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(Janesville, WI) Excerpts Courtesy of the Gazette

According to the California-based economic research group Milken Institute, the city of Janesville and Rock County have been riding on a skyrocket to high-tech land for the last half-decade.

Rock County companies such as Foremost media are reasons why a nationally-recognized study has ranked the Janesville-Beloit area at the top of the stack for economic performance. Other notable high-tech gains locally are attributed to such firms as AccuLynx, Comply365, Data Dimensions, FatWallet, SASid and State Collection Service.

Milkin's new study, which began circulating late last year, listed Janesville-Beloit as the fourth behind the North Dakota cities of Fargo and Bismack and the college town of Ames, Iowa. Milkin's designation of high-tech and biotechnology jobs range from specialty and precision manufacturing to pharmaceutical and specialty pharmaceutical manufacturing, aerospace metals fabrication, along with a broad spectrum of web and Internet services.

The latter includes Foremost, which is one of the few companies regionally that specializes in designing apps designed specifically for manufacturers and industry. They handle everything from inventory to sales and customer orders. The firm had six people in 2012 and now has 23, including web developers, web sales associates and programmers.

“Industrial wireless apps are not the sexiest things in the world, and our home office isn't sexy,” company CEO Jon Ballard said. “But we're marketable, we're located right in between two major markets in Madison and Chicago, and we serve a utilitarian niche. We're happy here.”

In May, the company is moving to downtown Janesville into a four-story, 24,000-square-foot former warehouse at 207 N. Academy St. Ballard is partnering with Mark Robinson, who owns the brick warehouse they're calling “The Grey Goose.”

HIGH TECH & HIGH PAY

Bill Mears, broker for Janesville-based Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears, said he and his real estate partner Tom Lasse a few times over the last year found themselves riding a wave of industrial and commercial development deals along the Interstate 90/39 corridor like nothing they'd experienced in his career.

One such wave washed over the city's east side business park when steel fabrication and distribution giant A.M. Castle Metals eschewed a large warehouse building Lasse was developing this past spring. During a courtesy ride in a charter bus Castle, instead pointed at a vacant site off of Enterprise drive as a preferred option. Less than six months later, Castle has moved into its new Janesville digs. And the $16.50 starting hourly pay is a $3 leap above the going rate of most distribution warehouses in Janesville.

Look for that average to continue to climb if a long-awaited project on the city's south side moves forward in the next calendar year. SHINE Medical Technologies, a Monona-based upstart that plans to launch a radioactive medical isotope production facility near the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

SHINE would bring jobs with average salaries of $60,000 a year, SHINE Vice President Katrina Pitas said. It would require skilled mechanics with nuclear safety training, but a top reason why SHINE chose Janesville over two other Wisconsin cities is because SHINE believes the local job force is willing to learn new skills, Pitas said.

A very similar convergence of technology and high pay will be attributed to NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC’s Beloit facility, as well. NorthStar and SHINE will eventually represent two of the three domestic producers of molybdenum (Mo-99). With the support of the federal government and strategic private sector partners such as GE Healthcare, Rock County is positioned to eventually becoming recognized as the nation’s isotope capitol.

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