Looking at the greater Fond du Lac area, it is clear that the state of our economy is strong.
Last year, we saw the third highest employment growth rate among metropolitan areas within the state of Wisconsin. Last month, C.D. Smith Construction opened its new headquarters and is currently moving in, Mid-States Aluminum is finishing up a $23 million expansion and the Milwaukee arm of Johnstone Supply recently selected North Fond du Lac for its newest location.
Mercury Marine recently opened its new Noise Vibration and Harshness testing facility. This building is a world class research and development tool that has Mercury Marine leading the way in its industry. After that they started expansion it their propeller line. Since the great recession, Mercury has invested over $1 billion in real estate and research in development in our community.
In downtown Fond du Lac, Hotel Retlaw has reopened with plans to be fully operational this summer. The Brick House has opened in the former Main Exchange and is bringing vitality back to South Main Street and Downtown Deli just reopened in April at its new location.
Looking forward, the pipeline of projects is looking promising.
As of the middle of May, we have 26 active projects that could result in over 700 new jobs and a capital investment of another $55 million.
Envision Greater Fond du Lac recently wrapped up multiple events that are advancing our workforce effort. With our local unemployment below 3%, we need to be proactive in engaging our youth to encourage them to join the local workforce. Our Youth Idea Challenge had 50 students from around the area came together to compete in a business case competition. Project GRILL saw a record of 140 students engage with 9 local area companies to create the concept, design, build and operate a grill. Finally, we also saw 55 companies and over 800 students participate in our second annual Hiring Expo at Fond du Lac High School.