Report Highlights Strong Economic Activities

October 26, 2018

(Rock County, WI) According to the quarterly release of the Rock Ready Index, the Janesville-Beloit MSA economic engine is performing very well. The following trends and observations from the Q3 2018 report include:

For the seventh quarter in a row, the average annual unemployment rate for the county and state remained under four percent. Nationally, this rate settled in at four percent. Wisconsin notched a pair of Top 10 national rankings during this period , including : the seventh highest labor force participation rates and the 10th lowest unemployment rates, respectively. Additional state-by-state comparisons ranked Wisconsin 2nd in the U.S. and #1 in the Midwest for the number of manufacturing jobs created. Construction related jobs gained recognition during this period, as well: Wisconsin ranked #15 nationally and 2nd in the Midwest. These trends played out regionally too, as production openings once again remained among the Top 5 job posting categories recorded. On average, approximately one-third of all job postings on have some type of manufacturing connectivity.

Aggressive and steep are two words that home buyers and sellers alike are using to characterize the Janesville-Beloit MSA housing market. Q3 2018 registered an average sale price of $173,523 and a median sale price of $160,000: both represent new pricing benchmarks. While transaction pricing and pace remains brisk, some (supply) relief is on the horizon as recent announcements have signaled that more housing starts are planned. For those interested in ditching the joys of home ownership, the pulse remains steady with respect to future multi-family developments. That said, community perceptions regarding location, scale and value of these types of projects create challenging environments that property owners and investors must overcome.  

Q3 was also a very robust period for the County’s sales & use tax collections. With over $3.8 Million collected, this figure represents the highest quarterly total ever recorded for the Janesville-Beloit MSA.  As a matter of fact, Q3 2018’s totals are about 5.5% higher than last year’s highest benchmark period of $3.6 Million. Moreover, the YTD total for 2018 is nearly identical to the 2008 year-end total of $10.39 Million. Absent some strange economic tsunami, the collections for calendar year 2018 are on pace to establish a new record.

This quarter’s economic development pipeline was once again populated by a diverse array of sizable projects, which combined for the following impacts: over 1.1 Million SF; 800 new full-time jobs; and more than $132.5 Million of proposed new capital investments. Projects presenting logistics and IT-related opportunities anchored Q3, while metal fabrication and other types of manufacturing segments rounded out the remaining pipeline’s investments. That said, a lean inventory of available, Class A industrial / warehousing space and a shrinking supply of large, build-to-suit sites remain a priority discussion topic.

Blackhawk Community Credit Union’s proposed downtown Janesville project, along the banks of the Rock River in an area that’s been branded as SOCO, is the Q3 2018 featured project. This $30 Million, 130,000 SF mixed-use project represents the largest private sector investment proposed for the city’s downtown since the ARISE plan was initiated. Speaking of ARISE, a number of celebrations featuring marque milestones and affiliated investments have been occurring throughout the year. Given the trajectory and strength of the area’s economy, additional announcements are anticipated.

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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