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EDITORIAL: Growing the local economy from within
December 2, 2011
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  • December 01, 2011

    As Engineered Propulsion Systems inches closer to the expected production of the “Flat Vee” diesel engine for the general aviation market, the community waits to see what it will mean for the local economy.

    Since city economic development officials and area investors jumped on the EPS bandwagon two years ago, great progress has been made toward the goal of developing a new product that could potentially revolutionize the airplane engine industry. The new engine, which is now in the prototype stage, could also save the nation millions of tax dollars if the technology is used for various military applications.

    If the engine lives up to its early billing, the economic impact of the company on New Richmond over the next decade and beyond could be immeasurable.

    EPS co-owners Michael Fuchs and Steven Weinzierl estimate that, if the engine makes it to production, 120 family-supporting, new jobs would quickly be created in the community. After a year or so of production, another 130 jobs could be added at the proposed assembly facility near the New Richmond Regional Airport. If the U.S. military sees value in the new aircraft engine and orders the Flat Vee for its use, another 50 or so employees may be hired.

    Those numbers don’t even include any ancillary businesses that could potentially spring up as a result of having the airplane engine facility in New Richmond. Businesses that could support the new engine might potentially hire dozens of people as well.

    Beyond that, such a growing business could give a boost to the local housing market, which has been in decline the past few years. As a result, the local retail businesses could see a bump in profits as more employed people enter the local market. The ripple effect would be felt all across this part of St. Croix County and beyond.

    The partnership between EPS and the New Richmond community has so far been a win-win situation for all involved. Yes, there is great risk involved when developing a new product that will require months of testing before it can be ready for mass production. Anything could happen along the way and the whole enterprise could fall apart in the end.

    But those individuals and communities willing to shoulder such risks can see great pay-off in the end. Achieving the American Dream on a community-wide scale requires that people go out on the limb from time to time. The risk taking isn’t over, either. EPS now needs to raise an additional $2.4 million to take their engine to the next stage. The hope is that local investors will continue to play a key role in taking the company to the next level.

    The EPS success story, if it all comes together as hoped, would prove the wisdom of New Richmond’s ongoing and expanding efforts to promote economic development as a primary and important function of local government.

    The first priority for growing a community the right way should be creating jobs. To accomplish that goal, communities and burgeoning businesses should work together to ensure the best possible outcome down the road. New Richmond officials realize that fact and have done their best to aid those who would create employment in the area.

    To be sure, sometimes luck can play a role in such success stories. New Richmond is in front of a lot of communities our size because Paul Mayer, a local high school graduate, returned home after retirement and pledged to use his considerable business skills to help companies start up, expand and grow. Having a local airport also was a huge plus for bringing EPS here, and the fact that Fuchs and Weinzierl were living and working locally already played a factor in the company’s decision to land here.

    But sometimes the perfect formula for success is luck plus preparation, along with some risk taking. And New Richmond hopefully will be able to use that formula to ensure a brighter future for this neck of the woods.

    Date: 2011-12-01