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Janesville City Council to consider hiring development consultant

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
February 25, 2012
— Janesville’s economic development director Monday will ask the city council to spend $22,300 to hire a company to find businesses that might want to locate here.

“The city council is looking to diversify the economy and has set objectives for the city to become more aggressive in our marketing of Janesville,” City Manager Eric Levitt wrote in a memo. “This is one element of a more proactive marketing program.”


The city would be interested in pursuing prospects that have expansion projects in mind and would be considering a location’s geography, said Vic Grassman, economic development director.


Ideally, prospects would fit into Janesville’s targeted industries, which include advanced manufacturing, health care products, logistics, plastics and food processing.


A consultant from Applied Marketing Sciences, Carmel, Ind., would set up meetings with other site consultants in Chicago, Dallas or Atlanta that have an interest in learning about Janesville, Grassman said.


Applied Marketing Sciences is familiar with this area and would attend a trade show, probably in South America because most other groups go to Europe, Grassman said.


“Although only actual appointments of 10 to 15 meetings are arranged for a specific tradeshow, these meetings are based on a selection of 200 companies that show the highest potential as possible prospects,” Grassman said.


The contract would enable Janesville to develop an international database of companies considering expansion, Grassman said. The money would come from TIF marketing funds already set aside by the council. Staff would seek grants.


“This is an efficient way at a reasonable cost to generate qualified leads that have projects, will have projects, and/or assist in developing long-term relationships,” Grassman said.


“Lead generation companies are common,” Grassman said. “However, it is hard to find companies that can generate qualified leads for economic development organizations. Based on reference checks and the company’s history of success, this is a good way to begin Janesville’s business development strategy.”


On the agenda

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. The council will be asked to:


-- Demolish a home at 203 Linn St. The city bought the property at a cost of $3,954 under the Rock County Tax Foreclosure Program to rehabilitate and resell. A city goal is blight removal. The city intended to seek private proposals to renovate the property, but a structural engineer said the costs far outweighed the finished product, according to a memo. City staff is not able to first inspect a property before a purchase under the tax foreclosure program. It would allow Habitat for Humanity to use what it can from the property, and then demolish it for $7,000. The city would maintain the lot until it can be redeveloped with a structure that is similar to neighborhood architecture. Annual maintenance costs are estimated at $720.


-- Sell property at 407 Lincoln St. for $80,000. The city bought the property for $51,000. Rehabilitating the house cost $90,000 and included repair to the roof, new windows, furnace and water heater, new plumbing and wiring and added insulation. The house is now appraised at $90,000. Money from the sale will go into the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, funded with federal stimulus dollars, for future projects. The city with its federal block grant money is supplying the owner, who has a low to moderate income, with $4,500 in down payment and closing costs that would be forgiven over five years if he or she uses the home during that time as his or her primary residence.


Jennifer Petruzzello, neighborhood services director, said a goal of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program is to buy vacant foreclosed property—which likely needs more work than others on the market—and address major issues so the home is affordable.


-- OK a TIF agreement for a forgivable loan of $28,030 to Fab-Masters, 1111 W. Racine St. The metal fabrication and welded products company is moving in March to leased space at 901 Joliet St. because it needs more space. Fab-Masters would sign a five-year lease and invest in new equipment. It employs 16 and would create 12 more full-time jobs within three years. The positions pay about $14 an hour with access to health insurance benefits. No tax increment is available through the TIF in which the company would locate, so the council on Monday will be asked to take money from nearby TIF 26. That TIF district is expected to break even in 2021, with a $683,440 surplus in 2025, the year it must dissolve. Because the company is leasing, the owner is willing to sign a personal guarantee in case of default.



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