TOWN OF TRENTON — “A BIG site for BIG businesses.”
That is how Alliant Energy is touting the Beaver Dam Commerce Park when plans were unveiled Thursday at Harmony Baptist Church, N8954 Highway W.
The industrial park of 520 acres will enable Wisconsin to compete for new, large-scale development on land currently planted in corn and soybeans, according to a press release.
On hand for the announcement were Alliant Energy Director of Economic Development Rob Crain, Alliant Vice President of Consumer Engagement & Solutions Jeanine Petticoff, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Beaver Dam Mayor Becky Glewen.
Alliant Energy describes the site as “Adjacent to four-lane U.S. Highway 151. It sits on the northern edge of Beaver Dam, just 45 minutes northeast of Madison. The property offers contiguous land for development with a price of $20,000 an acre. Work is under way to make the park a Wisconsin certified site.”
The new park becomes a close neighbor to Beaver Dam’s 151 Business Park, a site that covers 200 acres a short distance away. Alliant believes the two parks complement each other.
“This is a big deal because it is 520 acres,” said Petticoff. “That makes it unique and attractive to expanding companies. We have found in our Wisconsin and Iowa service areas that there are few if any large available sites for businesses to locate. Big expanding companies want to move fast when they’ve decided to build. They don’t want to wait until a site can be put together. They want a site now. Ideally, one large business would come along to take up this entire new Beaver Dam Commerce Park – or perhaps two or three.”
“We are targeting large business projects that require 50 to 100 acres or more of land,” said Crain. “This property will be one of the few in the state that can meet that need.”
Crain described the search, which began about a year ago.
“There were five things we were looking for,” said Crain. “Good transportation and utility access, strong potential for growth, an excellent and skilled workforce, a developable property that was relatively flat, and most importantly a supportive local community.”
The site in Beaver Dam was eventually identified, but Crain indicated that it would only be pursued if the property owners were willing to sell. A little less than six months ago all the land owners whose property would make up the park were invited to a meeting at Buckhorn Supper Club.
“Every one of them showed up or had a representative attend,” Crain said. “We told them that night that this project was going to move forward only if they were OK with it. We had no intention of forcing the issue.”
Crain described the owners as intrigued, but hesitant.
“After all, this land has supported many families for generations,” Crain said. “Our hope is that we continue to build on that legacy of the land, and that we continue to support families in this area for generations to come.”
The initial five-year options allow for potential sale directly to companies choosing to locate in the industrial park.
Infrastructure needs will be addressed prior to sale. The plan calls for annexation to the city of Beaver Dam and connection to Beaver Dam sewer and water utilities. Beaver Dam has been considering a north side satellite fire station, which may become more urgent as the park develops.
Agreements allow the owners to use their land while Alliant pursues buyers for it.
“Many of the owners are here today and I want to thank them for making the Beaver Dam Commerce Park a reality,” Crain said. “Without their support this simply would not have happened.”
“You and your team, and other people in our company, have pulled this all together quite quickly,” said Penticoff, addressing Crain. “Now all you need to do is find a business or two to locate here. No pressure.”
In addition to bringing more jobs and investment, the company hopes to attract large energy users. According to information provided by Alliant Energy, “This would disperse energy costs for customers and keep costs competitive, which will in turn help fuel more economic development.”
“It’s very clear to us that when our communities succeed, we succeed,” Penticoff said.
“We are attracting a lot of good paying jobs to Southeastern Wisconsin from the likes of Foxconn,” said Kleefisch. “The largest foreign direct investment in American History is happening on Wisconsin soil, and we don’t want them to feel lonely. And they won’t as we continue to build Wisconsin’s reputation as an economic development leader.”
She talked about the area’s educated, ethical work force and the state’s ongoing efforts to expand that pool of talent.
“And this site, in particular, is attractive because of its thriving economy and its incredible natural beauty, which you already know plenty about,” said Kleefisch.
Glewen expressed gratitude to Alliant personnel for their input in many local projects, including establishing an energy plan to conserve and generate energy in the city, and a plan to install charging stations for electric cars using the Highway 151 corridor.
“These projects have importance for our community and how we stay relevant in a very quickly changing world,” said Glewen. “This commerce park promotes Beaver Dam in what I like to call the ‘triangle of opportunity’ between Milwaukee, Madison and the Fox Valley. This raises the standard of living for people in Beaver Dam and the surrounding area. Beaver Dam will continue to lead economic development in the area with the help of projects like this one.”