WEDC accepts applications for industrial siting program
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is now accepting applications for its Certified In Wisconsin Program, which designates industrial parcels of 20 acres or more as being "development ready."
The program has played a key role in helping communities throughout the state attract new companies by providing independent certification that a wide range of concerns have been evaluated — environmental and geological factors, transportation access, utility and infrastructure capacity, zoning and property rights — and that the site is ready for industrial development.
Wisconsin has 17 certified sites, with 21 development projects completed or underway that are expected to create more than 2,200 jobs and generate more than $389 million in capital investment.
"The competition for economic development opportunities is stronger than ever before, and the Certified In Wisconsin Program plays a critical role in helping communities compete on a national level for those opportunities by allowing for fast-track construction for major attraction or expansion projects," said Coleman Peiffer, business and investment attraction director for WEDC. "This program has a proven track record of helping communities attract major companies, such as Dollar General, Mills Fleet Farm, The Little Potato Company and United Natural Foods."
Under the program, WEDC works with Deloitte Consulting to create consistent standards for industrial site certification based on representative needs of advanced manufacturing projects. WEDC's thorough review process produces detailed documentation about a site's price, availability, utilities, access and environmental standing — information that allows investors to make informed decisions.
Once a site is certified, a potential developer has all the standard information generally needed to make a quick decision about whether that site is right for a project's needs, such as utility and transportation infrastructure, environmental assessments, quality of nearby labor force and much more.
Not only does the program increase the comfort level of site selectors and companies by removing unknowns about a site, it also raises the visibility of the property as WEDC actively markets the state's certified sites to get them in front of the people who make decisions about corporate expansions and relocations.
Officials throughout the state say the program has been instrumental in helping them attract new businesses.
"Rock County's ability to compete for, and secure, large-scale investments such as Dollar General's Midwest distribution center was impacted by our Certified Sites inventory," said James R. Otterstein, economic development manager of the Rock County Development Agency. "Shovel-ready certification, particularly for large square footage and fast-tracked projects, has been a game-changer for the Janesville-Beloit region."
The village had the foresight to participate in the WEDC Certified In Wisconsin Program at its inception, said Sam Blahnik, community development director for the village of DeForest. He said having certified sites made it possible for the village to meet expedited development timelines for the Little Potato Company and American Packaging Corporation, giving the village a competitive advantage.
Seth Hudson, senior manager of economic and community development services for the Cedar Corporation, an engineering, planning and economic development consultant in western Wisconsin, agreed the Certified In Wisconsin Program can have a significant impact on a community's economic development efforts.
"Having worked on three Certified Sites for our clients, Cedar Corporation has seen firsthand how certification enables communities to respond to requests for proposals, broker inquiries, and property questions quickly and effectively," he said. "There is no question having these sites certified by WEDC played a role in these companies' location decisions."
Applications for the program are accepted through Feb. 12. For information, visit www.wedc.org/certified.