Niagara Bottling named Kenosha County Business of the Year

Niagara Bottling, which built a $56 million water bottling facility in Pleasant Prairie in 2014 and invested another $36 million in new equipment for the facility in 2021, has been named the Business of the Year by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.

Niagara Bottling highlights the list of winners for KABA’s annual Ovation Awards, which recognize top performing Kenosha County businesses and business leaders, and their support of the community. Winners are chosen by a selection committee, which includes previous Ovation Award winners, KABA staff and board members, BizTimes Media, and representatives from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Gateway Technical College and Carthage College.

The Ovation Awards winners will be recognized at a banquet event on Feb. 8, 2024. Registration will open in mid-December. BizTimes Media is the media sponsor for the event. Other sponsors include Johnson Financial Group and Gilbane.

Founded in 1963, Niagara Bottling is a private label bottled water and soft drink provider, based in California. The company built a highly-automated 377,000-square-foot facility in Pleasant Prairie in 2014. Since then, the company has expanded its production lines and added another facility in Kenosha for distribution operations. Its expansion in 2021 added bottling line equipment for two production lines and three injection molding machines, resulting in the addition of 40 new jobs with an average minimum annual salary of $55,000.

Other Ovation Award winners:

Keith Smith, president at Vonco.

Keith Smith, president and CEO of Salem Lakes-based Vonco Products is the Entrepreneur of the Year. He acquired Vonco Products in 2013. The company manufactures flexible packaging products. Smith has led the company through three successful acquisitions. He moved the company from Lake Villa, Illinois to a new 80,000-square-foot facility in Kenosha County in 2017, and added a 36,000-square-foot expansion to the facility in 2022.

Blue House Books is the Small Business of the Year. Blue House Books is Kenosha’s only full-service independent bookstore and has been operating since 2017. It began as a pop-up store selling used books at community events and local businesses. It grew into a micro bookstore open five days and week, and opened its first permanent brick-and-mortar location in downtown Kenosha in 2020.

Forward Award winners (companies or organizations that have expanded, invested or developed programs or initiatives that help move Kenosha County forward):

Centrisys/CNP, a manufacturer of decanter centrifuges for sludge dewatering and thickening. The company came to Kenosha in 1999 and has since grown to own four buildings in the Kenosha Business Park. It is expanding with a 66,000-square-foot addition to one of the buildings.

Haribo, a Germany based gummi candy manufacturer that opened a new 500,000-square-foot production facility in Pleasant Prairie in late 2022. It is the company’s first manufacturing facility in North America and one of the largest investments of new operations by an overseas company in Wisconsin in the state’s history.

Kenosha Common Markets, which operates Kenosha HarborMarket, a European-style market in downtown Kenosha. Founded in 2003, the market attracts more than 8,000 customers when the weather is good on a Saturday. More than 180 small businesses participated in the 2023 outdoor season of Kenosha HarborMarket.

Kenosha Community Health Center, which provides affordable, quality health care services for individuals and families in Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties. KCHC opened its first location in 1995 and now has five clinic locations in Kenosha County. KCHC offers medical, dental and behavioral health services.

Shalom Center, a nonprofit organization that is Kenosha’s only homeless shelter, largest food pantry and longest running nightly meal program. It received a $2.4 million donation to add a crisis and community resource center called, Hope Hub, which will open in November and provide a one-stop shop for individuals who need to be connected to resources.

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