‘Growth here is unprecedented’; Nicole Ryf discusses organization, Kenosha’s future

New Kenosha Area Business Alliance President Nicole Ryf is excited for Kenosha’s future.

She recently sat down with the Kenosha News to talk of her background, returning to Wisconsin and plans for the organization going forward.

Ryf grew up in in the Greater Milwaukee area, attending college at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. She would work in Wisconsin for several years with UW-Extension in Ozaukee County and in Evansville as a community development director.

Later, she moved with her husband to Austin, Texas, making her way up through the governor’s office over six years, ultimately running economic development. After Texas came Norfolk, Virginia, where she was recruited by a regional development group just as the pandemic started.

“It was an interesting time,” Ryf said.

Through her various positions, she’s traveled around the globe and worked with some of the largest companies in the world. She would ultimately return to Wisconsin to work in an economic development group in Waukesha, where she had planned to stay until she received the call from KABA.

The position was her “dream job,” she said. Even in Texas, Ryf said KABA had been on her radar.

“It’s an organization that has been very strategic in how its grown and how its engaged in economic development,” Ryf said. “We have over $52 million here in assets between a real estate portfolio and then loan programs that we’re able to deploy for businesses.”

She highlighted the organization’s relationship with the county and its high impact fund, what she described as a “deal-closing fund,” a tool that Ryf said helps attract businesses and prove the county’s commitment.

KABA’s role

Ryf said KABA works with mid to large-scale companies, helping attract new businesses and expand existing ones. She noted Uline, which she said KABA helped bring to Kenosha County in the early 2000s, has since expanded its footprint drastically.

There was plenty of work for KABA in Kenosha, Ryf said.

“The level of growth here is unprecedented,” Ryf said. “That’s not slowing down too much at this point. We have 5 million square feet under construction right now across the county and another 16 million planned, all industrial development.”

Read more at the Kenosha News.

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