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Amazon.com: The web retail giant is officially set to employ more than 1,000 workers at a new distribution center in Kenosha after the city council votes to approve the project — including $18 million in tax incremental financing. The Seattle-based company had been rumored to be the target of a proposed commercial development for weeks, and the company developing the property now says the 1 million-square-foot Amazon warehouse is expected to open next fall. The state will also chip in, Gov. Scott Walker announces, with special session legislation to establish a TIF district to accommodate the project and other potential development. Meanwhile, Amazon now plans to begin collecting sales taxes from its Wisconsin consumers by Nov. 1. Officials from the Department of Revenue say the company previously did not have to collect sales taxes on Wisconsin purchases because it did not have a physical presence in the state. The change is projected to add about $30 million to the state’s coffers in the first year alone, and helps bolster a property tax cut proposal rolled out by the Walker administration and GOP lawmakers for the special legislative session.
Breweries: Among the numerous impacts of the federal government shutdown, one affecting one of the state’s signature industries garners headlines in recent days. The shutdown forces the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to temporarily close its doors, meaning Wisconsin-based brewers can’t get the bureau’s backing for new beer labels. Federal law doesn’t require bureau approval for new beers, but state law does — that is, until the Department of Revenue announces it’s relaxing that requirement while the shutdown persists. Under the eased standards, brewers that have completed an application to the bureau may sell new labels in Wisconsin. DOR officials say those brewers needing federal approval for recipes, meanwhile, will still have to wait.
Kestrel Aircraft: Nearly two years ago, the Walker administration announced the aircraft manufacturer would bring an expanded plant and headquarters to Superior, creating up to 600 jobs. The project was set to be backed by tens of millions in local, state and federal tax credits and loans — including $18 million in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. A report last week, however, says Kestrel has yet to open its new plant in northwestern Wisconsin and was 90 days late on a pair of state loans. WEDC officials say the company has since become current on its loan payments. But a report out of Maine — where Kestrel has another operation — also suggests the company is having problems meeting its payroll obligations. The company says it’s awaiting further funding to move forward, while state and local officials say they remain hopeful despite the “roller coaster” that can come with landing a new company.