De Pere packaging plant to open in ShawanoBy:
Tim Ryan [email protected]
Belmark Inc.’s De Pere facility is seen in this photo from the company. Belmark plans a new facility in Shawano.
The De Pere-based flexible packaging manufacturer revealed Tuesday that it is the “Project Dorothy” mystery company that plans to start construction on a Shawano facility next year.
The company released the official announcement after meeting with employees Tuesday so that they could be told first.
The Shawano project was shrouded in secrecy for months and previously went by the code name Dorothy II.
City officials were prohibited from naming the company due to confidentiality agreements.
“We’re very excited about Shawano,” said Karl Schmidt, president and CEO of Belmark Inc.
Schmidt said Belmark is looking forward to becoming part of the Shawano community.
“We’ve always been quiet, but very active,” he said, supporting local schools, police and fire, and other organizations. “We’re a good charitable organization.”
The company considered more than 100 sites in nine states before settling on Shawano.
Schmidt said the company liked the idea of a location in its backyard, and likes the small-town feel of Shawano. He also said the company decided to keep its operations in Wisconsin.
“The Wisconsin manufacturing credit enables us to stay competitive in a global economy and we look forward to working with the city of Shawano to grow their manufacturing base and enhance the community as a whole,” Schmidt said.
“Our Belmark family is really important to us,” he said. “We are really happy to continue our expansion in the state of Wisconsin, a home where we have grown through the continued development of Belmark’s highly motivated and educated workforce, the best employees in the industry.”
Mayor Jeanne Cronce said she was happy to finally announce the name of the company.
“Belmark will be a wonderful addition to the community,” she said, “bringing quality jobs and continued growth.”
City Administrator Brian Knapp said Schmidt and his team have been great to work with.
“The Belmark development will be a high quality addition to the industrial park and a great neighbor to the Hillcrest school and surrounding properties,” Knapp said.
Knapp and Assistant City Administrator Eddie Sheppard recently toured the manufacturing plant in De Pere.
“We were very impressed with the facilities and the obvious pride they take in their employees as well as in maintaining their buildings and production areas,” he said. “The technology Belmark uses in flexible packaging manufacture and printing is state of the art and will offer exciting new job opportunities and options for our community.”
Knapp added that being able to attract a business like Belmark shows what Shawano has to offer: “A developing work force with a strong work ethic, a well-established progressive manufacturing culture, high quality schools, modern health care facilities, good quality affordable housing and the ‘can-do’ attitude of our city staff, appointed committees, and elected officials.”
“These projects are always team efforts, and many people in the city were involved,” he said.
Knapp offered special thanks to former Mayor Lorna Marquardt and Cronce for their support and guidance, Dennis Heling and Shawano County Economic Progress Inc. for coordinating the city’s effort, and the city economic development team of Sheppard, Rob Koepp and Brian Bunke, “who all pulled together to make sure Shawano shines like it deserves to.”
Schmidt said there are still a couple of legal formalities that have to be signed-off on, but the project is otherwise a go.
Belmark will occupy 15 acres of city-owned property in an undeveloped area north of County Road B, east of Waukechon Street and west of Industrial Drive. The development agreement approved by the Common Council earlier this month calls on the city to extend Engel Drive to the new facility.
The council this month also approved the creation of a new Tax Incremental Finance District that would include the 15-acre parcel and nearly 100 acres more to accommodate the possibility of future business development.
The city will also offer the company a $5.26 million municipal revenue obligation as an incentive that will be paid to the company over the next 20 years using the increase in property tax revenue expected to be generated by improvements to the existing property.
The company will construct an approximately 120,000-square-foot, $12 million light manufacturing, paper products related facility on the property and install approximately $24 million in related equipment, according to the development agreement.
Construction on the technologically advanced facility is scheduled to start by spring 2017 with full production beginning by spring 2018.
Belmark, a converter of pressure sensitive labels, printed flexible packaging, and folding cartons, was established in 1977 and now has four facilities on its campus in De Pere.
Schmidt said continued business growth led to the company’s need for an additional large facility.
The company will open its Shawano facility with a staff of 35 employees, but expects to grow to around 120 over a seven-year period.
The developer’s agreement describes the jobs as skilled and semi-skilled with an average hourly wage of $17.50, plus fringe benefits.
Schmidt said job interviews will begin when construction starts next year.
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