Focus on Calumet
A bi-weekly update on economic development opportunities in Calumet County
and the region for businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities.

Monday, April 6, 2020
If this is the first time you’re receiving this online publication, welcome to Calumet County’s Focus on Calumet e-newsletter. It is sent out every other Monday morning, with occasional breaking news updates. We’ve intentionally added as many Calumet County businesses as possible to our mailing list to offer the best support and resources available during this time of COVID-19. If this is useful and you’d like additional assistance for your business, please use the contact information included at the end of this newsletter. There is also an option at the end to pass this resource along to others who might benefit, as well as to unsubscribe if you’re receiving this in error.
COVID-19 Resources for Businesses
It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that human health and safety are the most important concern at this time, and businesses are encouraged to stay up to date with Wisconsin’s most current health guidance available from the WI Department of Health Services to keep WI workers and families healthy.

Dozens of Calumet County businesses who are currently experiencing financial uncertainty – especially those deemed nonessential businesses in the Governor’s Emergency Safer at Home Order -- have contacted the Calumet County Economic Development Program for assistance, and we’re doing our best to provide appropriate resources and referrals. In addition to the businesses that have reached out, there are likely many others who are also experiencing some type of difficulty but haven’t yet contacted us. Please know we are here to serve everyone – from the one-person sole proprietorship up to our largest employers. Please know that every question is important; don’t hesitate to ask!

Calumet County’s Community Economic Development Program has been staying abreast of current developments and resources that may be useful to local businesses. Including our own website, these resources include:

  • Calumet County Economic Development Support for Businesses site, which is compiling the most useful resources for Calumet County businesses, especially including the deployment of the federal CARES Act financial support for businesses.
  • WEDC’s COVID-19 Business Resources – new publications, links to financial resources such as SBA and the WEDC grant program, information on online virtual trainings and meetings, and timely updates from the Governor.
  • SBDC’s One-Stop Shop for Small Business COVID-19 resources which is particularly helpful in making sense of the financial assistance available through the CARES Act as well as other sources of technical assistance.
The COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index

The COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index , as calculated by Chmura Economics and Analytics , is a measurement of the negative impact that the coronavirus crisis can have on employment based upon a region's mix of industries. For example, accommodation and food services are projected to lose more jobs as a result of the coronavirus (in the neighborhood of 50%) compared to utilities and healthcare (with none or little expected job contraction). The scale on the U.S. map below shows counties ranging from very light (projected low vulnerability) to dark red (projected high vulnerability.)

An average Vulnerability Index score is 100, representing the average job loss expected in the United States. Higher scores indicate the degree to which job losses may be greater — an index of 200, for example, means the rate of job loss can be twice as large as the national average. Conversely, an index of 50 would mean a possible job loss of half the national average.
The Vulnerability Index only measures the impact potential related to the mix of industry employment. The index does not take into account variation due to a regions' rate of virus infection, nor does it factor in local government's policies in reaction to the virus. For example, a region with a high Vulnerability Index may have little to moderate job losses if the region has only slight infection rates and local government imposes few restrictions. On the other hand, a region with a low Vulnerability Index may still incur large employment losses if the local rate of infection is high or local government restrictions are especially stringent.

The index is based on a model of potential job losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Expected employment losses at the subsector level are based upon inputs which include primary research on expert testimony; news reports for key industries such as hotels, restaurants, retail, and transportation; preliminary release of unemployment claims; and the latest job postings data from  Chmura's RTI database .

The forecast model assumes employment in industries in each county/region would change at a similar rate as employment in national industries. The projection estimates that the United States could lose 15.0 million jobs due to COVID-19, with over half of the jobs lost in hotels, food services, and entertainment industries.
NOTE: Employment sectors with the largest expected job losses include arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food services. Those with the smallest expected job losses are real estate, rental, and leasing. Manufacturing is 7 th on the list of 20 sectors, likely because of the differentiation between types of manufacturing with some being very resilient (food and toilet paper production) and others less so. Not surprisingly, tourist-dependent WI counties are some of the hardest hit, whereas much of the remainder of WI has lower vulnerability estimates due to manufacturing and construction.
Career Expo Cancelled
While the April 2 Calumet County Career Expo was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, efforts to connect local high school students and local employers are ongoing through the efforts of Inspire Calumet. Calumet County Community Economic Development continues to partner with CESA 6 and the Calumet County Business Education Partnership to offer businesses and students the opportunity to explore future jobs and careers. Current activities are virtual; face-to-face activities will be resumed as soon as possible.
Local Community Updates
Calumet County CDGB CLOSE funding to Support Local Redevelopment Projects
Calumet County and its participating local cities and villages have determined the allocation of the county’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) CLOSE funds. These funds are available to the county due to the mandated closure of the State of Wisconsin’s CDBG Revolving Loan Fund program, which in turn closed the county’s RLF program and left the fund balance available for local projects.

The county’s CDBG CLOSE available fund balance is approximately $1.23 million, all of which needs to be used for purposes that meet the national objectives established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Program. These objectives include (1) benefit to low and moderate income persons; (2) aid in the prevention or elimination of slums and blight; and (3) meet an urgent need. 

Last fall, Calumet County contracted with Cedar Corporation to lead the county’s Economic Development planning process. A Work Group composed of participating local cities and villages met monthly with Cedar consultants and county staff to oversee the Plan’s development. The Economic Development Plan included an analysis of the county’s workforce and senior housing demand; a final report of that analysis is expected in May. The Plan also included a review of opportunities to eliminate slum and blight in the county.  Through the process, participating cities and villages were invited to define local projects that met the CDBG criteria and would support local and county economic development priorities. 

The county has utilized approximately $74,000 of CLOSE funds for the Cedar Corporation contract, leaving $1.16 million to support local projects. Five communities requested a portion of those funds, and after review by the Work Group and Cedar Corporation, the following approximate allocations were approved:

  • City of Brillion - $358,000 for continued demolition at the Brillion Iron Works site as part of an overall site redevelopment plan
  • City of Chilton - $179,000 to support the city’s demolition and clean-up at the former Chilton Plating property for future industrial development
  • Village of Hilbert - $215,000 for demolition of the former Bel Brands building in downtown Hilbert for future commercial development
  • City of New Holstein - $358,000 for the city’s demolition at the former Tecumseh property for future development
  • Village of Sherwood - $46,000 for the demolition of a blighted residential property that is in the right-of-way of a local road extension project.

This decision will support high priority economic development projects in these local communities, and represents an opportunity for the county to help leverage other funding investments to grow the economy, and ultimately our tax base.

Note that because the City of Appleton is defined as an entitlement community by the federal government, it already receives an allocation of Community Development Block Grant funds and was therefore not eligible to be part of the county’s process. 
Appleton, Neenah Receive Additional Federal Block Grants to Respond to Coronavirus Pandemic
Duke Behnke , Appleton Post-Crescent, April 1, 2020
City planners in Appleton and Neenah are studying how best to use an influx of community development block grants designed to soften the economic and housing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Appleton will receive a $348,255 block grant allocated through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law last week. That's in addition to the $592,072 block grant that the city received as part of its annual program allotment. Neenah will receive a $128,328 block grant through the CARES Act. That's in addition to its annual program block grant of $218,172.
The streets and sidewalks of downtown Appleton lack their normal buzz of activity amid the stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

 (Photo: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
The new allocations were part of $37.3 million in block grants announced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Karen Harkness, Appleton's director of community and economic development, said city staff is examining how to divvy up the money. No decisions have been made.
Local Business Updates
Survey Looks at how COVID-19 is Affecting Businesses

Economic development organizations from across Wisconsin are using a data tool developed by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Center for Customized Research & Services (CCRS) to gather more information on how businesses are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New North Inc. announced its partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the state’s eight other regional economic development organizations and the CCRS to create a survey and send it to businesses that may be experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic.

The survey will be available to businesses in all 72 counties and disseminated by Wisconsin’s nine regional economic development organizations and their local chamber and community partners. The survey will be repeated at regular intervals to better determine the economic impact to businesses over defined periods of time. New North Executive Director Barb LaMue is overseeing the project along with Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, and Jeffrey Sachse, MPA, interim director of UW-Oshkosh’s CCRS.

“Businesses around the state have been, and will continue to be, impacted for some time,” LaMue said. “The results of the responses will help government officials and service providers better address issues to help in this recovery.”

Jadin said the survey results will provide the needed information to help state and federal officials understand what Wisconsin businesses are going through. “It also will measure if they may be able to effectively recover, even with state and federal efforts,” he said.
Growing Plants (and a Business)
Honeymoon Acres Helps Customers Fuel Gardening Passions
By Kat Boogaard , Insight on Business, Mar 30, 2020

Joseph McShaw, who co-owns Honeymoon Acres Greenhouse in New Holstein with his wife, Marci, never doubted he would eventually run his own greenhouse business. “I always knew that I wanted to do this,” he says. 
McShaw quite literally grew up in the industry. His parents owned a Pennsylvania business that included a greenhouse, vegetable farm and a honeybee farm where he and his siblings handled a lot of the chores related to keeping those businesses running. After graduating from high school, McShaw made the move to Wisconsin, where he and his wife started building greenhouses when they were in their early 20s. Like many businesses, they had humble beginnings.
“We purchased a repossessed property, and we just started building greenhouses,” McShaw says. “We’d buy old barns for $50 or $100 and then we’d take the wood back and build a greenhouse out of it.”

Since their property was located on Honeymoon Hill Road, they landed on the name Honeymoon Acres for their budding greenhouse business.

Both of the McShaws maintained full-time jobs when they were building those early greenhouses. After noticing increasing demand, they decided to channel all their energy and attention into supporting and growing their greenhouses into the full-fledged business it is today.

While they loved the property on Honeymoon Hill Road (and still use it to this day as overflow facility for plants), they knew that they would need more space to really let their business blossom. In 2002, they moved to a much larger property in New Holstein, which is where their retail location is now. Since making the move, the space has transformed into a sprawling marketplace of plants, crops and gardening goods.

The business includes a 27,000-square-foot annual greenhouse, a 10,500-square-foot perennial greenhouse and five 1,800-square-foot greenhouses where tomatoes, peppers, cool crops, herbs and vine crops thrive in separate growing conditions. It also features 2,400 square feet of sales space where the business sells pots, jams and jellies, and fertilizers, as well as 20,000 square feet of outdoor space to display lawn ornaments, nursery stock, extra perennials and other plants.
Worthington Makes Interior Upgrades
Mark Sherry, Tri-County News, 3/26/20
There is plenty of progress going on at Worthington Industries’ manufacturing facility in Chilton, even if most of it is not noticeable from the outside of the building.

There are certainly signs of construction visible outside the facility at 300 E. Breed Street, but the vast majority is going on inside as Worthington is in the middle of a year-long interior renovation and also has greatly updated manufacturing equipment over the past year.

Gary Mayer, operations manager at the Chilton plant for the past three years, said the renovations are primarily for the comfort and betterment of employees. A locker room is being added, and rest rooms in the plant are being updated. Air conditioning is being added in those rest rooms. A gym for employee use also is being added following the lead of the corporate office in Columbus, Ohio which also employs an on-site trainer. Roof updating is scheduled to start in April and other infrastructure updates are planned as well.

Mayer said the improvements have been in the discussion stage for about a year and a half. Work began in January and is expected to be completed next January. The additions will be welcome by Worthington’s roughly 330 employees in Chilton, 280 of whom are hourly. Also very much welcomed in the shop in the past year was the addition of 17 new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines which replaced older machining equipment.
Job Openings

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