KAUKAUNA - Bernatello's Foods is planning to expand its frozen food business in Kaukauna rather than in Minnesota, in part, due to an incentive package still in the works with city officials.
So far, the city of Kaukauna is planning to provide $2.7 million in utility and road improvements, with other "pay as you go" incentives still being negotiated between the city and Bernatello's, according to Allyson Watson Brunette, the city's principal planner.
"We are looking to see a development agreement reached that outlines those specific incentive details within the next 60 days," Brunette told members of the Outagamie Finance Committee Tuesday.
The creation of another tax increment finance (TIF) district comes as the Kaukauna City Council in August approved a TIF district to attract a $30 million project that will include a 101-unit Edgewater Pointe apartment complex and a Sleep Inn & Suites by Choice Hotels with 68 rooms.
The incentive package for that project includes $2.2 million in incentives to Harvest Development and city-backed loans — $1.06 million for the apartments, $540,000 for the hotel — in addition to $2.2 million in incentives to Harvest Development.
Brunette provided details on Bernatello's expansion plans at the county committee's meeting that outlined the new TIF district Kaukauna is planning. She referred to Bernatello's expansion as the "impetus" for creating the TIF district , which will be at the intersection of County J and Interstate 41.
"This is an opportunity to attract higher-density developments, especially as expansion continues pressing further north on I-41, and as we continue to see the improvements on the 41 corridor coming," Brunette said. "We feel there is room to increase the taxable value (of this area) to the benefit of the county."
The expansion includes upgrades at the current facility to allow for more frozen food products to be produced and the construction of a 100,000-square-foot cold storage distribution center. When completed, Bernatello's cold storage facility will be the second in Kaukauna. Brunette said the company hopes to have the project completed in the next 24 months.
"We are really pleased they are willing to make that investment in the state of Wisconsin, right here in the Fox Valley," Brunette said.
Brunette said the company's goal to expand into southern Illinois and the St. Louis markets also made Kaukauna an appealing option, since it's closer to those regions than its Maple Lake, Minnesota, distribution center.
She said storing the frozen products onsite in its own warehouse helps Bernatello's efficiency and quality control — in this case, ensuring frozen products stay frozen. This is important, since 95% of Bertanello's products arrive at grocery stores and vendors by Bernatello's drivers, she said.
"I think this fits very well with the concept of the TIF district, which is to encourage the development of industrial and commercial (businesses)," said Jerry Iverson, a member of the Outagamie County Finance Committee.
Nadine Miller, the committee chair, echoed Iverson's support, saying the I-41 corridor is an area that has the "right infrastructure for that kind of business."
The committee voted to draft a resolution in support of the TIF district and will vote on it during a special meeting Tuesday before the Outagamie County Board meeting.
Contact Roshaun Higgins at 920-205-1154 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @row_yr_boat.
This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Bernatello's looking to expand in Kaukauna with distribution center