Nov 9, 2017

Tech companies get foothold in downtown Janesville

Excerpted from Janesville Gazette

By Neil Johnson

Tech companies such as Foremost Media are a growing force downtown. Local officials estimate that such businesses now employ about 300 people as larger companies move out of basements and small office startup spaces elsewhere in the city.

Those businesses have emerged as one driver of downtown revitalization, along with the nascent redevelopment of retail and office spaces and large-scale plans such as the city’s ARISE riverfront strategy. Some tech firms saying they’re seeing 15 percent to 20 percent growth per year.

CEOs at three downtown tech companies—SHINE Medical Technologies, N1 Critical Technologies and Foremost Media—talked this week about what it’s like to work and grow downtown and the prospects for other high-tech startups there.

“I’ve never seen momentum in downtown Janesville like it is now,” said Jon Ballard, who co-owns Foremost Media.

At the Wednesday talk, which was open to the public, city Economic Development Director Gale Price asked the three CEOs what drew them downtown—and what they think might bolster downtown’s power to draw more tech firms.

Ballard, SHINE CEO Greg Piefer and N1 Critical Technologies CEO Nate Ellsworth all said a leading reason they moved downtown was the city’s willingness to invest in their growth through tax increment financing incentives. They also noted that city officials have worked closely with them on their plans.

All the CEOs said they believe the city’s focus on revitalizing downtown through ARISE will help tech companies such as theirs recruit and retain workers.

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