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Entries for October 2020

30

(Beloit, WI) Brad Allen, BDN

A virtual business expo is planned for November with the hopes that it will promote support for Black business owners. Rock County Jumpstart will host its first Black Business Week Expo in a virtual event set for Nov. 23—28.

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29

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Chicken sandwiches are the stars of the menu at the newest chain restaurant planned for the Humes Road-Milton Avenue corridor. Blain’s Farm & Fleet owner Jane Blain Gilbertson has made a zoning request on the part of a developer for a new 5,000-square-foot Chick-fil-A restaurant on the corner of Farm & Fleet’s Humes Road lot, according to a city planning memo.

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29

(Rock County, WI) Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Janesville-Beloit MSA economy managed to post a really strong quarter. These outcomes, as well as trends, are highlighted in the Q3 2020 Rock Ready Index.

Despite the unemployment spikes caused by COVID, Rock County has reported five consecutive months of declining unemployment rates. While still somewhat elevated, September’s rate of 5.2% was 2.5% lower than the national average; and lower than 290 other metro areas throughout the U.S. Granted, certain industries continue to shed jobs. However, other sectors have doubled-down on hiring activities during these ever evolving times.

Case in point: the number of regional job postings in Q3 exceeded the 30,000 mark and more than half of these postings were attributed to Rock County employers. Not surprisingly, the majority of these openings were associated with the Transportation & Material Moving (i.e. logistics) occupational category. Meanwhile, job openings attributed to Healthcare and Production occupations continued to be well represented, too.

The trajectory for residential pricing continued to push upward, as Q3 set new records for average ($215,031) and median ($196,333) sale prices, respectively. As a matter of fact, both price points established new, all-time highs for the county and when compared to the same time period in 2019, the current Q3 median sale prices were nearly 12.5% percent higher. While Q3’s residential transactions and listings were higher than the previous two periods, they remained relatively unchanged from a year ago. Buyers and sellers alike are increasingly becoming acclimated to the velocity and pricing of Rock County’s residential market. Furthermore, local units of government - such as the Village of Orfordville - are taking note and responding by implementing proactive residential development policies.

Another unforeseen economic upside during these unprecedented times can be found in the County’s sales and use tax collections. Whether attributed to spending-in-place or ordering-from-one’s place, the totals for Q3 represented the highest figures ever recorded in Rock County. At $4.3 Million, these collections were nearly 23% higher than last quarter, and 10.26% higher than the same time frame a year ago. The totals for July and August, in particular, represented two out of the three highest monthly collection periods for the county. An uptick in consumer spending is occurring at the national level too, as September marked the fifth straight month of retail sales growth. If Rock County’s trend holds true, year-end collections for 2020 could surpass $15 Million: representing yet another new record.

The economic development pipeline, more so than any other economic indicator in Q3, carried most of the pandemic’s weight. Specifically, the overall volume of activity and its corresponding project attributes (i.e. investments and employment) were dampened by national COVID-19 and presidential election sentiments. While the Purchasing Managers’ Index has enjoyed five consecutive months of rising values, industrial production in the U.S. fell in in September for the first time since April 2020; and manufacturers and investors alike have been increasingly parking and/or reallocating their capital expenditures. As a result, the number of development prospects in the pipeline is leaner than previous quarters. Nonetheless, record-low industrial vacancy rates and disruptive market forces suggests that strong, pent-up demand is on the horizon.

The featured economic development project in the Q3 Rock Ready Index is the Lincoln Academy, which will be located on Beloit’s Eclipse Center Campus. The Academy, which has a projected opening date of fall 2021, is an independent public charter K4 through 12 school. Extra math and literacy instruction, as well as other academic and experiential career readiness offerings; and comprehensive parental and/or guardian communication and engagement processes; will serve as operational foundations for the Academy. 

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 a snapshot of the ED Pipeline's growth and/or investment opportunities. Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project-specific news during a given quarter.

For more information, visit www.RockCountyAlliance.com

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29

(Beloit, WI) Austin Montgomery, BDN

A prospective property sale in the Gateway Business Park could pave the way for two industrial speculative buildings totaling one million square-feet and represent substantial future job growth, according to the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation (GBEDC). The GBEDC executive committee approved a letter of intent Wednesday to sell the 42.5-acre property at 1505 Gateway Blvd. to Phoenix Investors LLC.

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26

(Milton, WI) Kim Darison, Milton Courier

The City of Milton Common Council gave authorization Oct. 20 to City Administrator Al Hulick to execute an offer to purchase approximately 55 acres along Putman Parkway. 

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26

(Beloit, WI) Brad Allen, BDN

The latest addition to Beloit’s downtown business scene is intended to feel like home. 5Bar co-owners Levi Andersen and Derrick Wessels opened their brand new bar and lounge on Oct. 16, bringing longtime goals and dreams to fruition.

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24

(Rock County, WI) Frank Schultz, Gazette

Solar power is busting out all over. Alliant Energy said this week it plans to build two new solar farms, one west of Beloit and one north of Brodhead. They would start producing electricity by the end of 2023.

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23

(Beloit, WI) Austin Montgomery, BDN

A new outpatient orthopedic surgery center could be coming to the Gateway Business Park in Beloit, according to City of Beloit development documents.

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22

(Janesville, WI) Frank Schultz, Gazette

Remodeling of an abandoned south-side grocery store is underway, with Rock County Human Services and Job Center offices scheduled to move there in 2022.

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16

(Janesville, WI) City of Janesville

The City of Janesville is celebrating Manufacturing Month by announcing the “Coolest Thing Made in Janesville”! October is designated as Manufacturing Month to celebrate and promote Wisconsin's top industry, manufacturing.

With over 5,500 votes tallied, the winner of the 2020 “Coolest Thing Made in Janesville” contest is Post Shields. Post Shields are an innovative solution for protecting existing or new posts from damage caused by string trimmers or other lawn care equipment/services. The simple design gives any outdoor space a luxurious and finished look you'll love while saving time and money on unneeded maintenance

Congratulations to Post Shields! They will reign for an entire year as the producer of the “Coolest Thing Made in Janesville” and will be recognized at the November 9, 2020 City Council Meeting. 

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16

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

The soon-to-be new owner of the building that houses Legends Tavern plans to turn the blue-collar downtown bar into an upscale wine bar that he says will honor his family and the building’s original architecture.

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15

(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

At dusk Friday in the heart of downtown Janesville, a set of automated lights under the bridge decks flashed brilliant blues, reds and purples off the surface of the Rock River. The city and private stakeholders who for years have worked toward the multi-million dollar addition to the existing town square on the river's west side celebrated the grand opening of the square and the bridge, a public-private revitalization effort more than a year in the works.

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09

(Beloit, WI) Clint Wolf, BDN

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has proclaimed today, Oct. 9, as USS Beloit Day in honor of the new U.S. Navy combat ship now under construction.

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07

(Janesville, WI) Ashley McCallum, Gazette

The city council and plan commission could review plans to convert the Monterey Hotel into an apartment complex as soon as next month, said Gale Price, economic development director.

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01

(Janesville, WI) Benjamin Pierce, Gazette

Whether they’re saving for college, earning spending money or helping to pay their families’ bills, many high school students begin their working lives in the communities in which they’re raised. But as Magnus Jenson began to think during his senior year about life after high school, he decided to take advantage of the Janesville School District’s apprenticeship program and started working as an apprentice at Scot Forge, a metal forging company in Clinton.

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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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