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Entries for March 2016


(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.


"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.


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

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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 .

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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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(Rock County, WI) – Rock County 5.0 announced the release of, which will serve as the area’s one-stop employment and information portal, at the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner. This 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, 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 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

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

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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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