Oshkosh Corp. gave city residents their first preview Monday of what the company’s new home will look like–emphasizing the way its exterior stone and interior steel beams will serve as symbols of the strength and integrity of the company and its community.
At a packed reception at the Menominee Nation Arena, Oshkosh CEO Wilson Jones also presented the city with a check for $600,000 to allow for the completion of a pedestrian path linking the Tribal Heritage Crossing of the Wiouwash Trail with what is now the parking lot of the Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course. The city plans to extend a riverside biking/hiking trail from there down to the Congress Avenue bridge.
The building, designed by Green Bay-based Performa Inc., will rise on the banks of Lake Butte Morts at the site of the old golf course. The contractor, Miron Construction Co. Inc. of Neenah, is scheduled to break ground later this year and have the building ready by the end of 2019.
The four-story building can house up to 650 employees.
The company’s decision process for where to put its new global headquarters occupied the attention of the city and its residents for much of last year. The company remained silent for most of that time, creating a degree of mistrust among citizens, especially those who lived near or played at the golf course.
“I apologize for the lack of communication, but I hope you understand,” said Wilson. As a publicly traded company, he said, Oshkosh has to be mindful of securities regulations that restrict the disclosure of information that could affect stock prices.
Wilson also said the company was bound by nondisclosure agreements from other jurisdictions that were courting Oshkosh, one of which was apparently the state of Maryland. Relocating to Maryland would have put Oshkosh close to key decision makers on defense issues at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. Maryland is home to the country’s largest defense contractor, Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, as well to JLG Industries, which has become Oshkosh’s largest segment and is based about an hour away in Hagerstown.
Wilson said Oshkosh had better alternatives than staying put and accepting the proposal that was put forth by the city. “It wasn’t the best offer, but it was the right offer,” Wilson said. He said the company wanted to stay in Oshkosh and is “real thankful that everything worked out.”
The efforts of city officials and business leaders “confirmed for us that this community has a different gear.”
The company wants the architecture of the building to reflect its “brand personality.” These design features include bent-steel chevrons that are visible through glass walls and are intended as a way of “highlighting strength and perseverance.” In a statement, the company said the stone walls of the structure, which are expected to be locally quarried, will “signify the company’s perseverance and stability.”
In addition to flexible work areas, the building will also have “a training academy, innovation center, wellness center, collaboration areas and much more,” the company said.
Wilson said the company wants the headquarters to become a “destination workplace” that will help to attract and retain top talent.
The company has launched a website and a mobile app that can be used to keep up with the progress of the building. The app is called “Oshkosh HQ,” and the website can be found at www.oshkoshhq.com.
The Common Council voted without opposition Nov. 8 to approve the sale of a portion of the golf course to the company.
Under the terms of the deal, the city will:
- Sell about 35 acres of the golf course to the company for $100,000 an acre.
- Provide a grant of $6 million that the company would receive by not paying $500,000 a year in property taxes for 12 years under a tax increment financing arrangement.
- Provide additional tax incentives for another eight years that would apply to the portion of the site’s value that exceeds a guaranteed minimum.
- Construct $7.2 million in infrastructure.