What's News in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

Innovation Center
$70,000 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANT RECEIVED FROM STATE
During the first half of August, a final agreement was approved between the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and the Village of Pleasant Prairie Community Development Authority (Authority) authorizing a $70,000 economic development grant. The grant funds will be used to assist the Authority and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) in the creation of a business plan for a regional, biomedical innovation center. The Community Development Authority, Plan Commission and Village Board approved a conceptual plan for the project earlier this month.

“The grant received from the State will allow us to bring in a consultant to assist in the creation of a detailed business plan for the effective management of the project,” explained Mike Pollocoff, Village Administrator and Executive Director of the Authority. “The plan is meant to assist KABA and the Village with the innovation center management as it provides a fertile environment in which to grow new, local, biomedical-based businesses, with the end goal of creating high-paying, professional-level employment opportunities within the regional community.” It is unknown which specific businesses will be the first to occupy the Southeastern Wisconsin Innovation Center.

PROJECT ORIGIN
At the direction of Village President, John Steinbrink, Village staff prepared an initial proposal to obtain funding from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce for the creation of a biomedical incubator facility. The initial proposal was well received, and the State approved the initial $70,000. The State also directed staff to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). As the concept progressed, Authority staff, in partnership with KABA, cooperatively prepared a more in-depth proposal to create the Southeast Wisconsin Innovation Center.

PROPOSED PLAN
The proposed plan involves the construction of a 40,352 square foot, three-story building on .95 acres. The building would be the initial structure in the new Village Green Center, a downtown area currently in the design stage that is set at the demographic center of Pleasant Prairie, west of 39th Avenue between Springbrook Road and Highway 165. The floor plan includes office, laboratory and flexible research and development space for entrepreneurs and business startups in the life science, biomedical and biotechnology fields. The floor plan will also offer administrative and support resource space. The Innovation Center will provide biomedical entrepreneurs, who are in the process of developing new companies, a state-of-the-art facility in which to grow their business.

Plans are for the Authority to own the building and for KABA to operate the Innovation Center. The potential also exists for collaborative projects between area universities and private industry. The .95 acres of land on which the Innovation Center would be constructed is being donated to the Authority for the completion of the project by the Village Green developer, Land & Lakes Development Company. The EDA is currently evaluating an application for a $3.5 million grant to assist in the construction of the project. The latest grant-related request letter from the EDA, received on July 1, 2010, has indicated that the Southeast Wisconsin Innovation Center merits “further consideration.”

ADDITIONAL PROPOSED FUNDING
In addition to the $70,000 State grant and the possible $3.5 million EDA grant, the Village Community Development Authority and KABA would commit $2 million each towards the project. Additional expenses beyond the $3.5 million would be funded locally through a Tax Increment District. While the business plan is being developed, Pleasant Prairie will work to create the Tax Increment District to fund the Authority’s portion of the project costs in order to keep the financial responsibility for the project off of the Village taxpayers and on the development itself. The Authority will develop a project plan and have a market study conducted in order to determine realistic expectations for the performance of the Village Green commercial development and a facility of this nature.

The concept behind the project is to offer highly qualified, biomedical entrepreneurs a lower cost location with shared business support services to help them grow a business that may someday provide the region with additional professional-level employment opportunities. The project is also intended to foster more cooperative partnerships between the business, educational and workforce training communities.

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