Beloit sites given state certification

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Two development sites in Beloit’s Gateway Business Park have been certified as “shovel ready” by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The sites were given the designation about two years ago by an outside consultant, but state certification is considered a key marketing step.

Shovel-ready sites are attractive for future business owners because it eliminates obstacles they might have to build their business.

“It’s a key term (business owners) know that everything is set to go,” said Tom Thieding, communications manager for the WEDC. “They don’t have to worry about environmental impact, water, utilities, they know that all the infrastructure is there.”

The city is one of the first to get the designation from the state, and one of few to get two sites certified.

The sites are located just north of the Kettle Chip factory near Gateway Boulevard and Cranston Road.

The WEDC held a news conference today that will officially announce the sites as “Certified in Wisconsin.”

The news conference was scheduled this morning at the World Affairs Center at Beloit College.

Gov. Scott Walker created the “Ready-Set-Build” project earlier this year to research sites in the state that were shovel-ready.

“Ready-Set-Build” was created as a result of the 2010 study “Be Bold,” which found the state lacked certified development-ready sites.

The WEDC says the lack of shovel-ready sites puts the state at a disadvantage when business owners are looking for places to build.

Thieding said the WEDC began accepting applications in May, and started handing out certifications last week.

A total of 10 sites will be chosen in the first three years of the program, he said.

WEDC Interim CEO Reed Hall will be at the news conference to talk about the program, why it’s important and what it means for a community to have shovel-ready sites.

Andrew Janke, director for the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, said the city found out the sites had been accepted towards the end of November.

WEDC examined the sites in August, and it has taken about eight to nine months from the start to the finish.

Despite the slow economy, the city believes this will help with developing the Gateway Business Park.

“Things are still slow, but this will put us in a better competitive place when the economy picks up,” Janke said.

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