Catalyst Exhibits has signed a long-term lease for a 144,000-square-foot facility in Kenosha County. The firm is relocating from Crystal Lake, Ill. to the LakeView Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. The Wisconsin State Department of Commerce pledged a $500,000 loan to the company and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance is providing $1.25 million in the form of a low-interest loan to assist with facility renovations and equipment.
As part of the deal, Catalyst Exhibits, a marketing company that specializes in the design and development of exhibits and displays for tradeshows and expos, will invest $2.5 million to renovate and equip the new facility. The Missner Group will handle the construction work. The company employs 88 and expects to add up to 25 new hires over the next few years as it expands.
LakeView Corporate Park is a master-planned, mixed-use development offering industrial, office and retail property that is owned by WISPARK LLC, a Milwaukee-based development company.
Catalyst was represented by Lawrence Much, executive vice president, Kelly Disser, senior associate, and John Cash, executive vice present, of Oakbrook Terrace-based NAI Hiffman. John Sharpe of Lee & Associates represented Cobalt in the transaction.
The facility that Catalyst will occupy is owned by Dallas-based Cobalt Capital Partners, the same firm that owned Catalyst’s facility in Crystal Lake.
Much says that the Wisconsin facility was completed in 2002, but has remained vacant for the past two-to-three years, except for a few sporadic short-term tenancies. It is an increase of 20,000-square-feet when compared to Catalyst’s current facility.
Location played a major role in the decision as the firm had no direct interstate access at its Crystal Lake facility. The location in Pleasant Prairie is along I-94 and has easy access to General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
The aforementioned incentives and business climate also played a role in the decision. Political representatives of Wisconsin have launched a much publicized attempt to lure Illinois businesses to their state after Illinois increased its corporate and income tax rates to 7 percent and 5 percent respectively. Wisconsin has a corporate tax rate of 7.9 percent, but lower hourly labor costs and the incentives factored helped off-set the difference.
Much says that Wisconsin officials were very accommodating and determined to get a deal done. The state of Illinois did offer incentives in certain programs, but they were not as aggressive as Wisconsin’s. The NAI Hiffman team had scouted locations in Elgin, Gurnee, and Waukegan.
“The bottom line is Wisconsin was more proactive and produced a $1.25 million low-interest loan to cover renovations and a produced $500,000 loan to cover the move,” Much says. “I’m not saying that Illinois can’t do this or wouldn’t do it, but in this case, Wisconsin was more cooperative and accommodating.”