The Kenosha Area Business Alliance is pursuing developing a business park or maybe two — somewhere in Western Kenosha County, a representative of the non-profit economic development corporation told the Twin Lakes Village Board Monday night.
Heather Wessling Grosz, KABA vice president of economic development, asked the village to participate in a business park feasibility study. Cost would be split between KABA and the interested municipalities, with Twin Lakes to pay no more than $3,000.
While a lot of new industrial and warehouse business activity has happened in Kenosha County, most of it has been along I-94 in Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie. KABA sees Western Kenosha County as an opportunity to bring smaller but still sizable manufacturers into Wisconsin from Illinois, Grosz said. These type of businesses likely could not afford to locate in a large industrial park such as Lakeview Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie or Kenosha’s industial parks.
Developing a business park in Twin Lakes also could be key in keeping growing companies, such as Allied Plastics, in the village, Grosz said.
KABA is not talking to just Twin Lakes, but also Bristol and Salem. As many as two parks might be developed and five potential sites have already been identified, though KABA is open to more suggestions from the municipalities.
KABA has basically been priced out of developing such a park east of the I, despite having $30 million in assets, with $15 million liquid, Grosz said.
“We need to do something with those funds, that’s what an economic development organization does,” Grosz said.
Trustee Sharon Bower asked, given those kind of funds, why couldn’t KABA fund the study entirely and then report back to the village.
But Grosz said it was a matter of establishing the right approach to the project.
“We don’t want to move forward if we don’t have a partner,” Grosz said. “We want someone to take the risk with us.”
Though no formal arrangement exists yet, under the current thinking, KABA would purchase the land and market the park while the village would use its tax increment financing powers to fund infrastructure costs.
Monday’s meeting was a committee of the whole, so no action was taken. Three trustees — Thomas Connolly, Aaron Karow and Jeremy Knoll — also were absent. The board agreed that those absent would need to be informed on the proposal before it could move forward.
But some of the trustees present did express interest in further exploring options with KABA.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Trustee Kevin Fitzgerald.