65 jobs moving from Lake County to Wisconsin as Colbert Packaging shifts some operations

Colbert Packaging, a Lake Forest-based maker of cartons and boxes, is moving 65 jobs from Lake County to Kenosha, Wis., citing “the state’s favorable business climate” as one of the reasons.

Colbert’s headquarters, which has about 145 workers, will remain in Lake Forest.

But the family-owned company’s flexographic packaging operation and related warehousing, which has 65 employees, will move just over the Illinois border to a new building that the company is buying in an industrial park less than a mile from Interstate 94.

The agreement with Wisconsin requires Colbert to have 108 workers within three years, said Mark Maley, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which helps lead business efforts for the state.

Colbert could receive up to $850,000 in state tax credits over the next three years. And Kenosha County provided $250,000 to support the project

Since 1998, Colbert has run its flexographic division out of a 45,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Lake Forest, a few blocks from headquarters. To support its growth, in 2011, a 25,000-square-foot warehouse was opened in Libertyville.

The Kenosha facility replaces both of those properties and has 173,000 square feet.

The announcement was made Tuesday at the new property, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker among those in attendance.

Colbert President Jim Hamilton said southeastern Wisconsin was an obvious choice for a variety of reasons, including its proximity to Lake Forest headquarters and major transportation hubs, as well as “the state’s favorable business climate.”

Besides getting more than $1 million in incentives, Hamilton also said Wisconsin has a more favorable tax environment for companies in the graphic arts production industry.

“Wisconsin, widely known as home of the Green Bay Packers, cheese curds and craft beers, is also a great state for the printing and paper-making industries,” he said.

Colbert also considered properties in Illinois for its expansion, Hamilton said.

Many Colbert workers live along the Illinois-Wisconsin border and I-94 corridor, and some already call Kenosha County home, he said.

Colbert also has about 125 workers in Indiana.

Colbert was founded in 1959 when Charles Colbert bought the property and assets of Kroeck Paper Box, which was founded in 1892. The company’s original location was 1701 W. Superior St. in Chicago until Colbert bought Franklin Folding Box in 1969. At that time, operations were moved to the acquired location in Melrose Park.

In 1986, corporate headquarters and folding carton operations were moved into a custom-designed 96,000-square-foot building in Lake Forest. Charles Colbert died in 1995.


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