By David Wise
FRANKLIN — Gov. Jim Doyle joined Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor and Northwestern Mutual CEO Edward Zore today in cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of an $85 million addition to Northwestern’s Franklin campus.
The addition adds 230,000 square feet in office space to house 1,100 employees, includes a training facility, several multi-purpose conference and dining rooms, and a 156,000 square foot, 1,655-vehicle parking structure.
Doyle said the expansion shows that the 150-year-old company is committed to being a part of Wisconsin’s future and represents “a real commitment” to the state on behalf of Northwestern Mutual. Doyle noted that the state provided $7 million in incentives to help the project, which he described as “a small part of the investment being made.”
Taylor praised Northwestern Mutual for its commitment to Franklin and noted how the company became a catalyst for development when it first built an office on the Franklin site in 2004. He joked that all he’s been doing since 2004 is attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
Zore said that despite difficulties facing the insurance and financial industry globally, Northwestern Mutual is strong.
“As a company that’s been around for one-and-a-half centuries, we know what it takes to succeed in tough times,” Zore said.
Following the ceremony, Doyle said the expansion, which will bring the number of workers at Northwestern Mutual’s Franklin site to about 2,000, is a “great thing for Wisconsin” given the economic turmoil nationally and in the state.
Doyle, however, predicted the state, which is facing a $3 billion deficit, will still see tough economic times during the national slowdown. But he said the state’s future will be good if it keeps investing in biotech, advanced manufacturing, financial services and other areas of opportunity.