On Monday afternoon State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) welcomed fellow Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) to Cuba City touring the expanded facilities at Gro Alliance and the new EMS-USA Insulated Doors facility in the Industrial Park.
The two Senators called the tour their "Common Ground Tour." It's the latest in a series of visits in which they learn about the challenges and success stories of the people in each other's senate district.
Their joint message is bolstered as "good government happens when we debate issues vigorously, but with respect for each other, continue to listen and keep an open mind, and then find common ground to move forward."
Cullen and Schultz each served as the Senate Majority Leader during a period when their respective party controlled the senate. They each discovered real progress only happened when compromise was reached among the widely differing views of their own party members. They see the same lesson applies to the full legislature.
The first stop was at Cuba City's Gro Alliance facility, which just underwent an addition to the building's office area along with construction of a new tower. Owner Lou Schweigert said the office addition was just completed in October and the installation of a new bagging tower has been a welcome addition. "The tower allows the company to bag refuge more precisely," Schweigert said. "There is a tremendous amount of automation for this new system. All the equipment works in unison allowing for more uniformity, reduction of errors and consistency."
Schweigert said the entire process is done using a computer program and each step is dependent upon the next step. "Before the next step can proceed, the previous step must have been completed with no errors," Schweigert said.
The new bagging tower and technology has allowed Gro Alliance to double their bagging capacity. We had seven sites before the tower was completed, and we will now cut it down to three or four sites," Schweigert said. "In turn we will not only be expanding the Cuba City location, but we will be doubling it."
Sen. Schultz said the real agenda is to grow companies and add jobs. "We want to continue to see you grow," Sen. Schultz said.
Schweigert said his company employs approximately 80 people and during the peek times that number can swell to 300-400 people along with 20-30 employees outside of Wisconsin.
Sen. Schultz asked Schweigert about the importance of UW-Platteville and Southwest Technical College and the graduates who come from both facilities. Schweigert said he looks to the schools as a feeder for new and young talent. "We look for new ideas and it helps us to have those minds at our use," Schweigert said.
Schweigert said Gro Alliance is currently working on technology to grow red corn to produce a natural red food dye. "We are hoping to be able to replace 'Red Dye No. 4'," Schweigert said. "We are in production in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin and it would be great to replace the current red dye supply with a natural product." Studies show a possible link to ADHD, which could potentially increase hyperactivity and irritability in children."
The senators then made a brief stop at Cuba City's newest addition to the industrial park. EMS-USA Insulated Doors came to Cuba City in July and is awaiting the delivery of production equipment by the end of November. The Cuba City plant is the first in the United States for the German based company. EMS-USA specializes in the design and manufacturing of sliding, hinged, vertical, overhead and customized cold storage doors. The company currently employs eight people, however, by the end of 2012, they are expecting to increase the workforce to approximately 30 people.
For both senators, the Common Ground Tour has broadened their understanding of what Wisconsin families really need. Their tour has produced a personal benefit too. By getting to know each other better, they've become even better friends.