By Neil Johnson - April 27th 2023



A growing plastics manufacturer that says it looks to expand in Milton and create hundreds of new local jobs got a $5.6 million boost Wednesday from Wisconsin’s top economic development agency.

In a deal announced Wednesday by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Milton’s Charter Next Generation and the company’s four other Wisconsin operations would benefit from $5.6 million in “performance-based” tax credits based in part for the company’s expansion now underway in Milton’s Crossroads Business Park.

The award comes as Charter Next Generation already has broken ground on a facility that within the next decade could become a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing expansion in the city’s main business park.

The building, initially planned to be a 130,000-square-foot plastic film manufacturing and warehousing operation but designed with plans to grow, is a standalone facility about a quarter mile east of the company’s current plant location at 1264 E. High St.

The project already had received a $1.6-million local tax incentive deal approved earlier by the city of Milton.

Milton City Administrator Al Hulick in an interview on Wednesday called the state economic development corporation’s award “exciting,” saying it’s “nice to have those state dollar infusions in our corner” to help a local company expand.

Hulick said that recent developments of a soon-to-launch chocolate factory and the Charter Next Generation’s new factory buildout in Milton’s Crossroads business park give the city a run to be what he calls the “fastest growing community in Rock County.”

“It’s just a good sign for Rock County economic development and for the strength and vitality of Rock County and Milton,” Hulick said.

Charter Next Generation, a company that makes plastic films used in packaging, already had expanded its existing facility on East High Street three times in the last decade under its Charter NEX Films’ moniker.

Hulick indicated Charter Next Generation aims to continue operating both facilities in Milton once the new factory is built.

The Gazette on Wednesday could not immediately reach a project manager at Charter Next Generation for details on the expansion.

The company has more than a dozen operations spread across the U.S., and employs about 1,900 people nationwide, Otterstein said.

Hulick said he believes the company intends to bring most of the 340 new Wisconsin jobs to its Milton operations.

Sustainability First

Kathy Bolhous, CEO of Charter Next Generation, said in a statement that in addition to its plans to expand in Rock County, the company plans to press ahead on “sustainability-first” operation.

Charter Next Generation has made recent headlines within the plastics industry for its environmental and sustainability practices, including a recent investment in recycling.

Trade publication Plastics Digest reported last year that Charter Next Film was part of a “$9 million joint equity investment” in a plastics recycling partnership with Minnesota-based flexible plastic and plastic film recycler Myplas USA.

The partnership, which included funding by such retail giants as General Mills and Target, would require Charter Films to buy back recycled plastic resin from Myplas as plastics companies continue to tackle sustainability in the face of growing environmental and health concerns of so-called “plastics of concern,” including polyfluoroalkyl substances, plastic compounds known more generally as PFAS.

That, the publication reported, would eventually make it easier and more viable to recycle more types of plastic packaging into reusable, sustainable materials.

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