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Trane and Chart plan renovation and expansion

By Carrie Vick, cvick@wkbt.com
Published On: Oct 01 2012 09:11:37 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 01 2012 10:52:00 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- -

In an economy where losing jobs and down-sizing is the norm, hearing that a company is looking to renovate and add jobs might come as a surprise.

But that's exactly what two companies in La Crosse are preparing to do.

Trane Company recently sent a letter to the city asking for partnering opportunities in its plan to renovate Plant Seven on the corner of Losey Boulevard and Ward Avenue.

The letter was also written on behalf of Chart Energy and Chemicals, which has an expansion of its own planned.

While both projects are in the very preliminary stages, it could lead to hundreds of new jobs in the La Crosse area.

Trane's renovation plans are focused on keeping the company competitive.

"The market we work in today is a global economy. There are more and more players in the commercial air conditioning marketplace," said Trane La Crosse Plant manager Brad Tacheny.

The company is planning to upgrade Plant Seven, which produces and tests the company's centrifugal chillers, or CenTraVac systems.

"It would also set the stage for new product platforms that will be brought into production in the next several years. We asked the city to sit down and have a discussion on partnership opportunities in this development," said Tacheny.

"We have received a letter to enter into negotiations for a potential expansion of the Trane company campus," said La Crosse Mayor Matt Harter.

But Harter said the help the city can provide is limited.

"I do not believe it's in the best interest of the city to participate in any type of cash grants or tax breaks. I think this expansion should be funded on their own. However, we can provide assistance in any type of public improvements to the area," said Harter.

The letter to the city was also written on behalf of Chart Energy and Chemicals, which is looking to buy land from Trane on Ward Avenue for an expansion.

While there's a lot of planning and work to do, the two projects could mean more jobs for La Crosse.

"It could be up to a couple hundred jobs between the two businesses. The potential's there if Chart gets to expand and if we get to do some of the things we're planning to do as well and the economy continues to improve," said Tacheny.

Trane said the renovation could cost about $50 million.

But management said it's too early in the planning process to have any official numbers.

Trane and Chart have also made a request to the state for partnership opportunities.

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