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Monday, December 09, 2013

Upstart Janesville Business Has a Bizarre Way of Showing Confidence

I didn't know exactly where to file this one. At first it was going to be under either the "you didn't build that" or "thank God for government" categories. But then I thought, what about the "where have all the risk-takers gone?" or Paul Ryan's "you can't dream when you're on food stamps" categories? I guess that's what happens when we have too many choices.

Okay. According to the agenda posted for Monday's Janesville City Council meeting, the upstart private-for-profit medical technologies business venture, SHINE, will be putting the city of Janesville on the hook to accept more risk.

SHINE officials are asking the city to make an amendment to the original TIF agreement so the city, not SHINE, can purchase about 8 acres of land adjoining the development at a cost of about $140,000. A recent review of the project by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated SHINE, not the city, needs the extra land to meet a buffering requirement.

According to a story from the Janesville Gazette, SHINE had the land under contract as an option to purchase since March of 2012. That option is set to expire at the end of 2013.

To be fair, SHINE officials said they will purchase the land from the city once the plant becomes operational, but putting the city under pressure at the last minute creates some new doubt as to the confidence they have in their own venture and how much risk they're willing to take.

At the same time, SHINE's founder and chief executive, Greg Piefer, talks about confidence. Is that a coincidence?

JG: While declining to say what's been raised so far, Piefer said he's confident the company will raise what's needed to build the plant and begin production.

I'm not too sure about that if they have to turn to government for $140,000 in sudden assistance for something that amounts to a minor cost overrun.

This nuclear isotopes medical facility has been pegged at $85 million to build topping out at $180 million in full run-time mode. The federal government has popped for $25 million in grants and Janesville taxpayers are on the hook for $9 million far. Those figures do not include state incentives or enterprise zone tax credits. So, I don't know if they're lacking a PR person or they just don't know any better, but I find it incredible at this stage that they are not willing to risk $140,000 to buy 8 acres of land to keep their dream alive.

It now begs the question: Who will SHINE turn to in say 6 or 12 months IF they needed two, three or ten million dollars to finally turn the nut on this project?

I think that handwriting is on the wall. They'd turn to the only bank in town.

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