BELOIT—Ask Beloit economic development officials and local politicians and they will tell you that Beloit’s Gateway Business Park put the city “on the map.” On Thursday, the business park’s two decades of success was celebrated.
The City of Beloit hosted a celebratory event marking the 20th anniversary of the business park at G5 Brewing Co. Many businesses have flock to the shovel-ready site since 2001.
In sheer numbers alone, the business park has seen development of 545 acres of land with nearly 3 million square-feet of building space that represents over $200 million committed in capital assets creating nearly 3,000 jobs. In 2001, the base value of the land was $1.7 million. Fast-forward to today and the base value of the same area is now over $386 million, according to Beloit economic development data.
Former Wisconsin State Sen. Judy Robson, who helped secure key funding to expand Cranston Road to the Gateway area, said the project was doubted from the start.
“It was really an attitude of saying we couldn’t do it,” Robson said. “But we needed jobs. We needed growth. We were stagnant.
Robson said the efforts of former Beloit City Manager Jane Wood were central to the park’s success. Others thanked former City Manager Larry Arft and former Economic Development Director Andrew Janke for their work making the vision of prosperity a reality.
“Jane Wood had a vision that this could happen. It was very difficult, but everyone pulled it off,” Robson added. “Jane (Wood) was very persuasive.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who joined on the Gateway effort in 2003, said the business park was representative of Beloit.
“Rock County has faced a lot of economic challenges over the last 20 years, but Beloit is a community with a strong work ethic and when we get knocked down, we work together to get back up,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin helped secure $5.5 million in federal funding for the construction of Gateway Boulevard.
“This anniversary marks the Beloit community’s effort to always be moving forward to attract new businesses and encourage new businesses to expand in Wisconsin and we celebrate how the park has helped create shared prosperity among businesses and their workers,” Baldwin said.
Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther thanked her predecessors for their efforts.
“The City of Beloit is immensely proud of development that’s happened here in the Gateway,” Luther said. “We have seen unprecedented growth in the business park and this has made a difference in people’s lives and in our community as a whole. This would not have happened without the work of so many people who had the extraordinary vision to make this happen. It’s exciting to see those dreams come to fruition.”
Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation Board Chairman Frank McKearn said collaboration was key to making the Gateway area thrive.
“Where we are right now is one of the best examples of the fostering ideas,” McKearn said. “This park is full of ideas and that is what Beloit is about.”
As to what’s next for the business park, Hall said there were “several more developments” in the works, but declined to comment on the details of the possible projects.