RCEDC ice sculpture

Shown is an ice sculpture made by Art Below Zero for Thursday's Racine County Economic Development Corp. annual meeting, held at Delta Hotel by Marriott Racine, 7111 Washington Ave.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Racine County Economic Development Corp. celebrated its 2018 accomplishments Thursday at its annual meeting, sharing the news that it had 21 business-assistance projects that created 304 new jobs.

Meeting at the Delta Hotel Marriott Racine, 7111 Washington Ave., RCEDC shared the news that those 21 projects involved $116 million in private investment including $54 million in new construction.

RCEDC Executive Director Jenny Trick also said that 18 of the 21 projects were with companies with fewer than 100 employees, and 12 of the projects were with companies having fewer than 10 employees.

“We also had the pleasure of supporting five disadvantaged business owners (women-owned or ethnic-minority-owned businesses) with their expansion projects,” Trick said.

RCEDC’s lending division, Business Lending Partners, provided 19 loans totaling $9 million.

In addition to reviewing the organization’s achievements, the nonprofit RCEDC bestowed the following awards:

The Sam Johnson Volunteer of the Year Award went to Tom Magulski, who was recognized for his leadership in launching the first RCEDC CEO Roundtable in 2011. The roundtable is a confidential forum where small- to medium-size company CEOs gather to learn from one another to make better, faster, more confident business decisions for profitable growth as well as to maintain a healthy, stable work environment for their valued employees.

“Tom retired from this leadership role with RCEDC in 2018, and we wanted to honor him for the time he invested into this program and into the CEOs that participated in the program,” Trick said.

The Lender of the Year Award was given to Barry Fries of Johnson Financial Group for his work with Business Lending Partners and the loans that were provided to local businesses.

The Business Development Project of the Year Award went to Seda North America for its 2018 expansion project. Trick said that last year the Italian company embarked on its second expansion. When it came to Mount Pleasant, Seda’s employment goal was 180 people, and it now exceeds 200. When this expansion is complete, Seda, which makes food packaging for companies including McDonald’s and Starbucks, will employ about 245 people.

The audience also heard from keynote speaker Bob Bennett, whose talk focused on smart cities. Until resigning three weeks ago to join the private sector, Bennett was chief innovation officer for Kansas City, Mo. He described the renaissance of that city’s downtown and said Racine is well suited to adopt and profit from some of the same technologies Kansas City used in partnership with Sprint.

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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