The city of Manitowoc is creating a Downtown Master Plan to be a roadmap in developing the downtown to be a place where people will want to 'work, live and play.' Alisa M. Schafer/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin


The economic value of City of Manitowoc-approved construction projects hit an all-time high in 2017.

Approved permits for the year reported a total of $61.2 million in construction value. This compares to about $35.4 million in total approved projects for 2016, representing a 73 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 building permits.

Looking at previous years, approved building permit values reached nearly $75 million in 2013, however, more than $40 million of these projects were associated with the repair of hail damage from a major storm in 2012. 

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None of the $61.2 million in 2017 construction value can be attributed to repairing storm damage, so the projects being constructed better reflect real economic growth in 2017.

More than $20 million of the 2017 increase came from permitted construction of new or renovated buildings. Electrical work accounted for another $4.4 million of the increase, and plumbing and heating projects saw an uptick as well.

Projects included a mix of residential and commercial construction. The biggest commercial projects permitted in 2017 included the following:

  • Kerry Group/Red Arrow, 65,000-square-foot expansion valued at $6 million;
  • Briess Malting, 24,000-square-foot expansion valued at $4.3 million;
  • Aurora, 18,000-square-foot new clinic valued at $3.2 million;
  • UW-Manitowoc interior renovations valued at $1.7 million;
  • YMCA interior renovations valued at $1.6 million;
  • Tramontina interior renovations and 7,600-square-foot expansion valued at $1.1 million;
  • Color Craft Graphics, 40,000-square-foot expansion valued at $1.1 million;
  • Davita Dialysis interior renovations valued at $1 million;
  • Skana Aluminum, 22,000-square-foot expansion valued at $0.9 million; and
  • Lakeshore Community Health, 14,000-square-foot interior renovation valued at $0.9 million.

Approved residential construction reached $8.3 million in value for 2017, as compared to a total $5.2 million for 2016, representing an increase of 59 percent.

Strong growth occurred in the value of both single- to two-family home improvements and multi-family apartment construction, with $5.3 million and $2.9 million in permitted projects, respectively.

The number of new one- and two-family homes dropped slightly from 2016 — from 30 new units in 2016 to 25 new units in 2017. However, 52 new apartment units were approved in five new buildings as compared to just eight new units in one building in 2016.

We believe these numbers reflect the continued growth and success of many local businesses and institutions, an overall improvement in economic conditions, and the efforts of City Hall to make economic development a top priority. 

City officials played a role in many of the projects listed and provided direct economic assistance on two of them.

We are very excited to see what 2018 will bring. In addition to an all-time low unemployment rate, we are also in talks with several local employers that are considering expansion projects for this year.

We are also nearing completion of a new Downtown Master Plan, which will identify several possible sites for new construction. We will be working on all fronts, including making Manitowoc a place where people want to live, work and play — focusing on quality of life, parks, trails, infrastructure, the arts and education — all with the goal for another year of strong economic growth.

As always, feel free to contact me anytime. My office number is 920-686-6980, or you can email me at

If you need economic development assistance, contact Community Development Director Nic Sparacio at 920-686-6930 or

Justin Nickels is mayor of Manitowoc.


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