Monday, June 26, 2006

Something fishy in Manitowoc

There's something fishy in Manitowoc, and it doesn't have fins or swim in Lake Michigan.

There's been news coverage in the last several days about LoPresti Aviation, a Florida firm that either is or isn't thinking of building a plant in Manitowoc and creating 300 new jobs.

It started with a report in the local paper that said Manitowoc was on the short list. The story included some positive comments from a rep of the firm, Todd Lohenry, whose title is business development manager.
"We've been actively solicited by 75-plus communities, and there is a short list of five currently being evaluated," Lohenry said Wednesday after meeting with Lakeshore Aviation President Curt Drumm and Manitowoc County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ken Stubbe...

Lohenry works for LoPresti out of an Algoma office. "I thought I would be horribly remiss if I didn't try somehow to expose the LoPrestis to the pluses of locating the business in Wisconsin," he said.

"One of the critical factors in our designing an aircraft is the quality of the workmanship. When dealing with an airplane, you're talking about a life and death situation, and you have to rely on high-quality workers.

"The reputation of workers in Manitowoc is well-known in the critical areas we need." He cited the experience of the local workforce in metal and aluminum manufacturing.
Almost as soon as the article appeared, Loherny held a news conference to pull the plug. Here's what the same guy had to say a day later:
"There is a snowball's chance in a Wisconsin summer of it landing here," LoPresti business development manager Todd Lohenry said during a news conference at the Manitowoc County Airport...

Lohenry met with local economic development officials Wednesday, but said Thursday that Manitowoc is not on the company's "short list" of cities being considered for the plant, which he said would create 300 jobs over two years.

He praised the expertise and work ethic of prospective Lakeshore area workers, but added a major caveat.

"The state of Wisconsin is not friendly to new business ... if the project doesn't go through, it won't be the fault of the (Manitowoc County) airport, city or county ... other states offer much better economic incentives and much lower taxes," Lohenry said.
Mark Green, of course, jumped on it immediately and blamed Gov. Jim Doyle for keeping business away. Lakeshore Laments, a conservative regional blog, jumped on, too, along with Owen Robinson and Paddy Mac. And Sykes, of course. Horrors! Bad business climate! All Doyle's fault! The usual, in other words.

Doyle came to Manitowoc Friday and said that he would work with local officials to put together an incentive package to try and help land the LoPresti plant. It wasn't until the story of the Doyle visit that this piece of information finally made it into print:
Lohenry, Republican Party chairman for Kewaunee County who works for LoPresti out of its Algoma office, said Thursday the state's negative business and tax climate would make it difficult for Manitowoc to gain the plant.
Well, well. A Republican county chairman from Mark Green's Congressional district says Wisconsin has a bad business climate, and Mark Green cites him in a news release.

Lohenry made it sound -- although he didn't say it -- as though Manitowoc was one of the five finalists on Wednesday, but from what he said on Thursday that appears not to be true.

So after raising the community's hopes one day, he dashes them 24 hours later and his reasons conveniently match the message of his friend Mark Green.

Am I just paranoid, or does this seem like more than coincidence?

UPDATE: Jef Hall says Lohenry is part of the "problem," and has been working to raise property taxes.

10 Comments:

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Troy Fullerton said...

I think you're paranoid. After all, don't most business people tend to be Republicans, and don't most of them tend to think taxes are too high?

Perhaps because he thinks taxes are too high, that the state is unfriendly to new businesses, and because he thinks Democrats are standing in the way of economic development, is why he decided to become a Republican and get involved in the party in the first place.

Wouldn't this be the same thing as a teacher complaining about the state's QEO, and then--gasp!--it turns out the teacher is actually a Democrat?

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger Paul Vandervelden said...

Manitowoc is in the 6th Congressional District, Mr. Political Consultant.

http://www.house.gov/petri/wi06_108.gif

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

Kewaunee County, however, is in the 8th.

 
At 7:00 PM, Blogger Owen said...

I would bicker with the "All Doyle's fault!" line. The taxing/spending/regulations problem in Wisconsin is much older than the Doyle Administration. But he isn't making it any better.

 
At 1:22 AM, Blogger XOut said...

Given your stupid comments about RedPrairie the other day - I'd say you are just continuing to be a liberal.

Anyone who wants to quibble about being #12 instead of #6 in overall taxation is too invested in denial and delusion to even bother addressing questions of paranoia.

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Whirl-Away said...

Could you show me exactly WHERE in the first article that Lohenry states Manitowoc was ON the short list?

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

Here's what I said:

Lohenry made it sound -- although he didn't say it -- as though Manitowoc was one of the five finalists on Wednesday, but from what he said on Thursday that appears not to be true.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

And here is what the newspaper said:

Airplane plant may land in Manitowoc

City is on short list for new aircraft factory, 300 jobs


By Charlie Mathews
Herald Times Reporter


MANITOWOC — An airplane manufacturing facility and 300 jobs may come to the Manitowoc County Airport.


An official of LoPresti Aviation said Wednesday no final location has been chosen to produce the company's "Fury," a two-seat, single-engine sport plane projected to cost about $295,000, but Manitowoc remains under consideration.


"We're looking for a home for the manufacturing plant, bringing 300 jobs over the course of two years," said Todd Lohenry, business development manager for the company based in Vero Beach, Fla.


"We've been actively solicited by 75-plus communities, and there is a short list of five currently being evaluated," Lohenry said Wednesday after meeting with Lakeshore Aviation President Curt Drumm and Manitowoc County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ken Stubbe.


If there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell it would come to Manitowoc, what was he doing?

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Whirl-Away said...

Agreed...wishfull thinking on the reporters part...a chance for Lohenry to say 'hey, I tried'?
The plant will end up in a city that desperately bends over or a non-union, low wage region. Just pay the quality control guys $25/hr and the rest $12/hr.

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Kewaunee County GOP said...

Feel free to contact me any time you'd like -- I'll be happy to set the story straight! toddlohenry@gmail.com...

 

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