May 27, 2016
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Jeffrey Ehrhart ( )

Ehrhart newest CSB director


Jeffrey Ehrhart, owner of Ehrhart Farms Inc., has been appointed to the board of directors of Community State Bank, a Union Grove-based $322 million independent community bank.

“Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge to our board,” said CSB president Scott Huedepohl. “He’s a business owner, he’s a leader in the agricultural community, and we’re very proud and excited to welcome him to CSB.”

Ehrhart resides in the Town of Dover, where he owns and operates the family farm where he was raised.

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Growth stresses local labor market, study says


Kenosha County employers benefit from an economy and business conditions that help their bottom line, but at the same time put an element of the unknown into business operations.

Those were just some of the indications in a newly released labor market analysis of the Kenosha region.

Highlights from the report, conducted over a five-month period by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, were unveiled Tuesday as part of the Let’s Talk Talent Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

The great room at the Addison of Pleasant Prairie serves as not only a gathering pace for its residents, but also a place for families to spend time with their relatives and a pre-dining social space. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

The Agenda: The Addison changes the nature of its neighborhood


The well-planned streets of Pleasant Prairie, especially those that radiate away from the area around Costco, are a marvel and a mystery.

A credit to the village’s plans, ordinances, and, I suppose, its vision; these gently winding boulevards have, for many many years, been paths to nothing. But that’s the way planned communities work.

But until people live in such a place, it’s something other than a community.

Ron Nickel ( )

The Ladder: Nickel joins Johnson Bank


Ron Nickel has been appointed vice president and regional sales mager at Johnson Bank. Nickel will lead the delivery of retail banking services to clients in Racine and Kenosha.

Nickel comes to Johnson Bank with 23 years of experience in the financial services industry. Most recently he served as private client lending manager for consumer banking at JP Morgan Chase.

A resident of Libertyville, Ill., Nickel holds a bachelor's degree in business economics and an MBA in finance from DePaul University. Nickel is treasurer for Carmel Catholic Center for the Arts and a coordinator and leader of the annual Appalachian mission trip for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

United Hospital System's Kenosha Medical Center campus, photographed in 2013, has the busiest emergency room in Kenosha County and one of the busiest in southeastern Wisconsin, according to a recent regional ranking. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

The Agenda: Ouch! Two local emergency rooms rack up big patient visit numbers


Are we particularly clumsy or injury-prone around here? Do we run to the emergency room for a severe cold when, maybe, we should seek treatment at a clinic or in our doctor’s office?

Whatever the reason, it appears we use the emergency room quite a bit. According to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association Guide to Wisconsin Hospitals, United Hospital System’s Kenosha Medical Center ranked seventh on the list for ER visits in 2015.

This ranking is among hospitals in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Walworth, Ozaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties.

Gordon Food Service has agreed to pay $1.85 million after a federal ruling found the company discriminated against hundreds of female job applicants at its Kenosha distribution center, shown in 2010, and elsewhere. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )

GFS to pay for hiring inequity


One of the nation’s largest food distribution companies will pay $1.85 million after a federal ruling determined it discriminated against hundreds of female applicants — including more than 400 local job-seekers — during a 2010-12 hiring process.

Michigan-based Gordon Food Service Inc. resolved the issue this week through a conciliation agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor. A compliance review ruled the company discriminated against 424 qualified women for entry-level warehouse jobs at the GFS Kenosha Distribution Center, 10901 38th St.

The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program noticed GFS’s unbalanced hiring rate, with almost 300 males and six females selected from 926 applicants from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan. An investigation found GFS systematically eliminated qualified women from the hiring process through various discriminatory means, including the unlawful use of a strength test.

Packers star teams up with Jockey foundation

The Jockey Being Family Foundation has added Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson as one of its ambassadors to help build awareness for the foundation and the need for post-adoption services.

The foundation is a corporate initiative of Kenosha-based Jockey International Inc. It provides resources and support to post-adoption organizations to help strengthen families once an adoption is finalized.

Nelson and his wife, Emily, recently grew their family through an adoption, according to a Jockey Being Family news release.

Calla Ricciardi ( )

The Ladder: Calla Ricciardi earns sales honor


Calla Ricciardi of Century 21 Colleen Realty has been ranked by the Century 21 System as the No. 14 affiliated sales associate in the nation. The recognition was based on sales production and number of units sold in 2015. In addition to achieving the national honor, Ricciardi was recognized as the No. 1 sales associate in the greater Midwest region.

“The home buyers and sellers of southeastern Wisconsin truly have a real estate resource they can trust in Calla Ricciardi,” said Rick Davidson, president and CEO, Century 21 Real Estate. “She’s a force in the industry and her success year after year is a testament to her incredible work ethic, unrivaled market knowledge and remarkable commitment to providing a first-rate experience for each and every client.”

Ricciardi got her start more than 30 years ago when she joined the family business. Her mother Colleen owns and operates Colleen Realty. Born and raised in Kenosha, Ricciardi said she has a strong sense of the local market. Approximately 65 percent of her business comes from repeat and referral clients.

Construction is underway on the buildings that will house a Chipotle Mexican Grill, Potbelly Sandwich Works and Five Guys, a burgers and fries chain. The buildings are in Pleasant Prairie, near Costco. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Construction continues on future Five Guys home


Work continues on the future homes of Potbelly Sandwich Works, Five Guys and Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in Pleasant Prairie, but patience is needed.

The three national chain restaurants are set to go into two multi-tenant out-lot retail developments that front the Costco Warehouse Club, across from St. Catherine’s Hospital. The outer shells of the buildings are expected to be completed in late summer. Completion of the interiors of the buildings is expected to be completed to the specifications of tenants in early fall.

The Bulls-Eye development, with two buildings at 9370 76th St. has capacity for five retail stores. A Mattress Firm will join the three restaurants; there is one vacancy.

IKEA opens its doors in Southeast Wisconsin. ( )

IKEA comes to Wisconsin; all hail the Swedish umlaut


The announcement that IKEA is headed to Wisconsin, coming as it did almost immediately after Walpurgis Eve, filled me with outsäglig glädje.

Of course, outsäglig glädje could also be what the retailer calls a vegetable peeler.

I know some are thrilled silly that it will no longer take an entire day to visit one of the two Chicago area IKEA stores, including negotiating four different eight-lane highways in the process. I am sure that at some point I will visit the future Oak Creek store.

The MuG featured clever details such as an MG designer/musician who provided guitar and vocal entertainment, including a custom MG jingle. And, as MG Design is in business to sell exhibits, it also featured a for sale tag hanging from the staircase hand rail. ( submitted photo )

MG Design’s MuG exhibit wins awards, recognitions


Wisconsin marketing professional and firms are recognized annually with the Business Marketing Association of Milwaukee’s coveted Bell Awards. The Bell Awards honor the best of business-to-business marketing across southeastern Wisconsin. MG Design of Pleasant Prairie was recently honored with a Bell Award as well as the Best of Show Award across all categories and more than 130 entries. On April 21, 200 industry professionals joined BMA Milwaukee to honor finalists and recognize MG as Best of Show.

MG entered and won the Bell Award in the trade show category for its MuG exhibit at the 2015 ExhibitorLIVE in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas show is the exhibit and event marketing industry’s showcase event. MuG exhibit also won Best of Show at ExhibitorLIVE as well as Exhibitor Magazine’s Sizzle Award for Integrated Marketing in 2015.

“Our message to (show) attendees was about creating a great experience on the show floor for their clients, their brands, their leadership team and their sales teams working the exhibit,” said Ben Olson, MG’s vice president of marketing. “We wanted to show them what a great experience looked like to us. We put you (U) in the center of MG and created the MuG booth, a double-deck functioning coffee house to invite ExhibitorLIVE attendees in for a great conversation, a great cup of coffee and a great experience.”

Dan Valdez ( )

Local bloggers to focus on area activities, events


A new slew of people are telling the world about travel, activities and events in the Kenosha area starting this week.

During National Travel & Tourism Week, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau announced the new members of its community blog team.

The contributors will be writing for the Visit Kenosha blog beginning later in May and will contribute for the next 12 months.

Katherine Gehl, a successful business leader and former CEO of Gehl Foods. ( SUBMITTED PHOTO )

KABA speaker says broken political system puts U.S. competitiveness at peril


Successful business people tend to look at competitiveness as something to be ignored at their peril. Applying that same mindset, or urgency, to politics may not be as intuitive.

Katherine Gehl, a successful business leader and former CEO of Gehl Foods, brought a message of the importance of changes in policy and politics that are needed to keep the United States a powerful global business competitor. She spoke Thursday morning at an Inspire Kenosha breakfast put on by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.

Gehl was the fourth-generation president and CEO of Germantown-based Gehl Foods, where she led an aggressive growth strategy, driving transformations across the company — from management and processes, to facilities and information systems.

Cancer Treatment Centers lays off 81 workers in Zion

Cancer Treatment Centers of America has laid off 81 employees at its Zion, Ill., medical center, the Chicago Tribune reported today.

A company spokeswoman told the Tribune the layoffs represent 5.6 percent of the Zion facility’s workforce.

The organization also laid off employees this week at hospitals and corporate offices in Schaumburg, Ill., and Boca Raton, Fla., the Tribune reported. The layoffs reportedly affected about 350 people in total, or roughly 6 percent of the organization’s overall workforce.

UW-Parkside students, from left, Rachel White, Jeni Meekma, Olivia Brunner and Cassandra Flannery, collaborate on a market research project at the SEG Center on Wednesday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )

Invitation to the business world


The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is opening its doors to more than just students.

Local businesses and other organizations are welcomed on campus to help give real-world experience to students studying everything from business and computer science to anthropology and design.

The Kenosha County four-year state university has received national accolades for the level of community involvement and outreach it incorporates on campus, receiving the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement from Campus Compact, first in 2006 and again in 2015.

Small business advice workshops available

The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside will offer “First Steps in Starting Your Own Small Business,” a free monthly workshop that is open to the public.

The two-hour workshop focuses on questions entrepreneurs face when they open a new business. Topics include business plan development, market feasibility, financial and lender resources, and Small Business Administration resources are included.

The class is a collaborative effort by the Racine Country Workforce Development Center and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.

Dennis Duchene and Meredith Jurnisko from Kenosha's Convention and Visitors Bureau during an interview at the Kenosha News Thursday. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Tourism a consistent boost to local economy


In 1986, at the onset of perhaps the lowest point in the local economy since the Great Depression, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau was established.

For the first few years, in the wake of large numbers of newly unemployed residents, darkened manufacturing plants, and a crumbling local infrastructure, it was difficult to envision Kenosha County as a tourist destination.

Thirty years later, a much different picture has emerged. Tourism has become a vital part of the local economy, creating new jobs, adding tax revenue and enhancing the overall quality of life in the community.

Megan and Andy Wells (left) pose for a photo with Amy and Brett Loeff before getting onboard a Streetcar Takeover sponsored by Young Leaders in Kenosha (YLink) Friday . The event featured a State of the Downtown in Kenosha presentation from Chris Naumann, Executive Director of Downtown Kenosha, while riding the streetcar. ( BILL SIEL )

Streetcar Takeover


One of Kenosha’s streetcars was put into service during the lunch hour on Friday for a Young Professionals Week event.

The lunchtime workshop, presented by Downtown Kenosha Inc. executive director Christopher Nauman, gave an overview of the state of Kenosha’s downtown. It was one of the last events of YP Week in Kenosha.

The event was organized by YLink (Young Leaders in Kenosha), an organization created to bring together young professionals in the Kenosha area. Its goal is to connect, retain and foster professional growth among young professionals in the community.

Nathan Koopmeiners ( )

The Ladder: ‘Koop’ joins Prime Realty


Nathan Koopmeiners is a new Realtor with Prime Realty in Kenosha. A resident of Kenosha for 16 years, he is know as “Koop” to his friends and associates. He followed an enlistment in the U.S. Navy with a civilian career at Naval Station Great Lakes.

He gained an interest in real estate as the child of parents who were house “flippers” before the term existed, he said.

Haley Willis is a new program assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Small Business Development Center. She will assist the center in social media and marketing of the SBDC, as well as administrative duties. She is active on campus through her participation on the Parkside cross country and track teams.

KABA conducting out-of-county commuter study

The Kenosha Area Business Alliance is seeking responses to a survey from those who commute out of Kenosha County for work.

As part of an ongoing regional labor market study that KABA is conducting, the organization is seeking information about the occupations, work preferences, education levels, career objectives and commuting patterns of those who live in Kenosha County but work outside of the county.

The brief, anonymous survey takes about five minutes to complete. It is available online at

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