CITY OF BROOKFIELD - Fiserv, Inc. has announced that Brookfield remains in contention to retain the company's corporate headquarters and its approximately 900 jobs.
Wauwatosa and Milwaukee are also on the short list.
The possible Brookfield location that the company has said that it is still considering would be at The Corridor along the north side of Interstate 94 and near Calhoun Road.
"We have confirmed three potential Wisconsin locations for our new office environment, all of which we are closely evaluating," Fiserv Vice President of Corporate Communications Britt Zarling said.
The other locations being examined by Fiserv include the UWM Innovation Campus on Discovery Parkway in Wauwatosa and Reed Street Yards in downtown Milwaukee.
On the lookout
In April it was announced that Fiserv, which has been located in Brookfield since 1992, was exploring locations for the construction of a new corporate headquarters building.
City of Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto said in June that retaining Fiserv was the city's top priority. In July, the city's aldermen voted to begin the process for potentially providing financial assistance via tax incremental financing in relation to the site at The Corridor.
Ponto said he's pleased with the announcement that Brookfield remains in the running to retain the company.
"I think that this lot at The Corridor is the premier undeveloped commercial site in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area," Ponto said. "The visibility from I-94 would be incredible. I'm very strong on the Bluemound Road Corridor. I think that it is the premiere commercial corridor in Wisconsin."
Ponto argued that Brookfield not only has a lot to offer Fiserv, but that the location also makes better financial sense for the company.
"If you compare the cost of having a first-class office building in Brookfield to anywhere in Milwaukee County, our taxes both at the city and county level are substantially lower," Ponto said.
Tosa in running
Wauwatosa's mayor was happy to hear her community was in the running.
“If Fiserv would choose Wauwatosa, that would be fabulous,” Tosa Mayor Kathy Ehley said.
Wauwatosa Alderman Tim Hanson said if Fiserv does choose Tosa, it might inject some life into the UWM Innovation Campus.
“(The UWM Innovation Campus) is the Dead Sea," Hanson said. "If that goes there maybe it won’t be.”
At the same meeting at which Brookfield city staff were directed to begin TIF proceedings, city officials were briefed by consultant Gruen Gruen + Associates regarding the potential impacts to the local economy if Fiserv opts to leave Brookfield.
Those impacts include both direct and indirect effects. According to Gruen’s findings, in addition to the jobs that would be directly lost by Fiserv moving its headquarters — and employees — elsewhere, there would be an additional 749 jobs lost in the surrounding area as a ripple effect.
“Imagine those jobs leaving the area. That means those workers won’t be going to the gas station, the bakery, the dry cleaner, the retail stores and so on,” Gruen Principal Aaron Gruen said. “In addition, the business itself hires service providers and others that wouldn’t be getting that work from the business if it wasn’t there.”
According to Gruen, $91 million in total annual income would be lost in the area if Fiserv were to exit Brookfield. The company also generates approximately 4,500 annual hotel nights in the area.
Gruen also relayed findings that offering assistance for the new office building to be located along Interstate 94 near the remaining Ruby Farm buildings would not only be a sound financial investment for the city, but would potentially spur more growth.
“A new office building would be a positive signal to other property owners, developers and businesses,” Gruen said. “It would signify a positive, communal image for the community and would encourage others to emulate the success of the project.”
Ponto said at this point he is "cautiously optimistic" that Brookfield will be able to keep the company in the city.
"I think that together with (The Corridor developer) Irgens, that we've put together a really attractive package. I'm very hopeful," Ponto said.
That package didn't go unnoticed by Wauwatosa District 5 Alderman Joel Tilleson.
“While Fiserv’s interest in Wauwatosa is certainly welcome, and I hope we can have discussions with them, Brookfield’s full court press is certainly impressive,” Tilleson said.
Chris Barlow contributed to this story