The economic development toolbox contains a variety of tools to promote business retention, expansion and attraction to a community or region. One of the tools used in Jefferson County is a program called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).
PACE enables property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements. Revitalizing aging properties can be cost prohibitive. PACE can lower the cost of doing business and reduce building owners’ overall cost of capital to fund necessary building improvements that result in lower operating costs.
The PACE program is utilized in communities across the United States to drive economic development. Improvements can include, among others, new windows, insulation, lighting and new boilers. Currently, 27 counties in Wisconsin participate in PACE, including Jefferson County.
Recent upgrades to the Waterloo Technology Center, located at 575 W Madison Street in Waterloo, are financed through PACE. The 55,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters for Perry Printing Corporation was first occupied in 1985. When the company was sold in 2003, the building became vacant until 2014, when it was converted to the Waterloo Technology Center through a public private partnership between Rediscovered LLC and the City of Waterloo.
Rediscovered LLC has updated the building’s features to provide a Class A technology facility to meet the needs of cutting edge companies. The building features incubator/shared office space, where start-up companies can receive assistance from the building owner. Currently, the building has three tenants.
The 2018 PACE project includes the complete replacement of fluorescent and HID (MV) lighting to LED lighting, updated hot water systems and installation of high efficiency, state of the art heating and air conditioning systems. It is the first project utilizing PACE financing in Jefferson County.
According to architect Craig Ellsworth, tenants of the Waterloo Technology Center have already noted the increase in quality and efficiency of the new LED lighting. Some of the heating zones are already installed and are functioning with excellent results in comfort levels, efficiency and controls. The incubator space is fully operational and accepting new tenants.
The result of the rejuvenation of the Waterloo Technology Center is that this location, once vacant, is now the home of over 50 new economy jobs and growing. The PACE program, and the cooperation of the City of Waterloo were instrumental in making this happen, noted Ellsworth.
“Many of Waterloo’s century old downtown buildings can also benefit from PACE financing. The City of Waterloo offers façade grants and interior build-out grants of commercial spaces. PACE fits in nicely in combination with these direct cash benefits,” said Waterloo City Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen.
For more information about the PACE program, visit pacewi.org.