Insight on Business

November 2015

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36 | I NSIGH T • N o v e m b e r 2 0 15 w w w . i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m "We have the lake, world-class golf, state parks and a great industrial base." In fact, the county has more jobs available than people to actually fill them. e latest employment data from the state show fewer than 2,000 people unemployed in Sheboygan County, while at the same time, employers based there have posted more than 2,700 openings in the past 90 days. Recruiting and retaining new employees has become a critical part of the county's workforce development plan. But the challenge to recruiting talent to the area — and one of the critical needs driving this particular fam tour — is the lack of housing in the county. Acuity Insurance President and CEO Ben Salzmann punctuated the need during a stop at his company, which recently topped 1,200 employees and continues construction to add capacity to its Sheboygan headquarters. "We are hiring more than 150 college grads a year," Salzmann says. "We are really pushing young professionals and programs that support young professionals." As Acuity continues to expand – ongoing and planned construction could eventually see 4,000 employees at its Sheboygan County headquarters – the recurring obstacle to the company's growth plans are adequate housing for its workforce. e needs range from market-rate apartments for young professionals to upscale, single-family homes for executives. Acuity has even contemplated integrating apartments into its expanding campus, though it does not want to compete with the private marketplace if it can meet the need. "We know what they want are housing options that allow them to live a pedestrian lifestyle," says Sheri Murphy, vice president of services and administration for Acuity. "ey want safe housing, close to the lake and walkable to the activities they are interested in." As luck would have it, a 1.5-acre site is available along the Sheboygan River just south of the marina that would fit the bill nicely. Sheboygan EDC is aggressively marketing the site, part of a previously planned condominium development derailed aer the recession, for a new multi- family or condo development. Whether it's along the riverfront, or converted industrial sites such as the Garton Toy Factory (which in its previous life was an actual toy factory) property managers say opportunities exist. "e need is there. I think we would definitely add units if it made sense for us," says Sara Hillenbrand, vice president of compliance and reporting for Premier Real Estate Management, which already manages several sites in the city. "It's a good market for us right now." A multi-family housing study prepared in 2014 found an immediate ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Many prime sites are available for development in Sheboygan County. A unique one is the Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory, home to a National Basketball Association team from 1942 to 1951. Economic developers in Sheboygan County are seeking additional residential development such as the Groton Toy Box, a factory converted to market-rate apartments. P H O T O B Y S E A N P. J O H N S O N P H O T O B Y S E A N P. J O H N S O N

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