April 23, 2016
Year of challenges, success
By Rex Davenport
In its newly released annual report, the Kenosha Area Business Alliance Inc., touted a number of success stories that paint an encouraging business picture of both the recent past and the near future for the county.
The report was one of the highlights of a luncheon Friday at the Snap-on Idea Forge.
“We spent the better past of last year focusing on how we attract, assist and grow business. It’s been a fantastic year again for Kenosha economic development,” KABA president Todd Battle told the luncheon audience.
Among KABA’s 2015 achievements and programs highlighted by Battle were:
- Kenosha County High Impact Fund: Begun in 2011 in an attempt to keep the last Chrysler plant open in Kenosha, the fund was transitioned to an incentive fund to find and recruit new businesses. “(The fund) has now funded half a dozen business relocations,” Battle said. “The 600-700 jobs that were lost when Kenosha lost the last Chrysler plant have more than been replaced by these six companies and the diverse industries they represent.”
- Business retention and expansion program: According to Battle, the program makes sure “existing companies feel welcome and have the opportunity to engage with us on business climate issues. And that they have the support of KABA as they expand, grow and hire. We call on 100 companies a year, which are typically larger employers.”
- Salem Business Park: In cooperation with the Town of Salem, a new business park “addresses the lack of industrial parks west of Interstate 94,” Battle told the audience. It also provides small lots for small- to medium-sized businesses.n Events: “We have made our mark with our Business Excellence Awards,” Battle said. “We have also expanded our Inspire Kenosha leadership development program. It’s become a real leadership development summit.”
- Workforce Development and Education: Said Battle: “We’ve really amplified our efforts through KABA and our affiliates. One of the programs we support is the Promise Program, an exciting new initiative from Gateway Technology College to ensure graduates of area high schools have the ability to go to college.” Battle also noted that “the war for talent is going to do nothing but intensify. We see that in every project and every company we work with and every deal we do. Workforce development and talent, and finding the right people to help companies grow is the No. 1 issue. No doubt about it.”