Monday, February 5, 2018
Focus on Calumet
A periodic update on economic development opportunities in Calumet County and the region for businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities
Thillman Named to Fox Cities Regional Partnership Staff
Peter Thillman started on January 2 as vice president of economic development at the Fox Cities Regional Partnership. The partnership is a division of the Fox Cities Chamber that supports local businesses and workforce development in the region. It receives funding from both private organizations and local municipalities, including Calumet County. He has already met with Calumet County staff and is making plans to provide assistance to businesses and communities.

Thillman has several decades of economic development experience. He was most recently vice president of workforce and economic development at Lakeshore Technical College. Before that he did economic development work for the City of Green Bay.

“Peter’s vast experience in economic development, combined with his roots in this region, are going to be of tremendous service to our region’s businesses and partners,” said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber. The partnership serves Outagamie and Calumet counties, as well as northern portions of Winnebago County.  
2017 Highlights of the Calumet County Community Economic Development Program (Part 2)
One year after the Calumet County Board created the Calumet County Community Economic Development Director position, we’ve achieved some successes together.  Part 1 of this article addressed accomplishments in local communities and with private employers in the county. Part 2 focuses on workforce development, regional partnerships, and the county’s low-interest loan fund.
  • Engaged with workforce development agencies in the region to support employers’ priority need – finding and retaining good employees
  • Working with Fox Valley Technical College – Chilton campus and Fox Valley Workforce Development Board to develop programs that directly assist local employers
  • Exploring school career counseling opportunities available to school districts in Calumet County and helping better connect schools with appropriate resources so our youth can make personally appropriate choices upon high school graduation
  • Actively partnered with economic development organizations in the region and state including Fox Cities Regional Partnership (FCRP), NEWREP, NewNorth, Fox Cities Economic Development Partnership, East Central WI RPC, and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Steering committee member for Initiative 41, five-county regional economic development project which will conclude in February 2018
  • Provided marketing and support for the Calumet County low-interest Revolving Loan Fund, which will lend businesses up to $35,000 for each full-time job created
Businesses: Wisconsin Fast Forward Grants Available
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Office of Skills Development (OSD) is accepting year-round applica tions from businesses for Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to develop innovative and collaborative customized training programs.

For more information about this important grant program, see OSD’s Eligibility and Program Guidelines , summarizing program requirements. Grant applications submitted through March 31, 2018, will be awarded by May 31, 2018. Grant Specialists are available to answer questions and offer assistance through March 21, 2018.
Free Business Counseling Offered
The third Tuesday of practically any month one can find a counselor from the Green Bay Small Business Development Center meeting at the Calumet County Courthouse with entrepreneurs and existing business owners. Each month, free individual business counseling sessions are held to help answer questions and put businesses and entrepreneurs in a better position to make the best decisions for themselves and their businesses. To schedule an appointment with the business counselor, contact Mary Kohrell using the information provided below. The next session will be held on February 20.
More Fox Valley Business Closures
As announced on January 31, Kimberly-Clark will lay off approximately 600 employees in the future due to two plant closures as global paper markets continue to shift. There will be approximately 500 jobs cut at the Neenah Cold Spring manufacturing facility and 100 at the Neenah Nonwovens Facility. While the facilities are located in Winnebago County, there will be a multi-county impact. An impact scenario developed by East Central WI Regional Planning Commission using EMSI software indicates that in a four-county region including Calumet, Fond du Lac, Outagamie, and Winnebago, the wage earnings loss is anticipated to be $106M, with a multiplier of nearly 1,500 jobs lost. It is expected that there will be $7.8M reduction in taxes on production and imports. Organizations in the region are working to hold job fairs to support displaced workers as more information becomes available about Kimberly-Clark’s timeline.
Dark Store Legislation (SB 292 / AB 386)
Under the dark store property tax loophole, large retail chains argue their stores should be valued as if they were empty or “dark,” rather than a thriving, active business. This strategy lowers property taxes for the retail chains, but at the expense of local governments, homeowners, and local businesses who shoulder a larger tax burden. Proposed SB 292 / AB 386 would close the dark store loophole by requiring assessors to consider certain factors when comparing properties to determine the value of a property for tax purposes. More specifically, the legislation provides that a property is not comparable to the property being assessed if the property is vacant or “dark” or if restrictions have been placed on the highest and best use of the property. The bill was passed unanimously by a key Senate Committee but faces a difficult battle in passing the full Legislature by the end of the legislative session. 
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