County Executive touts economic growth
Breunig excited for change
By Jason Arndt
Change has been beneficial to Kenosha County communities in 2016, County Executive Jim Kreuser reported in last week’s State of the County address, where he noted more progress is coming for 2017.
“As you know, 2016 was a big year of change and 2017 keeps building on that progress,” states Kreuser, who noted economic development played a crucial role in cutting Kenosha County’s unemployment to 4.7 percent.
“We are in great financial shape…solid reserves and we continue to be the sweet spot in the state for economic development.”
Among several economic development gains, Kreuser outlined some improvements in Western Kenosha County communities, including the Salem Business Park.
The Business Park, created with cooperation from the former Town of Salem, Kenosha Area Business Alliance and Kenosha County, welcomed its first tenant at the park last year.
Vonco, a flexible packaging manufacturer, announced plans last November to move to an 80,500-square-foot facility at the park, where the company looks to invest more than $4 million in equipment and create 86 jobs the next three years.
Kreuser attributes the county’s High Impact Fund, administered by the KABA, as one of the primary reasons for this development.
“Since its inception, the High Impact Fund has contributed to the creation of nearly 1,500 new jobs and $168 million in new private investment,” he said.
Additionally, Kreuser credited investments made by private companies, including the $13 million renovation project at Wilmot Mountain last summer.
Meanwhile, businesses who plan to move to into surrounding municipalities, such as the Village of Pleasant Prairie, could see a positive ripple effect in Western Kenosha County.
Most notably, German candy maker Haribo recently announced a plan to build its first North American facility in Pleasant Prairie, where it expects to create 400 jobs.
“This project is also a win for the Village of Bristol, which will see various benefits from this development,” said Kreuser.
Also, Kreuser believes several consolidation efforts in Kenosha County, including the Village of Salem Lakes, could foster more economic growth in 2017.
“We all embrace good economic development for Kenosha County,” he said. “(This) is a year that will be very positive for all of the municipalities involved and for Kenosha County as a whole.”
Breunig beaming with pride
After the April 5 State of the County address, the Report reached out to Kenosha County Board Chairwoman Kim Breunig, who serves District 21 in Western Kenosha County.
“This is an exciting time for all of Kenosha County,” said Breunig. “We have seen an increase in development throughout our county, and each of these businesses have brought with them an opportunity for our residents.”
Breunig, of Trevor, said the Salem Industrial Park has offered a needed jolt to the community, which could encourage population growth in Western Kenosha County.
“For years, it was considered a ‘bedroom’ community, with housing developments exploding. But with additional families, comes additional services needed in the area,” she said.
Breunig cited a Comprehensive Plan developed a few years ago could address these needs.
The Comprehensive Plan set aside areas for residential and business, but “these areas are not set in stone,” said Breunig.
In the State of the County address, Kreuser revealed the Planning and Development Division issued 81 single family permits last year, the most since 2008.
“I believe that housing will keep up with economic growth and we will begin to see additional building,” Breunig said.
With more families potentially moving in, Breunig believes Western Kenosha County communities are ready.
“I have known for years that development and employment would make its way west, and I believe our community have prepared for it,” she said. “Every new business moving to Kenosha will bring with them current employees to transition the company, and some will actually move here.”