Insight on Business

July 2014

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36 | I nsIgh t • J u l y 2 0 14 w w w . i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m i n s i g h t o n E C O N O M I C DEVELOPMENT B y S e a n P. J o h n s o n T here are some wounds that time can't heal by itself. sometimes, a little intervention is required. In the case of Manitowoc, a combination of the two has become the latest symbol of a transformation taking root in the community. As the long anticipated demolition and salvage of the Mirro Bakeware complex got underway earlier this year, it marked an opportunity to concentrate on better times and let the bitterness over the company's departure fade. e battered complex le behind was an eyesore casting a long shadow over some of the economic progress the region has made. "I think everyone is relieved to see things happening. ey want the eyesore gone," says Connie Loden, executive director of Progress Lakeshore, the economic development corporation for Manitowoc County. "It represents the ability of this community to heal and show that we are much more dynamic." Perhaps no one is happier to be moving forward than Eric spirtas, the st. Louis businessman who acquired the 900,000-square-foot building in 2007, only to see the great Recession stymie plans for the site's redevelopment. now, aer some tense exchanges with the city, he has razed one of the complex's three-story buildings and has a much clearer concept of the approach for the remaining buildings. that can be reused for future projects. It is estimated there are several million board feet of old growth hemlock and maple timber in the complex. Much of it was cut in the last century from trees that may have been 200 to 300 years old. In other words, you can't find modern building materials with these characteristics. niagara Worldwide, the company owned by spirtas that is doing the Splinters of the past Old scars are healing with new economic opportunities in Manitowoc c o u r t e s y o f N i a g a r a W o r l d W i d e "now we have an idea how to stage it," spirtas says. "getting that first building done gave us a chance to figure out a system. now we are moving to the five- and seven-story buildings." While the pace may be slower than some would like to see, Mirro's long history in Manitowoc has created some unique economic opportunities going forward. namely, the building is filled with timber and other building products Among the many products created from salvaged lumber pulled from the Mirro Bakeware plants are tabletops. It is estimated the Mirro complex contains several million board feet of old growth maple and hemlock.

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