CHIPPEWA FALLS — A Chippewa Falls manufacturer is planning a $9 million expansion that will allow the company to double its staff.
VES, located at 8296 Commerce Parkway, has completed an agreement to purchase a 12.4-acre parcel in the Lake Wissota Business Park from Chippewa County for $1, said Chippewa County Supervisor Steve Gerrish. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 9.
VES designs ventilation systems for barns and agricultural buildings, improving the quality of life for the animals, the company’s website states.
“Our direct drive fans pull fresh air into the structure, direct the air in waves to cow level, and then remove the dirty, heated air,” the website states. “Fresh air keeps your cows’ body temperatures down, keeps bedding dry, helps prevent diseases from pneumonia to mastitis, and deters pests without chemicals.”
The property is located in one of the city’s tax-increment financing districts, he added.
“This is one of the most exciting projects I’ve been part of, because they are headquartered in Chippewa Falls; they are a homegrown company,” Gerrish said. “They definitely want to be a community partner.”
Charlie Walker, Chippewa County Economic Development Corp. executive director, said the new building would be a 114,000-square-foot facility.
“They are expanding their operations, and putting in a research and development center,” Walker said. “They’ll be adding 40-plus employees. It’s a great company. They’ll have some research and development jobs, and some production jobs.”
Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman raved about the development.
“It’s another exciting project for the city,” Hoffman said. “They have an excellent track record, and they are going to invest in the city. It adds value to the community. We’re very fortunate we have people making these investments.”
Gerrish said VES will get a cash rebate as part of the developer’s agreement with the county.
As part of the agreement, VES will pay for the expansion of a “regional retention pond” located in the business park. Gerrish said the pond could be expanded by up to 3 acres. That will mean the remaining available lots in the business park would likely have smaller or no retention ponds, he explained.
“Instead of the county getting reimbursed from the TIF, the TIF is paying the $250,000 to rebuild the retention pond,” Gerrish said.
In recent years, the business park has added the $69 million Mills Fleet Farm distribution center and Star Blends, an animal feed processing plant. Last November, construction began on a $6 million OakLeaf Clinics medical center, and Nordson Extrusion Dies Industries is building a new, 140,000-square-foot, $18 million facility.
In October construction started on a $6.5 million warehouse for the DHL Supply Chain’s 124,000-square-foot warehouse. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which purchased Silicon Graphics International (SGI) in 2016, will be leasing the building. It is expected to employ 30 to 40 workers, with possibly more added with an expansion.
Because of the rapid growth in the park in the past few years, the county is now beginning to search for land to create another shovel-ready business park. The county allocated $90,000 in the 2018 budget to create a feasibility study, or strategic plan, on the possible location.
“It will be a pretty major decision by the County Board,” Gerrish said.
The 200-acre Lake Wissota Business Park was set up by the County Board in March 2000, when members voted to borrow $1 million from the State Trust Fund to develop the park; the county paid off that debt in 2005. The city built a number of roads through the industrial area. Some of the first companies to move into the park include Chippewa River Industries and General Beer Northwest distributing company.