Monday, October 22, 2018

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Plan for new business park in the works in Chippewa County

Feasibility study to determine possible location, size, amenities

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    This screengrab of a map produced by the Chippewa County Planning & Zoning Department in August 2012 depicts the location of Lake Wissota Business Park. The county is beginning the process for creating another business park due to a shortage of space.


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    Contributed photo

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    Contributed photo

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Chippewa County is beginning the process for creating another business park because the Lake Wissota Business Park is running out of empty space.

The county’s Executive Committee will review a plan to get the new business park rolling when members meet Tuesday.

The county allocated $90,000 in the 2018 budget to create a feasibility study, or strategic plan, on the possible location, size and amenities that would be included in a potential business park, said Chippewa County Administrator Randy Scholz.

“We’re looking to partner with the West Central Regional Planning Commission and get a grant to pay for half of the study,” Scholz said. “The industrial park has really taken off the last few years, with a lot of activities. We want to be proactive and see what’s out there. It’s a good problem to have.”

Charlie Walker, Chippewa County Economic Development Corp. executive director, said there is now just about 45 acres available in the business park.

“We’ve had several inquiries from existing businesses who are looking to expand,” Walker said. “If we don’t start now, we’ll be out of product for the city of Chippewa Falls. Projects are becoming bigger and bigger, and require more space.”

The Lake Wissota Business Park, located north of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, has seen rapid growth the past couple of years, with the opening of Star Blends and the Mill’s Fleet Farm distribution center. Chippewa River Industries and General Beer Northwest also have large facilities in the park. The business park used to be the county’s farm, and it remains owned and operated by the county.

“The idea was it would last 20 years, and it hasn’t even lasted that long,” Walker said.

Huffcutt Concrete also bought 45 acres, but they told the county in June they have decided to expand at their Lake Hallie location rather than move into Chippewa Falls, Walker said. However, Huffcutt Concrete still owns that property

Walker said a company that already has a facility in Chippewa Falls is looking to build a new headquarters in the business park and will need 10 to 15 acres. That project has been discussed in closed session with the Chippewa Falls City Council. Walker said it will come back before the city in October. Walker said he is aware of other businesses that are thinking about moving to the park.

“If all these projects are to materialize, there just isn’t enough room for all of them,” Walker said.

It is unclear where a new business park would be located, and that’s why the study is needed, Walker said.

“There are some great opportunities in Wheaton and in Lake Hallie,” he said. “And Bloomer is growing. It will depend on the cost of the infrastructure. The Chippewa County Board has some great opportunities to look at its assets.”

The county’s Economic Development Committee recommended moving forward on the study at its meeting Sept. 19. The committee forwarded a resolution to the County Board for consideration at its Oct. 9 meeting.

The Executive Committee meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Room 302 of the Chippewa County Courthouse, 711 N. Bridge St. The committee will also hear a presentation on the preliminary 2019 budget.


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