GREEN BAY - Brown County officials want to create the state's newest hot spot for technology related businesses.
The county is planning to put a research and business park on land it owns south of State Highway 54/57 and the UW-Green Bay campus.
For decades, the 238 acres of county land, commonly referred to as the Brown County Farm, has sat mostly undeveloped.
After a seven month study, plans are to make the area a neighborhood of "new economy" businesses.
“We don't want this project to be average,” said Chuck Lamine, the county’s planning director. “We want it to be above average.”
“We're right in the right spot, at the right time to start planning for this for the future, given the fact we're going to be experiencing a shortfall in the skilled workforce in the future,” said Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach.
The research and business park would be the sixth of its kind in the state, but the first in Northeast Wisconsin. Similar parks are aligned with the UW schools in Madison, Milwaukee and Whitewater.
“I think with our assistance, this has got a good shot of going forward,” said Dan Spielmann, the special assistant to UW-Green Bay’s chancellor.
UW-Green Bay officials say they first looked into a research park in the 90s.
“We do a lot of internships now, but I could see a lot of students in environmental programs, business programs, engineering technology, all finding internship opportunities and perhaps moving to full-time employment,” said Spielmann.
The university and county's vision for the area is similar to what the city would like to see there.
“We're all about creating some jobs and a strong economy and that's what we think that 238 acres should do,” said Jim Schmitt, Green Bay’s mayor.
County officials say the first action on the land will likely be a demolition. Work is underway to tear down the county's old mental health center.
Between the demolition and infrastructure needs, the total development cost for the park is $5.8 million. But county officials say tax revenue and land sale projections show millions of dollars of profit for years to come.
“This becomes a revenue source that's going to help out this area in times you'd like to keep the tax base low so it’s going to be a win-win all the way around,” said Bernie Erickson, a county supervisor.
The county hopes to receive approval from its board in September.
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