FOND DU LAC - The world's largest builder of boat engines is getting bigger. Mercury Marine, headquartered in Fond du Lac, is in the midst of a $20 million expansion.
The company held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for two projects.
The construction comes as the company says it is seeing continued growth.
Mercury Marine says the expansion of two plants will increase its footprint in Fond du Lac.
"It continues to demonstrate why we feel this is a good place for us to do business," said Mark Schwabero.
But that future wasn't always so clear. In 2009, Mercury Marine was on the verge of shutting down its Fond du Lac operations and moving the work to Oklahoma. A last minute vote by union workers saved their jobs. A $50 million loan by the county and assistance from the city and state helped make sure Mercury Marine stayed in Fond du Lac.
"Four years ago when we looked at this we had hoped that one day Mercury Marine would get to 2,900 or 3,000 employees and that day is already here," said Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Beuchel.
The company says it has added 1,400 jobs since 2009. With the expansion, the company is looking to add a combination of almost 100 hourly and salaried positions.
"We committed to having jobs and manufacturing and things in the Fond du Lac area and we met all those commitments and we're exceeding those commitments," said Schwabero.
The $20 million expansion comes on the heels of another $20 million expansion the company did last fall and Schawbero says it's a sign of good things to come for Mercury Marine.
"We saw the expansion coming, but it's come quicker than we thought it was going to, but that is good news."
Good news for Mercury and the taxpayers who invested in the company staying put. Mercury made the first of 10 annual $5 million payments to the county last year. But the company earns a $1,000 tax credit for every job created. It's a bet Beuchel says he'd make again.
"If I had made an investment in the stock market and it had paid off this well, I'd be retired and living on an island somewhere."
The expansion should be completed by the end of this year.
The new facilities will make and machine large components primarily for the company's outboard engines.
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