I hope the Oshkosh Corporation tosses out a lot of candy during their parade on Saturday--and that every child that wants to ride on one of the big trucks gets a chance during their open house--because the company may need all the goodwill it can get for a battle coming up in the future. As City Councilmember Steve Herman told us this week, there is "plenty of buildable space" at the site of Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course--and by all accounts, Oshkosh Corp wants that land for a new world headquarters.
You can't really blame Oshkosh for eyeing that site--as it has the perfect combination of riverfront acreage and easy access to Interstate 41. The corporate leaders likely have a bit of "headquarters envy" if you will. Take a look at what smaller companies like Thrivent Financial and Plexus have in our area. Thrivent has lagoons and walking trails and multiple parking lots on their site--which everyone driving by on I-41 can see.
Plexus just moved into a beautiful new building that consolidated all of their corporate divisions along the Fox River in downtown Neenah--where their employees can walk along the water or dine at neat little restaurants just a few blocks away. Plus, the city is building them a parking ramp next door. Compare that to Oshkosh's current corporate headquarters--which you could easily drive by without even noticing on Oregon Street--with it's funky "five corners" intersection confusing visitors looking for the parking lot.
Now imagine replacing that set up with a gleaming new tower that you couldn't possibly miss along I-41 alongside the river, with the big old trees already on the site and the WIOUWASH Trail leading over the causeway right next door. Wally at Robbins says he already has a new bar/restaurant ready to go into that building--and somebody looking to build a hotel next door--all of which could easily serve Oshkosh Corp employees and visitors.
The company will likely find a Common Council amenable to a potential sale. I doubt Councillors Palmeri, Krause (no relation) and Panske are going to vote to preserve a playing ground for such an elitist, racist and misogynistic sport like golf. And the pressure on the remaining Councilmembers to retain the headquarters of the largest employer in town will be great. It's bad enough that the most well-known Oshkosh-related company--B'Gosh--has nothing to do with the city anymore.
So smile and congratulate the folks at the Oshkosh Corporation on their milestone anniversary this weekend--because things are not going to be so friendly in the near future.