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Janesville council OKs $225,000 loan to MPC

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
January 10, 2012
— Calling it "great news" and an "exciting opportunity," Janesville City Council members Monday voted unanimously to approve a development agreement with Miniature Precision Components that should mean 90 new jobs in the next three years.

The company, headquartered in Walworth, now will go ahead with plans to begin producing thermoplastic components in Janesville by the end of March. The company is expanding here, not relocating, so all of the jobs are new.


The company will move into 225,000 square feet of the Helgesen Building, 2929 Venture Drive, in TIF 22. The company has signed a 10-year lease with the building's owner.


The council agreed to grant the company a forgivable $225,000 loan that equals $1 for each square foot rented. The figure had in pervious news accounts been $250,000, but it has since changed.


Councilman Tom McDonald said the expansion to Janesville is an "exciting opportunity for both Janesville and MPC."


McDonald said he favors this sort of development agreement because the loan is based on jobs. Also, the company is moving into an existing building.


"It's great to have 90 jobs over three years," McDonald said. "It's just what we need."


The manufacturing salaries will range from $12.57 to $17.30 an hour, plus benefits, said Vic Grassman, economic development director for the city. The company plans to invest $2.3 million in the facility in the three years.


MPC is a major supplier of parts to the auto industry, Grassman said. The company has several Wisconsin operations and facilities in Southfield, Mich., and in Mexico. It has 1,400 employees, including 900 in Wisconsin.


OTHER BUSINESS

The Janesville City Council on Monday:


-- Committed to borrowing up to $3.15 million to automate garbage collection so staff can order needed equipment.


John Whitcomb, operations director for the city, said the cost of picking up garbage would be about the same even though efficiencies will increase. This is because the city must borrow money to buy the trucks and wheeled carts, and residents must pay that amount back over 10 years.


The community should see an increase of $7,000 in revenue because more people will recycle with the single-stream recycling program, Whitcomb said. That means all recyclables can be placed in the same wheeled container.


The city hopes to begin automated collection Oct. 1.


With automation, remotely controlled 12-foot mechanical arms lift wheeled carts and dump their contents into collection trucks.


Many decisions remain, such as the size of the carts and the fate of residents' existing containers, Whitcomb said. He will return before the council with some options in about two months, he said.


Councilman Tom McDonald wondered whether the city would have to buy replacement carts after the first set is paid for. Whitcomb said the carts are durable, and that vendors offer 10-year warranties.


The city must replace five garbage trucks in 2012, so this is the time to switch to automated collection, Whitcomb said. Four existing vehicles must be retrofitted.


"Automation is certainly the industry trend, primarily due to the increase in collection efficiencies and the reduction of workers' compensation claims," Whitcomb said.


McDonald said $3.15 million is obviously a lot of money, but this is the time to switch.


"We're talking about one of the city's core services," he said.


-- Opted against a February primary to whittle the field of city council candidates from nine to eight. Nine candidates will be on the April 3 ballot vying for four open seats.



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