Fontana Flavors moving to Edgerton

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
— A Janesville manufacturer of food flavorings plans to move its operation and 15 employees to an empty commercial building in Edgerton.

Fontana Flavors has signed an agreement to buy the 15,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Large Format Digital, which closed its doors in the Edgerton Business Park near Interstate 90/39 in March 2010.

Fontana also plans to buy two adjacent acres for a 10,000-square-foot to 15,000-square-foot addition.

The company creates specialty flavorings sold to other wholesalers for use in food products.

It got its start in 2003 when its owners—Chicago-area brokers who were representing another flavor company—decided to start their own business. Fontana sought a site in Madison but eventually settled on Janesville and a 32,000-square-foot building on Fulton Street that used to be a Coca-Cola distribution center.

Fontana targeted the Edgerton site because of its expansion capability and superior building quality. The company was unable to find a suitable site in Janesville.

In Edgerton, Fontana hopes to buy the building and expansion property by Nov. 1.

As a food producer, Fontana is subject to federal regulations and inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The existing facility will be renovated and modified to meet all applicable FDA regulations, and the addition likely would be complete next fall.

The company has about 15 full-time employees and plans to add five to 10 more in the next five years.

The majority of Fontana's $1 million investment in the Edgerton project will come from private sources.

The city of Edgerton, however, has offered a $40,000 economic development loan from tax increment financing district proceeds.

"We are very pleased with what we have learned so far regarding the Edgerton facility," said Peter Krug, Fontana's director of sales. "City officials and members of the community have also been extremely cooperative."

Mayor Chris Lund expressed his enthusiastic support for the project.

"We hope to welcome Fontana Flavors to Edgerton and would look forward to their investment in our community," Lund said. "It would be great to see this building put back into use, producing jobs and building our local economy."

Fontana's pending move to Edgerton would be a step toward evening the economic development scorecard.

In 2009, Green-Tek left Edgerton and moved its operation and about 50 employees to the former Lear Corp. building in Janesville.

James Otterstein, Rock County's economic development manager, said several variables play into location decisions.

Typically, he said, they center on real estate functionality and growth potential, workforce considerations, logistics, infrastructure capacities such as utilities and transportation, and the overall costs of doing business.

"Overall, businesses that move from one community to another—in terms of relative proximity—generally do so to capitalize on real estate opportunities," he said. "More often than not, these firms are vacating leased properties and relocating into an owner-occupied arrangement."

Green-Tek and Fontana are notable examples, he said.

"While these movements can present challenges for property owners and communities alike, the workforce component often serves as the proverbial glue that keeps these businesses within the region," he said.

"Moreover, these address changes usually result in increased capital investment and future job growth that probably would not have occurred without the change of real estate."

Last updated: 6:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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