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(Rock County, WI) According to the quarterly release of the 2017 Rock Ready Index, Rock County’s economy started the new year in a very strong position. Highlights from the Q1 report include the following:

For the third quarter in a row, the average annual Unemployment Rates for the County / State / U.S. remained below 5%. This same general theme held true for job posting activities too, as regional job openings reached over 30,000 for the third consecutive quarter. Transportation & Material Moving Occupations, followed by Healthcare Occupations, represented the majority of these postings. Meanwhile, employers from every industry sector are constantly retooling or refining their talent attraction / recruitment offerings to gain a competitive edge. One workforce tactic area employers are beginning to embrace is . On a monthly basis, this online job board and information portal attracts over 9,700 page views.

Housing prices continued its move upward, particularly within the context of historical Q1 comparisons – where Q1 2017’s average sale price notched a decade-high mark. Anecdotally, one consistent thread reported by home sellers and buyers alike is this: the pace of transactions is brisk and be prepared to pay full asking price, plus cash, to close the deal. In terms of the rental market, conditions are equally challenging as demand is outpacing the area’s supply. Consequently, there is an uptick in apartment and/or townhome planning activities throughout the County.

The County’s Sales & Use Tax collections remained blazing hot, as a new first quarter benchmark of $3.27 Million was established. This new threshold represents more than a 6% increase from Q1 2016 and a 23% jump from Q1 2008’s collections, respectively. Favorable conditions throughout 2017 should position these collections for an opportunity to exceed the $13.5 Million year-end mark. 

New to the RRI is the Economic Development (ED) Pipeline, which provides an aggregate snapshot of the industrial / warehousing and select commercial development opportunities expressing an interest in SC WI, the Janesville-Beloit MSA and/or the Stateline area. A pair of noteworthy items include the following: SF or building size are geared toward larger footprints and strong representation from the region’s targeted industries.

Speaking of opportunities and targeted industries, this quarter’s featured project is TRU Aseptics – which purchased a vacant manufacturing plant in Beloit’s I-90 Business Park. Although technically considered a start-up, TRU’s management team is seasoned and well connected within the food and beverage industry. As such, TRU is positioned to be the only aseptic production plant in North America to blend, compound, unitize and aseptically fill various fruit, vegetable, plant and dairy-based ingredients. From customized to large batches; and from bags to boxes; TRU Aseptics will provide safe, high-quality, shelf-stable products that are preservative, artificial and refrigeration ingredients-free. Supply chain considerations, real estate functionality and a favorable business climate were important factors driving TRU’s Beloit site selection decision. The Beloit facility is expected to be fully FDA validated in Q3 2017 and have staffing levels approaching 50 full-time employees.

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 a snapshot of the ED Pipeline's growth and/or investment opportunities. Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project specific news during a given quarter.

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