Scott Walker visited Universal Acoustic & Emission Technologies' new manufacturing center in Beloit on Friday and praised the project, describing it as “a prime example of transforming a building.”
“You don't just transform the physical infrastructure, but you're transforming in terms of what's being done inside of here,” Walker said, referring to the innovative products being designed and built by Universal AET and its newly acquired Ojibway Enclosures division. “We're excited about that.”
Universal AET's new facility, called the Center of Excellence, is situated within the historic Ironworks campus on the banks of the Rock River. The center houses engineers, business staff and manufacturing specialists who work to create custom and standard acoustic and emissions solutions for the Power Generation, Gas Turbine, Oil and Gas, Rail, Engine & Emissions, and Industrial Processing markets.
Beloit is an ideal location for manufacturers because the area has made a commitment to technical education at the high school and community college levels, Walker said, and the skills people learn at these institutions will train them for good-paying jobs – such as the welding positions at Universal AET.
Walker was given a tour of the company's operations, followed by a press conference in which he referenced Universal AET's commitment to strengthening the manufacturing industry in Wisconsin. Also in attendance on Friday were state Reps. Janis Ringhand and Amy Loudenbeck, whose Assembly districts include Beloit.
Walker also explained how the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit that virtually eliminates the tax on income from manufacturing activity in the state is helping to maximize production growth throughout Wisconsin, where manufacturing makes up 20 percent of the economy.
Universal AET Executive Vice President and COO Dick Strojinc said it was an honor to host the governor in Beloit.
“We're pleased that Governor Walker has heard about the growth of our company, and that he chose our new facility as the place to talk about manufacturing and job creation today,” Strojinc said. “We are committed to his vision of adding manufacturing-related jobs and growing industry in Wisconsin.”
Universal AET employs nearly 300 people at its offices and manufacturing facilities in Stoughton, Muscoda and Beloit. It invested $1.2 million in its Center of Excellence, which was also supported through a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. program and investments from Ironworks campus owner Hendricks Commercial Properties.
Universal AET occupies 106,000 square feet in the Center of Excellence and has an additional 67,000 square feet in reserve for potential expansion, which will enable the company to grow its engineering, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.