When Strauss Brands announced it wanted to expand, and not in Franklin but in the city of Milwaukee, it made perfect business sense.
At the time Strauss wanted to take advantage of an Opportunity Zone (OZ).
Opportunity Zones are economically-distressed communities, designated by states and territories and certified by the U.S. Treasury Department, in which certain types of investments may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. The tax incentive is designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities by providing these tax benefits to investors. Effective June 14, 2018, Treasury certified Opportunity Zones of all states, territories and the District of Columbia. Opportunity Zone designations certified by Treasury will remain in effect until December 31, 2028. The program was created by the Trump administration while Scott Walker was governor (his office drew up the zones based on Census tracts), and is administered in Wisconsin by the WI Housing and Economic Development Authority.
Milwaukee has Opportunity Zones. Franklin does not.
The stage was set for a Strauss move north. Strauss intended to move into a Milwaukee OZ, an area thirsting for jobs.
The company might have done it, had it not been for a loud, vocal group of terribly misinformed residents who used phony scare tactics, claiming Strauss would wreak havoc and unleash every peril known to man on the city of Milwaukee.
Some city officials caved. Strauss said forget it. We’re done here.
Suddenly, inconceivably, Franklin miraculously has a chance to retain Strauss and expand. The economic benefits to Franklin are off the charts.
But again, a loud, vocal group of terribly misinformed residents are using phony scare tactics, claiming Strauss will wreak havoc and unleash every peril known to man on the city of Franklin. These opponents plan to pack a Franklin hearing this Thursday on expansion plans where they will be allowed to scream and holler. It’s possible that the Franklin Common Council, not known for its business acumen, will be intimidated and crumble into the fetal position on this entire matter. Let’s hope they don’t commit the same egregious error the leadership-challenged folks in Milwaukee made.