April 28, 2017
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Construction continues on Fifth Avenue Lofts in downtown Kenosha on Friday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

The Agenda: Local resource could help downtown revitalization


On top of the pile of things I had intended to write about earlier was a news article about a large-scale luxury apartment project planned for St. Francis. That project changed direction just a bit last week.

While taking some time to win approval, the project by Kenosha’s Bear Development will feature 221 apartments in 11 buildings. With a bit of a slowdown in demand for apartments in the Milwaukee market, Bear’s original plan for three larger buildings with 315 units was downsized.

The new plan calls for mostly one-bedroom apartments with rents in the $900 neighborhood.

Megan Wells ( )

Future 5 Awards highlight outstanding local talent


Young Leaders in Kenosha (Ylink) has announced its 2017 Future 5 Young Professional Award recipients. The five will be honored at a reception on May 18.

The Future 5 Award honors emerging talent from the Kenosha County young professional community. Award winners are recognized for positively influencing quality of life in the community through professional accomplishments, civic leadership, community engagement, or volunteerism.

The five were identified and chosen through a process that collected approximately 100 nominations from business and civic leaders, as well as private citizens. The Future 5 Award, which debuted in 2014, is YLink’s largest annual event. It is one of its key strategies to highlight young and emerging talent in Kenosha County.

The Agenda: Uptown is waiting and waiting

It was encouraging to read an article in the Kenosha News earlier in the week about Uptown area business people and residents addressing how to bring more life into that unique part of our city. Deneen Smith’s article reiterated some of the bigger concerns facing the neighborhood.

As is the case in many cities, concerns often boil down to crime prevention, retail recruitment and community beauty. Clean-up efforts in Uptown have reportedly not gathered momentum, but there is no lack of desire and concern.

In the current fervor to save, revitalize or remake downtown Kenosha (pick your favorite term), Uptown could be left behind. At the moment, money, political attention, professional guidance and marketing assistance continue to pour into the central business district. There is no hue and cry for similar help for Uptown. And that’s a shame. No other geographic area outside of downtown has as much potential as Uptown.

Application period opens for community economic development award

The Wisconsin Economic Development Association along with award partners, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Wisconsin Counties Association and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities are soliciting nominations for WEDA’s Community and Economic Development Awards.

The awards recognize businesses, organizations, individuals, projects or communities that are making significant contributions that propel Wisconsin’s economy forward.

Awards recipients will appear in media and publications statewide, and recipients and will receive formal recognition at WEDA’s Community and Economic Development Awards event Sept. 13 in Madison.

From left, Shawnice Young, Joshua and Charrie Ferguson are opening the Sugar Boxx at 5700 Sixth Ave. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Ventures: Sugar Boxx offers ice cream novelties


A rolling family business will put down roots Saturday when The Sugar Boxx opens its doors at 5700 Sixth Ave. in downtown Kenosha.

The business, which offers all kinds of frozen ice cream novelties, came about when Charrie Ferguson and her husband, Joshua, became frustrated with the ice cream trucks that rolled through her neighborhood.

“We saw an ice cream truck come through our neighborhood once or twice, and the guy driving was, frankly, just rude,” Ferguson said. “It was a bad experience for the kids. We thought it would be awesome if there was at least a good ice cream truck for Kenosha.”

Indian Trail counselors Art Preuss, right, and Joel Sinden, center, talk with Keith Kemper, of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 18, during a trades showcase at the Union Club on Wednesday. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Skilled tradespeople giving schools an education


Wednesday’s trades showcase brought together Kenosha Unified School District counselors, administrators and technical education teachers with building and construction unions to learn about potential careers and apprenticeship opportunities for students.

As a Kenosha Unified transition teacher, Sue Johnson helps students move beyond high school.

“I love this because we have kids going into their senior year and aren’t sure what they want to do after high school,” Johnson said, pausing at a table manned by Julie Nelson, apprenticeship coordinator for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 118.

Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht talks to the media Thursday after the announcement of the Gateway Promise initiative on the Racine campus in February. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Gateway’s Albrecht to lead board of national association


Gateway Technical College president Bryan Albrecht has been selected by the America Technical Education Association Board of Trustees to serve as its president for 2017-19.

ATEA is an independent association devoted to excellence in the quality of postsecondary technical education with emphasis on professional development and workforce development

“It is an honor to be elected to serve as the president of ATEA at this important time in our nation's history,” said Albrecht. “Workforce training is as important today as it was in the 1920s. Technology and skills have changed the approach to training but our economic success is hinged on how well we educate our youth and adults.”

Michael Grivas, CEO, talks about his business, clients, and how the company came to locate in Pleasant Prairie. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

mg: standard exterior hides creative core


Unless you are in business-to-business sales or marketing, you probably don’t attend the mega trade shows that take place in expo halls all around the world. The size and scale of the exhibits at those events can amaze even the most grizzled attendees.

Many of the booths, displays and trade show environments that make their way to Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago and other cities for industry trade shows are the creation of Pleasant Prairie-based mg. Formerly known as MG Design Associates, the company designs, builds and services exhibits — both custom and rental — for a wide range of clients in a number of industries.

The 150 people who work at mg’s headquarters at 8778 100th St. are involved in virtually every phase of sales, design, construction and logistics for its clients. The company also provides add-on services to help its clients maximize their trade show efforts.

Colleen Deininger, left, established her brokerage in 1975. She was later joined by hear daughter, Calla Ricciardi, and her son. CJ Ricciardi. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

Colleen Realty merges with Century 21 Affiliated group


Century 21 Affiliated has merged with Century 21 Colleen Realty of Kenosha. The company will operate under the Century 21 Affiliated name and specialize in residential and commercial property sales.

"As respected and innovated real estate brokerage companies in their own right, the coming together of these companies means a heightened level of service for Kenosha area home buyers, sellers and owners," said Dan Kruse, president and CEO of Century 21 Affiliated. “We couldn’t be more excited to have Century 21 Colleen Realty join the Affiliated Family.”

Colleen Deininger established her brokerage in 1975 and joined the Century 21 system in 1978. Formerly a teacher, she left education to pursue a career in real estate to have more freedom.

The Agenda: Station elimination?

The Illinois border does not actually appear as a painted line across Sheridan Road or I-94, but those of us who pass over it regularly know where it is located. Other than the taxes we pay, the cost of gasoline and the privilege to buy Spotted Cow beer on this side of the line, the border doesn’t affect many of us.

Some of us align with Illinois, however, due to our personal interests, our careers or our love of Chicago-style hot dogs. But most of us are happy to happily identify as Wisconsinites.

But our local radio stations are, for statistical purposes, part of the greater Chicago market. As there is no physical or technology barrier, WLIP (1050 AM) and WIIL (95.1 FM) can be heard on both sides of that invisible line.

The Ladder: Gateway instructor named national finalist

Gateway Technical College instructor Rick Lofy has been named one of three finalists for the American Technical Education Association Outstanding National Technical Teacher of the Year award.

Lofy an instructor and trainer at Gateway, instructs students and business clients in Lean Manufacturing principles, advanced leadership, and process control methods, among other topics. He is a lead instructor in the college’s nationally recogonized manufacturing boot camp programs.

One of his nominators said: “During his 16 years with Gateway Technical College, he has developed numerous courses and programs that are the embodiment of skill demonstration for successful employment.”

Sheet metal fabricator moving to Bristol

An Antioch, Ill., sheet metal fabricating company will relocate to Kenosha County, bringing its 25 current employees with it, and looking to future expansion.

Prestige Metal Products has purchased an 85,000-square-foot building near the intersection of 193rd Avenue and 83rd Street in Bristol. The company fabricates sheet metal, including stainless steel, parts for use in the the food and pharmaceutical industries, and other diverse applications, such as rail car components.

Presitge Metal Products purchased a building that had been owned by Cincinnati-based Home City Ice Co., for $2.35 million. Some of the space has been leased to other tenants for the time being.

The Agenda: Could a remakery fix a broken downtown?

Everyone who has an opinion on the future of downtown Kenosha seems to think that at least one kind of business or service is missing. And, if city leaders could attract that singular business, all our troubles with empty buildings, cracked sidewalks and broken windows would disappear.

For some, that magic bullet would be a destination retailer. (Think Duluth Trading Co., Urban Outfitters or Restoration Hardware.) Others seem to think we need another restaurant, maybe one with more of a national or regional draw. (That usually comes from people who haven't been east of 22nd Avenue for 20 years.)

Others think downtown would benefit from more events and activities — and they should be free and family-friendly. Honest to God, people have actually said that to me. (Again, usually coming from those who haven’t been downtown since The Leader Store closed.)

Chuck Aiello Jr., front, works on a flower arrangement. He started Aiello Mid-Town Florist 60 years ago. His son Chuck Aiello III (back) works with him. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Aiello’s Mid-Town Florist going strong at 60


Chuck Aiello Jr. had just gotten out of the Army.

After serving during the Korean Conflict, he wanted to develop a career for himself. His father was a barber, but the younger Aiello didn’t want to follow in his father’s career foot steps. Armed with his G.I. Bill educational benefits he chose to become a florist.

While his father never doubted his son’s work ethic, at first he seemed a little skeptical about his son’s career choice.

Premium Outlets in Pleasant Prairie ( kenosha news file photo )

Premium Outlets sees spring activity


The Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets Mall is adding a new store, True Religion, a designer jeans retailer, and announced four stores with spring expansion and remodeling plans.

Cristin Newton, a mall marketing and business development director, said True Religion, a Vernon, Calif.-based designer jeans retailer will open April 24 in a 2,700-square foot space that had been vacant. It will be in the south plaza between the Chico’s and Brooks Brothers Factory stores.

“We are so excited to bring True Religion, one of the most iconic denimwear brands around, to our center this spring,” Newton said.

Linda Hoover ( )

Hoover tapped to lead Educators Credit Union


Educators Credit Union announced that Linda Hoover has been appointed chief executive officer and president of the financial institution. Hoover had been serving as interim CEO.

Hoover, a Racine native, joined Educators in 1987. She has managed most of the business units of the credit union at one time or another. Hoover had served as the Chief Operations Officer until her appointment as interim CEO in December 2016 following the death of long-time CEO and President Gene Szymczak.

ECU board of directors member Bill Halsey said of Hoover’s selection.:“She is a consistently innovative team director and problem solver, with an impressive capacity to lead staff in advancing services to our members. We also believe that Linda’s creativity will enable Educators to evolve its mission and advance Member priorities, especially in this ever-changing technology environment.”

People wait in line for the grand opening of the new Aldi grocery store on Thursday. ( Brian Passino )

Second Aldi opens in Kenosha


North side residents welcomed another new supermarket, discount grocer Aldi, into their neighborhood Thursday morning.

Two hours before the official 8:30 opening, shoppers and curiosity seekers were lining up outside the store hoping to become one of the first 100 to receive a gold ticket that could have won them a gift card worth up to $100.

The new Aldi store at 3524 57th Ave., near the intersection of Green Bay and Washington roads, is the city’s second of that chain. It is located near the Somers Wal-Mart supercenter, which includes an expanded grocery section, and Festival Foods store.

HARIBO, a German company known for manufacturing goldbears and other gummi treats, will be building a 500,000-square-foot facility in Pleasant Prairie. About 400 jobs will be created in the first phase. ( ap file photo )

Haribo to build in Pleasant Prairie


Kenosha County is about to get a little sweeter.

German candymaker Haribo will build a $242 million manufacturing facility in Pleasant Prairie, on the Abbott site the village recently purchased for investment.

Haribo is the maker of the Gold-Bear gummy candies. This will be the company’s first manufacturing facility in North America. It is expected to bring about 400 jobs to the area when it opens in 2020.

Gordmans goes away while Gander Mountain open for now

Retailing in brick and mortar stores is becoming as clunky and outdated as an 8-Track player bolted to the underside of the dashboard of a 1972 Chrysler Cordoba. We had the front page story this week of Gordmans, a funky off-price chain, filing for bankruptcy. It will close all of its stores.

The Kenosha store, with its bright purple facade, helped revive the south end of Southport Plaza on Green Bay Road a few years ago.

Unfortunately, this creates a new challenge for the leasing company. Mid-America Real Estate Corp. certainly hit a home run with the recruitment of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. Let's hope it can do as well with this new gaping hole at one of the busiest intersections in town.

Lindsey Pollak talks about millennials in the workplace at UW-Parkside on Thursday, March 16, 2017. ( SEAN KRAJACIC )

Millennials in the workplace still a puzzle for some employers


Employers who continue to struggle with how to attract, hire and keep millennial employees got a lot of good advice from a well-regarded author and leading voice on millennials in the workforce. Lindsey Pollak was the speaker for a daylong conference on the multigenerational workplace at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Thursday.

“I didn't mean to become an expert (on millennials),” Pollak told a large crowd in a morning session. “I meant to become an expert on careers and how to succeed in the workplace. It became clear that the generational differences we are all experiencing are critical to understanding how to build a successful career.”

Pollak is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders.”

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