“Enormous step forward”: State and local leaders celebrate Port of Green Bay grant
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - State and local leaders gathered Tuesday to express enthusiasm a $500,000 grant from the state of Wisconsin to redevelop the Port of Green Bay and move the coal piles away from the mouth of the Fox River.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has issued an Idle Sites Redevelopment Grant to help Brown County with the purchasing the former WPS Pulliam Plant property. The port is a designated Foreign Trade Zone.
Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach, and WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes discussed their mutual excitement for the future during a news conference Tuesday.
“This has been on a fast track for WEDC. I got a call in mid-November, or so, that said ‘we have a gap, we need to close it. Is there anything that can happen here?’ And my first reaction was similar to the mayor’s. Hell yeah,” said Hughes.
Hughes cited Titletown, Broadway and New North as examples of a vision for Green Bay.
“I have spent time in Green Bay, meeting with the leaders of Green Bay, and understand that there is a future vision for the Northeast section of the state, and it is led by these leaders,” says Hughes.
The county intends to purchase the 40-acre parcel at the mouth of the Fox River.
“This is a huge thing for the city of Green Bay and opens the door for us relocating our coal piles out of our downtown and to an exclusively industrial area,” says Mayor Eric Genrich. “This enables us to continue to grow the port and grow the amount of economic activity that occurs in Northeast Wisconsin.”
County Executive Streckenbach says the county has an agreement with WPS, and it will go before the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 20. Due to a non-disclosure agreement, Streckenbach could not give a total for the purchase.
“It’s vital for us to make sure Northeast Wisconsin continues to prosper, make sure that the industries that are supported by and through the port, are available for those raw materials to come in,” says Streckenbach.
Streckenbach says the goal is to make it a working port.
The mayor would like to see some mixed use development in the future.
“What’s been talked about publicly, what the residents would like to see, is very much what we want to make happen with that C. Reiss property. I think it makes sense to have mixed use development on some of that property,” says Genrich. “It’s really important to demonstrate port growth in this region. This is a working river, and we want to make sure that property continues to be used for that purpose, but not in a way that is a nuisance to the community. So we don’t want to see another piling of raw materials.”
The underlying message of the news conference was excitement for economic growth in the area.
“This is a first step in a really lengthy journey, but it is an enormous one,” says Genric.
Hughes says, “Cannot wait to see what happens next.”
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