Success Stories

RCEDC Assists Acme Construction Metals in moving to Racine, WI


Acme Construction Metals is a structural and ornamental metal fabricating company that provide structural steel and ornamental metals as well as erecting for general contractors.  The company has successfully delivered projects including theming structures for Six Flags XFlight roller coaster, the Fischel Park band shell, custom railing, and architectural support projects.  The business is owned by Jeffery Nelson and originated in Kenosha. Nelson, who has 35 years of experience in the trade, started the business in 2004.

The company was operating in Kenosha on a month to month lease; however due to the needs for a larger space to accommodate the growing business. Nelson’s desire to own his building, and the risk that a short notice to vacate may negatively impact Acme, Nelson decided to look for a new permanent location for his business.  The asset that Mr. Nelson acquired is 1800 Clark Street in the City of Racine.  The property is a 102,500 square feet multi-tenant facility and is currently occupied by six small businesses. 

“As our company has continued to grow, our space needs were greater than our current location could accommodate, so we began to look for a larger facility.  The 1800 Clark Street property is perfect for our needs, and it will provide us ample space to grow,” noted Jeff Nelson.  “There is no way we could have accomplished this purchase without the help of Racine’s Mayor John Dickert and RCEDC Staff.”

Business Lending Partners (BLP) is the finance division of RCEDC that assisted Jeff in obtaining the financing he needed to make his building purchase and renovation a success. Utilizing the City of Racine Revolving Loan Fund (City RLF) and Racine Development Group Revolving Loan Fund (RDG RLF) loans provided Jeff with low-interest rates and allowed the company to contribute only 10% down payment toward the total project cost.  

Jeff Nelson and the Acme staff are true innovators consistently delivering high-quality artistry and excellent customer service. “Racine is fortunate to be home to many different sized companies, similar to that of Wisconsin” commented Mayor John Dickert. “Racine has a preponderance of first stage companies, those with 2-9 employees, just like Acme Construction Metals.  The partnership that the City has with RCEDC facilitated this success, we welcome this company to Racine and look forward to more projects like this in the future.”




BRP Opens Global Training Center in Sturtevant


Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP) is a privately held company that is a world leader in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of motorized recreational vehicles.  Its products include Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, See Doo watercraft and boats, Evinrude and Johnson outboard engines, Can-Am all-terrain vehicles and Spyder roadsters as well as Rotax engines.

The Evinrude Outboard Engine has a history In Southwest Wisconsin for more than 100 years, and since 2001, the engine has been manufactured at the BRP US Sturtevant location which is responsible for manufacturing and the assembly of Evinrude and Johnson outboard engines. RCEDC and BRP have been working together to build within the Racine County community since their relationship began in 2001.  

In 2011 the company made a significant expansion with the assistance of RCEDC that established the Sturtevant area as the company’s “ World Class Manufacturing and R&D Center.”The improvement and development investment increased their Sturtevant workforce by 130.

BRP’s plans for expansion did not stop there, and they continue to grow within our community. BRP has recently introduced a  state-of-the-art technician training institute, yet again adding value to the community. The new center will host general weeklong training sessions for BRP’s expanding dealer network. Since the Sturtevant location will now be used as their Core Training Center, over 500 dealer representatives and technicians expected to visit annually to participate in advanced technical training at BRP.

Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC) and the Village of Sturtevant assisted in the completion of this training center by providing financial incentives to support this expansion.

“We are grateful to the Village of Sturtevant and the Racine County Economic Development Corporation for their support in the creation of this world-class training institute that has allowed us to create and secure over 20 full-time positions. The new institute will bring around 500 visitors a year to the region,” said Villemure. “The Evinrude brand has a storied relationship with South Eastern Wisconsin, and BRP is excited to open up this new chapter."



RCEDC's Programs Help Make the New Willkomm Development Possible 

Michael and James Willkomm are multi-generation business owners of the family’s petroleum distribution and other Willkomm businesses throughout southeast Wisconsin. With several companies located throughout the community – there was one intersection that captured the family’s attention since the 1980’s - the corner of Hwy 31 and Spring Street in the Village of Mount Pleasant.  With substantial traffic on both cross streets, the Willkomm family knew the location would be a success.  In the early 1980’s, the Willkomm family attempted to purchase the southwest corner, then pursued the northwest corner but for a variety of reasons their plans did not work out. Then years later in 2014, they had a crazy idea, “What if we tried to purchase the homes on the southeast corner?”  Moreover, so it began, the Willkomm family bought 15 parcels and 13 homes, many of which were abandoned, to assemble a 5.6-acre parcel for the new development.

The project was no easy task, to say the least, but with leadership support provided by Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, RCEDC was brought to the table to find solutions.  Business Lending Partners (BLP) partnered with Johnson Bank in financing the Willkomm development project and by BLP combining three loan programs to support the project – success was realized.  The project is an impactful local investment that will result in more than $5 million in new property tax revenue for Mount Pleasant and will result in the creation of 32 new full-time jobs at the site. James Willkomm stated that  “we are grateful that there are funding programs and resources available that have a focus on developing the community that we call home and help it move it forward. Without RCEDC and their purpose to move communities forward, we may not have been able to do this project.”   

The Willkomm family is very excited to continue their growth here in Racine County.  The company currently employs 200 people, and this project will add another 32 jobs at the site. 

The Willkomm development will include a state-of-the-art Mobil gas station, a convenience store with a Dunkin’ Donuts, the Dish restaurant, and a car wash. The car wash will be two stories, and the first flat conveyor car washes in our area using the newest technology in the industry. The Willkomm’s Development is only one of many companies that RCEDC’s finance division – BLP - has been able to assist using its low down payment (10%), low-interest loan funds. You can also read about Proformance PC and Graphic Sign Shop, Integrity Funeral Services, and Calouette Construction Services LLC.


ipes Down Under


Pipes Down Under Receives The Assistance Needed To Grow In Racine

Pipes Down Under is an innovative company providing patented pipe repair kit systems for leaking or cracked inaccessible piping without the need to excavate. In 2002, the skimmer line of Bill Cosban’s in-ground swimming pool was leaking, and he refused to believe digging up the ground was the only way to repair the pipe. After Cosban’s intensive research and development related to underground pipe repair, he started the company Pipes Down Under in Schaumburg, Illinois with 14 domestic and international patents. On his website,, Bill announces the benefits of his method, “This new process will repair the broken underground pool pipe in a fraction of the time it takes to excavate and replace the existing pipe. It will save thousands of dollars in machinery usage, time and labor costs along with non-disruption of the surrounding areas such as natural pool landscaping, adjacent pool tiles, and fencing to name a few.”

Bill’s business excelled, and his small, five-person company has sold close to 1,000 repair kit systems installed throughout the world. To accommodate his growing business, Bill began looking for locations to expand and reached out to the Racine County Economic Development Corporation for help. RCEDC provided several sites to choose from, and the company ultimately decided on the Racine Business Center at 1405 16th Street in Racine. In addition to the site location assistance provided by RCEDC Bill moved his family and company to Racine partly because they have had a sailboat here for years; he added, “We have enjoyed the Racine marina for years and through this fell in love with Racine. With the help of RCEDC, we were able to secure a location to accommodate our growing business.”

Bill hopes to increase his workforce to 25 employees within three years and has proven his repair method has applications well beyond swimming pools. To assist in the facilitation, of the company’s future growth RCEDC contributed with an in-person introduction to accessing the services at the (Global) Water Council. Today Bill’s invention can be used in many aspects such as municipal and utility pipes, both to keep water in, but also keep water out of electrical and the computer lines. RCEDC was further able to assist Bill in obtaining a Racine County Matching Grant providing him up to $2,500 to help build a company website and new logo design. Pipes Down Under is continually developing new products and can assist you with all your piping repair and prevention needs. 



APAK, Inc. Invests in the City of Racine and Expands Their Workforce by 34

In 2014, Apak, Inc. contacted Racine County Economic Development Corporation requesting assistance with finding a Wisconsin location to expand its growing contract manufacturing operations headquartered in Mundelein, IL. The company specializes in dry product packaging for retailers such as P&G, Walmart, Costco, Walgreens, Target, Trader Joe’s and The Dollar Stores. Apak offers a variety of packaging options to meet their customer’s needs, including vertical and horizontal fill and seal baggers, stand-up zipper pouches, bag in a box, shrinkwrapped packaging and more. With RCEDC’s assistance, Ed Raynor, owner of Apak, secured a lease location at 3801 S. Memorial Drive. 

In 2015, Ed reached out to RCEDC again seeking assistance to purchase their leased facility; kicking off a growth plan to increase its Racine employment base from 12 employees to 46 employees. RCEDC worked with the company to access financial assistance for the business expansion project generating a total assistance package of $286,850 which included incentives from the City of Racine and a low-interest loan through RCEDC’s Business Lending Partners.

Ed Raynor shared, “We were told that Racine County was a business-friendly location and that RCEDC would help us navigate through our business expansion process. Both statements have proven to be true, and we are excited about our growth potential in Wisconsin.” The company intends to double the square footage of their Racine facility within the next 2-3 years.


Rent Assistance Program Helped Local Restaurant

Napoli Pizza and Pasta, Inc. has been quenching the appetites and catering events for the Greater Union Grove community with a delicious selection of Italian food and drinks for many years. When Kenneth Meyer took over ownership of the restaurant in 2015, he planned many improvements including purchasing equipment, adding new menu options, and increasing the business’s hours to serve customers better.

After reviewing the company’s growth plan, the Village of Union Grove and RCEDC offered Meyer a Commercial Business Rent Assistance Grant. He commented: “Tina Chitwood from RCEDC was very responsive and helpful when guiding me through the process of getting the rent assistance grant from the Village of Union Grove.”  The rent assistance grant program reimburses new businesses moving into Downtown Union Grove up to $300 per month of their monthly rent for 12 months.

Meyer sees the value of the rent assistance grant and realizes that the award offers him the opportunity to dedicate capital toward his growth plan. Besides the subsidy itself as a benefit, the grant opportunity also broadens his network. Meyer expressed: “The experience of working with RCEDC opens up more doors to meeting other business leaders in the local area.”


O&H Danish Bakery Successful Expansion

O&H Danish Bakery is a premium supplier of authentic Danish baked goods, particularly Danish Kringle, Wisconsin’s official pastry since 1949. The fourth generation family owned company is the property of the Olesen family and led by Eric Olesen, President of O&H. The Olesen family worked hard to build the bakery business and taught their children to respect and honor their family principles with everything they bake and do. The family tradition of baking excellence continues today with the fourth generation of children and talented bakers including Eric’s son, Peter Olesen. Their success proves through continued growth in sales volume over the years. 

With recent expansion in wholesale and mail order operations in addition to retail operations - Eric Olesen decided to consolidate O&H’s production and office in one location of 48,000 square feet. Having a long history tied to Racine, the company wanted to remain in Racine County and chose the location at 5910 Washington Ave in the Village of Mount Pleasant to be their flagship store. The new facility will improve efficiencies in the production process and provide increased production space to accommodate growth through the company’s wholesale, mail order, and retail.

Customer is happy getting her pastry at the new location

O&H contacted Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC) and Business Lending Partners early, allowing the company to access several incentive and loan programs. RCEDC worked with the company in finding a site location and assisted the company in securing tax incentives from the State of Wisconsin and the Village of Mount Pleasant. The BLP team, in partnership with Johnson Bank, assisted O&H in the financing of equipment and land purchases through two Racine County revolving loan programs. The two loans helped reduce the bank’s risk exposure and offered the borrower savings through the low-interest rate loans (as low as 0%). The new store finally opened its door on September 29, 2015, after months of eager anticipation from residents. When asked about his experience working with BLP staff, Mr. Olesen stated: “They helped us through a 3-year project of expansion by staying ahead of the process and being there for us through each step. Laura Million (RCEDC Business Development Manager) and Carolyn Engel (BLP’s Business Finance Manager) was very responsive and supportive since the start of the project until now.”


Ashley Capital Chose Racine County For Its Investment

Ashley Capital is one of the largest privately-held real estate investment companies in the United States. Starting in 2014, RCEDC worked with the Villages of Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant to assist Ashley Capital’s completion of a 376,000 square-foot speculative distribution facility located in Enterprise Business Park in the Village of Sturtevant. The project encountered a few barriers during the initial development stage, but RCEDC staff were there to help Ashley Capital through each step. Gary Rosecrans of Ashley Capital stated: “Ashley has a strong history of success in the Racine County market. With the completion of the first building, Ashley Capital is confident our investment will be a success for our company and this community.”

In addition to the newly completed building which includes 32-foot ceilings and 46 exterior docks, the Enterprise Business Park can accommodate an additional three buildings totaling 824,000 square feet. The prime location is ideal for warehouse and distribution users. The site is adjacent to rail, has access to a full 4-way interchange via Highway 11 and 20, and is less than two miles from I-94 and is 15 minutes north of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, providing easy access to Chicago, Milwaukee, and Midwest markets.

When asked how the experience working with RCEDC staff was, Mr. Rosecrans commented:

“The RCEDC staff has always been very supportive of our needs and those of our tenants. They were very instrumental in getting the site for Enterprise Business Park into one municipality, which was no small task. Without them, the project would not have become a reality.” 

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave noted, “This new state-of-the-art facility will ensure an adequate supply of industrial real estate for expanding Racine County companies, as well as recruitment projects seeking a prime location near I-94 in the Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor.”

Get in contact today with Gary Rosecrans for business opportunities at 773-221-1234 or Click here to view the property brochure.

State, county, and local incentives are also available. Contact Jordan Brown at 262-898-7444 or

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Building Purchase Increases Visibility Of Business

Kevin Fitzpatrick has been in operation for the past twelve years. With his graphic design skills and experience in the industry, Mr. Fitzpatrick has been running two growing businesses: Proformance PC and Graphic Sign Shop. Seeing the gap in the market for in-house computer and laptop repair services, Kevin launched his business-Proformance PC to serve the need for the Southeast Wisconsin area. They offer the best in equipment on-site and in-store services which include: drop-off service, program software installation, virus removal, remote support and data recovery. Graphic Sign Shop offers to print for both large and small format printing projects.

Justin (left) and Kevin (right) working in their new building


The businesses quickly outgrew their leased space in a strip mall on the far-east side of the Village of Union Grove. To increase their visibility and retail space, Fitzpatrick decided to purchase the building at 1200 15th Avenue in Union Grove. There are also garages in the back of the building that provide space for Graphic Sign Shop to start taking on larger print projects. Kevin estimates the move into the new facility will reduce production time by up to 50%. Additionally, the exterior building renovations conducted after Kevin purchased the building have already had a positive community impact as a vacant building in the Village is filled with a thriving business and a creative storefront window displays. The company is committed to creating an additional two new jobs over the next two years. When asked how we [Business Lending Partners, a division of RCEDC] helped secure the purchase, Mr. Fitzpatrick said:

“If it weren't for the façade and rent assistance grants provided by the Village, my acquisition of this building would not have come to fruition. In fact, without the loan assistance from BLP, we would not have gone through with the purchase. We were able to use the savings realized from a very low-interest rate loan we received from the Village to devote to making extensive building renovations; turning this worn down building into an eye-catching renovation that many people have given me compliments on the undertaking.”

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CTE Expansion In Union Grove

Starting in 1996, Custom Truck & Equipment (CTE) provides a unique line of products in the construction and utility industries. CTE makes an unmatched range of rigorous and super-sized equipment such as cranes, vocational trucks, and heavy equipment. In February 2011, CTE started a branch in Union Grove, managed by Eric Sweet and Angela Sweet.

Eric Sweet and Angela Sweet standing proudly in front of the company logo

In 2014, CTE immediately experienced rapid growth and quickly outgrew its 3,500 SQ. Ft. facility. That is when CTE reached out to RCEDC. RCEDC stepped in and helped CTE secure a property expansion to 24,000 SQ. ft. RCEDC collaborated with CTE and the Village of Union Grove to finish the project in October 2015. The expansion will result in an estimated 24 new jobs in over three years.

Eric Sweet said that Laura Million from RCEDC was vital to the success of the project. Laura helped CTE identify the expansion property and secure financing assistance from the Village of Union Grove.  Since CTE is so unique, they required employees with a particular skill set and needed help finding qualified individuals to fill the additional 24 new jobs. Angela Sweet was glad to receive help from Christine Henning from (RCEDC) to recruit the additional staff needed. Christine assisted getting job fliers out to local colleges, job fairs and started CTE with the Fast Forward Education program. When asked how Union Grove adds value to the business, they answered:

95% of our business is NOT local at all! We ship units all across the US.  The key about the location is the support we have gained from Union Grove (Mike Aimone & the Village Board), RCEDC (Laura Million) as well as the excellent pool of skilled labor we have been fortunate to access.

With the expansion, Eric and Angela Sweet are committed to tapping into the local market and increase their offerings as a business unit. They are also excited to be involved in a great community and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship. 

CTE employees are building a 20-foot flatbed 


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German firm PTF To Open U.S. Business In Sturtevant

German manufacturer PTF Pfuller GmbH & Co. KG has chosen Sturtevant for its first U.S. location, with plans to ramp up from an initial small sales operation to a manufacturing and distribution center within five years. PTF is the first win for M7 officials among prospects initiated at the last three Hannover Messe conventions, said Jim Paetsch, M7 vice president of corporate relocation, expansion, and attraction.

PTF German Precision Technology Inc., the name of PTF’s U.S. arm, is in the process of hiring a sales person who will work in Leman USA Inc.’s headquarters at 1860 Renaissance Boulevard in Sturtevant. Leman, a freight forwarding company, will provide administrative and warehousing services until PTF’s local growth requires its offices, said Jenny Trick, Racine County Economic Development Corp. deputy director, and an M7 partner, who spearheaded the recruitment efforts with Paetsch.

Read the complete article here. Read M7 Blog Post and Case Studies here.
Oliver Zintl PTF


International Highlights for 2012

Hannover Messe

The Hannover Messe trade show, in Hannover Germany, is the world’s largest industrial trade show with eight industry clusters represented. Industries served to include Industrial automation; industrial supply; motion, drive, and automation; energy and others.

In April 2012, four members, of the Milwaukee 7 including a representative from RCEDC, traveled to the Hannover Messe show in partnership with SelectUSA (US Department of Commerce) to meet with some international companies with the goal of attracting foreign investment to our Region.

Staff met with 49 businesses and met with some companies that visited the SelectUSA exhibition.  Realizing this effort is a multi-year effort, the team continues to remain in contact with the firms that have expressed interest in a location in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor. 

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Spain Trip

As a result of several Spanish companies investing in the M7 region, including Talgo, Inesa, SicLazaro and Ingeteam, additional referrals citing the value of the M7 region as a business location resulted in additional interest. A trip planned had a twofold purpose, first to meet with those investors interested in the M7 region and second to meet with the parent companies of those that have an investment interest in the M7 region.  

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