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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wind power service firm expanding in New Berlin

A Danish firm's expansion is giving Wisconsin another player in the manufacturing sector geared toward alternative energy.

Avanti Wind has been in operation here for several years, making service lifts used by technicians who inspect and repair wind turbines and need to scale the turbines' tall towers.

Now the company has moved to expand here by moving production of aluminum ladders to Wisconsin from China and Germany, said Kent Pedersen, the company's U.S. general manager.

The pace of wind development across the country has slowed considerably this year - with the second quarter installations of wind power down 71% amid the slow economy and developers having a hard time getting financing.

"But we have done quite well in expanding our customer base in North America, and we've continued to grow in 2010 compared to 2009 and we expect that to continue next year," said Pedersen, whose privately held parent company, based near Copenhagen, has been in the ladder business in Denmark for more than 100 years.

The Avanti local expansion is a small example - creating just a few jobs - of what local economic development officials hope will be a growth sector for Wisconsin, among the biggest manufacturing states in the country.

"It's a market we look at and we see growth, we see jobs and we see capital investment," said Jim Paetsch, business development specialist with the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development group, during the Wisconsin Solar Decade conference Wednesday.

"We've got a lot of companies here that are set up in way such that their traditional strengths service those markets really well," Paetsch said. "And in a really bad economy that is one of the sectors that's growing."

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