Momentum West Recognizes Area Development Achievements

20 Mar 2020

During the March 11th Momentum West Annual Meeting seven organizations/individuals were recognized for their 2019 contributions to the region’s economic growth and development.  The awards were presented in the categories of Regional Talent initiative, Young Professional, Regional Collaboration, Regional Impact, Housing Development, Entrepreneurship and the regions 2019 Top Project.  The awards were:

ediuTalent Initiative - Nolato Contour - Baldwin

Nolato Contour provides polymer-based solutions for the medical device, pharmaceutical and hygiene industries.

In 2019 Nolato took an aggressive approach to addressing talent attraction, retention and development.  Taking the lead and teaming with OEM, Vital Plastics and the Baldwin School District, they formed a health care clinic for a community partnership.  

Offering convenient, free primary care provides both an enhanced benefit to working for Nolato and its partners who have teamed up to attract and retain the needed talent for the region.   

Young Professional – Rebecca Cooke – Eau Claire

Rebecca has quickly become the face of entrepreneurship in the Chippewa Valley.  Her retail venture, Red's Mercantile, is a modern home goods + accessories shop based in Eau Claire, WI. Red's was opened in November.

In 2016, the shop kicked off the Red Letter Grant which began as a social entrepreneurship arm of the store, awarding $2,000 grants bi-annually to women in Western Wisconsin who want to start their own business. The program began awarding grants in 2017 and since its start, the Red Letter Grant has received 64 applications seeking funds for farm start-ups to graphic design firms to rural mental health clinics. The program has supported the launch of 16 new businesses over the course of three years and in total has invested $32,000 in start-up capital back into our local communities bolstering our regional economy. In 2019, the Red Letter Grant became a 501c3 and is expanding its reach to serve 35 counties throughout Central, Northern and Western Wisconsin with a goal to launch 250 NEW women-owned businesses by 2030.

ediuTop Project - Nordson EDI – Chippewa Falls

When it was time for the construction of a new global hub, and with operations already in over 30 other counties, Nordson EDI opened a nationally competitive search for the new location.

Recognizing the importance of keeping EDI and almost 300 employees in Chippewa County, the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation team worked aggressively to build a business case for the Nordson EDI Business Expansion project to stay in Chippewa Falls.   As a result Nordson EDI has made a tremendous impact in the region with a total Investment of $18M and the retention of 290 Jobs.

The new, modern 145,000 sq. ft. Nordson EDI world headquarters and manufacturing facility will be for its EDI and Premier extrusion and coating product line and will integrate their three Chippewa Falls locations into one.

Regional Collaboration - Barron County Economic Development Corporation

The BCEDC discovered that one of the current obstacles to workforce attraction in Barron County was a lack of available housing, steps were taken to address the issue. Executive Director Dave Armstrong brought key state and federal housing organization representatives to the County to discuss housing issues and possible solutions. Included in these conversations were the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Administration, USDA Rural Development, and others. These organizations met with community representatives, business owners, developers, landlords, and nonprofits. Unique to these conversations is that it created a dialogue between the entities on ways they could partner in new and innovative ways…something that had not always happened in the past. These meetings and conversations have resulted in the start of program modifications that will assist rural areas in addressing housing issues, as well as individual projects tailored to Barron County. 

Regional Impact Award - Marshfield Medical Center – Neillsville Campus

The Marshfield Medical Center – Neillsville Campus serves as such an economic driver in Clark County. The facility, currently located in downtown Neillsville, is undertaking a new construction project on an approximately 53-acre site just outside of the city. The project was initiated with a groundbreaking ceremony on August 19, 2019 with completion slated for late 2020.  The new hospital is part of a larger Campus development that includes spaces for a fusion center, pharmacy, optometrist, YMCA wellness center, assisted living, and skilled nursing home. The estimated development cost is over $45.6 million.

Housing Award – Gerrard Companies – La Crosse

Led by second generation leaders Peter and Paul Gerrard, Gerrard Corporation/Gerrard Companies is a small, family-owned business with extensive experience in real estate. Gerrard builds a variety of developments, with diverse projects including urban in-fill mixed use developments, condominiums, single-family developments, multi-family developments, market-rate apartments, campus-convenient (student) apartments, senior apartment communities, and commercial buildings.

With the talent challenges we presently face, much due to available workforce housing, Gerrard has quietly become a leader in housing development in west central Wisconsin.  In our region, Gerrard has projects (in process and proposed) in Menomonie, Hudson, River Falls, New Richmond and Eau Claire just to name a few.  These include Dancing Oaks in Menomonie, Crossing Meadows in Ellsworth, Boulder Ridge, Heritage Cottages and the Maxwell in Hudson, University Falls in River Falls just to name a few.

They often are Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects helping fill a void in the region.

Entrepreneur of the Year - Todd Gilbert

Valley Cartage Company, now VC Companies Inc. is an over-the-road trucking firm covering the upper Midwest that also provides logistics solutions and warehouse space. The company was established in 1935 by Norman Gilbert and remains family-owned today with Norman' s grandson Todd Gilbert maintaining 100% ownership of the company.

After a brief relocation in Lake Elmo, Mr. Gilbert recently constructed a new facility located along the St. Croix River in downtown Hudson at 721 1st Street.  The building consists of 15,000 square feet of office space and four residential condos.  The nearly $5 million project was a collaborative effort between Valley cartage, the city of Hudson, the regional business fund, WEDC and MidWestOne.

This move is bringing Valley Cartage back to its' Hudson roots.