Milwaukee Tool’s Brookfield expansion plan to have January public hearing
Company seeking grant, TIF funding to see project through

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 16, 2015

BROOKFIELD — If plans move forward, a venerable company with nine decades of history could become Brookfield’s largest employer.

But the Common Council on Tuesday had a lengthy list of questions concerning Milwaukee Tool Corporation’s expansion plans at its corporate campus, 12905-13135 W. Lisbon Road.

Citing a renewed wave of growth within the company, Ty Stavinski, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said Milwaukee Tool needs additional space to accommodate ramped production of its product line — which includes, but is not limited to, power-based equipment.

Last week, company executives came before the Plan Commission with their initial pitch, which calls for a four-story, 205,000-square-foot addition to an existing building and adding 600 parking stalls. Future small-scale facility expansions could also be on the horizon.

Dan Ertl, director of community development, said Milwaukee Tool’s expansion, as planned, would bring between 300 and 500 new jobs to the city. With a current workforce hovering around 600, Milwaukee Tool’s employment roster in Brookfield could increase from the 900- to 1,100-person range.

Additionally, Ertl said Milwaukee Tool’s growth would generate $8.4 million in new taxes and create $33.9 million in new net tax value.

But there are caveats to that projection. Milwaukee Tool is asking for a $6 million contribution, by way of an economic development grant. Additionally, the current plan would necessitate creating a new tax incremental financing district to facilitate the cost of such incidentals as environmental cleanup in the impacted area. Ertl said the expectation is the TIF would be paid off within 15 years.

The TIF funding and economic development grant resulted in several questions from aldermen. In the end, however, the council voted, 12-2, in favor of moving the expansion proposal to the next phase: a formal public hearing in January.

Alderman Christopher Blackburn, one of the two dissenters of the current plan, said he was concerned about allocating TIF resources toward the project.

“There’s no guarantee we’re going to get these intangible benefits,” Blackburn said, referring to the projections in added tax value and additions to the tax rolls. “I do not see why the city taxpayers should have to try and keep (Milwaukee Tool) here.”

Alderman Jerry Mellone was the other alderman casting a “no” vote.

While he acknowledged there are questions still on the table, Alderman Scott Berg said he favored advancing the plans to a public hearing.

“I think (resident feedback) will help inform our decisions,” Berg said.

Milwaukee Tool, established in 1924, laid roots in Brookfield in 1965 at the current site. After a period of stagnation, company officials said new management has infused innovations that have led to expansion efforts.

In 2009, Milwaukee Tool brought in $50 million in income. This year, the company expects to record $2 billion.

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