Kenosha County Village Came Close To Attracting Abbott Laboratories

Tract Of Land Purchased For Company Wasn't Enough To Secure Deal

Above, a frame from a Walker campaign attack ad highlighting Mary Burke's role in granting federal funds towards attracting Abbott Laboratories to Wisconsin.

Pleasant Prairie came close to landing a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant as an indirect result of a land deal that’s been criticized by the Walker administration.

Village Administrator Mike Pollocoff disclosed on Thursday that the village finished third to Ohio and a location in Canada for a plant that would have made two Abbott Laboratories products — Glucerna for diabetics and the Enfamil line of baby formula.

In 2006, Abbott assembled a 500-acre tract of land along Interstate 94. Local and state officials helped out by applying a $12.5 million federal block grant to the purchase of a separate 40-acre parcel that had been earmarked for a truck stop, a land use that would not have been conducive to the type of high-end development that was envisioned.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Pollocoff said that back in 2011, Ohio essentially outbid Wisconsin for the plant and 660 high-wage manufacturing jobs.

The 500-acre parcel and 40-acre truck stop site remain empty, although the tract remains fully engineered for shovel-ready development.

Because development has yet to occur, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has asked for repayment of the federal funds, and the issue has become campaign fodder in the gubernatorial race. Democrat Mary Burke was state commerce secretary and oversaw the grant.

Pollocoff said he wishes HUD would show greater flexibility, and that the state would recognize that the Abbott land grab and the $12.5 million expenditure were good investments that one way or another will ultimately pay off.

Pollocoff also said that Abbott shows no sign of wanting to get rid of the property, which is now the largest tract of shovel-ready land between Gary, Ind. and Oconomowoc.

The truck stop parcel remains in the hands of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance. Pollocoff says he hopes KABA will be able to hang on to it.