Port board OKs $750 contribution despite local firm’s move to Saukville
The Town of Port Washington Board, which earlier this year questioned whether to allocate $750 to support Ozaukee Economic Development, on Monday agreed to contribute to the agency after a presentation by director Kathleen Cady Shilling.
Town Board members were initially leery of spending the money, especially after finding out that Oldenburg Metal Tech Inc. was moving out of the township and into the Village of Saukville.
The company’s announcement came months after the town approved a change in its zoning code that paved the way for the firm to expand at its 3850 Hwy. KW location.
“We found out they were moving through the newspaper,” Supr. Jim Rychtik said — something he described last month as “disheartening.”
Town Chairman Jim Melichar noted that he had seen the company owner just days before the announcement, when officials believed the firm was expanding in the township.
“I asked him how his expansion was going, and he never said a word (about the move),” Melichar said.
Cady Shilling said the company’s first choice was to expand on the site, but a neighboring property owner would not sell land to the firm.
“They (company officials) had very good things to say about the town,” she said.
They plan to open a new business in the Town of Port building, Cady Shilling added.
The firm still has some operations at the Town of Port building, officials noted, but nowhere near the business that had been there.
Melichar asked how the town could get involved in similar situations to help prevent the loss of business.
That’s difficult, Cady Shilling said, noting that she is often bound by confidentiality requests not to talk about pending situations.
Officials asked whether any businesses had expressed interest in locating in the town.
“Right now, I don’t have anyone who’s interested,” Cady Shilling said.
The biggest deterrent for businesses looking at the town is the fact that it does not offer sewer or water service, she said.
Once utilities are extended to the town, she said, officials may see a boom in business.
Ozaukee Economic Development is a non-profit organization funded by governmental units and private contributions, Cady Shilling said. Sixth-percent of its funding comes from the county, she said.
Virtually every municipality in the county also makes a $750 annual contribution to the group, except for the Town of Saukville, which has never funded the group, she said. The Town of Belgium has not always contributed, she added, and the Town of Fredonia provides $500 annually.
The organization works to attract and retain businesses, as well as provide educational programs, administer the county’s revolving fund loan program, encourage entrepreneurship and offer an annual career fair.
Rychtik said he supports the group and the annual town contribution. The time is ripe for the organization to have an even greater impact on the township than in the past, he said.
“I think the business climate is turning around,” he said.