Mar 28, 201712:39 PMTransportation Matters
with Craig Thompson
Economic development tastes sweet
(page 1 of 2)
The Village of Pleasant Prairie just chalked up yet another win. The announcement that German candy maker Haribo is opening its first North American candy factory in Pleasant Prairie is another hugely impressive accomplishment for this village with a population of a little over 20,000 people. Of course, this smallish village is not an island. It is located in Kenosha County perfectly situated between Chicago and Milwaukee, immediately adjacent to a recently rebuilt and expanded stretch of Interstate 94.
The village officials, Kenosha County officials, and economic development professionals in the region need to be commended. They have clearly identified their strengths and accentuated them beautifully.
One of the economic development professionals who has been a key player in this region is Jerry Franke with Wispark. This group has been key in developing LakeView Corporate Park, as well as numerous others in the region.
Mr. Franke explains perfectly both why they have been successful, as well as the vast potential of the region that has not yet been realized. “Southeast Wisconsin is located at the northern end of one of only a few megalopolises in the United States. The southern metro area of Milwaukee from Oak Creek to Pleasant Prairie represents outstanding location for one of the fastest growing sectors of our national economy — the distribution and logistics sector. Companies such as Amazon, Uline, Meijer, Ariens, Gordon Foods, and the like have recognized that locating such facilities between the two large Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas along or near the Interstate system is the most efficient way to get the goods and services that consumers need and want to the greatest number of people as quickly as possible.”
Now, add to that list Haribo and the 400 jobs that will go along with that when the factory opens in 2020. Success stories like this are never the result of just one thing. As I mentioned before there are a lot of players in the area that deserve a tremendous amount of credit.
It cannot be discounted as coincidence, however, that the vast majority of these successes began to accumulate after the Interstate system in Kenosha was rebuilt and expanded. The return on this investment we have made is clear. These successes illustrate why an online site selector group — AreaDevelopment.com — continually finds “access to highways” as the number one or number two most important reasons for choosing where to locate a facility in their annual survey.
All of this makes it confounding that the state is considering walking away from finishing the stretch of I-94 immediately north of Pleasant Prairie in Racine County, not to mention the 3.5-mile stretch in front of Miller Park and the North Leg of the Zoo Interchange. Each of those has outlived the 50-year life they were designed to last.
The budget introduced by the governor, about to be debated by the legislature, reduces funding for the Southeast Freeway system, setting back the completion of these critical corridors for possibly decades.
If you’re confused by this retreat, you’re not alone.