Rapids expansion project on hold - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Rapids expansion project on hold

by Colby Robertson

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -- Energy Composites Corporation was expected to bring 600 long-term green jobs to the Wisconsin Rapids area.

Now the expansion project is on hold. Leaders at Energy Composites Corporation were supposed to break ground in April.

Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Mary Jo Carson says the bond market is challenging. In these tough economic times, investors are being conservative. Until something changes, this project and the creation of 600 jobs will remain at a stand still.

A project with so much potential for job creation in a paper mill community devastated by the economic downturn. A possibility for more than 600 long-term green jobs was so close to becoming a reality.

Mayor Carson says, "In an ideal world, wouldn't it have been nice if all the ducks lined up in a row more efficiently and more effectively. They didn't so, you have to be realistic and say, okay this may take longer than we thought."

Energy Composites Corporation will build industrial size blades for wind turbines throughout the United States and Canada. The company was supposed to break ground on this land in April after securing $45 million in recovery zone bonds. Four months later the grassy field remains untouched.

Mayor Carson is blaming the delay on the challenging bond market. She says, "This is what many businesses are finding right now because if you're trying to sell bonds, these are tough times to do that because of the conservative nature of investors right now. They would prefer to avoid risk and this is an expansion, a big one."

Carson isn't saying the project is done. It just means financing the company is becoming more challenging than they initially anticipated.

Mayor Carson says, "I am feeling hopeful. I'm feeling positive and I'm feeling badly for the principles of the company because I know they have worked very very hard to complete this project and I know they feel in their heart of hearts it's the perfect project for the city of Wisconsin Rapids and the South Wood County region."

Mayor Carson says the state Department of Transportation and Commerce are still both willing to work with Energy Composites, but there's only so long they can hang on before they have to restructure the entire project.

As for the possibility another state will pick up this project, Mayor Carson doesn't think that will happen for a couple reasons. One, the owner is originally from Wisconsin Rapids and doesn't want to move the company out of his hometown.

Secondly, the challenging bond market is a change in the national investment climate so it's likely this company would face the same challenges elsewhere.

Online Reporter: Colby Robertson

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