM is more hands-on and integrated, using disciplines in tandem to do things such as computer programming, coding and robotics.It also requires students to blend subjects as they would in real-world situations, to take multiple ideas and form conclusions, use technology and understand what creates solutions.

SCHOOL BOARD SUPPORT

In February, the Janesville School Board showed its support for the district's plan to infuse even more STEM into the curriculum through its Pathway to STEM pilot program. The school board approved spending $750,000 on implementing STEM initiatives throughout all grades.

The program is designed to ensure all students in kindergarten through 12th grade get experiences in the four STEM disciplines.

Janesville's STEM action plan lists three goals:

-- Increasing STEM achievement and expanding the number of students who pursue advanced degrees and careers in related fields.

-- Boosting the graduation rate of students in STEM programs and expanding the workforce of those adept in these skills while broadening workforce participation by women and minorities.

-- Increasing STEM literacy for all students and decreasing the need for postsecondary remediation, regardless of whether students study STEM further or pursue related fields.


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(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

John Rocco is trying to imagine what patrons will say when he and his partners open Rock County Brewing Co. this summer in downtown Janesville.

It'll be the first brewery to open in downtown Janesville in recent memory, and the first microbrewery ever licensed to operate there under a new set of zoning ordinances that cater to startup microbreweries and brewpubs.

Janesville native Rocco and his brewing partners-Rockton, Illinois, resident Ed Sundstedt and Andy Walker of Janesville-have at least three decades of home beer-making experience. Rocco and Sundstedt run Farmhouse Brewing Supply, a home-brewing supply store in Janesville.

The three brewers hope the gods of hops, malt and fermentation will bring them a brew sublime enough to throw a hearty foam on any potential flashes in the pan.

"Being really the first microbrewery in downtown, in Janesville, you're going to be a novelty. And that's not a bad thing. But if you're selling a novelty, it better be a good one," Rocco said. "People better really like the product you're making, or you aren't going to be a novelty very long."

Rocco spoke without looking up as he pried nails from old barn boards piled four feet deep in the storefront on the lower deck of the former Carriage Works, 18 N. Parker Drive. That's where the crew plans to brew and sell handcrafted beer-everything from spicy smoked ales to mellow Hefeweizens and smooth, Belgian-style beer.

The barn boards are going to become paneling to accent the brick walls inside Rock County Brewing Co.'s new space.

The brewery will have a storefront tasting room: a bar with taps run straight into casks of beer brewed in the rear of the building in a three-barrel system. The terrace side of the building will have a floor-to-ceiling, roll-open glass window that the brewpub will open to welcome foot traffic and summer breezes.

Rock County Brewing Co. is leasing its space from brothers Shawn and Shannon Kennedy, owners of Janesville-based SASid Insurance. The Kennedys are renovating the microbrewery space and the upstairs of the Carriage Works, which will house SASid's corporate headquarters and offices.

Wisconsin is awash in licensed breweries that brew, sell and distribute in small volumes. It is a market that has mushroomed in the last 15 years.

Just not in Janesville.

Until a year ago, Janesville had what city Economic Development Director Gale Price called "antiquated" zoning rules that did not cleanly allow microbreweries and brewpubs to operate here.

"We had been late to a dance that's been ratcheting up for almost 20 years," he said. "We'd been behind the eight ball because we had a code that was completely silent to a growing national trend. We literally did not allow for microbreweries or brewpubs."

The city council approved changes last year to allow certain business districts, mostly ones in and around downtown, to permit microbreweries. Under law, those operations can brew and sell up to 60,000 barrels a year.

Rock County Brewing Co. plans much smaller volumes than that, with initial batches spun out every few weeks in a three-barrel system. The partners have estimated brewing fewer than 1,000 barrels their first year.

That, the partners say, could be enough to fuel walk-in customers and a local keg beer distributorship to Janesville-area taverns and bars and grills.

Under the microbrewery's model, customers would have to buy beer either in single-serve quantities for tasting, kegs or "growlers," which are half-gallon, sealable glass jars.

Under that model, commerce would rely largely on people coming downtown to visit the microbrewery.

The city and some developers and downtown business groups have plans to revamp downtown commerce and wrap it around the idea of pedestrian-focused, niche shopping, afternoon-long visits and entertainment.

Two more downtown microbreweries are in early talks, Price said. He thinks the businesses could drive other developments.

"It gets people's attention. Investors and entrepreneurs know a microbrewery is a very significant investment in a space," Price said. "If somebody's willing to make a major investment like that downtown, it shows there's interest and viability, maybe across a broader spectrum."

Ed Sundstedt said the microbrewery's emphasis would be on craft, not bombast.

"Dad comes in with a baby stroller, and he tastes a beer he might want to pour for a buddy or two at a cookout later that day. That's the speed," he said.

The microbrewery would have truncated hours compared to local taverns: probably 3 to 9 p.m. during three or four weekdays, with hours a little earlier on weekends to catch crowds at the downtown farmers market.

Andy Walker believes Rock County Brewing Co. could bring a change to downtown that's like watching a glass of beer poured by a slow, patient hand.

"The world has a fast-food chain version of everything. So does Janesville. We want people to slow down and enjoy," Walker said. "Janesville's more than a one-note town, and we hope what we brew is the same way. That's our goal: to give people a little something unique to remember Janesville."



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(Janesville, WI) Debra Jensen-DeHart, Beloit Daily News

The Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, just a few miles north of Beloit and south of Janesville off State Highway 51, has been serving the needs of the public for more than 60 years.

And for more than 40 of those years, Airport Director Ron Burdick has worked at the site.

“I’ve been out here since 1975 and as the director for 26 years,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of changes.”

While the airport no longer has the scheduled passenger air service it once had, or the “Just in Time” delivery in connection to the former General Motors plant, the site continues to grow its business.

“Our infrastructure is quite large and we do quite a bit of air traffic at the corporate level,” Burdick said.

The airport offers two runways for primary approach, and a third runway as a secondary approach.

“We can handle up to a 747-200 (Air Force One)” he said.

What makes Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport different from the bigger airports is its convenience, he said.

“It’s easier to get in and out because we do not have airline service,” Burdick said. “(Still) we are capable of handling a range of aircraft, our rates are good and we have good access to the interstate,” Burdick said.

A major change over the past three years the airport has undergone is the main terminal building renovation. The $3.2 million project was paid for with 80 percent of the funds coming from the state and 20 percent from Rock County, Burdick said. Presently, the final work is being completed in what is projected to be the restaurant portion of the building. Plans for the building also called for a pilot’s lounge, administrative offices and a conference room.

Marketing to fill the restaurant space is likely to begin in April, Burdick said.

A major expansion also is underway on the airport grounds at one of the service provider sites. The fast-growing company is SC Aviation, Inc.

SC Aviation, Inc. is a subsidiary of Colony Brands, Inc. It provides charter aircraft maintenance and aircraft management services, said Dan Morrison, director of sales and marketing.

“We manage planes for companies and we rent them out when they are not in use,” he said. “We offer maintenance and pilot services.”

Aircraft are rented out to help offset the costs to their owners.

Business has reached the point that an additional hangar is needed, Morrison said. The company is constructing a new 36,720-square-foot hangar. Not only will that help with the growth in its charter operation and maintenance services, it also will lead to more job creation, Morrison said.

Presently, SC is managing 10 aircraft, primarily passenger planes. They range in size from smaller jets with seating capacity for seven passengers to larger planes with a 10-seat capacity. The aircraft are used for both business and pleasure purposes.

SC Aviation, Inc., has more than 50 pilots and normally rents out six or seven planes from the site.

The advantage the operation offers customers is clear.

“What we give the customer is time,” Morrison said. A CEO who might need to meet with clients in three states can do so in a day and be home for supper, for example. “We work around the customer’s schedule.”

Among the other service providers at the airport are the Janesville Jet Center and Helicopter Specialties, Inc.

“What we mainly do here is business chartered planes,” said Bonnie Cooksey, Janesville Jet Center Manager.

Line Service Supervisor Terry Meehan does the fueling and other aircraft services such as de-icing. Cooksey handles personal customer needs such as setting up car rentals, motel needs or catering.

“Open the door and you don’t know who might step out,” said Meehan.

That is part of the fun. Some of the passengers have included Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Detroit Lions Coach Jim Caldwell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Passengers come to the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport for business, golfing, weddings, funerals and more. Sometimes the arrivals and departures are in connection to medical needs. Patients are dropped off or picked up, with an ambulance team waiting, Meehan and Cooksey said. Sometimes rescue dogs and animals also are brought in or flown out.

The Janesville Jet Center operates seven days a week and also has a Piper Archer aircraft on site that is used for flight instruction.

Helicopter Specialties, Inc., offers an FAA certified repair station and customized service for special needs.

Jim Freeman is president of the company.

“We do maintenance and repair overall of helicopters. We also do airplane avionics, but primarily helicopters,” he said.

Those helicopters could come from near and far.

“We generally get our customers from east of the Rockies,” Freeman said, noting they’ve also served customers from Japan, South America and other faraway places.

On this day, the hangar housed several helicopters, including one from Alaska, one from Med Flight, and a shiny gray, black and white beauty used by the FBI containing the bells and whistles needed to track down criminals.

“Some of them are here for aviation upgrades; others are here for maintenance,” Freeman said. “We are a vendor for Med Flight.”

Maintenance and repair is driven by how often the helicopters are flown. In another area of the operation, employees work on customizing parts for customers.

“We’ll take an idea a customer has a need for and then get it FAA certified,” he said.

One of those customer needs being worked on was a catch system that could be installed so that when a patient is being lowered on a stretcher from a helicopter. The plan is to make it so the stretcher will snag and not slip, ensuring the safety of the patient.

“We have a lot of good relationships with hospitals,” Freeman said.

Other specialty innovations the company has provided are the mountings for syringe pumps and other medical equipment so they could be fastened down inside the compact helicopter interiors.


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(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette

Two seniors from Craig High School were awarded scholarships for winning the Junior Achievement Business Challenge, according to a news release.

Raj Patel and Ryan Ping each earned $500 scholarships for the schools of their choices. Second place and a $250 scholarship went to John Gagula and Dylan Holloway from Beloit Turner High School, according to the news release.

The students won the scholarships after competing as "CEOs" for the day in the Junior Achievement Business Challenge. The event was hosted and sponsored by Beloit Health Systems.

The teams were paired with volunteers from area businesses to test their knowledge of running a virtual business using a computer business simulation. Students made business decisions regarding price, production, marketing, capital investment and research and development, according to the release.

The first- and second-place teams advance to the Wisconsin Junior Achievement Business Challenge on April 28 in Sheboygan to compete for more scholarships.


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(Janesville, WI) Courtesy of Blackhawk Technical College

Located in Brookfield, Ottawa University has announced its partnership with Blackhawk Technical College to create an education pathway for adult learners that begins at Blackhawk and ends at Ottawa University with the completion of a bachelor’s degree.

As part of the partnership, Ottawa University is extending its generous transfer policy to Blackhawk students for up to 80 credit hours. Of the 124 credit hours required to complete a bachelor’s degree, the remaining 44 upper division credit hours are taken at Ottawa University and can be completed in less than two years. Students who opt for this pathway can earn a bachelor’s degree for under $25,000 in total.

“At Blackhawk Technical College, ensuring our transfer agreements further advance our students’ educational pathways is a top priority,” said Dr. Thomas Eckert, president of Blackhawk Technical College. “We’re excited to partner with Ottawa University and be able to offer our students an opportunity to continue their education.”

“Together, Ottawa University and Blackhawk Technical College are able to collaboratively give adult learners access to education that can change their lives at a very affordable cost,” said Kevin Eichner, president of Ottawa University. “It’s an innovative approach that gives adult learners access to important and a fulfilling education. We are proud of this partnership and the opportunities that both institutions are providing to students in Wisconsin.”

For more information about the transfer program, visit www.transferadvantage.com/BTC.


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(Janesville, WI) Blackhawk Technical College will be hosting four Career Fairs the second week of April 2016. More than 75 private and public businesses and organizations from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois are scheduled to be in attendance.The topical areas and logistics for these events include:

For additional information, contact Arlana Richardson at (608)757-6329 or arichardson@blackhawk.edu .




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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Improvements to the Rock County Historical Society's 3.5-acre campus in the Look West Neighborhood were recently revealed – setting the stage for the beginning of the organization's multi-million dollar, 15-year strategic plan.

Five site plans were created to augment the campus and they include the following components: The core to serve as a compass for visitors; Frances Willard Schoolhouse to strengthen the society's educational mission in addition to being used for events and rented; the Carriage House to become a one-of-a-kind center for local businesses plus a private rental venue; the Wilson King Stone House to serve as the campus' primary catering and concession venue; and the Museum Center transformation that will compliment other campus elements.

The historical society is seeking support from individuals, businesses and local and national foundations that support historic preservation, museums, arts and cultures. Meetings already have begun with potential donors and money raised to date for the campus master plan is $75,000. The city has invested an additional $1.2 million of capital improvements to the Lincoln-Tallman House since 2010 and Rock County provides another $9,200 annually to support the organization’s operations.


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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Firehouse Subs opened its new location last week at 2050 Morse St., just off Milton Avenue. The sandwich chain sells hot sub sandwiches with meat, cheese and veggies on toasted rolls, said Firehouse Subs franchise owner Joe Fallin of Beloit.

The fast-casual restaurant places heavy emphasis on hearty meat and cheese combinations with turkey and smoked brisket, steam heated and on toasted rolls. The chain delivers on its firehouse moniker with a bevy of more than 50 types of hot sauces to top its sandwiches.

Firehouse Subs was started in 1994 by two firefighter brothers in Jacksonville, Florida. It has nearly 1,000 locations nationwide, according to the company.

Meanwhile, HuHot Mongolian Grill Chief Operating Officer Jeff Martin confirmed the company plans to open in June or July inside the former U.S. Cellular space in the Janesville Plaza, 2573 Milton Ave. The chain operates as an all-you-can-eat Mongolian- or Asian-style grill. That means customers fill bowls with multiple choices of vegetables, meats and other ingredients, including special sauces. Chefs then stir fry customers' ingredients in front of them on the large grill.

HuHot, which is based in  Missoula, Montana, has 54 locations nationwide and 46 of them are franchises. The company has six locations in Wisconsin, including one on Madison's southwest side. Five of those restaurants are corporate-owned, not franchises. The Janesville would be corporate-owned as well, Martin said.


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08

(Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 announced the release of JobsInRockCounty.com, which will serve as the area’s one-stop employment and information portal, at the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner. This JobsInRockCounty.com project is anchored in feedback gleaned from area employers, who expressed a (collective) desire to have a more comprehensive, single-source, online tool that can be used to augment their talent recruitment and retention efforts.

Designed to meet the needs of the human resources community; third party recruiters; and of course, prospective jobs seekers, JobsInRockCounty.com offers the following features:

  • A Robust, Easy-to-Use Online Job Posting Interface
  • Job Board, Search Engine & Social Media Compatibility
  • Automated & Customized Applicant Communication
  • Pre-Qualified Candidate Sharing Mechanisms
  • Inspire Rock County Integration
  • Value-Added Community & Workforce Information

JobsInRockCounty.com is a free service and is intended to serve as a talent recruitment and match-making tool for employers that have a physical presence within the greater Rock County and/or Stateline area. However, company registration and validation are required before any job postings can be uploaded into the system.

In preparation for today’s release, a small group of employers have been beta testing the site. To date, nearly 100 jobs – canvassing 16 distinct career clusters – are posted and ready for applicant use. Therefore, irrespective of job posting frequency or volume, employers are encouraged to visit and register their company at JobsInRockCounty.com.

Rock County 5.0 is a five-year public / private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize Rock County’s economy. The initiative’s efforts are focused on the following five economic development strategies: Business Retention & Expansion, Business & Investment Attraction, Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Positioning and Workforce Profiling. For additional Rock County 5.0 information, visit www.rockcounty5.com.

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(Milton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Milton and Edgerton high school students spent Tuesday morning getting a harsh dose of the real world during the sixth annual Reality Check event at Milton High School. Based on chosen interests, students were assigned careers, marital status and children and had to survive a simulation of what it costs to live for one month without parental help.

“They need this education. They need financial literacy,” said Amy Kenyon, Milton career and technology education coordinator. “If we prepare them with an event like this, at least it starts them thinking, and they won't make those money mistakes we all made during high school or after high school.”

The Milton School Board late last year approved a financial literacy course students will be required to take before graduating.

 “It's been a rough road,” Milton High School senior Rachel Butterfield said.

“I learned that the real life world is very stressful and that taking care of money is really hard,” Kylee Casper, another participant from Milton High School said. “This taught what I can spend and can't spend with my job, and I should probably look at what I have left.”

“I guess I didn't really know how complicated this all is,” Butterfield said. “I definitely think it's given me some perspective on what is going to happen in the future, so this is a good idea—a good reality check.”

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Two Beloit women are beyond excited about their upcoming graduation and entry into the workforce.

Raven Napolean and Felicia Smith, along with six other students, were awarded scholarships from Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) and the Beloit Health & Rehabilitation Center (BHR) in the nursing assistant program. As part of the scholarship agreement, they are guaranteed employment after graduation at BHR.

Napolean, 19, said she became interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) after her brother passed away from cancer and she found herself wanting to help others. She also said she gets along well with older people, especially her granny Alathia who lives with her.

“She’s my rock,” Napolean said. “We are two peas in a pod.”

Napolean said she realizes one day she herself could be in a nursing home and wants to ensure there will always be top-notch and qualified staff at nursing homes.

For Felicia Smith, the scholarship came at the right time. She was juggling jobs at McDonald’s and a call center when she decided to start a career in health care.

After becoming a CNA, she hopes to continue her education and one day become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and eventually a registered nurse (RN). She’s already enjoying her schooling, learning about giving bed baths, oral care and ensuring patient rights.

“I’m really happy and excited about the program. It’s a great opportunity,” Smith said.

Smith and Napolean will be graduating in April where they will begin work with BHR. The other scholarship winners are: Brandi Hoppe and Kimberly Lawrence of Janesville as well as Shana Edwards, Latrice Pritchard, Cheri Votaw and DeaLeSha Perry of Beloit.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association 2014 report, hospitals employ more than 7,800 individuals as CNAs with a vacancy rate of 7.1 percent.

The report also stated that as Wisconsin’s population ages and has more health needs, the need for a strong health care workforce becomes more important. Many working in health care will be retiring in the coming years. Approximately 20 percent of hospital-employed professional occupations are age 55 or older.

Traci Scherck, the director of workforce management at Fortis Management Group, LLC, worked with the admissions team and the college to help create the scholarship opportunity on behalf of Beloit Health and Rehab.

Scherck said getting the scholarships would allow students to jump start a career in healthcare and allowing BHR to bring in qualified staff to serve residents.

Scherk said the CNA classes are six to 12 weeks long and would otherwise cost students roughly $800 for tuition, books and the associated state exam fee.

Nursing assistants care for patients under the supervision of a professional registered nurse in a variety of settings. BTC’s nursing assistant program is a pathway to other health-related programs, and the program is accredited by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Bureau of Quality Assurance.

After completing entrance requirements, a criminal background check and clinical requirements, nursing assistant students undergo 120 hours of courses that include classroom time and practicum.

Beloit Health and Rehabilitation is offering another eight scholarships for students to begin coursework in March. Interested applicants should contact BHR at 608-365-2555.

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(Beloit, WI) Robert Crozier, Beloit Daily News

Debbie Fenhouse of Popular Grove came to a Beloit International Film Festival screening for the first time this year, and it’s not what she expected at all.

“It’s exciting,” Fenhouse said. “I didn’t expect to see famous people.”

BIFF wrapped up this weekend with the annual Silent Film Showcase after 10 days of screening independent films at several Beloit businesses.

The famous people Fenhouse was referring to were Melissa Gilbert and her husband, Tim Busfield. She said she feels like she grew up with Gilbert as a fan of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Gilbert and Busfield were in Beloit to accompany their co-creation, “One Smart Fellow.” While it won awards and moved audiences, Gilbert’s ambitions go beyond this one film.

She is a Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Michigan. She hopes film festivals and independent film companies, like the one she and her husband helped create, can change the film industry by spreading out opportunities for people to make money outside the film studio system.

“We’re trying to create a place for filmmakers like us to create and distribute their material without having to worry about a difficult and suppressive studio and distribution system,” Gilbert said. “I would go anywhere to support this film, and I would also like to support small film festivals all over the country.”

Among small film festivals Beloit has the best, according to Hollywood Film Festival owner Brad Parks.

“I think Beloit, Wisconsin, has the single best small-market film festival in the world,” he said. “This is what Sundance was 20 years ago.”

The two festivals in Hollywood and Beloit have had a special relationship ever since Parks — who hails from Dubuque, Iowa — bought the Hollywood festival and brought the man behind the Beloit festival — Rod Beaudoin — in to run it. The two men knew each other because of their shared involvement in the cultural life of Dubuque.

The relationship gives Beloit access to all the best films making the festival circuit. Parks said great films that didn’t get the attention they deserved elsewhere find an audience at BIFF, and he takes promising filmmakers out of Hollywood to Beloit to get a measure of their character.

“I get to meet filmmakers here in a way that I never could in Hollywood,” he said. “The filmmakers blossom because Vanity Magazine isn’t right there.”

Thanks in no small part to the Beloit Film Society, a local population of critical film watchers who “know about color correction, narrative flow and story arc” has been cultivated, according to Parks. But, unlike viewers in Hollywood, they’re not trying to get ahead in their own film careers, so they’re more honest, he said.

“People here are so good at watching films, and they’re so honest,” Parks said.

The filmmakers enjoyed Beloit as well. Gilbert and Busfield said they did some antiquing, and a filmmaker from Los Angeles who had never been in Wisconsin before said she enjoys seeing small towns.

Nick Spark, who entered “Right-Footed,” called the festival “wonderful” during his award acceptance speech.

“I would not have tried to make this film if I didn’t believe films could change people’s minds and attitudes,” he said. “It’s wonderful to find a festival that shares that attitude.”

“Among the Believers” creator Hemal Trivedi praised the warmth she observed at the Beloit International Film Festival.

“I don’t think I was ever pampered in this way, even by my own mother,” she said. “I think Beloit has been the best festival for me.”


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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Beloit Memorial High School’s seniors formalized their intent to find a job or go to college after graduation by signing their names on the dotted line Friday.

The school held its first Decision Signing Day in hopes of getting seniors prepared for a bright future.

“Decision Signing Day is similar to what we do with our athletes. We promote post-secondary education and the workforce. Students pledge they are focused on their future once they leave this school. We’ve done everything we can to put them in the best position with the tools to make the community a better place,” said Jon Dupuis, BMHS special education teacher.

Students’ post-secondary plans were able to include: Universities and colleges, technical colleges, military service or the workforce. Many students were donning their college T-shirts, military gear or purple attire in honor of Decision Signing Day.

Rudy Lugo, Cade Johnson, Chris Jones and Bailey Shain were some of the many students excited to make the pledge.

Rudy said he plans on working at Scot Forge as he’s already had an internship there.

Bailey plans to attend Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) where she will take automotive classes in hopes of becoming a mechanic.

“When I got my car I had a lot of problems with it,” Bailey said. “It’s something I catch on to fast and I really like it. I can do an oil change and change tires.”

Although Bailey has a firm plan, she said many students are still unsure about the future. The event, she said, will help them realize how important it is to start thinking about their plans.

Cade said he will study actuarial science at UW-La Crosse. He said Friday’s event was a great way to help students make decisions by having them take the time to sit down and think about it.

Chris said he plans to attend BTC for criminal justice in hopes of becoming a police officer.

Dupuis said BMHS offers technical education courses and an extensive array of Advanced Placement courses to give students a head start on their future.

Decision signing day is hoped to become an annual event.

“Making the transition to adulthood is a big step for them. We have a lot of great things we are doing, and this is another way to promote our students,” Dupuis said.


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(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

After four years of development, regulatory screening and a complex approval process for a proposed radioactive medical isotope production facility in Janesville, SHINE Medical Technologies has received the clearance it's been waiting for.

Thursday morning, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted to approve SHINE's request for a construction permit to build a 57,000-square-foot radioisotope facility at 4021 S. Highway 51 across from the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport on Janesville's south side.

The federal panel has spent the last two years vetting the proposed project for safety and environmental impacts.

The review essentially gives SHINE the go-ahead to construct the facility, which will use nuclear particle accelerators to produce the radioactive medical isotope molybdenum 99 from low-enriched uranium.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission still must complete a separate, lesser phase of regulatory review for SHINE's operating permit, but under the panel's decision Thursday, SHINE has the clear to move into construction and commercialization phases of the project.

SHINE is on track to break ground on the project in 2017, and the company will begin ramping up operations in 2018. That puts SHINE on pace to begin shipping moly-99 in early 2019, SHINE Vice President Katrina Pitas said Thursday.

“We're shooting for that goal and working as hard as we can to get there,” Pitas said.

The facility in Janesville is slated as one of three or four radioisotope production facilities that could operate in the U.S. within a couple of years, Pitas said.

Molybdenum-99 is a radioisotope used to illuminate heart, bone and other body tissue in 40 million medical imaging procedures a year. It is mainly used in heart disease screening, stress tests and for bone scans used to locate and diagnose cancer.

SHINE would operate the first U.S. moly-99 production facility in the nation since the 1960s.

Another medical radioisotope company, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, is operating in Beloit, but NorthStar does not yet produce moly-99 on site. 

SHINE would produce moly-99 on site, then ship the isotope to suppliers, which would distribute to Midwest specialty pharmacies. The company also would supply markets abroad, Pitas has said.

SHINE has major supply agreements with GE Healthcare and Lantheus Medical Imaging.

It would be the first entirely private outlet through which Moly-99 would be produced, distributed and shipped to hospitals and medical testing laboratories, SHINE officials say.

Pitas on Thursday said a mix of SHINE employees and a handful of initial investors—about 40 people--watched a remote, live stream of the nuclear panel's meeting Thursday on TVs throughout the company's Monona headquarters.

She said as the news came, SHINE's headquarters broke into cheers. Engineers, company executives and investors embraced.

As Pitas took photographs of the moment, she said her eyes brimmed with tears. And she wasn't the only SHINE employee who cried in joy.

“It was exhilarating. It's what we've been waiting for. We've dedicated years of our lives to this,” Pitas said.

The company has developed a special set of particle accelerators that it has spent nearly half a decade testing in partnership with federal nuclear programs.  

Pitas has said that in recent months, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had “raced” through latter stages of a review process, following a weeks of page-by-page review of tens of thousands of pages of SHINE's plan documents and related report. Review included months of public comment, research by the panel's staff and an independent review by a team of federal cross-checkers.

Because the facility will rely on nuclear particle acceleration, the federal panel had required SHINE to conduct intensive calculations and hypothetical modeling to prove that its plans met federal thresholds for safety and environmental impact. 

Among the research, SHINE was required to calculate the potential risk and impact to SHINE's Janesville facility if tsunami-like waves ever formed on Lake Michigan or Lake Superior—and then rushed over the Wisconsin landmass, covering Janesville with water.

Belying the intensity of regulatory review, federal authorities and the U.S. Department of Energy have been supportive of the idea of SHINE's project and a few other medical radioisotope production facility plans, mainly because of the specter of a world shortage of moly-99.

The U.S. is responsible for about half the world's demand for moly-99, yet none of the radioisotope is produced here. All of the material is imported from government-owned nuclear reactors in Canada, Europe and Africa.

Most of those foreign reactors are aging and are slated to be shut down within a few years. That would lead to a shortage of moly-99 not just in the U.S., but worldwide.

SHINE continues to raise money to construct and commercialize the Janesville facility.

As of this week, Pitas said, the company has raised approximately $50 million, including $22 million in private funding, through two waves of fundraising and a $15 million U.S. Department of Energy cost-share agreement.

Earlier estimates of the project's cost totaled $85 million, but Pitas has more recently declined to discuss specifics about the project's full costs.

SHINE's timeline for breaking ground and ramping up production at its Janesville facility has shifted a few times from an initial estimate that it would be producing and shipping moly-99 commercially in Janesville by 2017.

The delay came as SHINE's project plans remained under regulatory review.

Pitas said that between financing that SHINE has in hand, its supplier partnerships, and the federal government nod to the project on Thursday, SHINE is “well-positioned to finance the upcoming commercialization phase,” Pitas said.

On Thursday, Pitas said there's “nothing tentative” about SHINE's plan to have a facility built and producing on a commercial level by early 2019.

SHINE plans a private “celebration event” Thursday, March 10, in Janesville.

The city of Janesville has a stake in the SHINE plan. Years prior to the project getting full regulatory approval, the city council approved a tax increment financing incentive package worth $9 million, including utilities, land and cash and an agreement to back a private loan to SHINE.

The only city TIF agreement larger than SHINE's was an incentive package of $11.5 million, which the city awarded last year to Dollar General, which plans to build a 1 million-square-foot distribution center on Janesville's south side.

The city's incentive package for SHINE is tied to the company meeting criteria of property tax payments and job creation in Janesville.

SHINE has said it eventually would employ 150 at the Janesville facility, including technicians and mechanics. Many of the positions would pay annual salaries at or near $60,000, Pitas has indicated.

Pitas indicated SHINE plans to working on partnerships with at least one area technical college to launch training programs for radioactive material handling.

Pitas said that during the facility's expected life, SHINE will produce enough moly-99 for tests for 1 billion patients.    

“Today is a day when everybody in the community and the whole state of Wisconsin should be proud of what we've achieved … coming to market and producing the isotopes they need to stay healthy,” Pitas said.


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24

(Rock County, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

For one weekend in July, the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport will be home to wartime aviation history as more than a dozen World War II and Vietnam War planes arrive for residents to see, touch and even ride.

During Heavy Bombers Weekend, an estimated 15,000 locals will come to tour these functioning combat planes used in famous global conflicts.

“These are flying museums, so it's a really unique opportunity to see these aircraft still in operation,” event coordinator Pete Buffington said. “There's an emotional response that's felt when you see these aircraft start and blow out smoke. …It's something that you can't put into words.”

Residents can meet local veterans who flew these mechanical marvels. Many of them haven't stepped inside a war plane in decades. Several come out with tears running down their faces, Buffington said.

“It's a healing event for them,” he said. “It's a pretty amazing sight.”

Heavy Bombers Weekend occurs right before Oshkosh's Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture, the largest plane show of its kind in the world. The weekend might feature surprise appearances by planes heading to that event, Buffington said.

While the event doesn't feature an air show, those willing to shell out big bucks can take 30-minute rides in some of the planes. A single-engine plane ride starts at $95, but getting a lift in some of the top-of-the-line planes can cost more than $2,000, he said.

“It's kinda like a bucket list item,” Buffington said.

The event has been held in Madison since its inception almost four years ago. This is the first year it's coming to Janesville. It likely will alternate between the two cities in the future, Buffington said.

“It's quite the event coming to Janesville,” he said, noting the new market and potential attendees. “We're really excited to bring it Janesville.”

The Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport is a great location, partly because it has less air traffic than Madison, Buffington said. The show won't affect the airport's normal operations at all, Buffington said he was told. In fact, it will give the airport the attention an airport of its size deserves.

“It'll be cool to see the flurry of activity back there,” he said.

One thing organizers like is that the airport has a control tower for greater safety. It also will have an extra ground controller working that weekend, Buffington said.

This year's Rockford AirFest and Milwaukee Air & Water Show have been postponed until 2017, which means turnout for Heavy Bombers Weekend might be better than originally projected, Buffington said.

“I think we're going to see quite a few more numbers than what we were anticipating, which is a good thing,” he said.

The Gazette was unable to reach an airport representative before deadline.


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15

(Rock County, WI) Earlier this month, Rock County 5.0 in conjunction with the Blackhawk Human Resource Association (BHRA), released the results of their Salary & Benefits Survey.  The report provides a comprehensive listing of hourly wages, covering over 80 specific occupational titles, as well as calculations for addressing "aged data". In addition to providing detailed salary information, employer benefits packages are profiled within the report too.

More than 50 businesses / organizations participated in the Survey, covering over 6,100 employees. For quality control and confidentiality purposes, a third-party human resources consulting firm administered the survey through a web-based platform. A sampling of the results is provided below:

  • Thirty-four percent of the respondents represented firms that are organized as C-Corporations, while slightly over 41% were classified as a pass-through entities (i.e. S-Corp or LLC).
  • In terms of industry sector, over 62% of the respondents represented Manufacturing. Other sectors with representation included Education & Health Services, Professional & Business Services, Financial Activities, Public Administration, etc.
  • The average general salary budget increase, attributed to merit, COLI, and promotions was 2.5%. Meanwhile, the average pay range adjustment, attributed to increases to formal base pay ranges, was 2.2%. 
  • The median turnover rates reported for 2015 and 2014 were in the 10% range, respectively.
  • Benefits packages are influenced by a number of interconnected economic, operational and workforce factors Examples includes, but are not limited to: healthcare coverages and their related premiums; paid time-off; flexible work schedules; employee attendance, referral and tuition reimbursement programs; as well as retirement and profit sharing programs.

A truncated version of the report will be available online. To order a full, non-truncated copy of the report, please contact Rock County 5.0 or BHRA.

Rock County 5.0 is a five-year public / private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize Rock County’s economy. The initiative’s efforts are focused on the following five economic development strategies: Business Retention & Expansion, Business & Investment Attraction, Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Positioning and Workforce Profiling. For additional Rock County 5.0 information, visit www.rockcounty5.com .

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08

(Rock County, WI)

According to the quarterly release of the 2015 Rock Ready Index, Rock County’s economy ended the year strong. Highlights from the Q4 report include the following:

Unemployment Rates, as measured by annual averages, remained at their lowest levels in 10 years. From their peak annual average rate of 12.5% in 2009, 2015’s rates represent nearly a 7.5% reduction. Job postings, which have exceeded 20,000 for 11 out the last 16 quarters, continued to exhibit typical Q4 characteristics. In addition to an active job market, wage rates have continued to rise – as evidenced by a Top 5 national recognition for the Janesville-Beloit MSA by Milken Institute’s Best Performing (Small) Cities Rankings.
 
These gains are helping to fuel the area’s residential market, where average sale prices and the number of residential sales throughout Rock County continued to rise in 2015. For example, Q4 2015’s price points and transactions reached their highest Q4 levels in nine years at $135,263 and 458, respectively. Home building activities, as measured by the number of new single family permits issued, are beginning to move upward too. In YR 2015, there were 160 permits issued – which is the highest recording of (new) single family permits during the last six years. 
 
Another measure of the local economy is the County’s sales tax collections. Q4 2015’s collections of $3.2 Million helped the year-end figures exceed $12 Million for the first time in the County’s history. If there’s any doubt regarding the impact of these collections, simply take a drive along any number of the County’s most active commercial and/or retail corridors. In short, 2015’s sales tax collections were 4% higher than 2014 and an 18% jump from 2008.

Energy consumption, as measured by the number of meters and usage, continued to exhibit economic and weather related pressures. The good news is that demand remains steady, across a range of use classifications.
 
Lastly, there were a number of large-scale economic development projects announced during Q4 2015. These projects represented the following sectors: aviation, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, real estate and technology. Aggregate impacts for the entire year included: over $300 Million in new capital investment; nearly 2.5 MM SF in new or repurposed commercial / industrial space; and a commitment to create 1,200 new full-time jobs.
 
The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and Energy Consumption (Meters & Usage). Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.


For additional information, visit www.RockCountyAlliance.com .

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06

(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News

The Beloit International Film Festival will feature 10 days of Block Party events, starting Feb. 18 with no tickets necessary.

The party kicks off on Feb. 18 with 52 Special Featuring Glenn Davis and Matt Goodwin at the Grand Avenue Pub from 7:30 -10 p.m. The event also offers the first opportunity to meet some of the filmmakers who will be arriving in Beloit.

The Saturday, Feb. 20 post-viewing party will feature Kevin Patrick performing solo at Suds O’Hanahan’s Irish Pub from 9 p.m. - midnight. Patrick has opened for some of the biggest recording artists, from Ricky Scaggs to the Beach Boys.

On each Saturday morning during BIFF, the Badger Chordhawks barbershop singers will join with dancers at Beloit College’s Hendricks Center for the Arts Lobby at 11 a.m.

Joining the celebrated barbershop group on Feb. 20 will be the award-winning Trinity Irish Dancers from Milwaukee, and on Feb. 27 it will be the Polish Dance Ensemble.

On Sunday, Feb. 21, the Wisconsin Artisan Cheese Tasting will be featured at Bushel and Peck’s Local Market starting at 10:30 a.m.

Monday, Feb. 22, tops off with Comedy Night at The BOP, from 9:30 - 11 p.m. It is a lineup of regional favorites including Rebekah Gibson of Janesville, Stevie Crutcher from Madison, Andrea Guzzetta of Rockton and Vickie Lynn and Shawna Lutzow, both from Beloit.

Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 4 - 8 p.m. BIFF board members and staff will be at Beloit Culver’s for the Scholarship Fundraiser Night. Help BIFF give back to our community and get a taste of Wisconsin at Culver’s while you’re at it. Proceeds from the evenings go toward the BIFF Scholarship Fund which will help finance one of BIFF’s college interns for their next semester.

Friday, Feb. 26, is the night to see the true talents of visiting filmmakers, cast and crew, or take a try yourself at Karaoke Night at Suds O’Hannahan’s from 9 p.m. - midnight.

And to wrap up the party, on Saturday, Feb. 27, the Orphans, featuring Kevin Patrick and Greg Gerard will be rockin’ at The Rock from 9:30 p.m. - midnight.

This 10 days of the BIFF Block Parties is sponsored by R.H. Batterman, Monahan and Johnson S.C., Everett’s Liquors, Grand Avenue Pub, WBEL and WGEZ.

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04

(Janesville, WI) Catherine Idzerda, Gazette

Dinner theater is returning to Janesville's Armory.

Bower City Theatre Company and Best Events on Thursday announced plans for a season of musicals and other events at the downtown venue.

The move comes a month after Bower City and Best Events sponsored sold-out Christmas shows—and about five years after the recession and other factors drove professional theater out of the Armory.

Bower City President Brett Frazier said the decision was made after extended discussions with Rod Oksuita, director of Best Events.

They wanted to find a way to bring theater back to the venue.

“I worked at the Armory, and it was a wonderful space,” Frazier said. “The renovation that Mick (Gilbertson) did was amazing.”

Frazier performed in 14 productions and nearly 900 shows at the theater.

The Armory was home to professional dinner theater from 2005 to 2011, but the recession hit the theater hard, Frazier said.

The Armory continued as a restaurant and special events space until April 2015, when Best Events took over operations.

Bower City started its theater company at the Janesville Performing Arts Center. In 2013, it ceased doing performances, citing financial problems.

In 2015, however, it returned with the musical “Legally Blonde” and followed that up with the Christmas show at the Armory.

All of the theater equipment is still at the Armory, but the challenge was how to provide an outstanding meal and a show at an affordable price. After the successful Christmas show, Frazier and Oksuita began to think a little bigger.

“We knew we had to find a way to keep costs as low as possible,” Frazier said.

The performers will be a mix of nonequity professionals and seasoned community performers, Frazier said.

Tickets for the shows will range from $19 to $59. The shows won't be long running, as the Armory shows were, and that will help hold down costs as well.

The first full season is designed to be a test run, and it will offer plenty of family favorites and a sharply funny show for grown-ups.

Tickets for the first season aren't available yet, but auditions have already begun.

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02

(Beloit, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Beloit Daily News

The Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce was showing off its new home at Irontek, 601 Third St., on Monday.

Executive Director Tim Dutter said the Chamber’s new home will be a one-stop shop for businesses in Beloit. It will help foster entrepreneurship and support business development. The Chamber will be the “anchor” tenant of the new site, with several start-up companies to follow.

Hendrick Management President and CEO Rob Gerbitz explained how Irontek’s office space will be available for rent to companies as well as freelance workers. Irontek was the brainchild of Gerbitz as well as his colleague Isaac Bamgbose, an asset manager at Hendricks Commercial Properties.

“It’s a combination co-working space, an incubator and an accelerator,” Bamgbose said in an interview before the event.

Bamgbose explained there are three offices available for small start-up companies which can be rented on a monthly basis, as well as conference room space. In the middle of Irontek are about 40 individual spaces that freelance workers can rent.

The set-up, for example, could help those in insurance, information technology, marketing, graphic design, legal occupations and more. The space is designed so business people will be able to network and bounce ideas off of each other.

Gerbitz said the idea was born when other companies complained they couldn’t get enough engineers and computer programmers. The new space is hoped to attract such professionals.

Bamgbose added that area students, working with either startups located at Irontek or with companies such as Comply 365, AccuLynx or Fat Wallet, will have a dedicated space as well. Irontek, he said, will give students a great place to gain valuable work experience and network.

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22

(Orfordville, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

Orfordville residents are willing to invest in a grocery store and downtown buildings to make their village better, a survey shows.

Among the village's 1,400 residents, 98 took a survey from the newly formed Economic Development Committee seeking to gauge where residents would like to see the village grow, if at all. Most respondents indicated they favor investing to expand the village's residential, industrial and commercial areas.

“To me, it seems they're saying, 'Yeah, we want you to concentrate on drawing business in town,'” said committee member Gary Phillips.  “To me, that's encouraging that the majority of the folks do want us to work in that direction.”

Committee Chairwoman Beth Schmidt said Orfordville needs to look at how it could draw in new businesses and inspire and enhance ones already in town, she said. The idea led to the committee and subsequent survey.

The most-requested businesses from the survey is a grocery store—something almost 90 percent of respondents indicated they want, according to the survey.

Only 2 percent of respondents do more than half of their shopping in Orfordville. That's a concern but could change if a grocery store comes to the village, Phillips said.

Phillips has called a few businesses to see if a grocery story could be built in Orfordville, but businesses say the town isn't big enough, Phillips said.

Phillips is emailing Dollar General officials to see if would be possible to bring one of its stores to the village, he said.

“Wouldn't it be great to have a grocery store? You bet. I'd love to have a grocery store,” he said. “But it's probably going to have to be a mom-and-pop-style grocery store.”

Besides the idea of a grocery store, almost three-fourths of respondents said the downtown area is unattractive. That's something the committee is already working to fix, Phillips said.

“We've went back and looked at our ordinances, and we've changed quite a few ordinances in the last year because our ordinances were pretty lax,” he said.

Eliminating vagueness from the ordinances gives downtown business a clearer understanding of the town's expectations, Phillips said.

“Nobody really paid attention to it, and it was never really a focus,” Schmidt said.

He said most people focused on the town's business park.

Buildings weren't kept up before most were purchased by local businessman Jason Nehls starting about six years ago, Phillips said.

“I'm doing what I can. I do more stuff every day,” Nehls said.

“It didn't happen overnight, so we're not going to get repairs overnight, either,” Phillips said.

Almost half rated the village's Internet service poorly. The village has what Phillips called “mediocre” Internet service providers and not popular ones such as Charter.

“You're going have that when you're in a rural community. I come from a farm, so I'm just happy things work as fast as they do and you have more than one choice,” Phillips said with a laugh.

Almost one-third of respondents indicated the village's streets and sidewalks need maintenance.

“I don't think anybody could argue that we have some streets in town that need to be addressed, and we're aware of that,” Phillips said, noting street repair isn't cheap. “We only can do what we can do.”

Work to improve the village already has begun.

Renovations began last week to turn the former Burtness Chevrolet car dealership into a new Village Hall and police headquarters. The library recently relocated to an old church on the edge of town. A new gas station and Subway restaurant were built at Highways 11 and 213, Phillips said.

“I think we've made some positive improvements,” Schmidt said. “We need to focus on our downtown area, and I think we really need to bring in some (businesses) … that have a few jobs attached …”

The committee will decide where to focus next and how to address residents' concerns.

“It's been interesting to put a new committee together like this and figure out what direction we're going and all that, so I'm excited to work on this and try to do some things that the residents would like us to work on,” Phillips said.


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22

(Beloit, WI) Robert Crozier, Beloit Daily News

The 11th annual Beloit International Film Festival recently unveiled its full schedule of films on its website, and tickets are now on sale.

More than 100 narrative features, documentaries and short films will be screened at eight Beloit venues Feb. 19-28. Locations include Bagels & More, Bushel and Peck’s Local Market, La Casa Grande, Domenico’s, Schubert’s Luxury 10 Cinema and the Hendricks Center for the Arts.

The full lineup of places and times is available on the beloitfilmfest.org website. Film trailers and advance ticket sales are already online.

Adam Fogarty, the program coordinator for both the Beloit and Hollywood film festivals, said the biggest change to the Beloit festival this year comes with the its association with the Hollywood Film Festival.

“This year we are now affiliated with the Hollywood Film Festival,” he said. “That has substantially increased the quality and number of films that we have brought in.”

While everyone has their favorites, Fogarty advises audiences not to miss Hells Heart, which is showing at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at La Casa Grande and at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Luxury 10 Cinema.

“It’s a brilliantly written, engaging psychological thriller,” he said. “It’s films like that that are the reason I came to Hollywood and to the film business in general.”

While tickets are already available online, they will also become available at the BIFF Box Office at the Gallery Abba starting Feb. 8.

A new ticket is needed for each screening attended, and prices depend on how soon they are nabbed. They cost $9 each up until the festival begins Feb. 19, and the price then goes up to $10. Student pricing is available. There are also discounts with the purchase of tickets in packs of four or six.

Besides the regular screenings and venues, the event’s annual special screenings will continue for another year, including the sing-a-long, the silent film and the classic film.

This year’s sing-a-long is Hairspray showing Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. in the Luxury 10 Cinema. Tickets cost $10.

The 2007 version of this musical comedy stars John Travolta in drag as Edna Trumblad, Christopher Walken as Wilbur Trumblad and Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle. Fogarty said Hairspray was chosen because it attempts to make the world a better place and is, at the same time, an enjoyable film. The musical takes on racial issues such as racial integration.

“Bringing that in would be good in light of the racial issues our society has recently faced,” he said.

The Silent Film Showcase will be the 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Beloit College’s Eaton Chapel. It includes a performance by the Rock River Philharmonic symphony orchestra, and tickets cost $28.

Fogarty said The Wizard of Oz was chosen because “we thought it was wonderful and Beloit audiences would enjoy it.”

The free classic film this year will be The Maltese Falcon, but it is on the schedule for Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m. the Luxury 10 Cinema.

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20

(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News

The new heart hospital being built on the fourth floor of Beloit Memorial Hospital will be named the Hendricks Family Heart Hospital after the Hendricks Family Foundation provided the biggest gift in Beloit Health System history to support the project.

The Hendricks Family Foundation has provided a gift of $3 million to support the state-of-the-art heart hospital, which is currently under construction at Beloit Memorial Hospital. The Hendricks Family Heart Hospital has a total cost of $13.8 million and is to be done in three phases, with the final phase to be completed in 2017.

Existing cardiac services at the hospital are continuing on the fourth floor, but work is progressing to make room for other services. For example, critical care units will be moved from the third floor to the fourth floor.

“The new Heart Hospital will be a one-of-a-kind cardiac center of excellence,” said Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett. “This is the largest gift ever given to Beloit Health System and the Hendricks family has truly demonstrated their commitment to improving the quality of life in our community. We are thrilled and humbled that the family has shown such strong dedication and faith in our health system.”

“I believe it’s essential that our Beloit community receives access to the finest healthcare options available,” said Diane Hendricks, owner and chairperson of ABC Supply Company and Hendricks Holding Company. “This will be a vital component in offering the best opportunities to our residents.

“Our family supports this new facility that will provide convenient access for time-sensitive cardiac circumstances,” Hendricks continued. “This ‘heart hospital within a hospital’ gives me great comfort in knowing that our community will have the best options during critical times of need. For this reason, we have decided to partner in this important project with Beloit Health System.”

Phase 1 of the heart hospital construction began in the last few months with a new cardiology clinic and physician offices being established on the fourth floor. Phase 2 is expected to begin by mid-2016 with the Hybrid Dual Cath Lab and Operating Suite being built. There also will be remodeling and technology updates for two of the hospital’s cardiac cath labs. Phase 3, to be completed next year, will include new critical care rooms, a private waiting area and a family sleep area.

“The Hendricks Family Heart Hospital will provide a unique patient experience where a highly skilled staff, working with the best technology, will provide a caring and healing environment,” said Dr. Leo Egbujiobi, an interventional cardiologist at Beloit Health System. “It will have the latest technology and equipment to bring all aspects of heart care together. The new Hybrid Cath Lab will be one of only three in Wisconsin and the first in the region.”

The Hybrid Dual Cath Lab and Operating Suite will be more than double the size of the hospital’s current operating room. This area will feature elements of a traditional cardiac catheterization lab, but it also will feature an operating room for more advanced procedures such as heart bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement and vascular surgery.

The Hendricks Family Heart Hospital also will support new procedures such as the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and the Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR) procedures.

“We are delighted as a family to support this heart hospital,” said Kendra Story, Hendricks family member and a Beloit Health System Board of Directors member. “Our families, our employees and our neighbors utilize this hospital and its great heart care. We should be proud in Beloit and the Stateline Area that we have the very best heart care right here.”

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19

(Janesville, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette

St. Mary's Janesville Hospital has received the 2016 Women's Choice Award for being one of America's best hospitals for obstetrics for the second consecutive year, according to a news release.

The award, given by market research firm WomenCertified, considers female patient satisfaction, clinical excellence and what women claim they want from a hospital, according to the release.

“Our team is inspired by our mission to provide exceptional care, so it is extremely rewarding to learn for the second year in a row that we are again being rated number one by the women who have experienced our care,” said Kerry Swanson, St. Mary's Janesville Hospital president.

“New moms have many choices when it comes to having their baby, so choosing the best birthing experience is right up there with choosing the best doctor. We've made it easy for moms to vet out the hospitals proven to deliver an outstanding experience,” said Delia Passi, CEO and founder of the Women's Choice Award.


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15

(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

From looking at pictures of someone tarred and feathered in World War I to making a video of a book report, School District of Beloit students are taking advantage of new learning opportunities made available by technology.

Since the school district adopted an initiative to put an iPad in the hand of each student in the district, many classes are going paperless and adopting other innovative technologies.

At Fruzen Intermediate School, for example, the school is using Schoology, a learning management system called the “Facebook of education.” Teachers use the digital learning environment to assign quizzes and assignments, as well as launch discussions and more.

Schoology allows teachers and students to work on the same virtual documents. When a student, for example, creates an assignment, it can be sent to the teacher who will give feedback and return it to the student. Giving more immediate feedback can help engage and challenge students.

At Beloit Memorial High School, teachers like Matt Flynn use Schoology in AP history class. On Wednesday, all of his students were hooked into the same worksheet and accompanying documents that Flynn was working on via the SmartBoard. He also had accompanying historical photos such as a man who was tarred and feathered as late as World War I.

Flynn said Schoology enables students to hook into their curriculum 24-7. With students able to do their work remotely, absences also become less of a hurdle for struggling students.

Michele Kruse, a fourth grade teacher at Fruzen Elementary School and an innovation coach, also has gone to a mostly paperless classroom thanks to the iPads and Schoology. Because Schoology has made grading papers and organizing more efficient and streamlined, Kruse said it allows her to focus on developing deeper relationships with her students.

It also allows students to be more creative. For example, her students create movies instead of writing traditional book reports.

“They are expressing learning at a higher level, and they love it,” she said. “It puts learning in kids’ own hands.”

She said some students who may struggle in certain areas often discover they have a knack for technology. It gives them a boost of self esteem and motivates them to teach other students their newfound skills.

“It empowers them,” she said.

Britta Gagner, instructional technology coach, said Schoology helps teachers collaborate across the district, especially if they are teaching the same subject in different buildings.

“It's really unified all the intermediate schools,” Gagner said. “In addition to having common assessments, we have common essential learning targets.”

Schoology also allows teachers to do their grading online resulting in fewer papers getting lugged home.

Teachers and all staff members are creating their own learning goals with technology and receive regular coaching on how to use the new technology in their classrooms.

Kruse, for example, hosts mini lessons at Fruzen every week in 15-minute sessions to train other teachers in Schoology.

Gagner said students have the option to use paper if they want to. Flynn noted he still does testing with paper and pencil.

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11

(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

According to the California-based economic research group Milken Institute, the city of Janesville and Rock County have been riding on a skyrocket to high-tech land for the last half-decade.

Rock County companies such as Foremost media are reasons why a nationally-recognized study has ranked the Janesville-Beloit area at the top of the stack for economic performance. Other notable high-tech gains locally are attributed to such firms as AccuLynx, Comply365, Data Dimensions, FatWallet, SASid and State Collection Service.

Milkin's new study, which began circulating late last year, listed Janesville-Beloit as the fourth behind the North Dakota cities of Fargo and Bismack and the college town of Ames, Iowa. Milkin's designation of high-tech and biotechnology jobs range from specialty and precision manufacturing to pharmaceutical and specialty pharmaceutical manufacturing, aerospace metals fabrication, along with a broad spectrum of web and Internet services.

The latter includes Foremost, which is one of the few companies regionally that specializes in designing apps designed specifically for manufacturers and industry. They handle everything from inventory to sales and customer orders. The firm had six people in 2012 and now has 23, including web developers, web sales associates and programmers.

“Industrial wireless apps are not the sexiest things in the world, and our home office isn't sexy,” company CEO Jon Ballard said. “But we're marketable, we're located right in between two major markets in Madison and Chicago, and we serve a utilitarian niche. We're happy here.”

In May, the company is moving to downtown Janesville into a four-story, 24,000-square-foot former warehouse at 207 N. Academy St. Ballard is partnering with Mark Robinson, who owns the brick warehouse they're calling “The Grey Goose.”

HIGH TECH & HIGH PAY

Bill Mears, broker for Janesville-based Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears, said he and his real estate partner Tom Lasse a few times over the last year found themselves riding a wave of industrial and commercial development deals along the Interstate 90/39 corridor like nothing they'd experienced in his career.

One such wave washed over the city's east side business park when steel fabrication and distribution giant A.M. Castle Metals eschewed a large warehouse building Lasse was developing this past spring. During a courtesy ride in a charter bus Castle, instead pointed at a vacant site off of Enterprise drive as a preferred option. Less than six months later, Castle has moved into its new Janesville digs. And the $16.50 starting hourly pay is a $3 leap above the going rate of most distribution warehouses in Janesville.

Look for that average to continue to climb if a long-awaited project on the city's south side moves forward in the next calendar year. SHINE Medical Technologies, a Monona-based upstart that plans to launch a radioactive medical isotope production facility near the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

SHINE would bring jobs with average salaries of $60,000 a year, SHINE Vice President Katrina Pitas said. It would require skilled mechanics with nuclear safety training, but a top reason why SHINE chose Janesville over two other Wisconsin cities is because SHINE believes the local job force is willing to learn new skills, Pitas said.

A very similar convergence of technology and high pay will be attributed to NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC’s Beloit facility, as well. NorthStar and SHINE will eventually represent two of the three domestic producers of molybdenum (Mo-99). With the support of the federal government and strategic private sector partners such as GE Healthcare, Rock County is positioned to eventually becoming recognized as the nation’s isotope capitol.

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05

(Milton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Walker on Monday announced that the state will offer $8.1 million in grants and a $1.01 million loan through the Wisconsin's freight railroad assistance program to fund the second phase of improvements and rail upgrades to 41 miles of track that runs between Waukesha and Milton, according to a news release from the governor's office.

The state-owned freight line, which is operated by Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, has sections of track and some infrastructure that is up to 100 years old, railroad officials have said. Using earlier state funding, the railroad focused last year on replacing track and ties on portions of rail line in Janesville.

The new wave of funding will include track rehabilitation, construction of eight public crossings, five turnouts, replacement of 12.7 miles of track with continuously welded rail that is heavier gauge than the older track, and 11,800 new ties, the release said.

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04

(Clinton, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Seniors hoping to maintain their independence in a supportive environment have a new option — Willowick Assisted Living.

Construction was completed on the new assisted living community at 306 Ogden Ave., in mid-December. Willowick Assisted Living expects to open in the coming weeks after obtaining its license.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to serve people well in their community. It seems that most assisted living centers are in larger communities,” said Lori Schlosser, owner and CEO of Willowick Senior Living. “We are excited about that first group of residents who are going to be admitted and being able to serve the community and meet its needs.”

The community is invited to an open house scheduled for 1 - 4 p.m. Jan. 9. People also can stop in for tours between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“We have several people signed up but room for more,” Schlosser said.

Director Amanda Reseburg explained how Willowick is the only assisted living facility in Clinton.

“People have been stopping in and saying it’s much-needed. Residents can stay right here and still participate in their community. That’s invaluable for a lot of people who are coming to terms with the fact that they will need a little help. We are here to bridge that gap,” Reseburg said.

Reseburg noted staff will be implementing some of the 2,000 pictures the Clinton Historical Society gave it for decorating its hallways “to pay homage to our adopted hometown.”

The new facility will feature “Wednesdays at Willowick,” a lifetime learning program where local experts, guest speakers and more visit and give presentations. It will be open to residents as well as those from the community. Topics will be posted at www.willowicksenior.com.

Willowick Senior Living received its building permit in May to build on previously vacant land. Ground broke in mid-June, with the general contractor being Advanced Building out of Madison.

The first building is 14,256-square-feet, with the possibility of another building added to the site. The community will offer up to 25 full-time and part-time jobs.

“We are still hiring for CNAs,” Schlosser added.

Ninety-five percent of the caregiving staff are certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to elevate the level of service and professionalism offered to residents.

The building consists of 26 units available, including six suites.

Services include assistance with activities of daily living, meals, medication assistance, transportation to medical appointments and scheduled outings, housekeeping, laundry and nurse services. Staff will work with local physicians, home health agencies and other healthcare professionals to meet resident needs. Willowick is home to a salon and a regularly scheduled beautician.

Community meetings were held in Clinton, Janesville and Beloit this fall so people could learn more about the facility and its services.

For more information visit willowicksenior.com or its Facebook page at “Willowick Assisted Living.”


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(Rock County, WI) Anne Lindert-Wetzell, Business In Focus

Building strong regional economies is no easy task. It takes not only strategic goal setting and the implementation of tools to monitor success, but also diligence in collaboration and communication to address constantly evolving economic conditions.
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The Rock County Economic Development Alliance works collaboratively with private and public stakeholders to strategically position Rock County, WI (i.e. the Janesville-Beloit MSA) for business development opportunities. This positioning involves leveraging and enhancing the area’s critical assets and systems without compromising the attractiveness, nor the efficiencies of its business climate. The work of the Alliance, particularly since the Great Recession, has played a pivotal role in elevating the Rock County into a location in which people and businesses can live, as well as thrive.

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Association of Counties (NACo), 93 percent of counties participate in economic development initiatives. The study acknowledges that “counties of all sizes across the country are problem solvers, able to adjust their initiatives and programs to match local assets and needs.”

The Rock County Economic Development Alliance, established in 2001, is one such problem solver. For approximately fifteen years, the Alliance has been incrementally building and implementing the necessary framework to ensure that Rock County, Wisconsin is ready to go. The efforts are paying off, as nearly 100 private sector projects – accounting for over $1.8 billion dollars of new capital investment, seven million square feet of industrial / commercial and about 3,700 new jobs –have been announced and/or completed throughout the Janesville-Beloit MSA.

James R. Otterstein, the Alliance’s economic development manager, says that the Alliance is, “an informal network of Rock County economic development interests that is anchored by the Rock County Economic Development Agency.” The Alliance functions as a pool for “financial and technical resources” and as an information sharer, collaborator and brand marketer.

Otterstein shares that the Alliance was born out of necessity. He acknowledges that Rock County, “needed a more consistent, visible and singular voice to reach an external audience … because today’s business development environment is far too competitive, complex and fluid to have mixed messaging.”

It is toward this end that the Alliance operates: dedicated to addressing economic opportunities, as well as challenges, which organically surface within any given economy.

Situated in south-central Wisconsin along the Illinois border, Rock County (population 160,059) was created in 1836 and is one of Wisconsin’s largest counties. The county provides a mix of urban and rural landscapes and is anchored by the Rock River, a tributary of the mighty Mississippi. The City of Janesville is the county seat and is located on Interstates 39/90. The state capital, Madison, is forty miles to the north and Milwaukee is about 75 miles to the northeast.

The county has a diversified economy that includes advanced manufacturing, value-added agriculture, health care and technology related firms. Recognized and leading nameplates, ranging from either a consumer or an industry perspective, have sizable business operations throughout the Janesville-Beloit MSA.

All of this, combined with efficient transportation infrastructure, means that Rock County provides an ideal location to support any and all business and industry needs.

“The combined impacts of geography and our entire transportation network create a powerful, value-added proposition for companies that are seeking to optimize their just-in-time and supply chain connections – both domestically and internationally,” explains Otterstein. “As a matter of fact, there are a number of privately-held and publicly-traded firms that call Rock County home because these transportation assets enable them to reach their customers/markets in a safe, efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Rock County’s location gives it strategic access to over 125 cities with populations over 50,000, in seven states as well as the province of Ontario. Rock County is served by Interstate 39 and Interstate 90 and is the northern anchor for the I-39 Logistics Corridor. In addition, Interstate 43, as well as U.S. Highways 51 and 14, provide north/south and east/west connectivity.

Rock County businesses and residents have the luxury of leveraging five commercial airports that are located within less than a two and one-half hour drive. These offerings include: Dane County Regional Airport (MSN), General Mitchell International (MKE), and Chicago Rockford International (RFD), as well as Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW) airports, respectively.

In addition, the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (KJVL), located in Janesville, has three modern runways – with the longest reaching 7,300 feet – to support air charter, air cargo and corporate aviation. With a FAA tower and modern navigational aids, the airport is able to operate 24 x 7. A number of aviation related businesses, including a fixed-base operator, provide an array of onsite aeronautical services for pilots and aircraft owners.

The county is served by three railroads: the Union Pacific, Wisconsin & Southern and Canadian Pacific Railway. These connections supply area businesses with critical raw materials and then provide an economical means for shipping commodities and/or bulk goods from local firms to reach customers across the nation and/or overseas.

And Rock County is the western anchor of Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #41, “which extends FTZ benefits out from the Port of Milwaukee,” adds Otterstein.

The Janesville-Beloit MSA is comprised of a mixture of urban and rural communities, with the majority of its residents and businesses tied to the cities. However, rural communities remain an important contributor to the economic landscape of the county.

Agriculture has remained a traditionally strong sector in Rock County, as any given year the following ag-related outputs rank among Wisconsin’s top producers: corn, soybeans, dry beans and peas; nursery and greenhouse products; specialty crops such as mint; and livestock. For example, MacFarlane Pheasants, “is one of the largest pheasant producers in the U.S. and it has an increasingly strong international market too,” says Otterstein. Meanwhile, the DeLong Company, “is a leading vertically integrated agribusiness,” located in Clinton, exports food grains primarily to the Pacific Rim and Cargill, one of the nation’s largest privately held firms, has an animal food blending operation in Milton.

Other food processing firms in the county include Frito-Lay, Diamond Foods, Hormel, IPMF and Seneca Foods. In addition to these firms that are directly engaged in the actual processing of food related products, there are businesses such as Kerry Ingredients & Flavours, which has their Americas Regional Headquarters in Beloit “that provide value-added ingredients and research to these producers to ensure that specific taste, texture, color and/or nutritional thresholds are met.”

Firms such DuPont and United Ethanol fall into this value-added food supplier category too, as they create components and/or blended compounds that service various food and non-food industries. The same cross-industry pollination holds true for Air Products, Evonik and Linde supply – as these businesses produce chemical applications that support a range of industry sectors.

Products used within the construction, defense, greenhouse, power control / generation and/or transportation related industries have a strong Rock County presence, as well. Firms such as Charter NEX Films, Gallina, Green-tech, GOEX, Prent and Tigre-ADS are standard names within the plastics industry. Meanwhile, corrugated and/or paper related applications have solid supply chain connections to businesses that include: Beloit Box Board, Pratt Industries, Valmet, Western Container and WestRock.

If there are propulsion, movement or emission controls / sensing, or energy storage / delivery and generation functions, that’s where firms such as ANGI Energy Systems, Baker Manufacturing, Cummins, Fairbanks Morse, Miniature Precision Components, Morgan Corp., Regal, SSI Technologies, United Alloy and Universal AET enter the equation.

For those operations that support a regional or national retail appetite, as well as provide just-in-time deliveries to key wholesale connections, then any number of the following Rock County firms have a strong likelihood of being referenced in that conversation: ABC Supply, Blain Supply, Dollar General (opening 2016/2017), Grainger, LeMan’s, Lowe’s, Save-A-Lot, Serta, Simmons and Staples.

Critical medical diagnostics and tracers that are manufactured using isotopes will soon be produced in the Janesville-Beloit MSA, as well. NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes and SHINE Medical Technologies, which are projected to represent two of the three domestic producers of molybdenum (Mo-99), are projected to be fully operational 2018-2019. With the support of the federal government and strategic private sector partners such as GE Healthcare, Rock County is positioned to eventually becoming recognized as the nation’s isotope capital.

There are some sectors in which Otterstein would like to see more growth, such as financial and professional and business services. While growth in these sectors – fueled by firms such as AccuLynx, Comply365, Data Dimensions, FatWallet and SASid – is helping to boost the County’s Gross Domestic Product and income levels to unprecedented national rankings, “the goal is to continue growing the employment and diversity of these businesses.”

Although there are several interrelated attributes that impact the growth of these technology-intensive firms, the key is creating the right environment to attract / retain talent that supports these businesses. With access to over a dozen-plus institutions of higher learning that offer in-demand, two-and-four year programming, including the likes of Blackhawk Technical College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, the region is recognized for its ability to generate a steady talent pool. Combined with pace-setting advanced placement and industry recognized certifications, the area’s K-12 school districts are actively contributing toward developing the workforce pipeline to meet employer needs.

In addition to leveraging these workforce development resources, Otterstein affirms that the Alliance has, “a host of other value-added services that distinguish our approach from the competition.”

For example, the majority of the build-to-suit land within Rock County is owned by local units of government. This ownership structure facilitates developer of choice, as well as enables the area to provide (independently) certified shovel-ready sites for about $1 per square foot. With over 425 acres out of a total of 725 acres classified as shovel-ready, the Janesville-Beloit MSA is able to assemble land sites that range in size from three acres to over 100-acres.

These build-to-suit sites include amenities such as interstate access / exposure, rail service, compatible land uses and completed archeological, environmental and geotechnical reports. Simply stated: nearly anything and everything attributed to the acreage within the Rock County’s business and industrial park portfolio has been researched, recorded vetted and mapped.

Anchored by aggressive local tax increment financing practices, the Alliance routinely packages up various forms of financial assistance (e.g. grants, loans, tax credits, etc.) to complement its collection of certified shovel-ready property. Realizing that time is money, the Alliance has hard-wired its development related systems and processes to achieve optimal speed-to-market outcomes. This accelerated framework enables the Alliance and its partners to usually issue permits or process other entitlement processes within thirty days.

The Alliance has a seasoned team and its bench of expertise is extremely deep. These attributes enable the Alliance to leverage a combination of tools and services to attract / retain as well as start-up value-added business. One of these tools is linked to the region’s quality of life.

Rock County’s unique geographic proximity, directly at the WI/IL Stateline where Interstates 39/90 and 43 converge, creates an appealing and affordable environment that would make one want to call this place home. For starters, it offers safe neighborhoods with extremely favorable housing pricing. Schools are strategically placed within the community, which negates the need for extended bus rides or carpooling for after-hours activities. The healthcare network, which leverages four local providers that have regional affiliations, offers acute and specialized care within a 15-minute drive time – equating to more time healing versus commuting.

In terms of recreational opportunities, there are thousands of acres dedicated toward public open space and parkland that offer trails to satisfy any number of active-to-passive recreational uses during the area’s four-season climate. The county is rich in history, cultural activities, festivals and semi-professional sporting events, as well. 

For those with a passion for an even higher level of exposure to these amenities, renowned offerings can be accessed in Chicago or Milwaukee within a two hour or less commute.

In essence, there is something for everyone to enjoy. And this is all accompanied by, “a casually paced lifestyle, without sacrificing the levels of sophistication and modernity that individuals and/or families expect or want.”

Speaking about the Rock County Economic Development Alliance’s role now and in the future, Otterstein concludes, “Our team approach specializes in creating value-added solutions, usually at a pace that is much quicker than the competition … we operate collaboratively and professionally.”


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(Beloit, WI) Robert Crozier, Beloit Daily News

More housing is coming to downtown Beloit.

The former Kerry Ingredients manufacturing building on West Grand Avenue will be remodeled into about 70 apartments that could be available as soon as late 2017, according to Hendricks Commercial Properties President and CEO Rob Gerbitz.

He said the units will be market rate and “a little bit more affordable” than the ones in the Phoenix building. The company already owns the building and is currently in the design phase, he said. The architects currently are laser scanning the space to create a 3D model of it on a computer, he said. And the finished apartments likely won’t be available to lease until late 2017.

The company also has designs on the former Kerry Ingredients headquarters building, which juts out over the east side of the Rock River on Grand Avenue supported by stone columns that rise from the water. It has for the last few years housed the office of FatWallet.com, but FatWallet.com recently announced a move into Hendricks Commercial Properties’ Ironworks complex.

The City of Beloit currently owns the former Kerry Ingredients headquarters building, but Gerbitz said his company will soon take over ownership.

But there are no final plans in place for its eventual use.

“We’ve looked at varying things,” Gerbitz said. “It’s such a prominent location downtown.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has long had complaints about how the building was constructed over the river but is expected to allow it to continue in its present form until at least the 2040s, so long as it’s well maintained, according to Gerbitz.

“Clearly it needs work,” he said. “You just have to take care of it and maintain it.”

The Hendricks company’s ongoing Ironworks complex project in downtown Beloit still has plenty of space left for business and industry, according to Gerbitz.

“We could have upwards of 500,000 square feet, but it’s going to be tenant driven,” Gerbitz said.

As he explained, the building is versatile. The company refurbishes the exterior walls and the front door beforehand and later finishes remodeling the interior differently depending on each tenant’s prospective use. If a prospective tenant wants high ceilings, they can eliminate a floor to accommodate. But the tradeoff is a reduction in total square footage.

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(Janesville, WI) SC Aviation, Inc. began construction on its 36,720 SF hangar at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport. The company's expanding air charter operation, which includes both domestic and international services, and aircraft maintenance are fueling this project. Once fully-operational, the company expects to increase staffing levels by over 30 full-time employees.

"We look forward to being able to accommodate our growing customer base in our new facility and to offer additional services," said Dan Morrison, SC Aviation Sales Director.

"By expanding its facilities and adding to its workforce in Janesville, SC Aviation is building on Wisconsin's historic and growing strength in aerospace and aviation," said Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Colony Brands, Inc., SC Aviation specializes in providing air charter (FAA Part 135), aircraft maintenance (FAA Part 145) and aircraft management services. With an operational history that dates back nearly 70 years, SC Aviation is one of the most experienced private flight departments in the Chicago region and its commitment to safety is recognized by a number of independent credentialing and rating agencies.

To facilitate this project, financial and technical support were provided by the following organizations: the City of Janesville, the County of Rock and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Paulson Kimball Construction, LLC is serving as the project's general contractor.

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, "Just-in-time connectivity and cost considerations are continually reinforcing the compelling business case offered by the Janesville-Beloit MSA."

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts from Judy Newman, WI State Journal

Madison and the Janesville-Beloit area are among the most dynamic metropolitan areas in the country, according to a report by the Milken Institute. Technology, among a other key industry sectors too, played a big role in determining this year’s most vibrant economies, the study said.

Madison ranked 20th on the list of the Top 25 Best-Performing Large Cities released by the nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank, up from No. 30 last year. Fueling the city’s improved showing, Madison ranked ninth in the U.S. for one-year wage growth from 2012 to 2013, and was No. 11 for high-tech growth between 2009 and 2014, the report said.

Janesville-Beloit leaped to fourth place this year among the Top 10 Best-Performing Small Cities from 41st in 2014. 

The statistical categories creating the most separation between the Janesville-Beloit MSA and its competitor locations were: Wage Growth (2012-2013) and High-Tech GDP Growth (2009-14 and 2013-2014). In these categories, the area recorded national rankings of #3, #1 and #6, respectively. Firms such as AccuLynx, Comply365, Data Dimensions, FatWallet, Foremost Media, SASid, State Collection Service – as well as others – are contributing toward these GDP and income gains. A number of these firms have announced and/or completed (expansion / relocation) projects during the last four-to-six years.

For additional information about the Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities report, visit this link.

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(Janesville, WI) IPM Foods, LLC is expanding and relocating to the City's East Side Business Park, where it has signed a long-term lease for 150,000 SF. To meet production capacities, as well as to gain operational efficiencies, IPM will consolidate its operations into a single, food-grade facility. The company has pegged Q3 2016 as the targeted operations date and staffing levels are expected to double.

IPM Foods is a contract manufacturer and packager of soups, gravies, sauces, vegetables and stocks. Primarily integrated into the organic, natural and premium food markets, the company continues to expand and diverse its customer base. IPM's Tetra Recart™ platform, from global packaging leader Tetra Pak®, is the world’s first carton-based retortable food package enabling it to hold specific shelf-stable, food products. 

Originally designed as a speculative building with multi-tenant functionalities, 4298 Capital Circle is currently undergoing USDA, FDA and HACCP Certified facility improvements. 

Gilbank Construction, Inc. is providing construction services for the project, while Angus Young Associates provided the architectural, design and engineering services. Capital Circle I, which is represented by area developers Tom Lasse and Terry McGuire, owns the building. Bill Mears, Coldwell Banker McGuire Mears & Associates, provided tenant and building owner representation. 

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development  Manager, "An extremely favorable development climate, facilitated by strong public and private sector partners, continues to deliver investments into the Janesville-Beloit MSA."

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(Beloit, WI) Robert Crozier, Beloit Daily News

A downtown Beloit dot-com is moving across the street and across the river to occupy space in the Ironworks complex.

“We’ve expanded our operations,” FatWallet.com spokesman Brent Shelton said. “We want to upgrade our operations in Beloit.”

The new site will also host operations for FatWallet.com’s sister companies Ebates.com and BFAds.net, according to a press release.

Ebates and FatWallet provide customers with shopping deals and cash back rewards, and BFAds collects lists of Black Friday shopping deals and relays them to the subscribers of its newsletter. It counts Walmart, Ebay and Amazon among the 1,700 retailers it partners with, according to Shelton.

According to Shelton, the number of people employed by the company has quadrupled since it first moved to Beloit in 2011. The company currently employs more than 200 during the peak holiday shopping season.

The company is moving out of the former Kerry building, 100 E. Grand Ave., and into the Ironworks on the 600 block of Third Street, both in downtown Beloit.

The Ironworks complex, owned by Hendricks Commercial Properties, is the redevelopment of the former one million square foot Beloit Corporation headquarters. The complex is already home to Comply 365 and AccuLynx and is planned to be the new home for the Stateline Family YMCA, among other companies.

The new space is currently under construction with a February 2016 completion date, according to a press release. The completed design will have a strong industrial feel with structural steel and brick, and it will provide high-tech amenities, plenty of natural light and a nice view of the river.

According to Shelton, the 18,500 square foot office space in the Ironworks will allow a more modern, open office feel. The new office will have less square footage than its current one, but the open concept will make it seem like more space, he said.

“It’s going to be a huge open area,” he said. “The teams will be strategically positioned so communication is as high as we can make it.”

The company already has lunch catered to its employees every day and allows them to take short breaks to play the foosball, dart and arcade games strewn about the office, which Shelton said will remain a part of the company’s culture.

“There will still be nice, chill areas where people can play games,” he said. “The idea is to make the culture even better.”


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(Beloit, W) Clint Wolf, Beloit Daily News

Beloit Health System was one of only 17 health systems out of 1,700 nationwide to be honored recently with the 2015 Guardian of Excellence Award.

The award recognizes Beloit Health System for its quality clinical care and is awarded to the top 5 percent of top-performing health care organizations.

The award was based on data from 2014 reviewed Press Ganey Associates, a consulting firm serving the health care industry.

Beloit Health System Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Kenneth Klein said to earn the award, Beloit Health System was judged on 39 clinical measures. These measures included treatment of heart failure, stroke, acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism and post-natal care, among other care. The measures have to do predominantly with inpatient clinical care, he said.

“It’s basically saying we provide excellent quality care for out patients,” Klein said. “We were in the 95 percentile for the entire year.”

Beloit Health System was only one of three health care organizations in Wisconsin to receive the quality clinical care award. St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac and Sauk Prairie Health Care in Prairie Du Sac were the other Wisconsin recipients of the Guardian of Excellence Award.

This is the first time Beloit Health System has received the Guardian of Excellence Award for clinical care. However, it is not the first time the Press Ganey firm has pointed out good things going on in Beloit health care. In 2006, Press Ganey placed Beloit Memorial Hospital in the top 2 percent of hospitals in the nation for patient satisfaction. That rating was based on patient surveys completed when patients were discharged from the hospital.

Klein said the latest award could not have been achieved without the team approach that is present among the staff at Beloit Health System.

You cannot provide this quality care at this high level without a team effort,” Klein said. “It requires communication and a team approach.”

The task ahead of the staff now is to maintain this level of quality care.

“When you are in the 95 percentile, it’s hard to get better than that,” Klein said. “You have to say, now it’s time to get to work and improve on our record.”

Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett also credited the health system’s achievement of this national recognition to the doctors, nurses and staff who work with the patients each day.

“Our priority has always been quality patient care and we continuously strive to provide an exceptional experience for all our patients,” McKevett said. “This national recognition is a reflection of the caliber of our physicians, clinicians and staff who work each day to care for all who pass through our doors.”


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(Janesville, WI) By NIck Crow, Gazette

Parker High School senior Lavonne Sieling couldn't hide her excitement Tuesday working with first-graders at Washington Elementary School.

"They're so cute," Sieling said as she helped them through an Angry Birds branded coding lesson. "I can't believe how quickly they learn."

Sieling was at the school with classmates from her advanced placement computer science class. They were on hand to talk to the students about computer programming.

Besides Washington, students from Craig and Parker high schools visited students at Roosevelt, Madison and Jackson elementary schools and Marshall and Franklin middle schools as part of the Hour of Code.

Students in the schools were given coding exercises with themes such as "Star Wars", "Minecraft" and "Frozen" aimed at getting students interested in computer programming at an early age.

The Hour of Code is an initiative by Code.org designed to help bridge the gap between the low number of computer science graduates and a growing industry demand. The event exposes students in the district to one hour of coding experience.

"We are here to break coding down so that it's simple and fun for the kids," Sieling said. "It's useful to learn at a young age. It's not hard; it's just often presented in a way that looks overwhelming. If presented at a younger age, it's easy to learn, and more kids would know how to do it."

Parker teacher Bob Getka said that in the next 10 years 1.4 million computer programmer jobs will be available in the United States with only 400,000 people trained to fill them.

Companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Dropbox and Amazon support Code.org. The nonprofit organization has developed a K-12 computer science curriculum designed to be teacher-friendly, student engaging and developmentally appropriate, Getka said.

The Janesville School District is the only district in Wisconsin partnering with Code.org, Getka said.

"We are one of the few districts to offer programming classes at both high schools, but one of even fewer to extend it to elementary and middle school," Getka said.

Getka said the district will begin offering computer programming in middle school next year. Some elementary schools in the district, such as Washington, have after school clubs focused on computer science.

"A lot of kids think computer science is a really a white boy, nerdy thing to do," Getka said. "But we're trying to show kids that there's a lot of people in computer science. It's the No. 1 paying four-year degree. There's such a high demand for it, but so few have the skills."

Code.org was initially launched in February 2013 after former Microsoft developers Ali and Hadi Partovi released a YouTube video entitled "What Most Schools Don't Teach." The video was designed to urge schools to create computer science classes. After it received a strong response, they began creating an organization that supports a worldwide movement to expand computer science education to every student.

Amanda Werner, fifth-grade teacher at Madison Elementary, has been involved in the Code.org agreement with the school district since its inception. Janesville is the smallest district among the about 75 districts nationwide to have this partnership, she said.

"The shift in this area of academic programming matches the shift in the job market and the desired skill sets of a graduate," Werner said.

"Our district is one of only 5 percent in the nation that offers AP Computer Science despite the intense professional demand. There are only about 30 high school computer science teachers in the state of Wisconsin, and we have two of them," she said.

"These opportunities give our students a tremendous advantage."

Werner said every elementary and middle school student in the district is participating in the Hour of Code events during Computer Science Education Week.

The Hour of Code is a one-hour computer programming event designed to build excitement and show both teachers and students that anyone can code, Werner said.

Exposing students to basic computer programming teaches problem solving, critical decision-making, persistence, collaboration and communication, she said.

"As classroom teachers, it is our responsibility to help our students master grade-level standards," Werner said. "However, we also understand that our grade level is just one rung on a ladder that ultimately hoists students to the ranks of college and career readiness."

"If we do not expose students to computer science instruction in elementary school, we rob them of these essential mindsets, so by the time they can elect to take computer science in high school, they have the misconception that it's too hard or it won't be something they'd like," she said.


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07

(Janesville, WI) Gazette Staff

Four area teachers have achieved certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, according to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

They are:

—Janet Albert of Janesville, Morgan Elementary School, Beloit School District, middle childhood, generalist.

—Andrea Behn of Janesville, Parker High School, Janesville School District, early adolescence through young adulthood, world languages other than English.

—Christine Munch of Beloit, Adams Elementary School, Janesville School District, early adolescence, English language arts.

—Terri Ross of Evansville, Merrill Elementary School, Beloit School District, early childhood, generalist.

Thirty-seven teachers from 24 public school districts and two private schools throughout Wisconsin achieved the certification, according to the news release.

Statewide, 972 teachers are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Certification consists of four components: a written assessment of content knowledge, reflection on student work samples, video and analysis of teaching practice, and documented impact and accomplishments as a teaching professional, according to the news release. The process takes one to three years.


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(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

Kennedy Elementary School has received a national grant to aid its science, technology, engineering arts and mathematics curriculum.

Kennedy got the $10,000 innOVATION STEAM grant through the Ovation Foundation, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and Americans for the Arts, in accordance with the Congressional STEAM caucus, according to a news release from the Janesville School District.

The grant recognized programs that raise awareness about the importance of integrating STEAM educational curriculum, the news release said.

"The President's Committee has made increasing access to arts education a signature focus over the last five years, and we are thrilled to acknowledge these schools' inspiring STEAM programs," said Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in a statement. "It is through programs like these that we can foster the skills of innovation, creativity and problem-solving that our students need to compete in the world today."

Eight schools nationally received $80,000 in grants, according to the news release. The recipients were honored at a ceremony and reception at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., in early November.

Other schools receiving the grant were Boston Arts Academy, Boston; Dayton Regional STEM School, Kettering, Ohio; High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego; Highland Park Middle School, Beaverton, Oregon; National Inventors Hall of Fame Center for STEM Learning, Akron, Ohio; Quatama Elementary School, Hillsboro, Oregon; Renaissance Arts Academy, Los Angeles.

"We can learn a lot from these eight schools. They stand as role models for the education system in America today, honoring a well-rounded education for every student by incorporating the arts and the STEM subjects,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, in a statement. "I am impressed by their students' academic achievement, school engagement and innovative thinking. By acknowledging and rewarding these creative programs today, we aim to encourage and inspire schools across the country tomorrow."


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(Evansville, WI) Gina Duwe, Gazette

Greg DeBroux looked at several communities before picking Evansville to relocate his longtime Oregon restaurant and catering business.

“I thought it had a great downtown, a good small-community vibe, and I believe there was a niche for us to fill that would provide great homemade soups and bakery and still be able to do my catering,” he said.

On Labor Day weekend, he opened DeBroux House Café at 18 E. Main St., filling one of the last vacant spaces on the downtown's cobblestone street.

When residents gather downtown for the annual Olde Fashioned Christmas this weekend, they'll find all available storefronts occupied for the first time in years.

With the recent addition of DeBroux House Café and Blu's Froyo Shoppe, expected to open Saturday, all storefronts that were seeking tenants are full, City Administrator Ian Rigg said.

“We're actually running out of space,” he said.

City Council President Jim Brooks, who also heads the city's economic development committee, credits landlords for making building improvements and work by the Evansville Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Women Encouraging Evansville's Entrepreneurs (WE3), Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club and the economic development committee.

“Our efforts to get people on Main Street are working,” he said. “It's been a long recovery for everybody.”

Rigg said it seems as if the city is starting to run out of places to guide people who are looking for potential storefronts or places for their businesses.

“I think we're ripe to get more new construction, hopefully pretty soon. Hopefully some investors will see the benefit,” he said.

Blu's Froyo Shoppe owners Jan Klaehn and Justin Schott knew they wanted to be on Main Street and part of “life downtown,” Klaehn said. Their renovations kept the historic charm of 11 E. Main St., where they expect to open Saturday with an array of self-serve frozen yogurt, craft soda and other treats.

For DeBroux, his renovated historic space also has an original tin ceiling and maple floors that helped make his Oregon location a destination for Dane County residents for 18 years.

He has created a fun meeting place for families in Evansville, where he landscaped the unused outdoor space. Now he can host over 50 people in the area's only outdoor seating venue with wine and beer, and he already has weddings booked for next summer.

DeBroux wanted to downsize from 40 employees in Oregon to about five, reducing stress and allowing him to settle into a place for retirement. He sold his Stoughton home and moved to Evansville.

Klaehn and Schott are both raising their young families in Evansville and talked about ideas to open something new without competing with existing restaurants. They wanted to help drive traffic downtown and add to existing businesses, she said.

Klaehn described how her family always wanted a place to go after school events with her daughters, but there was no standalone ice cream shop where people could gather for celebrations or everyday treats.

“We want to be that place,” she said.

She said they sought high-quality ingredients and clean labels, following their mantra of providing “an indulgence we can all feel good about.” The menu includes organic frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, craft soda and gourmet popcorn. It will be the first Wisconsin retail outlet to offer Yogurt Farmer frozen yogurt and Red Tractor Soda.

“We really put a lot of thought into creating a place that was really unique to Evansville and reflects Evansville's character,” Klaehn said, starting with the name. “Blu” is a reference to the school's Blue Devil mascot.

DeBroux knew he wanted to be near Oregon to draw from his former customer base, which has followed him to Evansville. On recent Sundays, he has had more than 100 customers in his indoor and outdoor spaces.

In his nine weeks since opening, “The hope and expectations have been exceeded, and I can only see growth from here,” DeBroux said.

The city is working with Debroux on terms for a loan through a city program, Rigg said, and the city has approved a $1,124 business improvement grant for building upgrades.

He took his best items from his menu at DeBroux's Diner in Oregon, and he prides himself on not using ingredients such as iceberg lettuce or white bread. Customer service has been a key to his success, he said, and he loves that he has enough time to talk to every customer in Evansville.

The more traffic they can get downtown to fill storefronts, the better, he said.

“I want to become a vital part of the community, involved in the community, and this is my last stop. This is the last chapter.”

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(Janesville, WI) Elliot Hughes, Gazette

Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Potbelly Sandwich Shop could be up and running by June 2016 after receiving a conditional use permit from the plan commission Monday.

The two restaurants are billed as the two tenants for an upcoming 4,812-square-foot retail space at 3330 Milton Ave., next door to Festival Foods.

Curt Mauer, of ChiFest Properties Janesville, which is behind the project, said construction should start by mid-December.

The Potbelly will have a drive-through lane, but Five Guys will not. Both will come with outdoor seating.

The permit was approved unanimously Monday. It does not require approval of the Janesville City Council.


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(Janesville, WI) Dollar General Corporation has begun construction on its new state-of-the-art distribution center in Janesville's STH 11 Business Park. At full capacity, the center is expected to employ more than 550 people and service over 1,000 stores throughout the Upper Midwest. Initial operations are slated for late 2016, with full operations expected by 2019.

“This state-of-the-art distribution center will help support our growth throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest,” said Todd Vasos, chief executive officer of Dollar General. “I want to thank the City of Janesville, Rock County and the State of Wisconsin for their support of our project. Janesville provides a great location, a strong business environment and a great workforce to draw from to fill the 550 jobs that are anticipated to be created by this new distribution Center.”

"Wisconsin's growing business environment and dedicated workforce continue to attract more business to our state," said Governor Walker. "We are excited for Dollar General's new development here in Wisconsin, and with over 500 anticipated new jobs, they are a great addition to Rock County."

“The work done to bring Dollar General to Janesville represents a true public-private partnership. We are excited to see the strong boost that this project will give to our local economy,” said Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag

For over 75 years, Dollar General (NYSE:DG) has been delivering value to its customers. Currently, the company has 122 stores and more than 900 employees in Wisconsin. With the addition of this Janesville project, the company will now have a nationwide distribution network that includes 14 locations.

Clayco Inc. is serving as the project's general contractor. Leo A Daly  provided the building design services for this project, while civil engineering services were provided by Elan Design Lab.

To facilitate this project, the following organizations stepped forward with various forms of financial and/or technical assistance: the City of Janesville, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Alliant Energy/WPL and the County of Rock.

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, "This project provides another important validation point for the area, as an increasingly diverse collection of firms are continually discovering the value-added attributes that are associated with a Janesville-Beloit MSA location."

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(Milton, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Phase II of Blackhawk Technical College’s advanced manufacturing training center was completed this fall, giving students better laboratories, more space and updated curriculum and equipment.

“We are really excited about the opportunities we are able to offer for students, potential students and displaced workers,” said Dean of Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Garry Krause.

In February of 2013, the college announced it had leased a building at 15 North Plumb St., Milton, to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs. The hope was that the space would bring all vocational programs closer together and allow for more collaborative projects between students.

The entire renovation cost about $12 million and the college entered into a 10-year lease at the location.

By the fall of 2014 half of the building had been renovated and new equipment was moved in. Three programs were moved to the campus including welding, computer numerical control (CNC) technician and industrial maintenance technician.

By the fall of 2015 five more programs were moved in including heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration; manufacturing information technology specialist; electromechanical technology; mechanical design and computer service

technician.

The advanced manufacturing training features modern science laboratories where students can learn practical science which can be applied to industry. In the loading dock area, for example, students can practice working with a crane to hook, rig and lift objects on uneven ground to place on even ground. In another laboratory, a beam is mounted below the ceiling where students can practice using pulleys to help lift heavy objects.

To keep up with demand, BTC has hired a new welding instructor as well as an additional computer numerical controlled machine technician instructor. There are 225 students at the advanced manufacturing training center this year.

BTC is continually upgrading its curriculum. Currently, it is seeking National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) accreditation for its CNC machine technician program.

There are also a number of embedded certificates within each program, so students can develop a niche in their respective industries.

BTC’s new partnership with the Milton School District will also help give students more opportunities. Students in the Milton school district can take gas metal arc welding, blueprint reading, and two math courses to earn a state approved certificate from BTC while attending high school.

“When they graduate they can go straight to industry or come back for more training,” Krause said.


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(Beloit, WI) Hililary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

School District of Beloit’s Farm to School program is helping to bring in locally-produced fresh fruits and vegetables to its classes and lunchrooms.

Using grant funds, the district was able to hire a nutrition educator and is forming a task force to promote fresh food and nutrition.

“The goal of Farm to School is to implement school gardens, increase local food in school lunches, provide nutrition education in school classrooms in Beloit and strengthen the local economy by supporting Beloit’s local farmers,” said Janelle Marotz, assistant superintendent for business services and Farm to School program coordinator.

Thanks to recently awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the district was able to hire its third AmeriCorp member who works half time as a nutrition educator to bolster the program.

Merrill Elementary has an active school gardening program that provides hands-on activities to learn about plants and nutrition and Hackett Elementary has raised funds for a garden to be planted in the spring.

“We are working to obtain funds to provide gardening opportunities for Converse, Robinson, Todd and Gaston to offer hands-on activities in addition to our nutrition education and fresh fruit and vegetable offerings,” Marotz said.

Because October was Farm to School Month, the district participated in the Great Apple Crunch on Oct. 22, where students participated in a poster contest and enjoyed fresh apples donated by Wal-Mart and AppleHut. Twelve winning designs have been chosen to form a calendar of Farm to School for 2016 to raise funds for expansion of the program. All winners will receive a free Farm to School calendar.

Marotz explained the district held its first Farm to School task force meeting Thursday. The task force will be charged with helping to raise community awareness and helping to identify potential volunteers for community events. If people are interested in serving on the task force, they can contact Marotz atjmarotz@sdb.k12.wi.us for more information.

The School District of Beloit already has farm to school activities such as lemonade and salsa making activities at Merrill Elementary School. Merrill also has a longstanding garden club. Other after school events in the district include pumpkin smoothie making at Hackett, where there are plans for a garden to be planted this spring.

In addition to its farm to school program, the School District of Beloit has a Fresh Fruit and Vegetables program which provides children in participating elementary schools with a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables using grant funds provided by the USDA.


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(Rock County, WI) 

The Blackhawk Human Resource Association (BHRA) and Rock County 5.0 are Co-Sponsoring a 2015 Greater Rock County Salary & Benefits Survey.

This survey provides an opportunity for businesses of all sizes, industry sectors and ownership structures to benchmark their pay rate information and the fringe benefit practices against other area employers.

The deadline for participating in this survey project is December 9, 2015.

Similar to past survey projects, BHRA and Rock County 5.0 have contracted with Astron Solutions, a full-service human resources consulting firm, to administer this survey. To comply with the Department of Justice Anti-Trust Guidelines, individual participant responses will remain confidential and only aggregate data will be released.

To access the survey, please visit this link - http://astronsolutions.net/surveys/bhra2015/

If you experience any difficulties while entering data into the survey instrument, please direct those technical support inquires to John Sazaklis (jesazaklis@astronsolutions.com or 212-792-8882).   

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

The Janesville City Council approved a $100,000 TIF loan to help facilitate an expansion at the Southern WI Regional Airport.

SC Aviation, which is an air charter (FAA Part 135), aircraft maintenance (FAA Part 145) and an aircraft management company, plans to add a new 37,000 SF (+/-) hangar, double the size of its fleet, hire additional employees and then use its current 12,000 SF to expand its maintenance operation.

Council member Richard Gruber said the company's expansion was another sign of an improving local economy and called the deal “exceptionally reasonable.”

Established in 1999, SC Aviation's provides its services on both a domestic and an international platform.

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(Rock County, WI) The County's economy, as reported by today's release of the Q3 2015 Rock Ready Index, continues to gain positive momentum. Highlights from the Q3 report include the following:

Unemployment Rates, as measured by annual averages, are at their lowest rates in 10 years. Meanwhile, job postings – which have exceeded 20,000 for 10 out the last 15 quarters – continued to signal an active and a very competitive employment market.

Average sale prices and the number of residential sales throughout Rock County continue to rise, as Q3 2015’s price points and transactions reached their highest levels in nine years.

Sales tax collections for the County continued to climb, as Q3 2015 set another new record at $3.2 Million. Compared to Q2 and Q3 collections for this year, the current quarterly figure is 8% and over 19% higher, respectively.

Energy consumption, as measured by the number of meters and usage, remained strong. Even when factoring seasonality into the equation, economic activities linked to various industry sectors are continually driving these figures.

The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and Energy Consumption (Meters & Usage). Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.

For additional information, visit www.RockCountyAlliance.com .

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(Janesville, WI) 

Construction activities are rapidly progressing in Janesville's East Side Business Park on A.M. Castle & Co.'s 208,000 SF, build-to-suit facility. As a global distributor of specialty metal and plastic products, value-added services, and supply chain solutions, Castle is consolidating and relocating two operations, one from MN and another from IL, into this (new) Janesville bar processing facility. Hiring and training activities are already in-progress and when fully operational, Castle expects to have up to 90 full-time employees.

Gilbank Construction, Inc., is providing the construction services for this project, while Angus Young Associates provided the architectural, design, and engineering services. Tenant representation was provided by Fischer & Co. and landlord representation was provided by Bill Mears of Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears & Associates. A group of local investors will own and lease the building back to A.M. Castle.

To facilitate this project, financial support was provided by Johnson Bank, the City of Janesville, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Alliant Energy/WP&L.

Established in 1890 and with a customer base that represents a diverse blend of industry sectors, A.M. Castle & Co. and its affiliates operate from locations throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. A.M. Castle is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CAS) and its corporate headquarters is located in suburban Chicago, IL.

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development, “This announcement provides another example of the competitive manufacturing and distribution value proposition offered by the Janesville-Beloit MSA. Our team approach, coupled with proven development practices, continues to generate positive returns.”

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(Janesville, WI) Catherine Idzerda, Gazette

To the layperson, one cow udder looks the same as any other udder.

To them, terms such as “defined halving,” “suspensory ligaments” and “bloom and capacity in the mammary system” sound like either:

-- Something they don't want to know about.

-- Something they shouldn't be talking about.

But the Craig High School FFA dairy judging team understands the importance of those cow qualities. The team's knowledge earned it a second place finish in the World Dairy Expo dairy judging contest and the chance to compete in Luxembourg and Scotland this summer.

The Craig team, which is made up of Alexander Krueger, Hayden Funk and Jenna Broege, competed against 132 teams from around Midwest.

Broege and Funk have solid dairy backgrounds. Funk's parents, David and Julie Funk, have hosted the dairy breakfast and are active in dairy promotion events. The family's dairy farm is on County J just outside of Janesville.

Funk has excelled in dairy judging and showing.

Broege is the daughter of Phyllis and the late Steven Broege. Although Jenna and her family no longer live on the farm, they are part of a dairy dynasty.

When Broege was 11, she received an award from the Wisconsin Holstein Association for her junior Holstein projects. She was judging even then.

And Krueger? His dairy knowledge is based on “interest.”

“I like hanging out with them at the fair,” he said, gesturing towards his fellow teammates.

This was his first competition, and he only joined the team to fill in for another member, Annie Runde. At World Dairy Expo, teams are made up of three people, and the fourth does showmanship. Runde participated in showmanship, and Krueger filled in on the judging side.

This was his first competition.

“I was really nervous,” Krueger said.

Here's the best part of the story: In individual scoring, Mr. Nervous placed sixth out of 391 participants. Funk came in 24th.

In dairy judging, competitors look at three or four cows of the same breed and decide which is best.

Competitors consider an animal's frame, her “dairy character,” her feet and legs and, most importantly, her udder.

Some characteristics matter more than others.

Udder quality accounts for about 40 percent of a cow's score. Dairy character, which refers to qualities such as a deep and wide chest and barrel body with good depth, is worth 25 percent. Rear feet and legs make up make up 20 percent, and frame accounts for 15 percent.

Now things get really complicated.

Within each of those categories, some qualities matter more than others.

Udder depth matters more than “defined halving,” the crease going down the back of the udder.

The rear udder is worth 9 points, while the fore udder is worth 5.

All of this decision-making is timed, so you can't spend all day debating between the relative merits of a weak topline versus a nice tail head setting.

But with Broege and Funk's experience and Krueger's diligent study, the team prevailed.

The team's finish in the top three made it eligible to participate in the 2016 international dairy judging tour sponsored by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. The team, which would include Runde, would get to judge in a special competition at the Royal Highland Show and to participate in the 2016 international dairy judging tour sponsored by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. The team, which would include Runde, would get to judge in special competitions at the Royal Highland Show and the Luxembourg National Show.

Students would get to stay with farm families and meet young people from around the country and the world. The two-week trip also includes sight-seeing opportunities.

Diane Runde, Craig High School teacher and FFA advisor, said team members were still considering their options, and calculating how much fundraising they would need to do. The two-week trip would cost about $2,700, and that includes plane tickets, housing and some meals.

Other high scoring individuals and teams include Milton FFA, 10th place in dairy product judging; Ashlyn Sarbacker, Edgerton, 3rd place in junior showmanship; and Lindsey Sarbacker, Edgerton, 7th place in intermediate showmanship.

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(Rock County, WI) 

Career Cruising, which is the licensed software that drives the Inspire Rock County career readiness and preparation platform, has been selected as Wisconsin's academic and career planning (ACP) services vendor.  This is an important development because the deployment of the Inspire initiative, which began two years ago, created an opportunity for Rock County's school districts to become early adopters of these ACP elements - which anchor the WI Department of Public Instruction's 2017-2018 ACP mandate. As such, a number of districts throughout Rock County have already begun incorporating these foundational career planning and readiness components into their programming and policies.

To begin exploring, engaging and/or connecting with area employers – as well as diverse collection of exceptional virtual career coaches – visit Inspire Rock County or connect with a K-16 education provider.  

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(Janesville, WI) By Neil Johnson, Gazette

A Janesville couple plan to bring life back to a set of dilapidated South River Street storefronts the city not long ago had considered buying and tearing down to build a parking lot.

There's plenty of dust from demolition, but it's all inside two side-by-side, brick and wood-frame buildings at 22-24 S. River St. at the corner of River and Dodge streets just west of the Rock River.

Owners Travis and Jennifer O'Connell said that when work's done, the five adjoined buildings on the mini-block will remain standing. For years they housed the former Town and Country restaurant.

In the months to come, the Janesville couple plan to repair the facades of all the storefronts and renovate the two farthest south buildings to create Industry Gastropub, a tavern, microbrewery and restaurant serving fresh, locally-sourced food.

A consultant is working on project designs. It would be "self-funded," the owners said, but the buildings are in a historic district and the renovations would be subject to approval by the city plan commission and city council.

The O'Connell's, both Janesville natives, own and have renovated several downtown properties through their construction/redevelopment firm, Legendary Construction.

The couple plan to renovate apartment spaces in the properties' upstairs. The goal, the couple said, would be to bring commerce and people back to an area that the city considers an entryway for a future river walk, park and pedestrian mall downtown.

“We wanted to create a place where people will want be, not just a location--a bar and a restaurant--but a place that's part of a downtown atmosphere where people will want to go and walk around with their families,” Travis O'Connell said.

The properties are across South River Street from the vacant lot where the former Plaza Furniture store once stood.

Earlier this year, the city had bought and demolished the former Plaza Furniture and a small building attached to it, clearing the lot and staking it as a future city park and ground zero for ARISE, the city's plan to revitalize parts of downtown along the Rock River.

The O'Connells bought the properties in 2014, a purchase that came as the city had tried to set up a cash buy of the property through negotiations that City Manager Mark Freitag pushed into open public session at city council meetings.

The First Community Bank of Milton was trying to sell off the properties, which it bought out of foreclosure in a sheriff's sale for $320,000 and were appraised at $330,000.

At the time, the property had QT's Bar and Banquet running out of 24 S. River St., and the building hadn't been renovated in years.

Freitag at the time said he hoped the city's bid would lead to demolition of the properties to build more parking near downtown, or that it would entice a caliber of buyers who'd be more motivated than past owners to fix up the dilapidated storefronts.

The strategy drew criticism from some council members and served to pump up the sale price from early bids of $150,000 to more than $270,000.

O'Connell said he'd been in talks with the bank over the property even before the city had touched off a bidding war, and he hung in to close on the building at $279,000, according to property tax records.

It sold for far below the $475,000 sale price when the property changed hands in 2006.

The couple transferred the ownership of the liquor license earlier this year, after QT's closed, and their plans for renovation began to unfold as the city began galvanizing early stages of the ARISE plan near the property.

The couple said the bar would have an industrial-modern look, relaxed and casual atmosphere, and it would separate dining areas for families and a restaurant and lunch diner side that would prepare local, fresh food ingredients out of an open-air kitchen.

The property would house a small-batch microbrewery in the back and would serve house-brewed beers along with local and domestic beers on tap.

The building would show off its original brick and woodworked walls that have for years been covered by plaster. Its décor is planned to reflect and celebrate the city's industrial history, Jennifer O'Connell said.

She pointed to the plaster dust on the floor beneath Cream City brick walls in the gutted space where a new bar and large-group seating is planned.

“I come and here and see more and more of what is underneath. And I keep saying, 'It's perfect. It's beautiful.' To me, it will be,” she said.

Just east is the aging downtown parking plaza over the Rock River. City planning officials had slated removal of the crumbling, 144-stall plaza in summer 2016, and had touted the project as the first volley of the city taking the lead in launching ARISE.

A consultant's estimate released by the city last month suggests that tearing out of the plaza and shoring up the seawalls beneath could cost $3.1 million. 

Some city officials warned of a shortfall in grant funding that could help pay for the plaza tear out, and suggested the work could get delayed until 2017.

The O'Connells said they're not sure if investors or property owners would worry about the city backpedaling from immediate work on the parking plaza.

Travis O'Connell, who has fixed up properties downtown for two decades, said private re-investment is getting a foothold along the riverfront. He pointed across the river to the former Rock County Appliance, which a private owner is redeveloping as a banquet hall.

“People are starting to see what the future here could look like. It takes time,” he said.

He said private reinvestment and city plans might not always mesh, but he believes change can come to downtown while keeping its fiber intact.

O'Connell gestured above the to the storefront that will house Industry Gastropub, to a bay window he plans to rebuild. 

“You can build a parking deck a lot of places. But you've got to have a place to go after you park,” he said. “If buildings like these are gone, you can't really replace them.”


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(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

St. Mary's Janesville Hospital is breaking ground on an addition that will expand its local cancer services, providing patients radiation oncology treatment closer to home.

The hospital announced construction Tuesday of a $10 million radiation oncology facility it will build out of the current infusion area at the hospital where cancer patients now receive chemotherapy and surgical oncology.

The expansion, a single-story, 8,750-square-foot area at the hospital's Dean Clinic area on the campus's southwest side, would house new computer imaging equipment and a linear accelerator designed to administer radiation therapy to cancer patients with “pinpoint” accuracy, hospital officials said.

The hospital plans to have the expansion built, staffed and operating by August 2016.

Eric Thornton, vice president of operations at the hospital, is overseeing the expansion. He said the project will mark the first time St. Mary's Janesville Hospital has offered radiation therapy for cancer, although the offering has been planned since the hospital opened in early 2012.

He said the expansion will share an entrance and waiting areas with other cancer treatment areas and is part of SSM Health and St. Mary's goal of offering “complete, comprehensive” cancer care in Janesville.

For St. Mary's patients, the expansion would broaden the types of cancer treatment available to patients without having to leave Rock County.

“A cancer diagnosis is tough enough. The last thing you want to have to do is go to multiple facilities for treatment,” Thornton said.

According to the hospital's plans, the expansion will include new computerized tomography imaging equipment, or CT simulation, that's designed to take advanced images of cross sections of tissue as part of cancer treatment planning.

The radiation oncology facility would require 10 or 11 additional staff. The hospital is still in the process of naming a director to lead the radiation oncology department.

Thornton said the bulk of the space needed is for a TrueBeam linear accelerator. The radiation machine is designed to use 3-D images to focus and administer doses of radiation, according to manufacturer Varian Medical Systems.

Thornton said St. Mary's research showed TrueBeam is “the most cutting edge technology available.”

The machine, which weighs about 26,000 pounds, is similar to a TrueBeam system at Saint Mary's Hospital in Baraboo, Thornton said. It would be housed in a concrete room that patients would enter for treatment.

The building addition would include a patient resource area where cancer patients can research their diagnosis, relax and meet with support groups, Thornton and hospital spokeswoman Kathryn Scott said.

Thornton said long-term plans are to add a special shop that would offer hairpieces, clothing and accessories for people undergoing cancer treatments.

The hospital's cancer treatment area is adjacent to a picturesque outdoor healing garden on the south side of the hospital campus.

During construction, Thornton and Scott said, the hospital's other cancer services will remain open and won't be impacted. The hospital is in now breaking ground to replace parking that will be lost through expansion.

The expansion includes extra space to add a second linear accelerator should cancer treatment demands increase locally, Thornton and Scott said.

The city plan commission recommended approval of the hospital's expansion plan last month, and the council approved the plans early this month.

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01

(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial

Stroll into the inviting lobby of Blackhawk Technical College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, and you’ll see a sandwich and snack cove where students pay not with cash or debit cards but a fingerprint scanner that charges their accounts.

The technology symbolizes things deeper inside. Computers instead of books even fill the adjacent library.

The attractive but modest entrance at 15 N. Plumb St., Milton, belies the 100,000-square-foot interconnected complex of what once were seven buildings that housed Burdick Corp. and later ANGI Energy Systems.

Half the center opened last fall with the welding, computer numeric control and industrial maintenance programs. Joining them this autumn are students studying computer service; manufacturing information; electromechanicals; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

No longer do programs share space. Nor must they move one workstation aside to make room for another. Each program has twice as much room or more. Enclosed lecture rooms sit adjacent to labs housing computers, big machines and projects. This proximity from instruction to hands-on application keeps students engaged.

The programs offer real-world experience using modern equipment that matches or exceeds that in local factories where students might work. Even learning stations apply the latest technology. In one classroom, the instructor can push buttons to pull up or retract computer monitors at desks. In the welding lab, instead of trying to huddle around an instructor to absorb techniques while wearing masks, students can observe on large monitors. One large room will help students hone the soft skills of communication and teamwork as they collaborate on projects.

The bright, clean environment mirrors modern manufacturing—no longer dark, dirty and dingy. Young women study alongside men. The college even has a female welding instructor with impressive credentials.

The center has 226 students, about half of what it could instruct. Many hold jobs while learning new skills, but most are full-time students. Most of the classes are at or near capacity or enjoying enrollment surges. The center could teach more students more hours of the day if demand merits. Already, employers are clamoring for graduates. A representative with an Oregon, Illinois, company recently visited in hopes of recruiting workers.

The complex was expensive. The college approved $11 million in borrowing that taxpayers in Rock and Green counties must help repay. Officials still need to raise half of the $2.1 million earmarked from donations.

The outreach to business partners, prospective students and curious residents kicks into high gear this month, starting Friday, the fourth annual National Manufacturing Day. Bus tours of the center will leave the college’s Monroe campus at 8 a.m. and the Beloit campus at noon.

“Having a world-class facility that trains students to be adaptable, talented and multi-skilled is a great benefit to our area employers,” said Elizabeth Horvath, the college’s director of advancement and community relations.

Regardless of freeway expansion delays, employers should find Rock County attractive because the college can offer their employees a high-quality education. The center should be a major asset for recruiting new industry to our region for decades.

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(Milton, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Converse Elementary School in Beloit was notified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) it will be featured as a Spotlight School for the second year in a row. Spotlight facilities in the state are observed and emulated by other schools, according to Converse Principal Stephanie Jacobs.

"It's a nice way to confirm that what we are doing here is working. It's also good for the teachers to know their hard work is paying off by receiving the honor and having people come in and see their teaching practices," said Diane Meier, Spotlight coordinator and third grade teacher.

Meier said the nearest Spotlight school is in Milwaukee and then in Wisconsin Rapids, with most of the schools earning the designation in the northern part of the state.

"Less than 1 percent of schools are chosen to be Spotlight schools," Meier added.

The areas that Converse will highlight for visiting districts will be teaching and learning as well as decision making and accountability.

DPI will grant Converse $25,000 to each Spotlight School for both covering costs of visits by other school district teams such as meals, transportation and substitute teachers. The funds also allow Converse to provide professional development training materials and resources for the building.

Last year, Meier said Converse hosted Brodhead Elementary School, Palmyra-Eagle Elementary School, a team from the DeForest School District and Falk Elementary School in Madison.

Visiting schools are given a "menu of options" about what they may learn. Last year the schools sought to learn about Converse's student intervention team meetings; professional learning communities by grade levels; essential learning targets developed by the district in literacy and math; technology integration with the iPad program; full day 4K; and grade level intervention structure and implementation.

"We give them ideas and practices to improve their buildings, but at the same time we have conversations with them about what is working in their buildings that we can implement in ours," Meier said.

Jacobs said visiting school staff were impressed with Converse's culture of collegiality and professional learning communities. She said Converse has great instructional strategies and teachers.

"We have a very driven staff and very high expectations for our kids," Jacobs said. "The cultural piece is huge. Teachers are willing to take risks and are supported. We really work as a team," Jacobs said.

Jacobs also credited the school with a focus on interventions, data-driven instruction, professional learning communities and being welcoming to parents. She noted that while DPI only required 60 minutes of math a day, Converse offered 90 minutes of it a day.

She said the school has overcome a variety of challenges. Its biggest change was with the reconfiguration in 2011 when it picked up students from Burdge and Royce. Staffs had to merge and new students had to feel they were part of the new Converse culture. Then in 2013, the school added 4K after a year of construction thanks to the 2012 facilities referendum.

To be considered a candidate for the grant, a school must have earned Wisconsin School of Recognition status for at least three years, demonstrating consistent success in improving student learning and achievement. Converse earned the recognition 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and is awaiting to hear if it will receive the recognition this year. To be recognized as a school of recognition, a school must have high rates of poverty, based on free/reduced lunch percentages, and have above average student achievement in reading and math based on other schools with similar demographics.

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

The School District of Beloit has implemented a new 4-year-old kindergarten curriculum this fall that encourages a rich vocabulary and student-centered learning, according to Angie Montpas, the district's director of curriculum and instruction.

"We know it's good for a wide range for students, and the heavy language emphasis makes it very powerful," Montpas said.

Montpas said a trainer from Teaching Strategies came to the district in August to instruct staff on the new curriculum titled the “Creative Curriculum for Preschool.” The program is used in Waunakee and Madison as well as by Head Start. In previous years the district used a program through Houghton Mifflin which was dated and no longer available for purchase.

The Creative Curriculum breaks down the year into six areas of study including the beginning of the year; trees; clothing; buildings; balls; and reduce, recycle and re-use. Within each area of study there are 38 things for teachers to see if students know. Each area of study touches on science, social studies, art, literacy and math, as well as encourages social and emotional skills.

In the study about buildings, for example, students practice counting the number of windows or doors and look for patterns to strengthen math skills. To build literacy skills, students might notice names of buildings which start with the same sound.

The strength of the new curriculum, Montpas said, is how it works on developing a rich vocabulary in students and encouraging kids to seek answers to their questions with the teacher's guidance.

"This one is directed by the kids. The teacher is more like a facilitator than a lecturer," Montpas said.

When students study trees, for example, the teacher might ask them what they want to know about trees.

"It encourages our kids to realize learning is starting with a question and finding answers through stories, experiments, activities and field trips. Then we can wrap up our learning and use good vocabulary. It's getting kids used to using language to describe what they see and notice," Montpas said.

Merrill 4K teachers Kim Lindsey and Melinda Harwick said the implementation of the new curriculum is going well. Each day the curriculum includes some "choice" time where students can choose a learning activity. On Monday, for example, some students were using Legos, listening to a story by a teacher or using Play-Doh to make letters in Lindsey's classroom.

Harwick explained how the new curriculum includes more hands-on activities. For example, Harwick starts out each day by having her 4K students pick out their names and then “yes” and “no” answers on small notecards and attach them to a board when asked questions by the teacher. The activity keeps the students' attention as they learn sight words Harwick reads to them. Students also must learn to reply back to their teachers in full sentences.

Enrollment in district 4K program has remained steady. As of Thursday, there were 442 4K students in 22 classrooms around the district. With 478 students enrolled in kindergarten, Montpas said it appears the majority of children in Beloit are attending 4K. Because 4K is not compulsory in Wisconsin, the district strives to educate the community about the benefits of 4K. In addition to doing child searches in the spring, the district sends out information and teachers canvass neighborhoods to hand out fliers about it.

"It's an opportunity to start with a more level playing field. When they come in, they are exposed to a lot of language and early readiness skills and we keep tabs on how they are progressing," Montpas said. "Benefits are being in a structured environment providing rich opportunity for math and reading, physical, social and emotional learning opportunities they might not have in a daycare situation."

The School District of Beloit offers full-day 4K, which is a benefit for many working parents. However, if parents don't feel their child is ready for full-day 4K students can attend half-day. Students can also take advantage of the universal free lunch program in the district.


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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be able to learn about careers and educational opportunities during a hands-on and interactive career and college fair set for Sept. 24 from 8 - 11 a.m.

Businesses involved in manufacturing, construction, hospitality, healthcare, welding, information systems, graphics arts and more will be represented. The fair is designed to expose students to what career opportunities are available. The career portion of the event will be set up in the Barkin Arena. Businesses interested in signing up can still do so online at: reach.beloitschools.org.

In the fieldhouse, Wisconsin Education Fairs (WEF) will be taking place, allowing students to talk to representatives from more than 100 post-secondary educational agencies. WEF includes in its participant list of all University of Wisconsin universities and centers, the state’s independent colleges and universities, Wisconsin technical colleges and many out-of-state institutions. In addition, many community colleges, trade schools and the national service organizations such as the armed forces are represented.

The fair is for all high school students as well as middle school students in the district enrolled in career and technical education classes.

Approximately 40 companies will be attending this year’s event, according to Ryan Rewey, the district’s career and technical education director.

Many of them will do hands-on activities. Last year, for example, Corporate Contractors, Inc., (CCI) was hosted an interactive activity where students competed to drill a screw into wood the fastest. The winners of each round were then entered into a drawing for an iTunes card.

Some of the new companies on board this year include Fairbanks Morse, Starbucks and SSI Technologies.

“We are fortunate that people are coming to us and want to work with us,” Rewey said.

Rewey said the goal is to eventually give companies students through its youth apprenticeship program.

“Those companies need workers and we have an avenue for them through youth apprenticeship,” Rewey said.

Rewey is working with SSI and Fairbanks Morse to create curriculum.

Youth apprenticeship is a work-based learning opportunity for students where they simultaneously earn college and high school. They leave school during the day to gain experience at area companies.

“The goal is students who are interested in manufacturing or trades to have a work-based learning opportunity,” Rewey said.

The district already works offers youth apprenticeships with students getting experience at Scot Forge Finley Dencker, ARAMARK and Frank Bouchet in Janesville.

Interest in the career and technical education continues to grow at BMHS.

In 2013-2014 students enrolled in the Project Lead the Way engineering classes was 38, and it grew to 57 in 2015-2016; information technology went from 54 students to 90 students; automotive grew from 62 students to 186 students; welding grew from 89 to 192 students; and construction grew from 33 students to 215 students.

On Sept. 10, the Assembly Speaker’s Taskforce on Youth Workforce Readiness held a public hearing with invited speakers from various entities across the state including the School District of Beloit’s Superintendent Tom Johnson, the district’s career advocate Lindsay Healless and Rewey. The three testified on how BMHS transformed its career and technical education space and programming to provide college as well as career readiness to students.


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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette and WEDC

The Janesville City Council on Monday unanimously approved a Tax Increment Financing package worth $11.5 million, one of the largest TIF deals in Janesville's history, to help the retail giant select the City's STH 11 Business Park. Monday's Council vote moved the project another step closer to becoming a reality, as a number of key milestones remain outstanding before things are considered official.

The proposed distribution facility will be located at 3598 Beloit Ave. and it is expected to create up to 552 full-time jobs by 2019. 

Council members called the deal a victory for the entire region—one that will inject new economic life into Janesville and cause ripple effects in wages for the surrounding area.

In anticipation that all of the necessary permits and approvals will be secured for its proposed project, Dollar General issued a prepared statement that read: "Dollar General is excited about our proposal to build a new Distribution Center in Janesville / Rock County Wisconsin. Janesville offers an ideal location to service the growing needs of our business in the upper Midwest. In addition to great location, the area offers first-class infrastructure, a strong business environment and an excellent workforce to draw from.”

The deal includes these provisions:

—Dollar General will pay $1 for 124 acres of land valued at $4.3 million and invest approximately $70 million + in the building and its equipment. The project must be completed by July 1, 2017.

—Dollar General will create up to 552 full-time positions by the end of its third year of operation. They must be maintained for 10 years. The city will pay Dollar General $178,830 over 10 years to facilitate its job creation activities.

—The property will have a guaranteed $40 million value after the facility is built, and the equipment will have a guaranteed $25 million value, which will be amortized over 10 years.

—The city will contribute $3.9 million over 10 years to help pay for the building and $1.3 million over 10 years to help pay for its equipment.

—Dollar General will receive a rebate of $232,000 in permit fees.

—Dollar General will pay $250,000 for a traffic signal at Beloit Avenue and the southernmost entry to the property. The city will pay for a traffic signal at Innovation Drive and Beloit Avenue.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) also said last week it will offer up to $5.5 million in state tax credits for the project. To receive these credits, certain investment and employment conditions must be met by Dollar General. According to WEDC's economic forecasting model, this proposed project is anticipated to boost state income tax collections by over $13 million.

Additional support for this project is also pending from Alliant Energy (WP&L), specifically from their discounted electric rate program.

Last week, Janesville  City Manager Mark Freitag noted that, "This is a great example of collaboration between the private sector and state, county and city government."

The sentiments were echoed by James Otterstein, Economic Development Manager for Rock County, who noted, "This project provides a visible example of how strategic alignment, collaboration and positioning generate positive outcomes."

Although Dollar General's proposed project would be the first tenant in the City's STH 11 Business Park, which is a designated as a certified, shovel-ready Park, additional infrastructure build-out along Beloit Ave. / CTH G is required. To facilitate these improvements, the council also unanimously authorized the city's administration to apply for a $1.2 million grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. 

In addition, a number of related steps were approved last week by the County of Rock - including granting an access control permit and revising the County / Municipal Agreement that governs jurisdictional issues regarding Beloit Ave. / CTH G.

Headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General has more than 12,000 stores in 43 states. The company's proposed Janesville project, which would represent the company's 14th distribution center nationwide, is designed to service the entire Midwest region. 

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(Orfordville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

Construction is underway on a 5,000-square-foot gas station and convenience store that also will house a Subway restaurant on the southeast corner of Highways 11 and 213 in Orfordville. Combined, the businesses will add more than 20 jobs with a mix of full time and part time positions.

The gas station and convenience store will be called “The Station,” the latest for family-owned Francois Oil, Ed Francois said. The development is a partnership between Francois and Jon Onsgard of Earth Construction. The building will look similar to one of the same name on West Court Street in Janesville.

Francois Oil has 13 locations throughout southern Wisconsin, including the original station in Belleville and a dealership. Other area Station locations include South Jackson Street in Janesville and East Main Street in Evansville.

Site work started last year when the developers donated two homes to Blackhawk Technical College fire training program to burn them down. A crew then removed the foundations and started to clear the site, Francois said. 

The projected opening date is mid-to-late December 2015.


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(Beloit, WI) Sophie Harris, Beloit Daily News

Beloit’s Fat Wallet plans to hire well over 100 people for this year’s holiday season, and many of these positions are expected to become permanent.

According to Fat Wallet President Ryan Washatka, the company typically hires quite a few people for the holiday season. However, the company continues to grow and the need for more employees grows with the company.

“We’re committed to growth, and we’re committed to Beloit,” Washatka said. “We want to know that we have room to grow.”

Because he’s seen a need for growth, Washatka said there’s a possibility Fat Wallet could move to the Ironworks complex. Fat Wallet, originally from the Rockton area, is currently located at 100 E. Grand Ave. in downtown Beloit.

Washatka said this season’s hiring will consist of customer service employees, content curators, online bargain hunters and more.

“We increase by 25 percent each year because of the growth of all our brands,” Washatka said. “We need to increase staffing accordingly.”

He said many of the seasonal workers stay and work permanently at the company.

“Our employee mix is pretty unique,” Washatka said. “We have a customer care component, and we’ve got a core team of engineers.”

With employees working in sales, engineering, social media, customer service, content curation and more, Washatka said he thinks the company is very well rounded. Although Fat Wallet’s sister company is located in San Francisco, Washatka said there are perks to being in the Midwest, like affordability.

Fat Wallet’s hiring process is already underway, and the company is hiring employees for positions in a number of fields. The positions are both full-time and part-time, and Washatka said although pay varies per position, all wages are competitive.

Applicants should have basic computer skills, since much of Fat Wallet’s business is conducted online. Washatka said he is looking for employees who like to shop and save money, because that’s what Fat Wallet helps their customers do.

“We are a company that’s very customer focused,” Washatka said. “We like to help people save money and find deals, and we have fun here. It’s a great culture to work in.”

In his opinion, having fun at work is a priority.

“We bring our employees lunch every day,” Washatka said. “It supports surrounding businesses to have it catered, and it creates camaraderie to eat lunch together.”

Employees have access to a full kitchen and snacks during their shift, and they can take short breaks with the foosball, darts, and games provided in the office.

“It’s all about respect. People enjoy having those things around,” Washatka said. “It can help solve a mental block to take a 10-15 minute break. I’ve never really had an issue with people abusing that.”

Washatka said he wants most of the hiring to be done in late September and early October, and he hopes to have the new staff trained by late October. To apply for all positions online, go to http://www.jobs.net/jobs/ebates/join.


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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette

Janesville's newest grocery store is holding interviews for jobs this week at the Holiday Inn Express, 3100 Wellington Place.

Festival Foods seeks to fill openings at the new Janesville store, which it plans to open Oct. 30 on the site of the former Kmart at the intersection of Highways 14 and Milton Avenue.

“Part-time and full-time opportunities, as well as leadership positions, are available,” according to a news release, which did not say what the jobs pay.

Open interviews are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Aug. 25-28, and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 29.

The store will be Festival Foods' 21st location in Wisconsin.

The store will be open 24 hours a day and employ about 250 people, according to the news release.

It will feature a community conference room and a Tot Spot, a supervised in-store child-care service.

“Store Director Kevin Schnell is looking forward to helping build and lead the store's team of associates,” the release states.

“Festival Foods is a culture-driven company committed to servant leadership, community involvement and building relationships with guests and associates,” the release states, inviting prospective employees to visit festfoods.com.

To apply online or view more information about the company's hiring process and benefits, visit festfoods.com/careers.

Festival Foods plans to open its 22nd store in Madison later this year.


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(Milton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Milton Courier and the Gazette

Following the recommendations of the Plan Commission, the Milton City Council approved Charter NEX Film’s conditional use permit for its 91,300 SF addition. This plant expansion, which is valued at $5 Million, involves increasing the existing footprint by 25,000-square-foot on the west side and a 66,000-square-foot on the east side . Once this expansion is completed, the company expects to add another 50+ full-time individuals to its payroll.

The conditional use permit was triggered by two factors: the number of required landscaping points and the overall size of the expansion.

Charter NEX Film’s Milton plant, which primarily makes plastic seals for food packaging applications – as well as other industrial and medical applications too, opened in 1998. This current expansion represents the second time the Milton plant has been expanded in less than two years.

“This project will be a tremendous expansion and investment in the Crossroads Industrial Park, which will result in additional tax base generation and employment levels for the city of Milton,” Hulick wrote in a memo to the plan commission.

Because of the company’s 2014 plant expansion, Charter NEX Films will have at least nine operational lines by July 2016. The week’s City Council action paves the way for another four lines and warehouse space, Plant manager Aaron LaPointe said.

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(Beloit, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette

Beloit College is welcoming its largest freshman class since 1974, thanks in part to better recruiting, a spokesman said.

Some 437 students arrived on campus Monday. That's a jump of more than 32 percent over first-year students enrolled last year. The college prefers using the adjective "first-year" because it's more gender inclusive.

"To me, the success this year shows that Beloit's popularity is growing and with good reason," said Robert Mirabile, vice president of enrollment at the college.

"We are a great college and are in demand in the marketplace. When a college is in demand, it is able to attract students and have a diverse composition of students and an exciting learning environment."

Mirabile, who was hired in March 2014, said the college's goal is to enroll between 350 and 400 first-year students. The total enrollment is 1,300 students.

Over the past five years, the entering class at Beloit has ranged from 299 students in 2014-15 to 333 students in 2010-11.

A healthy enrollment is critical for Beloit College because, like most colleges, the lion's share of Beloit's operating budget comes from net tuition revenue, Mirabile said.

The college has been operating for 169 years.

"It's absolutely critical that the revenue that we are generating from tuition covers operating costs of the college," he said.

Mirabile attributes the growth to a sharper focus on connecting prospective students and their parents with current students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The college also offered more individual and small-group campus visits, large open houses and off-site events such as student receptions held across the country.

Coaches, students, staff and faculty members were on hand for many of these events, which occurred in such cities as San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Portland, Oregon, Mirabile said. Alumni or current parents hosted them.

"This speaks to this idea that when we connect the marketplace with Beloit, they want to be a part of Beloit," Mirabile said.

Quality was not sacrificed with an increase in enrollment. This year's entering class had high school GPA and ACT scores that were nearly identical to those in recent years, he said.

Mirabile said 94 percent of Beloit College graduates are employed, in graduate school or in volunteer service within six months of graduating.

Other information about this freshman class:

—Students come from 37 states.

—Illinois contributed the most students at 103. Fifty-four students come from Wisconsin and 29 from California.

—The class is the largest international class ever at the college with 39 students from 15 countries.

"We are very proactive in reaching out to students from all walks of life and all areas of the country," Mirabile said. "Being proactive helps Beloit get on the radar screen. It's one thing to get on the radar screen, but what happens when they see you? When they see us, we are a diverse and welcoming community that values differences in people."

"In a nutshell, we want students who are well-rounded people and academically talented who are going to contribute to the college but also want to be here."


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(Edgerton, WI) By Jake Magee, Gazette

In 15 years, Edgerton has never seen a response like this.

Work on downtown buildings is exploding this summer and will continue through the fall thanks to an incentive program that pays for more than half of the work.

It's called Paint Edgerton, and downtown property owners are lined up to take advantage of it.

The 15-year-old façade grant program normally pays 40 percent up to $5,000 of any work property owners want to do to the exterior of their historic buildings in downtown Edgerton. For the first time, the city decided to up that ante to 60 percent.

The number of grant applicants multiplied tenfold. In the past, the city received two or three grant applicants per year. This year, more than 20 properties are set for or have completed work.

“It's crazy,” City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said. “We were astounded and really happy.”

“We were both ecstatic,” added Jim Kapellen, Edgerton Redevelopment Authority chairman. “People are taking advantage of it.”

Many owners aren't afraid to spend $15,000 or more on building projects, knowing the city will only cover up to $5,000.

Applications were due May 20. Any applications that came in after that were still eligible for the grant program, but only at the regular 40 percent city funding rate.

The city originally encouraged work to be finished by July 4, but that quickly proved difficult. Very few property owners could get busy contractors hired and working by mid-summer, Flanigan said.

Now, work has a soft deadline of Oct. 31, meaning by November, downtown Edgerton will be a sight to see.

GROWTH

The Paint Edgerton program came together shortly after the redevelopment authority formed. The authority is in charge of development in the downtown tax increment financing district, said Jim Kapellen, authority chairman.

The authority set to work right away.

“We were trying to talk about what we saw was wrong, what needed to be done downtown, and one of the things that came up was the buildings look a little shabby,” Kapellen said.

The authority helped create the façade grant program, which is modeled after similar programs hundreds of other municipalities use, Flanigan said.

The program originally started with a budget of about $10,000. In the program's first year, the city spent about $4,000, Kapellen said.

This year, the city will pay more than $69,000 for downtown property projects.

“Our balance sheet as far as cash flow is looking good,” Kapellen said of the TIF district.

Typically, a façade refers to the side of the building facing a street. When the program began, the authority encouraged property owners to spruce up windows, doorsteps and entrances—things facing the street.

Now, the city defines a façade as any exterior of a building or, sometimes, the interior as well. Typical work includes painting, tuckpointing, roofing, the installation of air conditioning and heating units and electrical work. The broad definition encourages more property owners to get their buildings into shape.

“We've really expanded it to just about what they wanna do on their building, as long as it stays there,” Kapellen said.

RESTRICTIONS

Keeping the buildings standing is a priority for the city but so is maintaining their historical integrity, Kapellen said.

For instance, property owners who want to touch up the paint on their buildings must adhere to a historical paint chart provided by the Edgerton Historical Preservation Commission, said Mark Wellnitz, commission chairman.

Despite the name Paint Edgerton, the city encourages property owners to do work that isn't easy to see, such as masonry touch-ups. Without such maintenance, buildings deteriorate.

“Our goal is to get people to fix things that will make the buildings stand for a long time,” Flanigan said.

The commission must approve major architectural changes before work can be done, Wellnitz said, but such meetings haven't been necessary recently.

Owners are prohibited from making improvements that take away a building's historic character. When new windows are installed, they must look similar to the original ones in size and shape.

The city won't help fund work that won't last. For instance, the program won't pay for a property owner to add a new kitchen to their restaurant because the next property owner might change the building into something other than a restaurant, Kapellen said.

“We fund projects that bring the building up to code or repair things that need to be done or make them more energy efficient because those things will be there whether the present owner is there or not,” he said.

MAJOR WORK

One business taking full advantage of the program is C&M Printing. The owners, Mike and Jeanette Londerville, poured nearly $20,000 into two of their three buildings at 102 and 104 W. Fulton St. The city will cover about $9,000 of that.

Contractors painted the buildings' trim, replaced several windows, installed two new signs and did some tuckpointing. Last year, the Londervilles had a roof fixed up for $35,000 without going through Paint Edgerton, as they were unaware the program would help pay for it.

“That was probably our mistake because we didn't check into it,” Jeanette said.

Early this year, the Londervilles received a letter from the city explaining the jump in the Paint Edgerton program and applied for grants right away.

“I was like, 'Wow, look at these people that applied,'” Jeanette said of the list of applicants. “It did jumpstart a lot of people, I think. An extra 20 percent makes a big difference.”

The building at 102 W. Fulton St. originally was a tobacco exchange bank. The Londervilles purchased it in the late 1970s. The 104 W. Fulton St. building was an antique shop when the couple purchased it in 2005, but it started as a clothing store.

Looking at them now, they maintain that same historical character.

“It (the work) really improves the overall look. It's a lot more inviting when you walk down the street,” Jeanette said.

Whether Edgerton offers the incentive next year is yet to be determined.

“It's nice when you get a response like this and go, 'Wow we finally hit the right trigger,'” Kapellen said.


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(Janesville, WI) By Neil Johnson, Gazette

A Janesville microbrewery has landed a home downtown for brewing, tapping and selling beer that three local craft brewers say will fly under the name Rock County Brewing.

“We wanted it to be simple. No big gimmicks, no crazy, extreme names or product labels. The beer, and the location will do the talking. We'll teach people that like big-name, light beer that beer made with hops that has a little flavor and color isn't a bad thing,” said Janesville resident Andy Walker, one of the brewery's partners and brewers. 

Walker along with Janesville resident John Rocco, who owns Janesville home-brewing retailer Farmhouse Brewing Supply, and Rockton, Illinois, resident Ed Sundstedt, an employee at Rocco's store, signed a lease this week at the former Carriage Works building at the northeast corner of Milwaukee Street and Parker Drive in downtown Janesville.

The partners will have a three-barrel microbrewery and tasting room in the Carriage Works' northeast end along the east side of North Parker Drive.

The space is a blank slate of off-white brick walls, high wood-and-steel beam ceilings and concrete floors. It needs full-scale electrical and water service as part of a lease and renovation deal. The three brewing partners, who are self-funding all the brewing equipment necessary, said they wouldn't discuss full details of the lease.

Janesville brothers Shawn and Shannon Kennedy bought the three-story Carriage Works building earlier this year. The building, parts of which were built in the 1880s, now houses law offices and a yoga studio.

The Kennedy brothers plan within months to renovate the building's spacious third floor to relocate their dozens of employees and corporate headquarters of SASid, a Janesville-based tech company they own.

The Rock County Brewing partners say they'll submit plans within weeks for city review to wall off the back portion for fermenting and brewing operations and rework the storefront area as a relaxed, tavern-like tasting room where customers can try fresh-brewed beer on tap and buy it for carryout in large, gallon-sized glass growlers.

Rocco said this week it'll be a four- to six-month process to get federal and state approval to run the microbrewery, and the brewery also needs approval of site and operating plans from the city's plan commission and the city council.

If all goes well, Rocco said this week, Rock County Brewing could be producing and selling beer for walk-in customers and under distribution deals with a small number of downtown taverns by January or February.

The council in May approved key zoning changes to allow microbreweries and brewpubs to operate in the city's downtown business district, setting limits for gallons of beer produced based on state law.

Rock County Brewing for months has been trying to find a place to house a brewery, which would start on a small, local scale with 260 to 300 barrels of annual production.

The microbrewery wouldn't run as a restaurant or brewpub but instead would have a tasting room set up with tables and a tap that would pull fresh-brewed beer straight from the tanks and through a cooler.

Rock County Brewing plans to have anywhere from six to 10 varieties of beer on tap, with varieties ranging from light-colored ales to a spicy Saison, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale.

The brewers, who each have between 10 and 15 years experience brewing craft beer, said they want to brew a slew of varieties each month. Rocco said he and his partners don't have a flagship variety they'd try to market under Rock County Brewing.

“We all like a lot of styles and varieties. We've all got a lot of different ideas and tastes and have to see what people will like,” he said.

Sundstedt plans to man Rock County Brewing full-time, but he said hours of the brewery's tasting room will be more limited to start, probably from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Brewing partner Andy Walker also is a major partner in Foremost Media, another Janesville tech company that plans to relocate its offices to a former tobacco warehouse just west of downtown under a lease deal.

He said the Carriage Works building size, its heavy concrete floor and how it's situated in the larger building works well for a microbrewery. While they were negotiating lease deals, he said, it emerged among several properties downtown as the best, most readily available fit.

The Kennedys have said they'd like to bring a restaurant into the Carriage Works next to the microbrewery that could market Rock County Brewing beer and share an open space out back that could become a courtyard.

Barry Badertscher, a local real estate broker, runs his office out of the Carriage Works. Badertscher helped Kennedys reach a deal on the Carriage Works this year, and then brokered a lease deal with Rock County Brewing.

He calls the microbrewery a “progressive” step as the downtown enters a riverfront revitalization that would in part revamp the area as a hub for adult entertainment.

“This is how I think re-development will happen here. It'll be engineered one step at a time. You can build a distinctive flavor and a destination for people,” Badertscher said.

A trickier philosophical hurdle, Badertscher said, is to erase a local notion he believes is pervasive, yet false: that only a small number of Janesville residents are open to trying something new, such as a downtown microbrewery.

Badertscher pointed out several sushi shops and Japanese-style Hibachi restaurants that have opened and taken root along Milton Avenue. He said they're not supported mainly by trend seekers and foodies but rather by customers whose tastes are casual.

“I don't believe there's a lack of open-minded people in Janesville who'll embrace something new and different,” Badertscher said. “I think there's just a shortage of people who want to be open-minded that we've got open-mindedness here.”


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08

(Beloit, WI) Sophie Harris, Beloit Daily News

Plans for the Stateline Family YMCA’s move to the Ironworks complex are officially underway.

YMCA Executive Director Doug Britt said the architect heading the project is Zimmerman Studios, and the contractor is Corporate Contractors Inc. of Beloit.

Britt said the goal is to open the new facility no later than Feb. 15, 2017.

“Zimmerman Studios have done a lot of YMCAs,” Britt said. “They’ve done a lot of work reclaiming space.”

Britt said the move has been planned for quite some time, but more specific planning will begin in the next two weeks.

Stateline Family YMCA officials looked at renovating the current site at 1865 S. Riverside Drive, but decided it would be too costly.

The Ironworks location is about 80,000 square feet. Britt said the complex isn’t too much bigger, but it has more usable space.

“It’s going to be more efficient,” Britt said. “The current space has a lot of hallways and staircases, and this will be more open and inviting.”

Britt said there’s no multipurpose space in the current facility, which is a limiting factor.

“At the new building, there are at least five rooms that are multipurpose,” Britt said. “We are going to have a new youth space where we can do programming that is interactive.”

Britt said the new facility also will feature an aerobics studio, a yoga studio, a basketball court, and a large life center. Childcare amenities will improve, too.

“The daycare space will increase because the rooms will be bigger. We can have more age groups here,” Britt said.

Britt said he thinks the the YMCA is ready to move on to “Phase 2” of fundraising efforts. According to Britt, initial funds were raised through campaigns with key donors in the community.

“The second phase will kick off around September,” Britt said. “We have a two million dollar goal. This is the right spot for us to move forward with this project.”


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08

(Milton, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

Beloit resident Kelvin Haley Jr. almost didn't participate in the welding boot camp at Blackhawk Technical College's Advanced Manufacturing Center in Milton.

He was the last one admitted into the seven-week class that ended Friday.

Now he thinks it might make a big difference in his life.

“I don't know what the future holds, but I feel like I have my foot in the door,” Haley said.

BTC offered the welding boot camp with help from the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and employers in Rock and Green counties. The camp was designed to teach unskilled workers a trade they could use to get good jobs.

Haley, 32, has had his share of troubles, legal and otherwise. But he said programs such BTC's camp help lead people to places they never thought they'd go.

“This is a very beneficial program for someone who's been through things and doesn't know what they want to do,” Haley said. “You learn a lot. I'm truly amazed. I didn't know anything about welding. I knew how to use a tape measure and a ruler, but now I truly understand the basics of welding.”

Haley said the program has given him and his classmates a new skill, safety certification and leads on potential jobs.

“Basically, this class is 'no one left behind,'” Haley said. “It's about getting us a job and getting us a trade. One thing about this program, we had employers come in and talk to us, and next week we are going out and putting in applications with companies and going from there.”

“It's a blessing,” he said. “I never thought about welding but realized it's important to have a trade behind you.”

Haley's experience shows how organizations such as the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board can help provide valuable training to people who need it, said welding instructor Jack Reinhart.

“These groups came together with BTC to provide the boot camp,” Reinhart said. “We are taking students with various backgrounds, unskilled, and training them on the essentials.”

Gail Graham, business services coordinator for the workforce development board, said the boot camp was paid for with federal money that trickled down through various state programs. The $47,000 agreement between the group and BTC not only trains people and puts them to work, but also creates a pipeline for people who haven't considered continuing their education.

"What they've learned is that they can," Graham said. "One of them has already signed up for school in the fall. That would not have happened had he not attended this boot camp."

Graham said the boot camp helps shrink the skills gap.

“What's interesting about this program is that several potential employers in Rock and Green counties are involved with the development of the class and what they need from welders from this program,” Reinhart said.

In addition to welding skills, Reinhart also taught soft skills such as working with others, coming to work on time and understanding the structure of a company.

“I treat this boot camp as though I'm the employer and these students are the employees,” Reinhart said. “Ten students started, and 10 students are finishing. They are learning a trade and getting a personal identity.”

Also Friday, SSI Technologies employee Carlos Garcia finished up a five-day computerized numerical control (CNC) boot camp, where he practiced programming on a machine with classmates and co-workers.

Unlike the welding boot camp at the same site, the CNC boot camp helped people who were already employed learn additional skills that could be useful in their jobs.

“They want us to learn the fundamentals of these machines,” Garcia said. “It'll help us in the processes at the CNC shop."

Garcia, who has worked at SSI for almost a year, and his co-workers were paid to attend the training. It is good for employees to learn additional skills and use the newest equipment, Garcia said.

Tom Pleuger, CNC instructor, said he sees a chronic shortage of skilled machinists, and boot camps like this are part of the solution.

Employees participating in the weeklong boot camp can get credit through BTC. However, the camps can't replace real class time, Pleuger said. He hopes those who finish the boot camp come back and take additional classes.

“It's a tool to help them,” Pleuger said. “Carlos started at SSI semi-skilled but not a machinist. He's knowledgeable, but this course is designed to take semi-skilled workers and fast track them. Conceivably, when Carlos gets back to work, he can get right on a machine and apply what he's learned.”

The boot camp is designed to fill specific needs requested by employers, Pleuger said. Garcia, for one, plans to attend additional classes, he said.

“There is such a lack of skilled candidates for many of these jobs,” Pleuger said. “It's great whenever we can get them up and running and can help fill that gap.”

“I think they really enjoyed it and found value in it,” he said.


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05

(Rock County, WI) 

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the percent change in real personal income growth in the Janesville-Beloit MSA from 2012-2013  - at 4.6% - was the second highest in the U.S. The only location in the U.S. recording a higher figure was the Sioux City metro area (4.8%).

In terms of its Wisconsin counterparts, the Madison MSA posted gains of 2.4%. Meanwhile, the next closest metro area was Duluth MN-WI at 1.6%. The percent change for the Milwaukee MSA was 0.1%.

From a regional MSA comparison, the Rockford and Chicago metro area figures were nearly identical: 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively. The Dubuque IA metro area experienced a -0.7 percent decline, while the Des Moines and Iowa City metro areas recorded figures of 0.8 and 1.0, respectively. 

Coupled with the locally produced and released dashboard reports, these BEA income statistics provide further validation regarding the continual growth and strength of the Rock County economy.  


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30

(Beloit, WI) Whitney Helm Beloit Daily News

A little more than six months into her Town of Beloit Fire Department internship, Pauline Schork said she’s already experienced her first fire call and her first code blue in the same week.

Last week the department responded to a car crash.

“It was a really difficult call,” Schork said. “I learned a lot on that call. It was interesting seeing the way everyone interacted from the scene to the hospital.”

The new internship program began in January and is a partnership between Milton, Edgerton and Clinton fire departments as well as the Town of Beloit Fire Department.

Schork and other interns get to experience everything that a full-time firefighter would, including fire calls and ambulance runs.

“They do everything from scrubbing the toilets in the morning to the fire calls,” said Town of Beloit Fire Chief Gene Wright. “They’re also getting mentoring and learning those soft skills that you don’t learn in a textbook.”

The four departments started with a pool of 10 interns.

The program was initially slated to only accept students enrolled in technical colleges, like Blackhawk Technical College, but Wright said the decision was made to widen the scope to former students. Each intern is staying with their sponsoring department for a year and then rotating to a different department. There were four slated at the Town of Beloit department, however, the department is now down to two interns.

Wright said the decrease is a good thing.

“We had some really good people that after being here decided that this wasn’t the job for them,” Wright said. “I think that’s just as an important of a lesson as finding what you want to do.”

The program has also inspired a regional hiring process, where an applicant could complete applications for several departments in the area. Wright said that application process should be available in the fall.

The next round of interns will be able to apply for the program in August.


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28

(Janesville, WI) By Elliott Hughes, Gazette

A new building housing a metal fabrication company that promises to bring 90 jobs to Janesville will be finished by the end of the year, now that the city council has approved tax increment financing agreements with two companies.

The deals approved Monday, worth about $2.5 million in tax incentives, will relocate the company, A.M. Castle, to Janesville as it closes operations in the Chicago and Twin Cities areas.

“I think this is a really exciting endeavor, especially when we can take business from Illinois,” council member Sam Liebert said. “I look forward to watching that building go up fast.”

The council approved the deals unanimously, with Liebert and President Douglas Marklein stating they were happy to see that future employees would be paid about $15 per hour.

The 208,000-square-foot facility will be owned by 3800 Enterprise, Inc., a local, recently formed development company. The company is named for the space where the building will be located, 3800 Enterprise Drive.

The space will be leased to A.M. Castle, a publicly traded company that has experienced financial trouble in recent years. It's headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, and has operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

The deal for 3800 Enterprise includes:

—The city handing over 22.7 acres of land valued at $502,200 to build a 208,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. With the facility, the property's value would increase to $10.5 million.

—The city providing a $1.7 million forgivable loan for the construction of the facility.

—An annual property tax payment of $250,700 by 3800 Enterprise for the 22.7 acres in question after the building is constructed.

The deal for A.M. Castle includes:

—Creating 90 jobs over the first two years of operation and maintaining them for 10 years.

—A pay-as-you-go incentive from the city totaling $337,000. The money would be paid annually over 10 years. If A.M. Castle prematurely closed its operations, the annual payments would stop. If the company failed to produce 90 jobs within that time frame, it would receive $370 less for every job short of 90.

Gale Price, Janesville's economic development director, said his office recommended the pay-as-you-go approach with A.M. Castle because of recent turbulence within the company.

According to news releases, the company has shuffled leadership positions since spring, with new faces taking over at the CEO and board of directors levels. The company also formed a finance committee and restructured its executive management.

A.M. Castle plans to consolidate up to 10 of its facilities by early 2016, according to a news release.

The company reported net sales of $979.8 million in 2014, down from $1.05 billion in 2013, according to a news release. Its credit rating was also downgraded by Moody's Investors Service each of the last two years due to market share loss, inconsistent demand for its products and other factors.

"We do believe they'll be successful in their reorganization, but the city has a responsibility to protect its citizens," Price said, referring to the pay-as-you-go incentive structure.

Several members of the board acknowledged A.M. Castle's recent trouble. But Price said he told them that if the company vacated the building, the facility would be attractive enough to lure in another tenant within six to eight months.

“It's a higher, more-substantially built building,” Price said. “It's thicker floors; it's designed to carry heavier loads, have overhead cranes. When you think about reuse of the building, this is an optimal size.”

Preliminary work on the building's construction was already underway before the council convened Monday. Price said that risk was taken on by 3800 Enterprise.

“We're moving full-steam ahead,” said Allisen Lasse, a minority partner with the company. “We have few loose ends to tie up.”

Price said 3800 Enterprise comprises three main investors: Tom Lasse, Norman Weitzel and Todd Bogner. They formed the company earlier this year, he said.


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27

(Janesville, WI) By Marcia Nelesen, Gazette

Duane Snow was in an Arizona airport and wearing his Rock Aqua Jays shirt when somebody said: “You're from Janesville. We've been to your show.”

Because of Janesville's reputation, “If you mention the Rock Aqua Jays, and you're in the water ski world, they will know who you are and where you come from,” Snow said. “You can go just about everywhere.”

The club's home in Traxler Park on the Rock River is also part of that reputation, and the premiere venue is well known for its calm waters and choice views.

The Aqua Jays consistently score among—if not at the top of—the best, and other clubs aspire to be as good, one water show ski expert noted.

Locals who take in the occasional water ski show likely have no clue of the team's world prowess.

The Aqua Jays formed in 1961, one of many show ski teams in the state. Wisconsin has 26 teams, more than any other state, and is its own region under the umbrella of the National Show Ski Association.

Teams from up north, such as in Rhinelander, were formed by vacationers, usually from Illinois, Snow said. Most Aqua Jays live within 30 miles of the club.

A strong core of members who train all year helps Janesville consistently achieve top scores in tournaments.

“It is not only the board of directors, but many of the adults that are committed to the team itself,” Snow said.

“Without a question, we have enjoyed this core group of people, like Gerry and Cathy Luiting, for instance,” Snow said. “And they're the pinnacle, the cornerstone, of our water show team.”

Gerry Luiting has been show director many times and has skied all over the world. He, his wife, Cathy, and son, Aragorn, currently ski for the Tommy Bartlett Show in Wisconsin Dells.

“So many people over the years have made the club what it is today,” Snow said.

Entire families join the Aqua Jays, to the club's benefit, he added. Family members get to watch one another progress and become outstanding skiers, Snow said. They help out with tournaments and events.

“We want them to join so the whole family experiences the fun of ski shows,” Snow said.

“We've enjoyed that family aspect. That's what makes us very strong. I would say that we have a stronger family core group than many teams have because a lot of the northern teams travel back and forth to Chicago.”

Snow, who was an active member from 1972 to 1990, recalled when club members set a goal to win tournaments rather than simply put on shows.

Snow went on to organize the national tournaments in the mid-1970s. Later, he organized the world tournaments.

The first four national tournaments—from 1975 through 1978—were in Janesville.

The Aqua Jays won their first national tournament in 1979 in DuQuoin, Illinois.

“Our reputation and abilities and skiing quality had progressed from that date,” Snow said. “And, of course, it's all due to the talent in the club and the ability to attract good skiers.”

From then on, “We've never been lower than fourth,” Snow said.

“Never.

“Ever.

“Ever.

“We've won 19 national titles,” Snow added. “We've won 10 or 11 Triple Crowns, and I forget how many Wisconsin State Tournament Championships we have right offhand.”

The club hosted the 2012 and 2014 world championships, pumping millions into the local economy.

The 2014 world tournament was so popular that it ranked in the top three live sporting events streamed online the weekend it was held in Janesville.

Snow figures the club has sent about 40 skiers to the professional ranks.

“There are a lot of very good water show ski clubs that send skiers to the professional ranks,” he said. “But we're recognized throughout the water show ski industry for having excellent talent. I would say from a single team, it's probably more than a lot of other teams.”

The Aqua Jays' skiing venue in Traxler Park is one reason the club continues to attract tournaments, and not only for ski shows. The club will host the 2015 Pro Wakeboard Tour in August.

The site's development is the result of a partnership between the club, its sponsors and the city of Janesville.

The site is well sheltered from wind. “It has to be a very odd wind to produce wind that comes straight up the river,” Snow said.

“We are really in a protected situation.”

The shoreline has lots of grassy areas so people can spread out.

Additional bleachers were just installed, and the venue can seat about 4,000 people.

The club's goal is to seat 5,000 so it can host the X Games, an annual extreme sports event organized by ESPN. Snow figures a bleacher fund drive will be held soon.

Scott Atkinson is director of communications for USA Water Ski, the governing body for the sport of water skiing in the United States. He also is editor and publisher of The Water Skier magazine.

Atkinson said the Aqua Jays and Janesville are well-known in the world of water show skiing, especially since hosting the last two world championships.

“Obviously, countries around the world that have show skiing and water skiing are quite familiar with Janesville and the Rock Aqua Jays based on the coverage and the social media,” he said.

The Aqua Jays do a wonderful job of developing show skiers, including hosting clinics, which results in the solid team it has had for years, Atkinson said. He noted the club's community presence and the support the club receives in return.

The Janesville ski club's worldwide reputation isn't something the occasional visitor to club's shows would ever guess, he said.

The show ski shows are great community family nights out, Atkinson said. The shows are free and laid-back, although donations are encouraged.

“You wouldn't think that you're watching a world-class show ski team,” Atkinson said.

“The performances are entirely different than the competitive show team,” he added.

History is proof of the quality of the skiers here, Atkinson said. The club has won more national titles than any other show ski team.

“They're at the top of the sport,” Atkinson said. “Most show ski teams would want to aspire to the success that the Aqua Jays have had.”

“They have proven that they're one of the very best, if not the very best.”


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27

(Rick County, WI) (Rock County, WI) The County's economy continued to demonstrate growth, as reported by today's release of the Q2 2015 Rock Ready Index. Highlights from the Q2 report include the following:

Unemployment Rates, as measured by annual averages, continued to decline. To date, these figures represent the lowest annual average rates since 2007 - for the county, state and nation. Meanwhile, job postings – which have exceeded 20,000 for nine out the last 14 quarters – continued to signal an active employment market.

Average sale prices and the number of residential sales throughout Rock County continued to track upward, as Q2 2015’s price points were the highest in seven years. Transactions were equally strong, posting the best quarterly numbers in eight years. 

Sales Tax Collections for the County continued to rise, as Q2 2015 set a new record at $3 Million. Compared to the same time periods in 2014 and 2013, these collections were nearly 9% and over 23% higher, respectively. 

Energy consumption, as measured by the number of electric meters and total kWh usage, remained strong. When comparing these figures to previous quarterly data, the impacts of weather or seasonality are evident.

The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and Energy Consumption (Meters & Usage). Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.

For additional information, visit www.RockCountyAlliance.com . 

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23

(Whitewater, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette

Regardless of your feelings towards Taylor Swift, her music does serve a purpose, Janesville teacher Melissa Baier de Garcia proved Wednesday.

Baier de Garcia played a music video for Swift's latest single "Bad Blood" to a mixture of Chinese and Janesville School District students in Whitewater. She then had them practice reading the first verse using several emotional tones.

"'Cause, baby, now we got bad blood. You know it used to be mad love. So take a look what you've done. 'Cause, baby, now we got bad blood."

The students were paired to practice reading the verse angrily, happily, with sadness, as someone's mother, as a rapper and as if they were tired.

"Not only are they practicing pronunciation, but it's making them think about how they would interpret a native English speaker," Baier de Garcia said. "Mandarin (Chinese) is a very tonal language, but not to the extent that English is. In English, you can tell if someone is happy. They speak in up tones, and it's important for the Chinese students to be able to interpret that."

As part of the district's third international summer institute, the Chinese students are taking classes at UW-Whitewater in cross-cultural communication, iVideo, English language and ACT prep on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They take classes in chemistry, robotics and computer coding at Craig High School on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"I think it's been great so far," said Candace Chenoweth, director of the Center for Global Education at UW-Whitewater. "The Chinese students seem very open, I think, and the American students dove right in and interacted with them and started to make friends. So I think having the American students participation is so key because it really gives the Chinese students an opportunity to talk with people they want to talk with."

The 18 Chinese students are staying in dorms at UW-Whitewater from now until they leave on Aug. 3. Ten Janesville students are joining them in the classes.

"The education systems (in China and the United States) are very, very different," Chenoweth said. "The U.S. class system demands more participation, more teamwork and more self-directed thought. Being here this summer will allow them (the Chinese students) to start to reflect on the changes they'll need to make in order to be more successful here."

"I think the first time you go to a country it can be so overwhelming, but the second time you go everyone has more confidence, is less anxious and can start to integrate into the culture more easily," she said.

This is the first year the Janesville district has partnered with UW-Whitewater for its summer institute. Attendance to this year's institute was limited to only foreign high school students because of the logistics of busing and housing younger students at UW-Whitewater.

Last year, 27 elementary students and 77 middle school students attended classes at Kennedy Elementary School in Janesville. Craig hosted the 21 high school students for the summer institute. The foreign students stayed with host families or in hotels.

Two years ago, 27 international students in grades 4 through 12 attended the institute.

A memo from superintendent Karen Schulte to school board members in June noted that the summer institute would have fewer students from last year because of "a conflict in schedules."

"We decided to continue the partnership with UW-Whitewater because it is a valuable partnership to our own students and to the SDJ," she wrote.

Foreign students attending the summer institute are being targeted to attend school in Janesville full-time for the 2016-17 school year. Each international student is paying $2,500 to attend the institute. Chaperones are paying $700 to attend.

Chenoweth said she is hopeful students attending high school in Janesville will then consider attending college in Whitewater.

"Our goal is to more than double the number of international students here," Chenoweth said. "We'd like to have about 600 students. Right now we have about 200. We have our work cut out for us."

UW-Whitewater has about 30 students from China, Chenoweth said.

Ding Yitan said he came to the summer institute to make American friends.

"It can give me a lot of experience attending summer camp in the USA," he said.

Qian Jinmeng said she has learned that Americans are more outgoing than she expected.

"I was curious about how Americans take class," she said. "It's different than taking Chinese class."

Janesville teacher Bob Getka said he enjoys seeing the interaction between the two groups of students.

"The kids have become fast friends," Getka said. "It's been neat for me to see the kids from China pushing our kids."

Chenoweth said the partnership between UW-Whitewater and the Janesville district has been important because it gives both the American and Chinese students the ability to reflect on their own cultures and the cultures of others around the world.

"Right now, these American students are having a global experience," Chenoweth said. "It's not the same as going to China, but for two weeks they can learn a lot about themselves and about Chinese culture."

"As they begin to reflect, they'll start to be able to manage the emotions that go along with interacting with a new culture," she said. "We're trying to give them that kind of a framework."


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17

(Beloit, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Beloit Daily News

More Beloit Turner High School students are taking AP tests, earning a 3 or higher and earning AP Scholar recognition.

During the 2014-2015 school year, 105 students completed an AP course at Turner High School. It marked the fourth consecutive year where the number of students completing AP exams at Turner High School increased.

As a school, 22.9 percent of Turner’s total student body completed an AP exam during the 2014-2015 school year, exceeding the state average by 7.2 percent. Turner High School also experienced an increase in the number of AP tests administered to students. This is the sixth consecutive year where the number of AP exams administered to Turner High School has increased.

While the number of students participating in AP courses has increased, the percentage of Turner High School students earning a 3 or higher has consistently exceeded 60 percent over the past two years. According to the 2014-2015 AP results, 61 percent of Turner High School students earned a 3 or higher on their AP exam.

Sixteen students have been recognized individually by the College Board. The AP Scholar Awards recognize individual students for their exceptional achievement on AP Exams. The College Board recognizes several levels of achievement based on students’ performance on AP Exams.

Turner High School continues to experience significant growth related to the performance of their AP students and number of courses being offered.

During the 2014-2015 school year, Turner High School students completed exams in nine different courses. The classes included: AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Psychology, AP Government and Politics, AP Statistics and AP U.S. History.

Students also have access to 11 additional AP courses being offered through the Beloit Turner Virtual School. These classes include: AP Art History, AP Computer Science, AP English Language & Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP European History, AP French, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, AP Physics, AP Spanish and AP World History.

The district is also scoring well with regards to its music program, as the Board of Education recently approved a $60,000 per year plan to purchase new band equipment.

The school was looking to reduce fees for students and families, said Superintendent Dennis McCarthy at the meeting.

The district has five bands between the middle school and high school levels. Ultimately the plan would allow students to bypass additional costs and rent through the school.

Beloit Turner High School Band Director Will Brown said the plan was a wise investment.

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06

(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette

Ahtziri Sanchez had never experienced robotics or coding at her home school in Guadalajara, Mexico.

"I think it's a new experience, and at the time I wasn't 100 percent sure to come," Sanchez said. "But I'm so glad I did. I've learned many different things because, in my school, I haven't taken robotics or coding."

"It's new, and I like it," she said.

Sanchez was one of nine Mexican students who joined 10 Janesville high-schoolers at Craig High School's summer offering: 21st-Century Thinking Skills for a Global World.

"This is one of the first times we've offered an academic enrichment like this," said teacher Melissa Baier de Garcia. "I think it has been beneficial for both sides. They (Mexican students) have gotten to see a lot of our community. Janesville is quite different, but they are finding it to be enjoyable."

According to data from the United Nations, Guadalajara has a population of 1.5 million people. Its metropolitan area is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second most populated area in Mexico after the Mexico City metropolitan area.

This summer course was a first for Craig. Students spent two weeks splitting their time between courses in robotics, coding and global studies.

In the robotics course, Parker teacher Bob Getka taught them about designing and programming a robot and the basics of coding.

"The students are learning the skills they need," Getka said. "So many jobs now need these types of skills."

"There are so many places they can carry over, to things they may not have thought of before," he said.

Parker junior Jeff Waite, a member of Parker's Rock 'n' Robots team, volunteered his time to help the exchange students with their robots.

"I felt like it would be a good experience to deal with international students," Waite said. "They've picked it up pretty quick."

Getka said his goal is to help teach kids skills in robotics and coding they might not have learned.

"The Mexican students seem very excited to do something they've never done at their school," Getka said. "Each robot looked the same on day one. Over the last two weeks, the robots have picked up the personality of the students, and each looks different."

In the global studies portion of the program, students produced public service announcements about water scarcity. They also discussed water distribution in countries such as Nepal, Kenya and Ethiopia.

"The PSAs are designed to call attention to water crises all over the world," Baier de Garcia said.

The students created the announcements on computers with voice-overs, music and photos. The project was designed to create interaction between the American and Mexican students, while helping Janesville students practice Spanish and the Mexican students practice English.

"It's always interesting for them to make these connections," Baier de Garcia said. ""You're a teenager here. I'm a teenager there. But we're not that different. They work together and build friendships because of this program."


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(Rock County, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of NewGeography

According to the 2015 Best Cities for Job Growth, which is an index released by NewGeography.com, the Janesville-Beloit Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was ranked #1 in the U.S. – in the small cities category – for Information Sector Jobs.  This index, which measures and calculates industry sector employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics per their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), provides a snapshot of a MSA’s present and prospective employment outlook.

MSA employment data was measured and weighted according to the following mathematical computation to 1) recent growth trend: the current and prior year’s employment growth rates, with the current year emphasized (two points); 2) mid-term growth: the average annual 2009-2014 growth rate (two points); 3) long-term momentum: the sum of the 2009-2014and 2003-2008 employment growth rates multiplied by the ratio of the 2003-2008 growth rate over the 2009-2014 growth rate (one point); 4) current year growth (one point); and 5) the average of each year’s growth rate, normalized annually, for the last 10 years (two points).

The weighted index score for the Janesville-Beloit MSA was 99.3. Meanwhile, Rochester (MN) was ranked #2 with a total weighted score of 94.3 Of the Top 20 MSA locations in this specific industry sector ranking, four were from Wisconsin. In the Medium Cities category, the Madison MSA was ranked #6. In terms of overall employment growth, according to all NAICS groupings in the small cities category, the Janesville-Beloit MSA was #71 out of 258. This was an improvement from its 2014 index ranking of #94.

These rankings follow a pattern of consistent, upward trending economic indicators for Rock County, WI. For example, the area’s unemployment and industrial vacancy rates continue to fall pre-Great Recession levels. Sales Tax collections remain very strong and tracking along a yet projected year of record-setting collection figures. Residential price points and transaction activities have returned to their pre-Recession levels, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of bankruptcy and foreclosure filings for the area are declining. Growth and usage, as reported by Alliant Energy’s electric meter data, continue to climb upward. Lastly, the number and scope/scale of the commercial and industrial projects announced throughout Rock County is extremely steady. This data, as well as other relevant marketplace information, can be found online by visiting www.RockCountyAlliance.com .

NewGeography.com is devoted to analyzing and discussing economic development, metropolitan demographics, and community leadership. It is a joint venture of Joel Kotkin and the Praxis Strategy Group .


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(Beloit, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Beloit Daily News and the WI Department of Public Instruction

The School District of Beloit has been selected to be part of an Academic and Career Planning (ACP) pilot project during the 2015-2016 school year, along with 24 other Wisconsin school districts. The districts were picked out of 61 that applied, coming from all corners of the state in the three types of settings, urban, suburban and rural. Academic and Career Planning (ACP) will provide students, in grades 6 through 12 and their families the information and tools needed to make choices for their future, be it higher education, training, military, etc.

State law requires every school board to provide ACP services by the 2017-18 school year. ACPs are a part of the state superintendent’s Agenda 2017, which is focused on having all Wisconsin students graduate from high school college and career ready.

Since October 2013, Beloit and its district counterparts throughout Rock County have been actively ramping-up their ACP activities – compliments of the Inspire Rock County initiative. Inspire Rock County provides web-based career and readiness platform, infused with career development tools, social media elements and workforce data. Driven by Career Cruising, which a licensed software package, Inspire Rock County provides a seamless information gathering and sharing – as well as a communication and engagement – tool to connect and engage job creators, students, educators and parents. Specifically, this platform is designed to:

  • Improve the alignment of career readiness and preparation applications to match the needs of the local or regional business community.
  • Scale successful business and education programming to reach a wider or targeted audience.
  • Reduce the communication and engagement cycle time by removing participation barriers.
  • Nurture future employees by connecting and mentoring with them early in their career development phases.

ACP related progress, as well other related career readiness and preparation activities, are highlighted in the Spring 2015 Inspire Rock County Report. For additional information, visit www.inspirererockcounty.org

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(Milton, WI) By Jake Magee, Gazette, When it comes to technology in the classroom, the Milton School District isn't experiencing so much of a cultural change as a natural shift. After a year of assigning either an iPad or MacBook to every student for use in the classroom, teachers and students are embracing a new educational lifestyle. Assigned lab time is a thing of a past. Poster board projects are no longer necessary. Grading and testing are streamlined. The district is preparing students to succeed through the use of electronics, technology supervisor Ed Snow said. “We're preparing students for a world that doesn't even exist, yet,” he said. “Just like we all own a car, we're all going to use technology in the future.” CHOICE AND VOICE When a project is assigned to students, they're no longer beholden to a single format. In the past, it wasn't uncommon for teachers to assign a presentation with criteria, tech integrators Deb Dean and Sean Harvatine said. With technology, students now have options to demonstrate what they know. They can create iMovies, make a picture collage or explain what they've learned out loud through technology. Oftentimes, teachers have to put a hard stop on projects or students would just keep going, Harvatine said. “The kids are very creative,” he said. “This has allowed them to flourish.” The tech makes it easy to test understanding. Device assessments give tutorials and feed questions students answered incorrectly back to them until they understand the concepts. Students who grasp the material can zoom ahead. As teachers continue to warm up to technology, the culture continues to shift. When the 1:1 initiative began this past school year, seventh- through 12-graders could take their devices home to work on assignments and projects outside the classroom. That changed almost immediately as sixth-grade teachers began asking for the same opportunity for their students, Dean and Harvatine said. Soon after, fifth-grade teachers began asking, too. By Thanksgiving of the coming school year, fifth-graders will be able to take their devices home. Harvatine said he wouldn't be surprised if the trend continued to third-graders and beyond. At home, students can use their devices to continue studying and working on assignments, collaborate with classmates on homework, seek feedback from teachers or access additional resources, wrote Heather Slosarek, director of curriculum and instruction, in an email to The Gazette. Besides using technology at home and in class, students can troubleshoot issues with peers and teachers. The district started an iCadet program that allows students to use study hall time to work in the tech department. The iCadets are the first to help users with their device problems. When problems are too complicated, iCadets hand devices off to department staff. “They (students) have fixed hundreds of problems over the course of the last year,” Snow said. “It (the iCadet program) is more than just vital; it's teaching what we're doing at the same time. It just makes good sense.” TEACHING TEACHERS As tech integrators, Dean and Harvatine bridge the gap between technology and the classroom. Their job is to work with teachers and students and demonstrate how useful technology can be in education. Some teachers still aren't aware of technology's almost infinite possibilities. Others weren't keen on giving ownership of devices they didn't fully understand to students who grasped the tech right away, Dean said. To further teachers' understanding, Dean and Harvatine will share with teachers information they've learned at Apple Foundation conferences about how to use applications and programs to further student progression in the classroom. Teachers will bring class units with them to training classes in August. Dean and Harvatine will show them how to use apps and programs to enhance their lesson plans, they said. “The pressure level on a teacher goes way down once they see that … it's not from scratch. We're taking what they have and just twisting and turning it in a different direction for them, and hopefully through this training in August, this will spark some more changes or additions to their curriculum,” Harvatine said. Not everyone immediately embraced technology in the classroom, but now that it's been part of the district's daily regimen, many teachers and students have grown to love it. Plenty of teachers and staff are still learning. In the initiative's first year, teachers determined comfort levels with the tech, created new opportunities not possible before, Slosarek wrote. “Teachers used the first year to explore resources and opportunities to integrate technology into specific lesson plans,” she wrote. “We will continue to provide professional development to help teachers narrow those technology tools to ones that are extremely rich and appropriate for helping students meet the desired learning outcome of the lesson.” EXCITING AVENUES Devices in the first year of the initiative sustained little damage, Snow said. “The funniest thing we've discovered is that cats like power cords,” he said with a laugh. “We didn't see that one coming.” Technology opens new opportunities for student engagement, collaboration and communication, Slosarek wrote. “Our current students have grown up using technology, which some have stated is their 'true natural environment,'” she wrote. “This constantly changing environment allows teachers and students the ability to evolve and adapt to new expectations and opportunities.” Some parents thought students would be sitting in front of a device all day and teachers' jobs would become obsolete. “That's just not the case,” Harvatine said. “Good teaching's good teaching, and it happens with or without a device.” Using technology teaches students not only book smarts but how to communicate and behave as digital citizens. “Working within an ever-evolving environment … students will be more comfortable adapting to the real world that is constantly changing,” Slosarek wrote.

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette The Janesville School District’s high schools, Craig and Parker, were recognized nationally in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 high school rankings. Craig and Parker High Schools, which are ranked in the Top 50 out of Wisconsin’s 466 high schools, were awarded the publication’s Silver Medal designation. Nationally, the magazine rated 21,150 high schools and 142 Wisconsin high schools made the rankings. The magazine’s ratings are based on each high schools' overall state test scores in math and reading, including the test performance of economically disadvantaged and minority students. Also considered were the number of students taking Advanced Placement or other college-readiness tests. ACT scores, however, were not factored into the ratings.

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(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow Roosevelt Elementary School fourth-grader George Patzold knows about trial and error even if he doesn't know the term. "Dang it," he said as he talked to classmates Boston Falk Kluge and Lilly Barrier about how to perfect their project. "What should we do next?" George and his classmates were working on creating a three dimensional maze using recycled materials. The object was to make different levels that keep a marble running through the maze for more than two minutes. George and his classmates were working on slowing the marble at a particular point because it kept running off the course. "It's really fun because you can create whatever you want with it," George said. "It goes on whatever route we want it to." The project is one of six classes at Roosevelt teaching second- through fifth-grade students science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) as part of the school's summer program. "This is an example of how we're being innovative," said head teacher Lynn Little. "Here, the kids are using higher-level thinking to overcome the obstacles."

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Beloit Senior Living, to be located in a vacant lot at 2250 W. Hart Road, will break ground in July on a 42-unit residential care apartment complex. There is a tentative completion date of late summer 2016, according to Meghan Giese, president of Great Lakes Senior Living, the umbrella company for Beloit Senior Living LLC. Once the facility is up and running at capacity it will bring 20 full-time jobs to Beloit. Beloit Senior Living could add up to 30 more residential care apartments and up to 40 community based residential apartments for those needing a higher level of care. In an earlier interview, Scott Schadel, managing partner for Beloit Senior Living, LLC, said he and other developers also run assisted living facilities in Milton and Waterford, Wisconsin. Giese said Beloit Senior Living has been looking at expanding in the area. She said Riverside Terrace is the only other comparable assisted living apartment complex in the area. The lot at 2250 W. Hart Road is vacant, but was approved for family apartment complex consisting of 14 four-unit buildings about a decade ago. Beloit’s Planning and Building Services Director Drew Pennington said Beloit Senior Living’s design team submitted site and architectural plans last week, so the review is underway. The city is also negotiating a development agreement, which stipulates the details for relocating the public water and sewer mains that cross the site and conflict with the building location. Pennington said the typical review time for a project of this size is four to six weeks. Giese said the complex will be a single-story facility. There will be 41 one-bedroom units and one 2-bedroom unit. There will be common areas including a kitchen and dining room area, offices and an outdoor courtyard. The facility will be staffed 24 hours a day and provide up to 28 hours of individualized care per person per week. Staff can assist residents, can tailor services to each resident and can offer medication management, assisting with personal care, housekeeping and more. “Our goal is to help people remain independent as long as they can,” Giese said. Typically the senior living age range is between 70 and 100 years old. Giese said Milton Senior Living has been in business for 14 years, and Waterford Senior Living has been in business for nine years. The facility will offer lots of activities and outings for residents to keep them heavily involved in the community.

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(Beloit, WI) Kaiser Property Group, Inc. secured another lease at 1 Reynolds Drive.  ConAgra, as part of an expansion and facility rationalization project, has executed a lease for 140,000 SF within the former Alcoa facility.  Originally purchased by Kaiser Property Group in late 2009, this 422,000 + SF property has undergone extensive interior and exterior renovations. These renovations have elevated this former aluminum wheel manufacturing plant into a Class A industrial / warehousing facility.  In addition to ConAgra, 1 Reynolds Drive is also home to another food company. Axium Foods, which is headquartered in Northern IL, is leasing approximately 120,000 SF. The property is being marketed for lease by Bill Mears, Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears & Associates. For additional property information, visit www.1reynolds.com .

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette Over the last four years, Roosevelt Elementary School has successfully combined gardening, academics and student lunches into a single offering. The idea started with a group of teachers who built the four raised beds and allowed anyone who planted food to take it home. Now, it's folded into the curriculum at the school. This year, the garden was the responsibility of the kindergarten classes and UW Extension agents visited the school to assist with delivering the farming / food educational programming. Jim Degan, manager of food services for the district, said schools such as Roosevelt and Jackson elementary schools, which also have gardens, connect students to the food they eat. Degan said that Roosevelt students consume more than 2,000 meals each week. It's important for them to take ownership and get involved, he said. According to Roosevelt Elementary School teacher Christina Campbell, serving at school the food grown by students was a goal from the beginning. "It's just a good age to get them started and to get them interested," Campbell said. "It gets them talking about healthier foods."

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(Rock County, WI)  A report highlighting the use of the County’s web-based career preparation and readiness platform, which is powered by Career Cruising, was released today. The Spring 2015 Inspire Rock County Report provides a snapshot of the activity, engagement and trends generated from this workforce development tool. A brief summary of the report’s finding is provided below. The number of students actively exploring career options continues to increase, as over 141,000 career pages have been viewed. Schools with pacesetting career exploration activities, as defined by representing 50% or more of their entire district’s total career page views, include: Aldrich Middle School, FJ Turner H.S., Edgerton H.S., Evansville H.S. and Milton Middle School. Considering that only the high schools are participating from the Clinton and Parkview districts, their page view activities were strong, as well. The number of identified careers, as well as higher education choices, recorded within student portfolios have dramatically increased. This year’s totals are 50% (or more) higher than last year’s benchmarks. The career engagement features, which are anchored by the Inspire Rock County elements, are gaining steam too. To date, over 1,000 message board posts between students and career coaches have been recorded. Considering there are 106 career coaches, ample capacity exists for students to access this career expertise and experience throughout the entire calendar year.  With a total of 208 work-based learning activities, divided into 12 distinct categories, a diverse school-to-career environment exists. Whether looking for a local employer to offer an internship, a job shadow experience, participate in a company tour and more, students - as well as instructors - are strongly encouraged to use the Inspire Rock County elements to research and/or secure their work-based learning activities. As the summer break begins this week and preparations for the fall academic period are just around the corner, this Report serves as a reminder regarding the usefulness of this career preparation and readiness platform. As districts continually explore ways to hardwire Career Cruising into their programming, these career exploration and engagement metrics are expected to move forward, accordingly. Inspire Rock County is a collaborative talent pipeline development and employment initiative between Rock County 5.0, the Southwest Workforce Development Board, the K-16 education system and the County’s business community. By integrating career development tools, social media elements and workforce data into a seamless system, job creators, students, educators and parents can connect and engage. For more information, visit www.inspirerockcounty.org .

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(Janesville, WI) By Neil Johnson, Gazette Brothers Shannon Kennedy and Shawn Kennedy have plans to bring their insurance service company's relaxed, white-collar culture—and its 35 employees—to a industrial building downtown that dates to the early years of Janesville. As early as October, SASid Insurance Development, known locally as SAS, plans to move its company from the office space corridor on the city's east side to the former Carriage Works building at 10 N. Parker Drive in the heart of downtown Janesville. SAS's move is part of a trend that's begun to spark in and around downtown Janesville: white-collar professional companies moving their operations into vacant or underused former industrial properties in the city's downtown core.   Earlier this year, local property developer Mark Robinson announced he plans to turn a circa 1890s former tobacco warehouse at 207 N. Academy St. into an office/retail property that Robinson says will house on one of its floors the Janesville-based website development firm Foremost Media. SAS, the Janesville-native Kennedy brothers say, has outgrown its days as a late 1990s dot-com upstart, and the 6,000-square-foot office it owns at 462 Midland Road. They say they're trying to expand employment in the next few years to as many as 60 workers who'd handle facets of insurance product marketing, design and technical services. The company's plan includes converting the vacant, 10,000-square-foot third floor of the late-1800s Carriage Works building to an open-space office that would keep intact the former carriage manufacturing facility's Spartan, brick-and-beam industrial character, but add touches of flare. The company plans a slide—that's right, a slide—that would allow workers to quickly and playfully scoot from the third floor to offices planned on the second floor. “We're in insurance, right? So we're well covered for something like this,” Shannon Kennedy said during a tour of the space that will house the company in a few months. A TRENDY TREND The idea of a slide, Shannon said, came from designs for a San Francisco tech firm's industrial-modern warehouse reboot. “The space we're looking at here, it's a little bit of Chicago, San Fran and Milwaukee, and we've got it right here in Janesville,” he said Foremost Media, like SAS, ran out of room to expand in its current office space on the east side, and opted to lease space the former warehouse the Robinson is now calling The Gray Goose. The city granted a $500,000 tax increment financing deal earlier this year to Robinson and Foremost Media to push forward the $2.5 million renovation, and Robinson is working on approval from the state for historical tax credits. The Kennedys bought the Parker Drive property in January 2015 for $525,000, according to Rock County Register of Deeds records. Shawn Kennedy said the company plans to keep its current office space and potentially lease it. They're in the middle of getting state historical society approval on designs and floor plans for the upstairs renovations at the Carriage Works, a part of negotiating tax credits for the work. Between the SAS and Foremost Media, their future locations would immediately transplant 60 professional workers who will spend their days downtown, the owners said. As the two companies grow, the number of workers the two firms could employ downtown could climb to 100. Darrin Wasniewski, Downtown Development Program manager for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said he's been seeing the trend in medium-sized cities statewide. For service-based or niche companies, it can be unaffordable or unfeasible to build new offices. Small companies looking to expand are turning to use of vacant space in downtown areas. The shift, Wasniewski said, also is a response for companies' need to attract and retain younger talent. One way to do that is to offer a work location where younger workers could prefer to be. “What companies are finding is the millennial generation workers, and some of Generation X, they're wanting to be connected to the pulse of something. They don't want to be work out in an office park. They want to eat, drink,and walk around a downtown,” Wasniewski said. A HOMETOWN FIT For the 40-something Kennedys, who both were born and raised in Janesville, and are both Craig High School graduates Janesville's downtown is a natural fit. “We could have moved our company anywhere. Chicago—Pensacola, Florida, I don't know. But we wanted to be here,” Shawn Kennedy said. “We love Janesville.” Both Shawn and Shannon say their main reason for relocating to the third floor of the Carriage Works is not its cavernous space, which they plan to break up with clusters of desks, comfy couches, ping pong tables and a glass partition to separate a board room area with a southwest-looking view of downtown Janesville. Well, the space is part of the reason. The other is the location--being downtown. “We told our employees we were thinking of moving. And then we surprised them with this location. They've come here, looked around and they're thrilled,” Shannon Kennedy said. “But you know what they're most thrilled about? A walk to get coffee. A walk to get lunch. That's where we see employee growth opportunity for us. It's the byproduct of enjoying what you do but also where you are doing it.” On the building's finished second floor, which houses law offices and a yoga studio, SAS has set up sort of a test space for a few employees. The office overlooks Wiggy's Saloon, a bar and grill across the street on North Parker Drive. Chris McLay, an SAS employee who works in the office, pointed out the window at Wiggy's. “That's our board room over there,” McLay said. McLay wasn't kidding. “We actually do take clients in there. A lot,” Shannon Kennedy said. A WORKING CATALYST For downtown Janesville, which is in the middle of a cycle of street makeovers and a riverfront revitalization that public officials and private developers hope will redefine downtown as an entertainment-based area, relocation of firms such as SAS and Foremost Media comes at the right time and in the right form. SAS develops, administers and markets insurance products for outside insurance vendors. In the last three years, the group has posted revenue growth of more than 200 percent and has landed on lists of the nation's fastest-growing companies. The company is in a sweet spot that lies in technical, professional service and insurance fields—all of which are among the most rapidly-growing industries in the country. Locally, about 10 percent of jobs are linked to those fields, and those jobs range in pay from $45,000 to $70,000 annually, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. Wasniewski said public initiatives for revitalizing downtowns can follow a few tracks, including plans for adjacent housing developments, creation of public amenities and a shift to a specific commercial sector, such as creating an entertainment district. But an insurgence of professional employment in a downtown, an influx of above-average wage-earning workers who spend money downtown, can help push overall revitalization forward. “Depending on the community, you need to start developing a critical mass of entrepreneurs of commerce coming back in to work. Then, retail and support service will spring up along side of it. They'll grow and expand together,” Wasniewski said.  The Kennedys are eying the possibility of developing a restaurant on the building's first level. The restaurant, they said, could make use of a long-forgotten grass lot on the backside of the building that's hemmed in by the building and the retaining wall of a raised parking lot. For now, the brothers say they're thinking mainly of the influx of their own workforce. “It's nice to know we'll be responsible for bringing 60 people or more into downtown every day. I think the time is getting ripe for this downtown,” Shawn Kennedy said. “There's enough people to support it. We just need to make it cool, and that's what we're working on.”

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(Edgerton, WI) By Jake Magee, Gazette A Med Flight helicopter landed in an Edgerton Middle School parking lot Friday afternoon. Fortunately, it was responding to a mock accident, not a real one. Students playing dead and injured victims of a crash, were cut from a vehicle by Edgerton and Orfordville firefighters and paramedics. The spectacle ended a day of hands-on learning for eighth graders about firefighting and emergency medicine. Six stations inside and outside the school let students experience what it means to be a firefighter or emergency medical technician. In one room, students tried on firefighter gear and used a thermal imaging camera to find hidden peers. At another station, kids tipped over traffic cones with powerful streams of water from fire hoses. Students also operated fire extinguishers, learned how to perform CPR and toured ambulances and fire trucks. Eighth-grader Zoe Thompson's favorite part was learning about being an EMT. “I think that was really interesting because I'm pretty interested in a medical career. I have a lot of things I'd like to pursue,” she said with a laugh. In its sixth year, the event is a great way to teach kids as they're gearing up for summer, said Ryan Beckwith, deputy chief of the Edgerton Fire Protection District. The district meets with second-graders to teach them fire safety at a young age. The middle school event is the last time the district meets with students before they graduate, he said. “The idea behind today is, now that they're a little older, we can talk about how you can be a little more safe, learning to use a fire extinguisher—just things that are more applicable to the age group now,” Beckwith said. “We wanna give them lessons they can apply.” The mock crash is an important reminder that fatal accidents can happen, even during the carefree bliss of summer. “Hopefully it's a safe message ... reminding them it's summer, you're a high schooler now, but you still gotta be careful,” Beckwith said. Teacher and event coordinator John Schuster pointed out that the event isn't just educational; it also connects students to important people within their hometown. “For me, as a teacher, it's about community,” he said. “It's tremendously successful.” The event is definitely more engaging and entertaining than sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture or even watching a video, Beckwith said. “It's a lot easier to remember things when it's more interactive,” Thompson agreed. “Hands-on learning teaches a lot better than sitting a classroom all day.” Thompson was the simulated crash victim firefighters loaded into the helicopter. “This is a day where everyone is on the same level. Everyone's learning, young and old, and they're all just having fun,” Beckwith said. “It's a fun way to wrap up the end of the year.”

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(Janesville, WI) Construction activities began this week at 4298 Capital Circle, in preparation for a 150,000 SF industrial / warehousing building. Located in the City's Eastside Business Park, this speculative building will have the ability to serve a single user or multiple tenants, as the space will be divisible by 25,000 SF sections. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy fall 2015. A summary of the property's features include: concrete tilt-up construction, 40'x50' bays, 30' ceilings, 6" concrete floors, high-efficiency HVAC / lighting systems and ample three-phase power. Provisions exist for finished office space (per 25,000 SF section), with additional flexibilities to amortize tenant related improvements on a case-by-case basis. Gilbank Construction, Inc. is providing construction services for the project, while Angus Young Associates is performing the architectural, design and engineering services. Bill Mears, Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears & Associates, is providing brokerage services. Capital Circle I, which is represented by area developers Tom Lasse and Terry McGuire, will own the building.  To facilitate this project, the City of Janesville provided a Tax Increment Financing package. According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, "This project will provide a timely boost to the Class A inventory of industrial / warehousing space throughout the Janesville-Beloit MSA ."

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(Janesville, WI) Gary Kohn, BTC The Blackhawk Technical College Faculty Federation has donated $30,000 to the BTC Foundation to endow scholarships for BTC students, bringing the Federation’s commitment to BTC scholarships to $50,000 over the past two years. The Federation, which donated $20,000 to the BTC Foundation in 2013, will add the new donation to the previous fund and use interest on the fund to provide scholarships to second-year students in Associate Degree programs. Orinda Conway, the president of the Federation who is an Information Technology Network Specialist instructor, said the Federation has had minimal expenses over the years and wanted to use its funds to support BTC students. The money comes from dues paid by past and current members of the Faculty Federation, which was founded in 1972, Conway said. “Faculty members have seen increased financial pressures on our students and wanted to help on an ongoing basis,’’ Conway explained. “The Faculty Federation membership agreed that giving a large sum to establish an endowment enables the gift to continue for years to come.’’ Elizabeth Horvath, the BTC Director of Advancement and Community Relations which oversees the Foundation, said the “generous donation from the BTC Faculty Federation is indicative of the faculty’s commitment to our students.   “Blackhawk Technical College and the Foundation are proud to have faculty that continue to care for students’ financial needs and well-being. An endowed scholarship fund provides long-term financial support for students wishing to provide better lives for their families.’’ BTC scholarship applications are due by October 1 and May 1 annually.  For more information about BTC scholarships or the BTC Foundation, go to blackhawk.edu or contact Elizabeth Horvath at ehorvath@blackhawk.edu, 608-757-7704.

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(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff An historic former women’s dormitory is returning to Beloit College as a residence hall in 2016, thanks to the generosity of two local donors. “Thanks to the generosity of Beloiters Jim and Nancy Packard, Beloit College owns Emerson Hall again,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman during commencement ceremonies Sunday. “For the first time in 34 years, the dormitory will be open for students.” Jim Packard is a long-time trustee on the college board, and former chairman of the Regal-Beloit Corporation. The college intends to begin raising additional funds to begin renovation of the building this fall. The building is expected to re-open in the fall of next year and house about 60 students. The building’s name honored Beloit College Professor Joseph Emerson who laid the cornerstone on Nov. 19, 1897. Emerson Hall originally was a women’s dormitory and housed 50 students. The building continued to serve as a women’s dormitory until the 1960s when it became co-ed. The last Beloit College students lived in Emerson Hall in 1977. The college transferred temporary ownership of the building to Emerson Hall Associates, which ran it as an apartment building until a September 2013 fire that caused extensive damage. It has been unoccupied since the fire. The college reached agreement with the temporary owners to take back title to Emerson Hall on May 13. Plans call for renovations to ready the dorm for use by fall of 2016. All renovation costs are expected to be covered by donations, principally those provided by the Packards. Emerson Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial Around Janesville, dust flies from crews and machinery at work. On Milton Avenue's busy commercial corridor, work...

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(Janesville, WI) Gary Kohn, BTC The Blackhawk Technical College Faculty Federation has donated $30,000 to the BTC Foundation to endow scholarships fo...

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(Janesville, WI) Gallina USA, a polycarbonate sheet and glazing systems manufacturer, announced that it will be expanding its footprint in Janesv...

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(Rock County, WI) The County's economy continued to demonstrate growth, as reported by today's release of the Q1 2015 Rock Ready Index. Highlights fro...

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(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette Foreign students in the Janesville School District International Summer Institute will live and attend some class...

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(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette Data Dimensions part owner Mark Bush remembers the night his father, Wally, walked into his bedroom, flipped o...

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(Orfordville, WI) Excerpt Courtesy of the Gazette Parkview High School was the recipient of a $1,000 grant from the Wisconsin Restaurant Education As...

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(Janesville, WI) Anna Marie Lux, Gazette Chris Blakeney and Joshua Rosburg hope to be in the field Sunday betting on the future of broccoli. The men...

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(Newville, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette Eight months after the Anchor Inn burned, the owners are building a new restaurant and bar that will be twice...

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03
(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette and Festival Foods The former Kmart property, located at 2233 Humes Road, will be redeveloped this ...

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(Newville, WI) Rebecca Kanable, Milton Courier With the opening of Rosati’s Sports Pub in Newville, four experienced restaurant franchise ow...

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(Rock County, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of Blackhawk Technical College and the Gazette        Several area businesses...

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpt Courtesy of the Gazette. This week, the Janesville City Council gave a big boost to two separate property development deals ...

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(Edgerton, WI) Jake Magee, Gazette Edgerton Hospital and Health Services has added left ventricular assist device care to its rehabilitation program,...

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Homes with European-style architecture and situated in the rolling hills along Riverside Drive are comi...

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(Beloit, WI) Excerpt Courtesy of Midwest Real Estate News The Gateway Business Park, located at the I-39/90 and I-43 junction, welcomed another ...

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(Janesville, WI) R+L Carriers, Inc. announced the opening of its Janesville Service Center, located at 212 East Conde Street. Located within minutes o...

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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette Store managers in the Janesville Mall were excited to hear details Thursday about a new tenant, as ...

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(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette The Janesville City Council approved a public-private development deal with two Janesville-based plastics indu...

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03
(Janesville, WI) Catherine Idzerda, Gazette The phrase “airport food” usually evokes images of a $7 muffin or a $3 bottle of soda. ...

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02
(Rock County, WI) The County's economy continued to demonstrate growth, as reported by today's release of the Q4 2014 Rock Ready Index. Highlights fro...

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(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette For students who might not be interested in sports or other school activities, St. William Catholic School's r...

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Graduation rates at high schools in the Beloit area remain strong, showing more than 80 percent of Belo...

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(Janesville-Beloit MSA) By Jennifer Alten, Excerpts Courtesy of Trade & Industry Development  Janesville, in southern Wisconsin on the Illin...

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17
(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff Upon hearing about three Beloit Memorial High School educators joining two other district teachers to earn prest...

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(Edgerton, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of WEDC Release With a $489,000 WI Economic Development Corp. grant to Rinehart Properties, a third Edgerton tobacco...

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14
(Beloit, WI) Erica Pennington, Beloit Daily News The Stateline Family YMCA is nearly ready to take the major step of approving the floor plan for a n...

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02
(Beloit, WI) By Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News Rob Gerbtiz, chief operating officer of Hendricks Commercial Properties, said a new restaurant called ...

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30
(Orfordville, WI) By Gina Duwe, Gazette Assistant librarian Diane Shoemaker joked that she lived long enough to see a new library in Orfordville. &l...

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19
(Beloit, WI) Pratt  Industries, America's leading 100 percent recycled paper-packaging company, announced that it has selected Beloit’...

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10
(Beloit, WI) Chicago Fittings Corporation, a specialty fitting manufacturer that designs and services a number of industrial markets, announced that i...

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05
GazetteXtra | Print (Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette JANESVILLE-- Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Deanne Edlefsen said Friday she wa...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A $1.6 million advertising campaign touting Wisconsin as the place for business expansion or relocation is exp...

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11
(Janesville, WI) Andrea Behling, Gazette The rumors are true—soon Voigt Music Center will close both stores in Janesville and Beloit, but it's ...

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09
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette NOTE: Provided below are excerpts from the full article that was published by the Gazette. Community vibran...

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(Beloit, WI) Whitney Helm, Beloit Daily News Students at Beloit Memorial High School are not only building their first house, but gaining skills they...

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07
Riverside Energy Center Expansion Proposed > Rock County Development Alliance ...

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06
(Beloit, WI) By Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News     It is an innovative and somewhat unprecedented vision. The Powerhouse Project...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Leaders of Rockford Health System said Janesville-based Mercy Health System is the perfect partner to lead the...

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(Rock County, WI) The County's economy continued to demonstrate growth, as reported by today's release of the Q3 2014 Rock Ready Index. Highlights fro...

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19
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette The value of goods and services produced in Rock County in 2013 increased at a rate bettered only by a few oth...

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(Janesville, WI) As the result of a grant received by the Janesville Innovation Center (JIC) from the George Parker Foundation, the JIC has ...

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15
(Orfordville, WI) By Gina Duwe, Gazette “I never thought this day would come.” Those words echoed through Orfordville on Tuesday morning...

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14
(Beloit, WI) - State Collection Service, Inc., a full-service accounts receivable management solutions provider, announced that it's adding ...

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10
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette SHINE Medical Technologies has signed a massive debt and equity financing deal that company officials sai...

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09
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A southside Janesville landmark for decades is no more, soon to be replaced by John Deere products and semitra...

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07
(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gaven, Beloit Daily News There were more students than ever at the Second Annual Career and Technical Education Fair and Wiscons...

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07
Comply365 poised for success with $12 million venture capital funding .fontsponsor { color: #333399; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold ; font-...

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03
(RockCounty, WI) By Ian Gronau, Stateline News For the past several months, and for the next few to come, the partnership between AmeriCorps, the R...

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(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette Roosevelt Elementary School was named a national Blue Ribbon School on Tuesday, only the second time a Janesville...

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(Beloit, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Diane Hendricks' purchase of the troubled Country Club of Beloit is no gimme to the community she cares so much ab...

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23
Janesville City Council OKs $2.4 million TIF deal | GazetteXtra #main-nav UL LI { PADDING-BOTTOM: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 0.4%; PADDING-RIGHT: 0.4%;...

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(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette Officials in the Janesville School District are encouraged by the district's latest state report card results,...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville manufacturer's acquisition of a New York company is expected to strengthen the local operation as...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) data, the School District of Beloit Turner h...

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(Beloit, WI) By Beloit Daily News Patch Products, the Beloit toy and entertainment company with national reach, has been sold. Topspin Partners, a p...

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21
(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Students at Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) will have the opportunity to get real-world experienc...

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18
(Milton, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette Jacob Rudnitzki sat quietly in Mark Prosser's welding class Monday listening to the instructor discuss the class syll...

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15
IPM Foods leases vacant JRT Building - Beloit Daily News: Illinois News (Beloit, WI), By Shawn Zinck, Beloit Daily News IPM Foods has leased the ...

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15
(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette  Starting Monday, Blackhawk Technical College will offer a new system-wide bus route for students. "It ca...

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11
(Janesville, WI) - Andrea Anderson, Gazette Show skiers for the Rock Aqua Jays hooted and hollered and pushed their teammates into the Rock River Sun...

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07
City, College share grant - Beloit Daily News: News (Beloit, WI) Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News The City of Beloit and Beloit College were awarde...

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02
(Edgerton, WI) By Andrea Behling, Gazette   Jan Dunn is among those who rushed to rent in a post-recession housing market that has left Edgerto...

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Report Shows Continued Growth: Q2 Rock Ready Index > Rock County Development Alliance ...

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24
(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial In Wisconsin's volatile political climate, Democrats and Republicans alike glom onto the latest grim or good eco...

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(Beloit, WI) - NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC broke ground today on its 32-acre corporate campus in Beloit's Gateway Business Park. To...

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(Janesville & Milton, WI) Several commercial / retail projects were announced this week, representing new investments in Janesville and Milton. I...

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(Beloit, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Located adjacent to CCI’s limestone quarry on the corner of Gateway Boulevard and Town Hall Road,...

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08
(Janesville, WI) By Marcia Neleson, Gazette The charitable arm of Forward Janesville is leading an effort to build a riverfront amphitheater that bac...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News A web-based career preparation and readiness platform in Rock County, powered by Career Cruising, sh...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A web-based career preparation and readiness platform is picking up steam in Rock County, according to a repor...

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(Rock County, WI) – A report highlighting the use of the County’s web-based career preparation and readiness platform, which is powered by...

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(Milton, WI) - Charter NEX Films announced that it will be expanding its Milton, WI operation. The company intends to increase its foot...

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(Beloit, WI) Courtesy of State Collection Service Press Release State Collection Service, which is a tenant in the Ironworks Campus (Beloit, WI)...

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15
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette When Steve Yeko Sr. first got into the jewelry business, the real estate mantra of “location, location, ...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Beloit College’s proposed Powerhouse project will help tie the campus to the river, and its po...

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07
(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News The School District of Beloit Board of Education approved a Work Today Pilot Project which would all...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gaven, Beloit Daily News The School District of Beloit Board of Education voted to allow summer externships for its teachers ...

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(Beloit, WI) Erica Pennington, Beloit Daily News Computer gurus, recording artists, bakers, clothing designers and artists are seeing grandiose dream...

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06
(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff For the eighth time, building products distributor ABC Supply Co., Inc., has been named a recipient of the Gallu...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A wildly popular country act at the Rock County 4-H Fair combined with other new events to help increase touri...

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02
Rock County, WI) The County's economy continued to demonstrate positive gains, as reported in this week's release of the Q1 2014 Rock Ready Index. Hig...

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Pregl’s Janesville location will have higher quality and larger office and production spaces than it has had in the past, as well as provide new opportunities to engage with the local business community. Pregl Services has plans for communications and promotional activities in connection with the opening of its new facility.

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(Janesville, WI) Pregl Services, Inc. (Pregl), providers of comprehensive aftermarket support to the thermal processing industry, announced it has r...

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(Janesville, WI) By Nick Crow, Gazette Craig and Parker seniors working on this year's student home build are being groomed for potential careers, bu...

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(Janesville, WI) Courtesy of BTC Blackhawk Technical College is taking the next step into the future of advanced manufacturing with a new two-ye...

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(Milton, WI) Jim Leute, Gazette Andy Svedin and Ryan Petitt hadn't even been to Blackhawk Technical College's central campus south of Janesville on W...

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(Janesville, WI) Scott Angus, Gazette Has innovation ever been more important than it is in southern Wisconsin right now? Rock County, in particular...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Tom Eckert heard the same message from employers as president of a technical college in Washington state that ...

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03
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette The company that plans to build a medical isotope production plant in Janesville said Thursday it has signed a...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Citing Wisconsin's fiscal stability and business climate as advantages over Illinois, Gov. Scott Walker said h...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette  Commercial construction—both new buildings and additions—continues to be the driver of the l...

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(Beloit, WI) By Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News The Ironworks building has special meaning for Richard Spanton Jr. His grandfather worked at Beloit Cor...

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(Orfordville, WI) By Gina Duwe, Gazette An expanding feed and supply business will become the sixth business in Orfordville's industrial/business park...

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(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette Brian Rubash is different from many entrepreneurs. He's willing to accept advice. Rubash, one of the newest t...

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(Beloit, WI) - AccuLynx announced that it is relocating its software development company to the Ironworks Campus, which is located in downtown Be...

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(Beloit, WI) By Gazette Staff The movement of Illinois software company and its 30 employees to Beloit could be a precursor to even more growth. AccuL...

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13
(Rock County, WI) – In response to an increasing demand from entrepreneurial and small businesses within the area, Rock County 5.0 has announced a for...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette For nearly five years, Rock County 5.0 has been aggressively targeting potential employers with the benefits of...

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05
(Rock County, WI) Rock County 5.0 kicked-off the first part of a multifaceted talent recruitment campaign, by releasing its Consider Rock County publi...

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27
(Beloit, WI) By Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News A former lumberyard near the Interstate 39/90 - Interstate 43 interchange in Beloit has been sold. Last...

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05
(Evansville, WI) By Gina Duwe, Gazette Companies must be lean to bounce back from the Great Recession and overcome increasing competition from China, ...

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05
(Rock County, WI) The County's economy continued to demonstrate positive gains, as reported in this week's release of the Q4 2013 Rock Ready Index. Hi...

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19
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Local real estate sales in 2013 reached levels not seen in several years and are reflective of what brokers cal...

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(Beloit, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Rod Gottfredsen vividly recalls the day in 1986 when he and seven other people met in his one-chair barbershop in d...

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(MIlton, WI) By Neil Johnson, Gazette --“Development Mania” might be an overstatement, but Milton City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said he's seen a re...

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(Beloit, WI) Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News The City of Beloit now owns a majority of the vacant land in the Gateway Boulevard business district. City...

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05
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Television commercials touting a warmer business climate in Wisconsin are expected to complement local marketin...

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03
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville developer plans to use the proceeds from the sale of one of the city's largest commercial building...

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02
(Janesville, WI) Marcia Nelesen, Gazette The fledgling Janesville Innovation Center is almost half filled less than a year after it opened, and offici...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Rock County's retailers are about to close out a record year, further evidence that the local economy continues...

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(Beloit, WI) By Shawn Zinck, Beloit Daily News The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation announced Friday it had awarded a $1 million grant to ai...

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial Five years after General Motors steered out of Janesville, two things are evident: Much has been accomplished, and ...

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Staff Contributions The Gazette kicked-off an in-depth, two-part feature looking back at the community; the economy; and the ...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette         For the second year in a row, a Janesville school will receive thousands of d...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette
 
For the second year in a row, a Janesville school will receive thousands of dollars in a U.S. Cellular contest.

The company announced Tuesday that Van Buren Elementary School has won $25,000 in the Calling All Communities contest.

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(Janesville, WI) By Marcia Nelesen, Gazette In two business-friendly votes Monday, the Janesville City Council agreed to buy property to help SHINE Me...

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(Janesville, WI) By Marcia Nelesen, Gazette

In two business-friendly votes Monday, the Janesville City Council agreed to buy property to help SHINE Medical Technologies build a proposed medical isotope plant, and to extend Todd Drive to increase rail service to industrial land.

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04
(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News The School District of Beloit Turner is the only district in the Stateline Area to be named to the Co...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News The School District of Beloit Turner is the only district in the Stateline Area to be named to the C...

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(Janesville, WI) - United Alloy, Inc. (UAI) announced a 112,500 SF expansion, as well as a series of investments that will enhance the company’s ...

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(Janesville, WI) - United Alloy, Inc. (UAI) announced a 112,500 SF expansion, as well as a series of investments that will enhance the company&rs...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette J.P. Cullen & Sons has established a scholarship fund for students at Blackhawk Technical College. The ...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette J.P. Cullen & Sons has established a scholarship fund for students at Blackhawk Technical College. Th...

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(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff NorthStar Medical Technologies, LLC, which is planning to build a facility in Beloit, has been awarded a $21.8 mi...

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(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff NorthStar Medical Technologies, LLC, which is planning to build a facility in Beloit, has been awarded a $21.8 m...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette It's another day in the tech-ed hall at Craig High School. Senior Ryan Black and Junior Lexi Hendrikson are...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette It's another day in the tech-ed hall at Craig High School. Senior Ryan Black and Junior Lexi Hendrikson a...

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(Rock County, WI) By WI State Journal Editorial Board Janesville, Beloit and the rest of Rock County have moved past the painful loss of the giant aut...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville company that specializes in document conversion has been recognized as the 34th largest job creato...

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(Rock County, WI) By Dan Rafter, Midwest Real Estate & News Want to attract new businesses and construction projects to your county? A strong econ...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville company that specializes in document conversion has been recognized as the 34th largest job creat...

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(Rock County, WI) By Dan Rafter, Midwest Real Estate & News Want to attract new businesses and construction projects to your county? A strong eco...

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(Janesville, WI) By Gazette Editorial If you're still not convinced that Rock County's economy is improving, consider The Gazette's latest quarterly e...

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(Janesville, WI) By Gazette Editorial If you're still not convinced that Rock County's economy is improving, consider The Gazette's latest quarterly ...

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(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette An upcoming bond issue to pay for capital projects in Rock County will carry favorable ratings, an indication...

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(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette A year ago, Rock County closed the book on its best economic quarter in more than two years. Fast-forward to ...

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(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette An upcoming bond issue to pay for capital projects in Rock County will carry favorable ratings, an indicatio...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gaven, Beloit Daily News Rock County has received solid credit ratings from Standard & Poor (S&P) and Moody’s. S&P...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gaven, Beloit Daily News Rock County has received solid credit ratings from Standard & Poor (S&P) and Moody’s. ...

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(Rock County, WI) By James Otterstein, Media Contact Rock County 5.0 released an Inspire Rock County promotional video during today’s Regional Bu...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Rock County 5.0 released an Inspire Rock County promotional video during today’s Regional Business Ex...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Rock County 5.0 released an Inspire Rock County promotional video during today’s Regional Busi...

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(Rock County, WI) By James Otterstein, Media Contact Rock County 5.0 released an Inspire Rock County promotional video during today’s Regi...

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14
(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette Mary Willmer and Diane Hendricks believe they had a pretty good read on Rock County in the summer of 2009. ...

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(Janesville, WI) By Gazette Editorial Board No one would argue Rock County's economy is where we want it to be. Much work remains before the county ...

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(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette Mary Willmer and Diane Hendricks believe they had a pretty good read on Rock County in the summer of 2009. Th...

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(Janesville, WI) By Gazette Editorial Board No one would argue Rock County's economy is where we want it to be. Much work remains before the county re...

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08
(Beloit, WI) By Beloit College The Board of Trustees of Beloit College has selected 2013 National Design Award winner Studio Gang Architects to lead i...

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08
(Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 announced today that Milton’s Crossroads Business Park has earned the Austin Consulting shovel-ready s...

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(Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 announced today that Milton’s Crossroads Business Park has earned the Austin Consulting shovel-ready site designat...

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(Janesville, WI) By Gazette Staff, Janesville Gazette A Janesville manufacturer has received a $25 million contract for integration, production and te...

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(Janesville, WI) By Gazette Staff, Janesville Gazette A Janesville manufacturer has received a $25 million contract for integration, production and t...

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(Beloit, WI) By Shawn Zinck, Beloit Daily News About 18 construction projects currently are under way in the city of Beloit, which officials say is mo...

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(Beloit, WI) By Shawn Zinck, Beloit Daily News About 18 construction projects currently are under way in the city of Beloit, which officials say is m...

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20
(Janesville) By Shelly Birkelo, Gazette An anonymous donation of $2 million will allow Agrace hospice care to break ground Tuesday on a $6.5 million f...

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(Janesville) By Shelly Birkelo, Gazette An anonymous donation of $2 million will allow Agrace hospice care to break ground Tuesday on a $6.5 million ...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan. Beloit Daily News There are plenty of reasons to do business in Rock County, according to speakers at the Real Estate B...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan. Beloit Daily News There are plenty of reasons to do business in Rock County, according to speakers at the Real Estate ...

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(Beloit, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Real estate brokers with regional and national affiliations are expected Wednesday in Beloit, where they will hear ...

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(Beloit, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Real estate brokers with regional and national affiliations are expected Wednesday in Beloit, where they will hear...

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial Good economic news keeps surfacing in and around Janesville and Rock County. It’s good, that is, if you consider th...

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial Good economic news keeps surfacing in and around Janesville and Rock County. It’s good, that is, if you cons...

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(Beloit, WI) By BDN Staff Universal Acoustic & Emission Technologies — a global designer and manufacturer of acoustic and emissions products for t...

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(Beloit) By Jim Leute, Gazette A long-term lease with a Stoughton manufacturer who wants to expand is the catalyst for a $40 million renovation of the...

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(Beloit, WI) By BDN Staff Universal Acoustic & Emission Technologies — a global designer and manufacturer of acoustic and emissions product...

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(Beloit) By Jim Leute, Gazette A long-term lease with a Stoughton manufacturer who wants to expand is the catalyst for a $40 million renovation of th...

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21
(Janesville, WI) – Kenco Logistic Services, which provides integrated logistics solutions, recently committed to a long-term lease 131...

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(Janesville, WI) – Kenco Logistic Services, which provides integrated logistics solutions, recently committed to a long-term lease 1317 Barb...

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19
(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette As a developer, landlord and builder, Jeff Helgesen knows a thing or two about keeping tenants happy. More oft...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette As a developer, landlord and builder, Jeff Helgesen knows a thing or two about keeping tenants happy. More ofte...

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(Beloit, WI) By Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News  Three and a half years after its formation was announced, Rock County 5.0 is well into the final ...

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(Beloit, WI) By Shaun Zinck, Beloit Daily News  Three and a half years after its formation was announced, Rock County 5.0 is well into the final...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News  Beloit Memorial High School’s (BMHS) Technical Education Programming Space in the school’s lowe...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News  Beloit Memorial High School’s (BMHS) Technical Education Programming Space in the school...

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04
(Janesville, WI)  By Jim Leute, Gazette Janesville’s commercial real estate market is improving, driven in large part by a retail sector punctuat...

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(Janesville, WI)  By Jim Leute, Gazette Janesville’s commercial real estate market is improving, driven in large part by a retail sector p...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News The former Alcoa building is finished and ready for business. After millions of dollars of investment...

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(Beloit, WI) By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News The former Alcoa building is finished and ready for business. After millions of dollars of investme...

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19
(Town of Rock) - By Katherine Kruger, Gazette Blackhawk Technical College is rolling out a new program to train nuclear technicians for the upcoming ...

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(Town of Rock) - By Katherine Kruger, Gazette Blackhawk Technical College is rolling out a new program to train nuclear technicians for the upcoming f...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Prent Corporation, a global leader in custom thermoform packaging with facilities around the world, is expandi...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, Gazette Prent Corporation, a global leader in custom thermoform packaging with facilities around the world, is expandin...

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(Janesville, WI) – Seneca Foods Corporation, the world's largest producer of canned vegetables and the leading processor of fruits in the U.S., recent...

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(Janesville, WI) – Seneca Foods Corporation, the world's largest producer of canned vegetables and the leading processor of fruits in the U.S., ...

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(Beloit, WI) Geoff Bruce, Beloit Daily News Beloit will be the pilot for a potentially paradigm-changing process when it comes to the unemployment pro...

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(Beloit, WI) Geoff Bruce, Beloit Daily News Beloit will be the pilot for a potentially paradigm-changing process when it comes to the unemployment pr...

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14
(Janesville, WI) Greg Peck, Gazette Editorial Ask a child in middle school about career possibilities, and he or she might mention firefighting, heal...

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(Janesville, WI) Greg Peck, Gazette Editorial Ask a child in middle school about career possibilities, and he or she might mention firefighting, he...

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08
(Janesville, WI) - Jim Leute, Gazette Connecting local students and employers is the goal of a web-based program that could debut this fall in middle...

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(Janesville, WI) - Jim Leute, Gazette Connecting local students and employers is the goal of a web-based program that could debut this fall in middle ...

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(Rock County) Media Contact James Otterstein, 608.757.5598 Rock County 5.0 announced the launch of a new business and education engagement strategy a...

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(Beloit, WI) - By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Students will have the chance to ask area business people what they make, what hours they work and...

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(Beloit, WI) - By Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News Students will have the chance to ask area business people what they make, what hours they work and ...

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(Rock County) Media Contact James Otterstein, 608.757.5598 Rock County 5.0 announced the launch of a new business and education engagement strategy at...

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24
(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette Both Craig and Parker high schools were recognized nationally Tuesday when U.S. News & World Report rel...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette Both Craig and Parker high schools were recognized nationally Tuesday when U.S. News & World Report re...

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18
(Rock County, WI) - By Brian Wasag, RE Journals For businesses considering relocation, Rock County, Wis., certainly offers its fair share of advantag...

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(Rock County, WI) - By Brian Wasag, RE Journals For businesses considering relocation, Rock County, Wis., certainly offers its fair share of advantage...

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09
(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville manufacturer that plans to build a new plant on the city’s north side hopes to add positi...

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(Janesville, WI) - By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville manufacturer that plans to build a new plant on the city’s north side hopes to add positions, bu...

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(Janesville, WI) — By Jim Leute, Gazette Scott Acker visited Janesville last year with an idea of what he would find. He expected a nearl...

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(Janesville, WI) — By Jim Leute, Gazette Scott Acker visited Janesville last year with an idea of what he would find. He expected a nearly destit...

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(Janesville, WI) By Maria Nelesen, Gazette One tenant already has moved into the city’s new business incubator, and two more are working to fin...

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(Janesville, WI) By Maria Nelesen, Gazette One tenant already has moved into the city’s new business incubator, and two more are working to finalize a...

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(Janesville) - By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville manufacturer has received a $64.5 million contract extension that will keep its plant humming for y...

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(Janesville) - By Jim Leute, Gazette A Janesville manufacturer has received a $64.5 million contract extension that will keep its plant humming for ye...

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(Janesville, WI) – GOEX Corporation, a manufacturer of extruded plastic sheet products, announced that it intends to expand and relocate its Jane...

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(Janesville, WI) – GOEX Corporation, a manufacturer of extruded plastic sheet products, announced that it intends to expand and relocate it...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette UW-Rock County plans to offer a new, four-year degree this fall, appealing especially to local adults who c...

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<p><span class="dateline">(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, Gazette</span></p> <p>UW-Rock County plans to offer a new, ...

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05
(Edgerton, WI) - Neil Johnson, Gazette Edgerton High School’s Pipeline to Employment, the district’s new intern partnership with area man...

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(Edgerton, WI) - Neil Johnson, Gazette Edgerton High School’s Pipeline to Employment, the district’s new intern partnership with area manufacturers, m...

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(Janesville, WI) Gary Kohn, BTC The first step in creating a world class advanced manufacturing region starts with creating a large talent pipeline. O...

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(Janesville, WI) Gary Kohn, BTC The first step in creating a world class advanced manufacturing region starts with creating a large talent pipeline. ...

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial The industrial turnaround in Janesville and Rock County has been impressive. Sure, there’s that 4.1-million...

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(Janesville, WI) Gazette Editorial The industrial turnaround in Janesville and Rock County has been impressive. Sure, there’s that 4.1-million-square-...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com Not quite four years ago, one of every four square feet of industrial space in Rock County was ...

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(Janesville, WI) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com Not quite four years ago, one of every four square feet of industrial space in Rock County was v...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, fschultz@gazetteextra.com Chris Smith was an unemployed carpenter for about two years before he started getting wo...

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(Janesville, WI) By Frank Schultz, fschultz@gazetteextra.com Chris Smith was an unemployed carpenter for about two years before he started getting wor...

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(Janesville) By Gazette Staff Rock and Walworth counties are now part of a federal trade program that offers significant benefits to existing and new...

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(Milton) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com A vacant manufacturing facility in Milton tops the list of potential sites for Blackhawk Technical Coll...

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(Janesville) By Gazette Staff Rock and Walworth counties are now part of a federal trade program that offers significant benefits to existing and new ...

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(Milton) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com A vacant manufacturing facility in Milton tops the list of potential sites for Blackhawk Technical Colle...

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19
(Beloit) By Shaun Zinck, szinck@beloitdailynews.com Two development sites in Beloit’s Gateway Business Park have been certified as “shovel ready” by t...

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(Beloit) By Shaun Zinck, szinck@beloitdailynews.com Two development sites in Beloit’s Gateway Business Park have been certified as “shove...

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(Janesville) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com Wisconsin economic development officials are expected in Rock County today to do what local econom...

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(Janesville) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com Wisconsin economic development officials are expected in Rock County today to do what local economi...

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(Janesville) Catherine Idzerda, Gazette The three R’s of education traditionally have referred to reading, writing and arithmetic. For a ...

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(Janesville) By Hillary Gavan, hgavan@beloitdailynews.com Representatives from business and education discussed how to better prepare students for th...

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(Janesville) By Hillary Gavan, hgavan@beloitdailynews.com Representatives from business and education discussed how to better prepare students for the...

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(Janesville) Catherine Idzerda, Gazette The three R’s of education traditionally have referred to reading, writing and arithmetic. For a changing...

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(Janesville) By Marcia Nelesen, mnelesen@gazettextra.com  Biotech company Virent, now thriving in a 72,000-square-foot facility, got its st...

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(Janesville) By Marcia Nelesen, mnelesen@gazettextra.com  Biotech company Virent, now thriving in a 72,000-square-foot facility, got its sta...

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(Janesville) by Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com Rock County companies are contributing to what could shape up as a record year for exports from Wi...

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(Janesville) by Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com   Rock County companies are contributing to what could shape up as a record year for exports from W...

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(Janesville) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com Rock County's official unemployment rate reached a four-year low in October, but whether that's ca...

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(Janesville) By Jim Leute, jleute@gazettextra.com   Rock County's official unemployment rate reached a four-year low in October, but whether that's ca...

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Media Contact: James Otterstein (Rock County, WI) If you're looking for a quick way to gauge the health of the local economy, check out the Rock Read...

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Media Contact: James Otterstein (Rock County, WI) If you're looking for a quick way to gauge the health of the local economy, check out the Rock Ready...

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(Beloit) By Hillary Gavan hgavan@beloitdailynews.com In Rock County hourly wages have increased in 2012 with nearly all companies surveyed providing ...

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(Beloit) By Hillary Gavan hgavan@beloitdailynews.com In Rock County hourly wages have increased in 2012 with nearly all companies surveyed providing h...

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Media Contact: James Otterstein   (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0, in conjunction with the Blackhawk Human Resource Association...

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Media Contact: James Otterstein   (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0, in conjunction with the Blackhawk Human Resource Association (BHRA),...

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(Janesville) By Jim Leute  jleute@gazettextra.com When recruiting new businesses or helping existing companies expand, economic development o...

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(Janesville) By Jim Leute  jleute@gazettextra.com   When recruiting new businesses or helping existing companies expand, economic development of...

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(Janesville, WI)  By Jim Leute jleute@gazettextra.com An upcoming bond issue to pay for several projects in Rock County will carry favorable ra...

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(Janesville, WI)  By Jim Leute jleute@gazettextra.com   An upcoming bond issue to pay for several projects in Rock County will carry favorable ra...

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09
(Janesville, WI) By Neil Johnson, njohnson@gazettextra.com It’s a calculated risk anytime you rip out a guitar solo in front of potential inves...

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09
By Erica Pennington epennington@beloitdailynews.com From high-rising ceiling drills to a website for international students, local entrepreneurs hopi...

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09
By Erica Pennington epennington@beloitdailynews.com From high-rising ceiling drills to a website for international students, local entrepreneurs hopin...

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09
(Janesville, WI) By Neil Johnson, njohnson@gazettextra.com It’s a calculated risk anytime you rip out a guitar solo in front of potential investors, b...

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07
  Media Contact: James Otterstein (Rock County, WI) – Businesses of all sizes, industry sectors and ownership structures are encoura...

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07
  Media Contact: James Otterstein (Rock County, WI) – Businesses of all sizes, industry sectors and ownership structures are encouraged to p...

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25
  Media Contact: James Otterstein   (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 announced today that Edgerton’s Business Park has ear...

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25
  Media Contact: James Otterstein   (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 announced today that Edgerton’s Business Park has earned the Ady-Aus...

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21
By Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel (Janesville, WI) - It's been a hard road in Rock County. Now the area - Exhibit A in the recession's impa...

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21
By Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel (Janesville, WI) - It's been a hard road in Rock County. Now the area - Exhibit A in the recession's impac...

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19
By Tom Still, WI Technology Council (Janesville, WI ) – Jeff Helgesen, one of Rock County’s largest developers, doesn’t parse ...

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19
By Tom Still, WI Technology Council (Janesville, WI ) – Jeff Helgesen, one of Rock County’s largest developers, doesn’t parse words when he’s ask...

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17
  By JUDY NEWMAN | Wisconsin State Journal Rock County is strutting into Chicago, trying to persuade businesses to move north, to Wisconsin. ...

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17
By JUDY NEWMAN | Wisconsin State Journal Rock County is strutting into Chicago, trying to persuade businesses to move north, to Wisconsin. Billboards...

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10
By Shaun Zinck szinck@beloitdailynews.com   City council members from the city of Beloit and Janesville got together to discuss ways to furthe...

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10
  By Marcia Nelesen (Contact ) (Janesville, WI) — When readers picked up their July 2 copy of Crain's, a noted Chicago business maga...

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10
Media Contact: James Otterstein   (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 released the details of its current media and public relations camp...

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11
Media Contact: James Otterstein Phone: 608.757.5598 (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0, in collaboration with various regional economic and w...

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11
By Erica Pennington epennington@beloitdailynews.com   (Beloit, WI) Whether interested in showing off the first prototype of the next big thing...

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11
    By JIM LEUTE (Contact )   Click here to learn more about the Rock/Walworth FastPitch Competition. JANESVILLE — Loca...

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11
Media Contact: James Otterstein Phone: 608.757.5598 (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0, in collaboration with various regional economic and workforce...

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11
  By JIM LEUTE (Contact ) Click here to learn more about the Rock/Walworth FastPitch Competition. JANESVILLE — Local entrepreneurs enthralled ...

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01
GazetteXtra.com By JIM LEUTE (Contact ) Click here to participate in the survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete. JANESVILLE — When ...

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31
By Hillary Gavan hgavan@beloitdailynews.com   JANESVILLE — While every community wants to land that economic development big fish, the m...

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30
By JIM LEUTE (Contact ) JANESVILLE — Anticipation of new products, increasing market share and a relative lack of global production all are fac...

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29
ROCK COUNTY 5.0 ONE VISION | ONE VOICE Media Contact: James Otterstein Date Phone: 608.757.5598 (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 released...

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26
By Hillary Gavan hgavan@beloitailynews.com High school students in Rock County are being called upon to take an online survey to help provide bette...

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23
Media Contact: James Otterstein Phone: 608.757.5598   (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0, in collaboration with a subcommittee of the L...

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18
  By JIM LEUTE (Contact )     Photos by Dan Lassiter JANESVILLE — Buffeted by strong economic headwinds and a sharp desc...

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14
Southern WI Regional Airport Video Released Media Contact:  James Otterstein Phone:  608.757.5598 (Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5...

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22
Summits Provide Forum to Address Employer Needs Media Contact:James Otterstein Phone:608.757.5598   (Rock County, WI) – To address toda...

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21
By JIM LEUTE (Contact ) JANESVILLE — The judges in the "Accelerate Your Business Plan" contest liked the cops last year. They loved them this ...

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21
By Hillary Gavan hgavan@beloitailynews.com Learning Spanish may be one of the best things Janesville Police Officer Chad Sullivan has ever done. Su...

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20
Media Contact: James Otterstein Phone: 608.757.5598 (Rock County, WI) – Representatives from Rock County 5.0, as well as the Contest’s T...

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23
By Hillary Gavan hgavan@beloitailynews.com   Rock County has received excellent credit ratings from Standard & Poor (S&P) and Moody's....

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21
  By JIM LEUTE (Contact ) JANESVILLE — Two top bond-rating firms have put their stamp of approval on a $4.5 million borrowing plan for Ro...

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06
  By JIM LEUTE (Contact ) Web traffic is up, and the phone is ringing. Now all local economic development officials need is for one or two of t...

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5.0 UPDATES

For additional Rock County 5.0 information, click on the listings below and/or send an email to info@rockcounty5.com

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