Three years ago Two Rivers officials announced a bottling plant was coming to their community, with the promise of hundreds of jobs. But as Local 5’s Kris Schuller reports, that plant has never opened and Lakeshore leaders wonder if it ever will.
It’s been almost three years since Paragon Partners bought this factory to start a production facility for their Increase Beverage International line, creating hundreds of manufacturing jobs in the process. But according to Greg Buckley, little if any progress has been made.
“It’s frustrating to see a large facility that has the potential to be put to good use, sitting there empty,” said Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley.
When Paragon Partners bought this factory for over $2 million, they borrowed $1 million total from Two Rivers and Manitowoc County. The loans had specific requirements for jobs created and capital investment – benchmarks that Buckley says haven’t been met.
“The development is in default in terms of job creation and additional capitol investment,” Buckley said. “Jobs created as we’ve reported to our committee and the state are a total of two.”
“To see basically nothing out there is beyond comprehension,” said Manitowoc County Comptroller Todd Reckelberg.
Reckelberg says it shouldn’t take three years to get a business up and running. He’s frustrated because the county loaned the cash to help create jobs.
“It’s maddening, we’re dealing with the taxpayers money and we don’t take that lightly,” said Reckelberg.
Norris Bussie has lived in Two Rivers for 25 years. He has seen the area lose thousands of jobs. He says the beverage plant is desperately needed.
“We’ve lost 8,000 jobs in the 25 years I’ve been here,” Bussie said. “We need factories, we need anything to come in, we need breadwinning jobs.”
And while this factory sits idle Buckley says he’s giving Paragon the benefit of the doubt. Since the group is current on its loans and has over a million invested in the factory itself.
“All I can suggest at this point – is to stay tuned,” said Buckley.
A spokesperson with Paragon Partners declined to give a statement, but told Local 5 over the phone they still plan to open in Two Rivers. They just need more time.