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Ariens Company's $50 million project to rebuild Brillion's economy

Brillion Works Project
Brillion's transformation
Brillion Works Project
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 28, 2022

BRILLION, Wis. — While businesses continue to struggle with worker shortages, economic experts say communities lacking affordable housing have led to a cycle of unfulfilled jobs and a weakened economy.

One homegrown company in northeast Wisconsin is thinking outside of the box, combining rural jobs, rural housing, and promising economic growth.

Brillion's transformation
Brillion is undergoing a $50 million transformation to its economy thanks to the Brillion Works project.

We're introducing you to Brillion Works. It's a project the Ariens Company is undertaking to breathe new life into the community it calls home.

But first, let us go back to 2016 when the old Iron Foundry in Brillion went bankrupt and its 1,400 workers were suddenly without a paycheck.

The Foundry became a ghost town and Brillion's economy crashed.

"It's hard to see it go. As a kid, I used to take my dad up there for work every day. You know, I'm going to cry," says a tearful Shirly Kanter as she describes growing up in Brillion.

Kanter's family thrived in the Iron Works Foundry.

"They made good money, they didn't have to go without."

Kanter says she wants to see her city thrive.

"To let it stand there empty would be stupid. You know. We do need energy in this town."

Today is the start of a rebirth for Brillion.

Brillion Works Project
Brillion's old Iron Foundry site will soon become a mix-use site of apartments, townhomes, businesses, a healthcare facility, child care facility, green space, and more. Thanks to a $50 million investment by Ariens Company and other contractors and investors.

"The Brillion Works project is a 140-acre site that we are developing for mix used, retail, residential site, some industrial, some small light manufacturing," says Dan Ariens, Chairman, and CEO of Ariens Company.

Ariens company has been working to tear down the old foundry site since 2017 and the Brillion Works project has been in the works, ever since.

"This held multiple, multiple buildings ranging from 1893 to 1980s and we have a lot of working tearing down all of the stuff that needed to be torn down," says Daniel Ariens, VP of Development at Ariens Company.

Brillion Works is a $50 million investment supported by Ariens Company and other developers, investors, and contractors to rebuild Brillion's economy from the ground up.

Brillion Works Project
"The Brillion works project is a 140-acre site that we are developing for mix used, retail, residential site, some industrial, some small light manufacturing," says Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO of Ariens Company.

"I know we are looking at outside-of-the-box solutions to how do we get more people into Brillion and how do we make Ariens a more attractive employer for people," says Dan Ariens.

Ariens' solution is building apartments, homes, a healthcare center, childcare center, green space, retail space, and more. All on the foundry site.

"We are just trying to provide more housing solutions to people and we hope they come," adds Daniel Ariens.

For 5 generations, Brillion has been home to the Ariens family. They say the Brillion Works project is a chance to give back to the community with a plan to increase Brillion's population from 3,000 to more than 5,000 over the next 5 to 10 years.

"We're building something that is needed. It's not one of those, 'build it and they will come,' these are real, tangible things that will help this community. They're going to help our business, and they're going to help the residents of the community at the same time.

Here's a look at a timeline of events for the Brillion Works project;

  • They're currently working to secure contracts for townhomes and single-family homes.
  • Clearing the 140-acre foundry site is set to be completed by August.
  • The remodeled office building will be completed in October.
  • The rest of the mix-use site is set to be completed in 5 to 10.