Gov. Scott Walker touted business expansion and job growth in Sturtevant on Tuesday, while on hand to help with a ribbon cutting at BRP US, Inc.
Walker said the $15 million renovation and expansion of the company's Evinrude outboard motor facility is an example of how cooperative investments that help businesses grow can help an entire region.
The expansion helped the company move 137 jobs from Waukegan, IL, to Sturtevant, bringing its entire Evinrude operation under one roof.
"This helps everyone in the region. It's not just for someone who lives in Sturtevant or who lives in Racine," Walker noted. "Southeast Wisconsin is a great place for business. This is a great opportunity and BRP recognizes that."
With the completion of the renovation, BRP has a workforce of more than 400 employees at the Sturtevant facility. BRP put up the lion's share of the funding for the renovation, but the state contributed $1 million, and Sturtevant credited $300,000 over three years, or roughly the equivalent of the facility's projected property taxes.
The expanded Sturtevant plant workforce includes 137 positions relocated from Waukegan Evinrude. Those employees were able to keep their jobs, going to work in Sturtevant instead of Waukegan. Only one chose to leave the company, according to Mary Jo Kruse from Taylor Strategy, a public relations firm working with BRP.
The company had boats, Cam-Am motorcycles and other recreational vehicles displayed in the parking lot, and Walker noted he felt like a kid at Christmas looking at all the "toys" when he pulled into the lot.
"It was almost like overload looking at all the power equipment out there," he said. "It's like kids at Christmas. I drove into the driveway and thought this is like Christmas for me."
But on a more serious note, Walker said the state has had challenges, but is now headed in the right direction.
"You get some of the best employees in the world right here in Southeast Wisconsin," he continued. "There were 157 employees here and now with 136 new employees, I think this is a great opportunity. We're a state that's had its challenges, but over the long-term, we're headed in the right direction."