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(Rock Count y, WI) 

According to the quarterly release of the 2016 Rock Ready Index, Rock County’s economy finished 2016 in a very strong position. Highlights from the Q4 report include the following:

Unemployment rates held steady during Q4, which translated into an average of 4.5% when combining the local, state and federal rates. Historically, these rates have not been this low since YR 2000. Meanwhile, job postings remained very active: over 30,000 regional openings were recorded during 2016's final quarter. Not surprising, Transportation & Material Moving and Healthcare related occupations dominated these postings. The aggressive nature of the area's job market was also evident by the volume of online applicant traffic recorded by during the quarter, as well.

Rock County’s residential market remained robust, as new benchmarks were established for Q4 and year-end price points. While the affordability gap between Rock and its closest neighboring metropolitan area in Wisconsin (i.e. Dane County) is about $110,000, the availability factor with respect to specific types of single-family and multi-family offerings remains a hot topic throughout the Janesville-Beloit MSA. 

Speaking of hot, the County's Sales & Use Collections for Q4 ($3.5 MM) and the entire year ($13.2 MM) set another pair of records, respectively. Since 2014, these collections have pushed beyond the $3 Million benchmark nine out of 12 consecutive quarters. The stability of these collections, coupled with other key factors, are fueling retail and hospitality developments throughout the County. 

Quarterly energy consumption, as measured by meter and fuel usage, was reflective of both seasonal and operational issues - particularly as it applied to the area’s commercial, manufacturing / warehousing and residential developments.

Speaking of developments, Plastic Industries, Inc., a plastic packaging manufacturer headquartered on the East Coast that produces custom and stock bottles, is the featured Q4 2016 manufacturing project. When fully operational at 2929 Venture Drive, this company will have up to 30 full-time employees. Plastic Industries joins a growing list of blow-and-injection molding companies that have planted their flags throughout the County. 

The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and Energy Consumption (Meters & Usage). Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.

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