Spectrum Brands Madison HQ sign file photo

Spectrum Brands is currently headquartered at 601 Rayovac Drive in Madison.

Mayor Paul Soglin is crying foul over Spectrum Brands' impending move to Middleton, saying the city of Madison was never allowed to submit its own proposal to keep the company.

The mayor has fired off a letter to Spectrum Brands CEO David Lumley, saying the company's use of an Atlanta-based site consultant effectively shut Madison out of the process.

"Had we had this opportunity, I'm confident we could have worked with you to develop a site with a lower cost bottom line to your shareholders and a greener, more sustainable alternative," the mayor wrote in a letter dated Jan. 25.

Spectrum Brands -- which owns Rayovac, Remington and other consumer product lines -- announced earlier this month it was moving its headquarters and more than 500 full-time employees to a new facility in the Discovery Springs center in Middleton.

The company said its old facility at 601 Rayovac Drive along the Beltline Highway is outdated and not energy efficient. Its lease there expires at the end of 2013.

The move is being helped with a $4 million "forgivable loan" from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation that does not need to be repaid if Spectrum meets investment and hiring targets.

A press release sent by the company said the selection of Discovery Springs as a new site "followed an exhaustive analysis of a number of existing facilities and build-to-suit locations in the Madison and Middleton areas."

But Soglin says the Spectrum consultant who originally contacted the city last spring would not reveal the name of the company unless the city signed a confidentiality agreement to keep the identity undisclosed, which Soglin refused to do. Therefore, the consultant would not agree to further discussions.

According to Soglin, the Cieslewicz administration had signed a confidentiality agreement last March, just a month before the 2011 mayoral election, but did not move forward. Cieslewicz could not be reached for comment.

In an interview, Soglin says Spectrum's consultant, Harry Joseph, was obviously biased against the city based on emails released to the Wisconsin State Journal. One of those emails noted the protests taking place at the Capitol and said the "apparent community discord" could have a "detrimental impact" on choosing Madison.

"That gives you a feeling for their attitude about our city," Soglin says. "The idea you can't sell Rayovac batteries because they are coming out of Madison, Wisconsin, is absurd."

Soglin didn't criticize the WEDC for approving the loan to Spectrum but did say the state's participation had complicated the issue. "We didn't know about the role of the state until we read about it in the paper," the mayor says.

The confidentiality issue also played out in the company's negotiations with the WEDC, which were handled by Joseph. He did not initially reveal to state officials that he was seeking incentives for a company already located in Wisconsin to stay in the state, according to a story earlier this week by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Soglin is now offering up potential three sites in the city of Madison, including the 11-acre, city-owned Union Corners at East Washinton Avenue and Milwaukee Street near the original 1906 site of the French Battery Co.

The other sites are 2921 Landmark Place, a site off the Beltline owned by Mortenson Investment Group, and Silicon Prairie, owned by Welton Enterprises, at Mineral Point and South High Point roads.

"Two of the sites are already in tax increment districts and I am open to discussing creating a new TID for Spectrum Brands," he told Lumley in the letter.

Spectrum officials did not immediately return phone calls from The Capital Times.



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