News Column

Governor Scott Walker Announces State Support for WholeTrees

August 21, 2014

MADISON, Wis., Aug. 21 -- Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., issued the following news release:

Governor Scott Walker announced WholeTrees Architecture & Structures, a Madison company that rebrands round timber for residential and commercial use, has received a $170,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The Technology Development Loan will be used to help the innovative company continue its expansion into the commercial market. WholeTrees plans to launch a new line of engineered building products using round timber, an effort that could create up to 76 new jobs over the next four years.

"Creating new jobs and growing our economy depends on the innovation and forward-thinking of companies like WholeTrees," Governor Walker said. "Supporting our growing businesses, and investing in worker training fuel our efforts to keep moving Wisconsin forward."

Founded in 2007, WholeTrees has developed the technology to cost effectively take the small diameter trees removed from routine forest thinning and fabricate them into structural building systems that can compete with steel, engineered wood and concrete.

Not only does the process provide an incentive for healthy forest management by finding a use for what would otherwise be forest waste, but the modular commercial structural building systems created by the timber have lower material and construction costs than steel or concrete.

"WEDC is pleased to support WholeTrees as it provides a cost-efficient construction product and at the same time promotes healthy management of our forests," said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state's lead economic development organization. "This is the type of innovation that we are encouraging with the Technology Development Loan Program, which helps Wisconsin companies overcome some of the challenges that come with bringing new products or concepts to market."

"Our innovations introduce a truly green structural system with prices that allow the green construction market to build to its aspirations," said Amelia Baxter, president and co-founder, of the company. "A product like ours is disruptive and needs visionary capital to help it launch. The WEDC has been a supportive and innovative source of capital for our company."

WholeTrees has developed a proprietary manufacturing process with patent-pending structural components based on research conducted with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, and funded, in part, by more than $1 million in grants from the USDA.

WholeTrees in 2012 also received the Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) certification from WEDC. The QNBV status makes investors in startup and early-stage companies eligible for a 25 percent tax credit on the amount they invest in the business.

WholeTrees began its business focusing primarily on residential construction. In 2012, the company began to focus on the commercial construction market by manufacturing columns, beams and other structural assemblies. WholeTrees is now planning to column and beam assemblies and open web trusses that can replace steel, concrete or engineered wood with the same results and less costs.

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Source: Targeted News Service

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