Oneida County EDC approves purchase of Printpack site

October 19, 2016

Nick Sabato

Nick Sabato

The Oneida County Economic Development Corporation and Northeast Wisconsin EDC Joint Board of Directors met on Wednesday afternoon with multiple intriguing items on the agenda.

Perhaps the most important item was approval for the Northeast Wisconsin EDC to purchase the old Printpack Inc. facility for $700,000 and immediately lease it to Expera Specialty Solutions Rhinelander Coated Products.

The board also approved a $15 million loan from Oneida County to upgrade the facility for RCP.

"We have everything in place to move forward with the purchase of Printpack on Friday (Oct. 14) and immediately lease it to Rhinelander Coated Products," executive director Roger Luce said. "Under our lease they take over all management of the building, the equipment, etc."

This purchase guarantees that Rhinelander Coated Products stays in the area for the foreseeable future, much like the deal the EDC facilitated to move Printpack into its new location.

The board also discussed an offer made by the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport for a 99-year lease just off of Route 47 near Hanson Lake for a new Department of Natural Resources Forestry office. This building would need to be 14,100 square feet and would have 45 employees working in the office.

The EDC is hoping to come up with a plan to present by the start of 2017. It appears that the new DNR Forestry office will be located either in Rhinelander or Wausau, but it seems logical that it would be located in the Northwoods, where most of the forests in the state are.

"Being out where the national forest is, the largest state forest is, the acreage under private ownership that's being managed is all here in the Northeast quadrant and really, I would say, in the northern half of the state," Luce said. "Being where your customers are is what this exercise it's all about. You ought to have those 45 people located where the majority of the customers are."

Assemblyman Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would like the EDC to submit that plan by Jan. 1, but that plan still has to go through the joint finance committee and then the governor must approve or veto the plan.

A representative from Nicolet College also spoke to the board in hopes of creating a partnership and support in submitting an application for an Entrepreneurship Support Capacity Grant through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Nicolet is seeking to provide funding to non-profits or communities of $10,000 to $100,000 and generally up to $50,000.

One of the programs that Nicolet offers is a training program called Nicolet Entrepreneur Training (NET). In Vilas County, roughly 50 percent of people that complete NET have gone on to either start a business or expand an existing business. So, they are looking to do the same in Oneida County.

Nicolet is planning on hiring an entrepreneur development specialist, develop a Northwoods Entrepreneur Resource Network, develop partnerships with Economic Development organizations, develop curriculum and faculty and brand and market a Northwoods Entrepreneurial network.

The board unanimously approved the letter of support to Nicolet College because entrepreneurship is going to help the economy grow in the Northwoods.

"Entrepreneurship is the real way that the economy is going to grow in northern Wisconsin," Luce said. "It's not going to grow by bringing in a General Motors or new Ford plant or something like that. You are going have some growth from within like we did with Printpack and now Rhinelander Coated Products, but the majority of the wins come from small business start-ups that have the chance to be the next Printpack or Rhinelander Coated products."

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