In the on-again, off-again world of economic development in Sun Prairie, it’s on again for Imperial Blades, thanks to action taken Nov. 5, 2019 by the Sun Prairie City Council.

In July 2018, the council approved a development agreement with Imperial Blades which outlined a 30,000 sq. ft. building expansion to its Sun Prairie Business Park facility and 22 new employees.

But after the agreement was approved and executed, Imperial Blades notified the city it was acquired by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation. The acquisition delayed the proposed expansion and changed the number of jobs to be created.

City Economic Development Director Neil Stechschulte said since that time, Imperial Blades has been routinely checking in with economic development staff, letting them know that the expansion was still planned but that the timeline was not clear.

In early September, city economic development staff was notified that the project would be kicking off in early 2020 and requested amending the agreement to modify the dates, update the corporate structure, and adjust slightly the job creation number.

What city will provide

According to the agreement approved Nov. 5 by the council, the city will provide Tax Increment Finance (TIF) assistance not to exceed $536,228, or seven years 100 percent of net new taxes, whichever comes first. The guaranteed cost of the 30,000 sq. ft. expansion has remained at $3.5 million, but the actual costs are likely to be greater due to rising interest rates, fuel costs, and construction costs, according to Stechschulte.

The agreement calls for Imperial Blades to construct an approximately 30,000 sq. ft. industrial building to house expanded production & warehousing (25,000 sq. ft. at an approximate cost of $2.25 million) and offices (5,000 sq.ft. at an approximate cost of $1.25 million) at its facility at an estimated aggregate cost of $3.5 million including all hard costs.

Completion of construction is now anticipated to be December 31, 2020, but the base value of the project shall be that as of Jan. 1, 2020.

The project will be assessed in 2021, the first full tax payment will be received in 2022 and the last payment will be received in 2029.

The current proposal retains 60 jobs (instead of 68), and pledges to create 30 new full time equivalent positions (instead of the previous 22), according to Stechschulte’s memo to the council.

City, company saw potential

Both the city and Milwaukee Tool saw the potential when the purchase took place in 2018.

The Brookfield-based company purchased Imperial Blades, ready to expand its United States manufacturing footprint and product portfolio, said Joseph Galli, CEO of Techtronic Industries (ITT), the parent company of Milwaukee Tool.

“Imperial Blades is a strong brand focused on expanding and delivering a broad range of high-quality solutions to the oscillating tool category,” Galli said, CEO of Techtronic Industries (ITT), the parent company of Milwaukee Tools, said when the purchase was announced on Oct. 1, 2018.

“Imperial Blades has been a great Sun Prairie employer, and we hope that this presents a great opportunity for their company and their employees,” Stechschulte said in October 2018 after the purchase was announced.

“The City of Sun Prairie is encouraged that another Wisconsin company like Milwaukee Tool is the new owner,” Stechschulte added, “ and we look forward to working with them on evaluating their future here in Sun Prairie.”

In response to a question from District 1 Alder Steve Stocker, Stechschulte said Milwaukee Tool intends to keep Imperial Blades as the name of the company.

Imperial Blades, which falls within TIF District 12 in the Sun Prairie Business Park, is located at 450 Progress Way.

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