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Company could bring new jobs to Milton business park

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Stacy Vogel
January 6, 2010

When Milton officials learned of the state’s plan to relocate Highway 59, they knew it would spur interest in the city’s east-side business park.


“The moment we knew 59 was coming in and opening up access, we knew there was going to be interest,” City Administrator Todd Schmidt said.


Sure enough, not two months after workers completed the new stretch of highway, a manufacturer announced plans to build a 50,000-square-foot facility along the new road.


The city council Tuesday approved a developer’s agreement with Penn Color, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer specializing in colored plastics. The city agreed to give the company land and build infrastructure in return for the company constructing a $1.7 million building.


Penn Color initially hopes to employ 12 to 15 people in a facility that will create color concentrates used for cups, toys and other plastic products, according to a news release. It hopes to expand its building and employ 30 people within four years, Schmidt said.


The company already employs 500 people at seven sites.


It was looking for a Midwestern site for about two years before choosing Milton, said Tom Cramer, Midwest business manager. The company liked Milton’s size and the quality workforce available in the area, he said.


The city had been working with Penn Color on a developer’s agreement for a few months before Tuesday’s meeting. It postponed discussion of the agreement several times.


In fact, Cramer and city staff were a few minutes late Tuesday as they hammered out the final details and photocopied the agreement.


The city agreed to sell 13.5 acres to the company for $1 and construct infrastructure improvements, including an access road, estimated at $600,000 to $700,000, Schmidt said.


The city will pay for the improvements through tax incremental financing. Property taxes from the new building will repay the city’s costs.


The company agreed to build a facility worth at least $1.7 million in 2011 and $3.8 million in 2018. If it exceeds that target, the city will return the property taxes on any additional value each year up to a total of $100,000 in returned taxes.


City council members and Mayor Tom Chesmore said they were pleased with the deal.


“I’m thrilled to death with Penn picking Milton,” Chesmore said.


But council member Maxine Striegl worried the city was moving too fast. The council discussed the proposed project in closed session when it authorized city staff to negotiate a deal and didn’t discuss it again until Tuesday.


She’s concerned the company could end up like United Ethanol, which has run into trouble with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and brought complaints of noise and odor from neighbors.


“I certainly don’t want another ethanol plant problem on our hands,” she said.


Schmidt said the city can make sure that doesn’t happen through the conditional use permit. Last year, the council changed its ordinance to allow it to revoke conditional use permits when companies don’t meet city and state standards.


The city council still has to approve a conditional use permit and site plan for Penn Color, he said.


Penn Color holds high environmental standards, Cramer said. It intends to install green technology in its building, and he doesn’t expect an odor problem, he said.


Schmidt talked to officials in two communities with Penn facilities, and they had no complaints, he said.


“They’ve had nothing but very solid experiences with the company,” he said.



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