Category Archives: Local Business

12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: NASCAR Collectibles


The Brooks house is a NASCAR house. Our favorite driver: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford.

That’s why we’re really lucky to live in South Milwaukee, home of perhaps the only NASCAR collectibles store in the area.

Didn’t know about Green Flag Racing? You should stop by. It’s located at 1218 Milwaukee Ave., and it has some terrific gear for race fans of all ages.

Diecast cars, clothing, signs and more — this is the kind of stuff you can’t get at other stores, making this just the kind of destination retail business we should focus on attracting to this city.

People drive to South Milwaukee just to go to Green Flag Racing. We need more of that.

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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: Local Chains (Especially Ace Hardware)

I try and shop local whenever I can for Christmas … and sometimes that means a local chain.

My favorite? Ace Hardware. It truly is the “helpful hardware place,” with customer service that you simply can’t get at the big-box home improvement stores, Walmart, etc. And it’s convenient.

That’s why I’m willing to pay more to shop there. It’s worth it.

I was recently part of a panel discussion at the Milwaukee Forum about chain vs. local shopping. My argument: It’s not an “either-or” argument. It’s “both-and.” There is room for both chain and local retailers.

Ace is the best of both worlds.

Here is the Ace website. And here is my 2012 12 Days post on this.


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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: Studio One Art Glass

Now, a closer look at my favorite local artisan shop: Studio One Art Glass.

Kim and company do a lot first-class custom work, so check them out if you’re interested in a new stained glass window, door or cabinet. They also have a terrific retail shop full of sun catchers, candle holders, clocks and other items at variety of price points.

The best part: It’s likely Kim made made those products right in the basement of the building.

Stop by and discover Studio One, if you haven’t already. It’s a real gem … and a great example of the type of destination retail business I’d love to see more of in South Milwaukee.

Here is their website, and here is my 2012 12 Days post on Studio One.

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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: Local Eats

Continuing to shine the light on local businesses this holiday season …

Why not give the gift of food this Christmas?

Azteca, Nona’s, China Chef, Creative Catering — those are just a few of our great local restaurants that are worth a trip, perhaps for a gift certificate or a holiday dinner.

My 2012 post has more details, keeping in mind that I can’t list every restaurant in town … just a few of my favorites.

What’s your favorite? Post your comments below!

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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: Physical Fitness And Health

Update: Don’t forget Anytime Fitness, too. There is information in the comments section of this post.

Why not give the gift of good health this holiday season?

My 2012 12 Days post talks about some of the local options, including Sorce Martial Arts, Anchor Fitness and Dowling Community Acupuncture. I’ll add a few more to that list …

  • Moxie Fitness, 1234 Milwaukee Ave. Here is my previous post on Moxie, which opened earlier this year.
  • South Milwaukee Fitness Center (located on the high school campus). My dad is a member, and it’s very affordable.
  • South Shore YMCA. OK, this is across College Avenue from South Milwaukee, but it’s worth a plug here.

In other words, there are lots of local choices for those focused on wellness in 2014. Take advantage of them.


Filed under 12 Days of South Milwaukee Christmas, Local Business, South Milwaukee

12 Days of Christmas: Donn Powers Jeweler

Today, some love for our local jeweler …

You have a lot of choices on where to buy your jewelry, and I encourage you to shop local this holiday season and pay a visit to Donn Powers Jeweler, 2110 10th Ave.

You get a nice selection, along with terrific customer service — in fact, chances are you’ll run into Don if you stop in. And they service what they sell, which is something  you just can’t at get most competitors.

Check out their website here. And here is my 2012 12 Days post on Donn Powers.

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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: Parkway Floral

Day three of “12 Days” brings us to one of the anchor businesses of downtown South Milwaukee … Parkway Floral.

Why not give the gift of flowers this Christmas? Or maybe pick up that perfect poinsettia.

We’re lucky to have such a first-class florist in town. Please support them this holiday season — and all year long.

Learn more in my previous post.

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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas: Candles By Lilly

20131130_162753_resized 20131130_162844_resized 20131130_162940_resized (2) Continuing with day two of 12 Days of South Milwaukee Christmas, a celebration of local business this holiday season …

Today, it’s the city’s newest business, Candles By Lilly. I stopped by Saturday to welcome them to town, and I’m glad I did. It was a pleasure meeting owner Elizabeth Parker and hear more about some of her products, many of which she makes.

From candles to oil lamps to greeting cards, this new store has a lot of options for Christmas shoppers.

Stop by and see for yourself at 1304 Milwaukee Ave. Here is the store’s Facebook page.

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12 Days Of South Milwaukee Christmas, Part II

Back by popular demand … and starting on Small Business Saturday …

It’s 12 Days of South Milwaukee Christmas, some suggestions for local shopping this holiday season. This year’s list will include some repeats from 2012 and some new options.

I start with Studio One Art Glass, still an undiscovered gem for many in South Milwaukee at 1333 Milwaukee Ave.

Check out my previous post on Studio One here, and tell Kim I sent you.

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Farewell, Studio 915 … Welcome To Your New Downtown Home, I Can’t Resist Kids Resale

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Downtown South Milwaukee continues to transition — and this is a good news, bad news story.

The bad news: If you haven’t noticed, Studio 915 left its space at 915 Milwaukee Ave. a couple months ago. The studio is now “mobile,” according to its website, with private lessons, events and more. I wish Joe and Dawn the best of luck and feel bad that they couldn’t make a go of it here.

The good news: I Can’t Resist Kids Resale, already having outgrown its space down the block, has replaced the art gallery. And the store looks terrific, inside and out. If you haven’t stopped by the store yet, please do and welcome Becky to South Milwaukee. With the holidays upon us, you should add this store to your local shopping list.

This is the kind of destination retail I would love to see more of in South Milwaukee — the kind of merchants we’ll need if and when we are going to right the ship in our city center.

We obviously have some work to do.


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Caterpillar Getting $1.2 Million Tax Refund Payment From City, Other Government Entities

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue recently found Bucyrus/Caterpillar overpaid on its property taxes during four of the past five years – and, because of it, the city, school district and other taxing bodies owe the mining company more than $1.2 million.

The South Milwaukee City Council last week approved an agreement that will refund that tax overpayment in varying amounts over the next four years. The $1,265,135.22 will be sent to Caterpillar in these installments …

  • 2014 (for 2008 overpayment): $283, 073.78
  • 2015 (for 2009 overpayment): $540,205.17
  • 2016 (for 2010 overpayment): $278,535.58
  • 2017 (for 2012 overpayment): $163,320.69

Caterpillar dropped its 2011 appeal as part of the settlement agreement.

Of course, as one of several taxing entities, the city is only on the hook for a portion of each year’s repayment, ranging from more than $56,000 in 2017 to more than $187,000 in 2015. All in, the city’s liability here is more than $437,000. The schools, for instance, are liable for more than $521,000 over the four years, with lesser amounts owed by the county, MATC and state.

I voted for this agreement because it was clear this was the best we can get.

Besides allowing for the gradual repayment plan – vs. requiring the city to pay one lump sum this Jan. 1 — the agreement waives any interest payments Caterpillar could have sought. In exchange, the city waives its right to challenge any Cat property tax assessments between now and 2017. I absolutely do not like that fact – but the benefit of retaining that right seemed relatively small since it is the state, not the city, that assesses industrial properties.

How did this happen? It’s hard to say, since the state makes the final call on industrial assessments. So we are reliant on what they determine (and must pay the price if they are wrong).

The issue in question dates to the days of Bucyrus more than five years ago, when the company first disagreed with the assessments on property outside of the tax incremental financing district (south of Rawson Avenue). The state disagreed. Bucyrus disagreed again. The state disagreed again. And so it went until a court found in favor of Bucyrus (now Cat) … and the state determined the manufacturer had overpaid for those four years. The city was informed of this final decision recently.

I’m certain the downturn in the economy had an impact here. Industrial land and property across the country was simply not worth as much during the time frame in question.

So, what does this mean for the city budget and property taxes? To be determined. The city will use its cash reserves to make the 2014 payment when it’s due in September. After that, future refund amounts can be added to the tax levy and not be subject to any state levy limits. That means it’s likely future homeowner tax bills will be affected by the ongoing refund payments.


Filed under Caterpillar, City Council, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Caterpillar Cuts Continue

This time, the mining giant is closing a plant in Virginia, this following the closure of a plant in Texas and another in Tasmania announced in recent weeks.

And all in, according to the Reuters report, more than 900 jobs have been cut in Cat’s Decatur, Ill., and South Milwaukee mining operations this year alone.

Let’s hope and pray the South Milwaukee plant is spared here.

From the article:

Caterpillar also makes construction equipment, railroad locomotives, and a variety of reciprocating and turbine engines. But mining equipment is its most profitable product category.

Those margins were one of the reasons it made mining equipment a focus of its merger and acquisition activity in recent years, buying Bucyrus, a U.S. maker of giant excavators and shovels, for $7.6 billion in 2010, and ERA Mining, a Chinese mining equipment company, for $654 million in 2012.

But the ink was barely dry on those deals before Caterpillar’s global mining customers, facing investor backlash over unpopular takeovers, budget overruns and falling metal prices, slashed capital spending, slowed development on some projects and shelved others entirely, and postponed or canceled new equipment orders.

That pullback, which caught Caterpillar by surprise, has forced the company to cut its outlook three times so far this year.

Last month, as it released disappointing third-quarter earnings, Caterpillar warned its 2014 sales could be down as much as 5 percent from 2013.

Over the past year, the company has cut more than 13,000 jobs, about 10 percent of the global total, as the slowdown in its mining business forced it to repeatedly post lower-than-expected quarterly results and repeatedly slash its outlook.


Filed under Caterpillar, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Report: Caterpillar Confirms More South Milwaukee Job Cuts

Update: The number is 115 in South Milwaukee alone, Fox 6 is reporting.

Not good news … here is the Milwaukee Business Journal story. From it …

Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel Potts confirmed to The Business Journal that layoff notices went out to employees in South Milwaukee and Oak Creek as recently as last week, but she declined to indicate the types of positions and number of jobs cut.

Potts said the latest local layoffs are in addition to 260 production jobs cut in South Milwaukee during the summer.

“We stated in our second quarter financial results released in July that the company would be taking actions to reduce costs in the second half of the year,” Potts told The Business Journal. “The employee notifications in both Oak Creek/South Milwaukee and Decatur are included in those actions. We are not breaking out specific location totals or details.”

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Growing Locally: Sorce Martial Arts Invests In Downtown South Milwaukee

We need more businesses like Sorce Martial Arts in downtown South Milwaukee.

The studio has announced an expansion and remodeling project made possible by the Sorces purchasing the building they call home at 926 Milwaukee Ave. Learn more in this news release, and on the studio’s Facebook page.

From the release …

Sorce Martial Arts opened its doors in 2004 with about 1,600 square feet of training space and 50 students. In 2007, the school grew to more than 120 students and was expanded to approximately 3,300 square feet. The latest expansion will nearly double the training space to serve the school’s current enrollment of approximately 220 students, two full-time and three part-time employees. Completion of the renovation is expected later this year.

Thanks to the Sorces for choosing to expand in South Milwaukee, and let’s hope they have many more years of success at 10th and Milwaukee Avenues.

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Mark Your Calendars: South Milwaukee Health Fair Set For Sept. 5

We love special events at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market. A big one is coming up — the South Milwaukee Health Fair on Thursday, September 5.

Learn more about this partnership with South Shore Family Chiropractic in this press release.

And if you  haven’t been to the market lately, stop by. We’re having a terrific fifth season. And be sure to like us on Facebook!

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