TimberPro plans to expand Shawano facility

Council approves $350K for TIF District 7 to move project along
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

TimberPro could bring 140 new jobs to Shawano as it plans to expand its facility by almost 50%, and the Shawano Common Council approved an agreement Sept. 14 that could help the expansion move forward.

Named “Project Meteor,” City Administrator Eddie Sheppard told the council that the plan is to expand the existing 104,615 square foot building by another 48,765 square feet by the end of 2023. According to the agreement, the city is providing a $350,000 incentive grant from Tax Increment Finance District 7 to help with the expansion, which is expected to cost almost $7.3 million, $5.2 million of that specifically earmarked for building costs.

“This is a project that we’ve been working with them for several months now,” Sheppard said. “It’s really quite a big project for the community. They’re planning to move a majority of their forestry-related operation back to Shawano.”
Initially, TimberPro had requested 70% of the increment created via TIF District 7, which Sheppard estimated would be $25,000 annually for the next 15 years.

“We felt like it would be more advantageous to the city was to give them the 100% increment for a shorter period of time, because we believe (the district) is likely going to be a candidate for an early closure, so rather than extend the payments out, we could pay out the incentive early on,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard described the $350,000 as a “pay-as-you-go tax rebate.” The current facility is valued at about $3 million, but it is expected to be worth around $4.4 million upon completion of the project, which is expected to bring the amount of taxes brought in by TimberPro to the city to go from $71,000 to around $105,000, and that additional tax would be the payment back to the district.

Sheppard said that was a conservative estimate, and if the value jumps higher and brings in more taxes, the $350,000 would be paid back to the city much sooner.

TimberPro has been a big part of Shawano for years, Sheppard noted, but for some time, some of their operations had been moved out of state. Established in 2002, TimberPro is a manufacturer of purpose-built forest machines and attachments, offering tracked feller bunchers and harvesters, forwarders, wheeled harvesters, and felling heads.

The company was sold in 2019 to Komatsu America Corp. a U.S. subsidiary of Komatsu Ltd., the world’s second largest manufacturer and supplier of earth-moving equipment, consisting of construction, mining and compact construction equipment.

“They’re basically hoping to double production of their forestry machines within a couple of years,” Sheppard said. “We have a major employer in the community making a major commitment to the future with the added production.”

He added that TimberPro plans to get started on construction “fairly quickly.”

Mayor Bruce Milavitz said TimberPro told the city that about 140 new jobs would be added to the company once the expansion was complete.

“A lot of stuff is moving into the community,” Milavitz said. “They’re going to take an unskilled worker and develop and train them into the skilled labor they need. They know they’re going to have to do that.”

Sheppard added that many of the jobs would be from TimberPro’s research and development.

“There are going to be a lot of engineers and people in that field,” Sheppard said.