2016

Forged by History, Focused on the Future

Forged by History, Focused on the Future

Cutter Aviation

Cutter Aviation provides the highest standards of customer care in all its business areas: from line services and charter flights to aircraft management, maintenance and aircraft sales. The company has been in business for eighty-eight years and has a well-earned reputation in the industry from many loyal repeat customers.
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Centuries before brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright made history with the world’s first, sustained flight with a powered, controlled, heavier-than-air craft, man looked to the skies and envied the birds soaring overhead. Many tried to break the bonds of earth over the years in everything from kites and hot air balloons to wing suits and bizarre bicycle-powered contraptions which could barely move a few feet without toppling over, let alone take flight.

Where Economic Vitality Meets Quality of Life

Where Economic Vitality Meets Quality of Life

Portage County, WI

Portage County is centrally located in Wisconsin and offers a unique value proposition to those who live in, work in, and visit the county. As a midsized community with the advantage of infrastructure, connectivity, service and amenities, Portage County is a place where economic vitality meets quality of life.
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Growth, development and wellbeing in Portage County are driven by forward-thinking leadership and a commitment to finding balance between development and sustainability. Unlike many communities and economies across the country, Portage County wasn’t particularly hard hit by the economic recession in 2008, due in large part to the county’s diverse economy.

A Pro-Business Community

A Pro-Business Community

Chippewa County, Wisconsin

Chippewa County, Wisconsin is known for its positive business climate. “We have a stable history of growth and pro-business environment,” says Charlie Walker, President/CEO of The Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation. The EDC is committed to continuing this legacy of business success. “The economic development organization leads the state and we have won many awards in recognition of our innovative programs. We are proud of that.”
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The county also benefits from its location within the pro-business state of Wisconsin. “The manufacturing tax rates continue to drop with the goal to eliminate manufacturing tax rates in Wisconsin. So the business climate continues to improve.” The state has the funds that workers need, even as taxes continue to drop. “Wisconsin’s public pension program is 100 percent funded,” Mr. Walker points out. “That is important – unlike states like Illinois and California that have such a huge deficit. When their employees retire, that could be an automatic tax increase to cover the cost. Wisconsin is totally 100 percent funded.”

The Intersection of Livability and Opportunity

The Intersection of Livability and Opportunity

Oconto County, WI

In the November 2015 issue of Business in Focus, we spoke with Paul Ehrfurth, Oconto County Economic Development Corporation’s executive director. He talked of the area’s tourist and recreational opportunities, its proximity to Green Bay, Wisconsin and of the multiple economic efforts underway. Now, we are back with Mr. Ehrfurth to concentrate more on economic development and to follow up on some of the initiatives that were in place last November.
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In the last article, Paul spoke of a venture with a Canadian company that distributes high-end wood flooring and had a desire to build a plant in Oconto County. Chinese buyers were interested at that point, and Paul was to meet with a state representative to talk about how that project might take advantage of the EB-5 immigrant investor program, which entitles investors to obtain a U.S. visa.

A Culture of Cooperatives and Entrepreneurial Spirit

A Culture of Cooperatives and Entrepreneurial Spirit

Vernon Economic Development Association

Vernon County, Wisconsin is known for its culture of cooperation. Home to a wealth of cooperatives, this can-do community embraces innovation and opportunity while holding on to rural values and neighborly support.
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“It is a very entrepreneurial region,” says Vernon Economic Development Association Executive Director Sue Noble. “People are used to collaborating to get things done. We have a deep history of innovation and cooperation.”

Rural Opportunity

Rural Opportunity

Monroe County Economic Development

Monroe County, Wisconsin serves up an idyllic, rural lifestyle as well as business opportunity. Home to a long list of leading manufacturers, the county has perfected the knack of maintaining a laidback lifestyle while welcoming industry.
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“The quality of life is there just because we are in a rural setting,” says Economic Development Coordinator Steve Peterson. “It is a simpler life. It is safe; it is friendly. There is a real attraction when people come here, whether they are visiting or [moving here]. We are seeing people now who have moved away and are moving back because they missed the area.”

Sharing Marquette County with the World

Sharing Marquette County with the World

Lake Superior Community Partnership

The largest county in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette County serves as a retail and health care hub for the region. As such, Marquette County has all of the services and amenities to support economic growth and a good quality of life.
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“We call it God’s country up here,” noted Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP) Chief Executive Officer Amy Clickner. Clickner acknowledges that the quality of life may not be a perfect fit for everyone, but for those who enjoy the outdoors and nature, Marquette County is the place to be. “With our incredible trail systems, lakes and four seasons, you can do anything from ski, snowmobile or fat tire bike in the winter, to kayak, fish and paddleboard in the summer.”

Northern Treasure

Northern Treasure

Otsego County, MI

Nestled among the lakes and forests of northern Michigan, Otsego County is a rapidly growing community known for its tourism as well as its thriving business opportunities. This northern treasure may be off the beaten track, but it has as much to offer as better-known metropolitan destinations…
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“Often when people think of Michigan they think of Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids,” says Lisa McComb, Executive Director of the Otsego County Economic Alliance. “I think it is important that people recognize that there are thriving, active, beautiful communities where you can really make a great living and have a lower cost of living and an active life without having to be in a larger city.”

Wisconsin, a Pro-Business State

Wisconsin EDC

Since Business in Focus profiled Wisconsin last year, the state has continued to progress along a pro-business path. Chief Executive Magazine ranks Wisconsin 11th on its 2016 Best States for Business list, and 80 percent of business leaders are optimistic about the direction that Wisconsin is headed, according to a WMC annual survey…
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Tax cuts are just one of the recent initiatives that have the business community cheering. Since 2011, state taxes have been slashed by $4.7 billion. The corporate income tax rate is 7.9 percent, but manufacturing and agricultural revenues generated in-state earn a 7.5 percent credit against that 7.9 percent. “So in essence, they are paying virtually nothing on the income they are generating from their operations in the state,” says Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “That has been a big, big part of what we are doing in the state. It is something that reaches a lot of the companies.”

Making Solar Simple

Making Solar Simple

Grasshopper Solar Corporation

Grasshopper Solar was formed in 2010 as a branch of Grasshopper Energy. The company is one of the most experienced installers of rooftop and ground-mount solar systems in Ontario. It addresses an increasing demand for renewable energy with systems that are designed to perform reliably and are supported by its proprietary, state-of-the-art software. The company’s affordable systems make green energy accessible to everyone.
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Azeem Qureshi, President and CEO of Grasshopper Solar, believes that the price of solar technology should not be prohibitive. His vision is to make it affordable to everyone and that this will then help the environment. Grasshopper has the largest residential solar portfolio in Ontario and through its ‘free solar program’ and continued education is set to flourish.

Growing by Going Lean

Growing by Going Lean

Cogent Power

Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, Cogent Power Inc. is the largest manufacturer of electro-transformer components in Canada. The firm has operated in Canada for over four decades and has sister companies in Sweden and the United Kingdom. Cogent is run as part of a European group of companies owned by Indian conglomerate, Tata Steel.
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Cogent Power Inc., which supplies components and materials for motors, transformers and generators, is having a growth spurt. The firm is rapidly expanding, in terms of both revenue and personnel. According to President Ron Harper, Cogent’s success can be partly attributed to the company’s embrace of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement principles.

Connected to the World

Connected to the World

Juneau County, WI

Juneau County is located in the state of Wisconsin, just thirty minutes north of the famous Wisconsin Dells area with its scenic glacier-created gorge. Situated three hours from Minneapolis and three and a half hours from Chicago, this well-positioned piece of paradise has the most beautiful landscape filled with bluffs, forests, prairies and lakes.
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With lots of small town appeal and a population of 26,000, Juneau County’s rural setting is the perfect place for reconnecting with nature while remaining connected to the rest of the world.

Cutting-Edge Medicine, Advanced Manufacturing and Dairyfest

Cutting-Edge Medicine, Advanced Manufacturing and Dairyfest

Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Like many communities in the rural parts of the Midwest, Marshfield, Wisconsin is well-known for agriculture, particularly dairy. Marshfield boosters, however, make it clear that their region has a lot more to offer than just agricultural products.
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“We would like to make people aware of the opportunities that are available here in the Marshfield area. This is not just a small rural community only involved in natural resources and farming. There is so much more going on in this area,” says Scott Larson, Executive Director of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Rich in Potential and Primed for Opportunity

Rich in Potential and Primed for Opportunity

Simpson County, MS

Located in south-central Mississippi, Simpson County is full of potential and is primed for development. With the advantages of location, spectacular assets and a great quality of life, Simpson County, through the efforts of entities like the Simpson County Development Foundation (SCDF), is marketing, promoting and capitalizing on its untapped potential.
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Simpson County’s great standard of life and wellbeing makes it a great place to be for residents and businesses alike, and the SCDF is working hard to help people make dreams a reality. Residents and visitors can hunt, fish, boat, canoe, hike and enjoy the area’s scenic nature, bountiful trails and meandering rivers and lakes of the county’s quaint and inviting charm.

City of the New South

City of the New South

City of Columbia, SC

“Columbia is a rising city in the New South,” says Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin. He and other local leaders have an ambitious vision for this vibrant, up-and-coming state capital. “We want to be the most talented, educated, and entrepreneurial city in America. And we are making the investments required to make that vision a reality.”
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As the South Carolina state capital, Columbia’s economy is anchored by the public sector. In addition to the state government, the city is home to the University of South Carolina’s main campus. The university is a major employer as well as a reliable supplier of educated workers for local industry.

Leak-Free Solutions

Leak-Free Solutions

Trelleborg Pipe Seals

Trelleborg’s pipe seals operation is part of the wider Trelleborg Industrial Solutions Business Area of the Swedish Trelleborg Group, founded over 100 years ago. The company is a world leader in engineered polymer solutions that seal, damp and protect critical applications in demanding environments. Its innovative solutions accelerate performance for customers in a sustainable way.
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With a track record spanning over 60 years, Trelleborg’s pipe seal operation is a leading supplier of new and rehabilitation sealing solutions for concrete, plastic pipes and manhole pipes used for water, sewerage and drainage.

Dynamic and Diverse Noise Control and Energy Management Solutions

Dynamic and Diverse Noise Control and Energy Management Solutions

Polymer Technologies

Polymer Technologies was founded in 1989, during what was an interesting time for a changing market. Recognizing these changes and ready to take advantage of an opening in the market, the company, under its founder, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Prybutok, fully capitalized on the opportunity and quickly became a market leader.

The Market’s Finest Power Equipment

The Market’s Finest Power Equipment

Champion Power Equipment

Champion Power Equipment has earned a reputation for designing and producing the market’s finest power equipment. To date, the company has sold over 2.5 million generators in North America, making the business an undisputed leader in the field.
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In business since 2003, the company has expanded from its original Santa Fe Springs, California headquarters to include facilities in Jackson, Tennessee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Toronto, Canada. Champion’s product line has expanded along with its geographical footprint to include portable generators, home standby generators, inverter generators, engines, winches and log splitters.

A Texas Packaging Firm with a Global Reach

A Texas Packaging Firm with a Global Reach

Austin Foam Plastics

Austin Foam Plastics (AFP) designs, manufactures and sources protective packaging for products to ensure they are not damaged in transit. The company perpetuates a global reach, a family-like corporate culture and initiatives for sustainability that have earned the firm industry kudos.
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AFP’s Pflugerville, Texas (a suburb of Austin, TX) headquarters features over 500,000 square feet of production space. From the heart of Texas, the firm has customers across the United States and abroad. “We’re expanding more into China and Mexico,” says AFP President Rick Lange.

Beneath the Surface Lies Quality

Beneath the Surface Lies Quality

Lincoln Industries

Lincoln Industries is North America’s largest and most diverse privately held metal finishing company. The company was founded in 1952 in Lincoln, Nebraska, by Dale LeBaron in 1952 as a small custom plating shop, plating everything from teapots to lamps to car parts. Today, the company has grown and operates in agriculture, motorsports, trucking and many other sectors, Lincoln Industries prides itself on delivering the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
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The company offers a number of services, such as metal finishing, tube fabrication, design and engineering, global supply chain management, assembly and packaging. We spoke with its new President, Bill Ellerbee, to find out more.

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