The jingle of the holiday season this year is due in part to the continued boom in economic development here in southeastern Wisconsin. As we get set to close the books on 2018, the good economic news has continued with several announcements in the past couple of weeks.
Amazon received final approval from the City of Oak Creek to build another order fulfillment center that is expected to add to the tax rolls in a few years and employ more than 1,500 workers, which would make it the city’s largest employer. The four-story 2.6 million square-foot center will be built along Ryan Road at Highway V and will add to $1 billion in infrastructure and salaries that Amazon has already invested in the state, including in nearby Kenosha.
Here in Racine County, SC Johnson said it will be investing $110 to $140 million to upgrade and revitalize the production lines at its Waxdale manufacturing plant in the next three years as it seeks to be more competitive. Those modernization plans, however, include more use of robotics and means fewer workers at Waxdale. SCJ estimates it will reduce its workforce there from 600 employees down to about 400.
Sturtevant, too, was adding to the economic impetus, approving a development agreement for a $15 million industrial speculation building with Ashley Capital for the Enterprise Business Park. The planned 418,000-square-foot building would be 16 percent larger than the first industrial building in the park.
Generosity is the hallmark of the Christmas season and one of the shining stars of that spirit is the late, longtime Horlick High School educator Ken Wagner. The history teacher and former chair of the social studies department taught at Horlick for more than 30 years, sharing his wit and his sense of discipline.
Wagner, who died in September, will continue to influence the lives of students into the next generation through a $500,000 endowment — the greatest in the high school’s history. The endowment will be used to fund two $10,000 scholarships each year to students in the top 20 of their class to assist them in pursuing post-secondary education. He will be remembered as a skilled and dedicated educator — both in his life and in his death.
Wisconsin’s winter came striding in last weekend and the first real taste of ice and snow should only whet your appetite for more. Now that you’ve sculpted the ice off the driveway and sidewalks, you’re probably ready for Burlington’s Ice Festival at Wehmhoff Square on Dec. 15-16. The city is hosting the first Wisconsin state ice-sculpting competition, which is scheduled to feature 11 skilled sculptors from across the state. There will be carolers, reindeer, cookies and bonfires to round out the ice fest.
One traditional holiday fund-raiser got Grinch-wrapped this season. For 17 years, the Volunteer Center of Racine County has had its volunteer elves wrapping presents at Regency Mall outside the former Boston Store. Last year, the volunteers wrapped about 2,100 gifts in their fundraising effort, but Hull Property Group denied their request to rent space, preferring instead to run a “Color for a Cause” fundraising event next spring.
The Volunteer Center will try to continue its tradition with wrapping on: Dec. 7, Downtown (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Johnson Bank; 3 to 9 p.m. at Dimple’s Imports); Dec. 18 (3 to 8 p.m. at Buckets Pub); and Dec. 21-23 (11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Barnes and Noble in Mount Pleasant). Donations are accepted.