Germantown lighting manufacturer plans $46M expansion

By ALEX BELD - Freeman Staff

June 8, 2018


John Ehlke/Conley News Service

The exterior of J.W. Speaker in Germantown. 

GERMANTOWN - The family-owned specialty lighting manufacturer J.W. Speaker announced it's expanding the manufacturing facility with a $46 million project expected to create 100 jobs at its Germantown-based       headquarters.

The 140,000 square-foot project is being helped along by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., according to a news release from J.W. Speaker. The project is based on current and projected growth.

 “I congratulate J.W. Speaker on this major expansion and commend the company for its continued investment in the state of Wisconsin,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, in the news release. “This project further strengthens the Milwaukee area’s economy and opens up new opportunities for workers throughout the region.”

The WEDC is supporting the project with as much as $450,000 in state income tax credits during the next three years. The actual amount of tax credits the company could receive will be dependent on the number of jobs created along with the amount of capital investment during that period.

“They need to create 80 jobs to get any tax credit at all,” said Mark Maley, public affairs and communications director at Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The credit will also be somewhat based on payroll and pro-rated in relation to that and the number of jobs created.

“All of our tax credits ... you have to earn them in order to receive them,” Maley said.

“Despite the already healthy Wisconsin business environment, we found the state and local funding agencies very welcoming and supportive of our expansion plans,” J.W. Speaker co-president Jamie Speaker said in a news release.

Maley said the contract with J.W. Speaker also requires the company to keep the projected 100 jobs created from the project for two years after the last of the tax credits are received. About 60 will be labor positions on assembly lines with the remainder being management, engineers and support staff, he said.

Along with the 100 jobs expected to be created by the company’s expansion, an economic modeling study estimated that the project could indirectly facilitate the creation of 75 other jobs in the region.

If this goal were met, the 175 new jobs could generate more than $1.7 million in state income tax revenue within a five-year period, according to the release.

The expansion is expected to give the company flexibility for its current operations, help alleviate capacity constraints, and allow for additional expansion in the future, the release said.

This proposal is the largest project the company has undertaken.  

J.W. Speaker employs more than 400 people.