Thumbs up/down for Monday, Dec. 16, 2013

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Thumbs up to the city buying more land for SHINE. The city council agreed, on a 6-1 vote, last week to buy eight more acres in two parcels. The land will help SHINE Medical Technologies meet federal buffering requirements for its proposed medical isotope plant on Highway 51 on the south side. Options to buy the properties were expiring, and SHINE feared the prices would rise. The city’s acquisition and carrying costs will be about $150,000. SHINE, however, would repay that when it occupies the plant. Company officials say their construction, equipment and regulatory costs could hit $180 million, and they want to keep their financial position more liquid in the early stages of the project and their capital campaign. The land prices are small investments compared to SHINE’s overall expenses, but the city has committed heavily to incentives already. SHINE is making progress in the arduous regulatory process. Why throw up a potential roadblock to the development now? Besides, if SHINE fails, the city can keep and market the new parcels for other industries.

Thumbs down to falling prey to scammers. Swindlers seem easy to avoid, but Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan says authorities cannot keep up with cases of hoodwinked residents. He attended a presentation Wednesday by the state Office of Privacy Detection at the Janesville Senior Center. If someone sends you a check but asks to send some of the money back, it’s a scam. If a caller claims to be a niece, nephew or grandchild in trouble in a foreign land but to keep the situation secret, it’s a scam. If someone seems in a hurry to get your personal information, don’t provide it. If you’re asked to provide personal information where someone might overhear, write it down. Use your credit card instead of a debit card for most purchases, and check your credit report at least once a year. A recent government study says one in four consumers who checked their credit scores found errors. The three major agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Remember this simple advice from Sullivan: “If it seems too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.” Learn more at privacy.wi.gov.

Thumbs up to plans for reopening a Delavan hotel. The Delavan City Council hopes that a deal it has struck with Best Hospitality will pave the way for reviving the former Delavan House Hotel. Given that the building occupies a key piece of downtown real estate and that reopening it has been a council priority for years, the agreement makes sense. The city will apply for a $250,000 grant/loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The developer would get the money provided it matches that with a 75 percent investment. The city also would reimburse to Best Hospitality some of the taxes from the increase in value the development would generate provided the hotel offers at least 16 full-time equivalent jobs. The hotel has been shuttered for almost a decade, and plans by two previous developers fell through. There’s no guarantee this proposal will pay off, but these incentives offer reasonable hope.

Thumbs down to Lt. Gov. Kleefisch’s closed-door meeting in Beloit. Last week, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and state Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler spoke with business leaders about tax reforms and how the state might help them build our economy and create jobs. It was a logical stop given that Beloit continues to rank near or at the top in unemployment. Kleefisch, however, slammed the door on open government. She wouldn’t let the public or a Beloit Daily News reporter listen in. Instead, she offered to summarize the meeting for the media afterward. A sanitized recap, no doubt. Many residents argue that growing the economy and creating jobs still should be state government’s top priorities. So discussing tax reforms, regulations and business incentives are talks best done in the public eye. Lt. Gov. Kleefisch plans more such meetings around the state. She should conduct all of this public business in the open.

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