Zilber's Todd Battle works to create jobs, tax base

Since taking office, Todd has been working to make the state more attractive to businesses.

Zilber's Todd Battle works to create jobs, tax base

In the last two decades, he has learned to recognize what he refers to as the "intangible rewards" of attracting businesses and jobs in southeast Wisconsin.

In his former role as the leader of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance he was responsible for similar tasks. He will continue this work in his new position in industrial development at Zilber Property Group. Battle's everyday tasks may include infrastructure construction, real estate purchases or other components of a typical deal. However, the end result will be jobs and a tax base. Battle, a Kenosha resident, could see the benefits of his work.

Battle stated, 'I worked there, lived there, and developed a lot of personal and professional relationships. In your day job you work to convince a large company such as Haribo that they should build a new facility. Six months later, you find out friends and family members of yours are now working for the company. You can connect the dots. It can be very rewarding.

Battle supported the first U.S. candy factory in Pleasant Prairie, Haribo. The list of companies that Battle helped to attract during his almost 20 years with the private economic organization is extensive. He was instrumental in luring employers from Illinois across the border, supporting Amazon.com's major southeast Wisconsin fulfillment centre in Kenosha and helping to develop the Salem Business Park, which included sites for smaller companies.

Battle stated that no two projects are the same. Battle's day-to-day challenges included negotiating real-estate purchases, government financial incentive contracts or seeking county funds for a new employer's road, for example.

Battle said, "This is similar to coming to Zilber to work; it never, if at all, gets boring." There was always a problem to solve, a deal to cut, a project to work on.

In late 2022, Battle took up a new position with Milwaukee's Zilber Property Group. Zilber Property Group is one of the busiest industrial building developers in Kenosha County. Battle said that he has a "different seat at table" to work on similar projects to those he worked on with KABA. He is looking for places to build business parks or buildings that could be attractive acquisitions.

Zilber is currently building a 93-acre commercial park in Caledonia and several industrial buildings at Germantown.

"Part of my job is to ask, in collaboration with our team, our investors and our company, what's next?" Battle stated. "If we develop Caledonia, it will give us several years of speculation in terms of development runway. What are our plans after that?

Chad Navis is the vice president of Zilber Ltd. and has known Battle ever since he started working in Kenosha County.

Navis stated that Todd was a great addition to the Zilber team. We've been admiring his corporate recruitment efforts for many years.

Battle's family can stay in southeast Wisconsin by joining Zilber. In the economic development field, professionals are often forced to move around in order to advance. Battle experienced this early in his career.

Battle, a native Michigander, began his career in a less common field through an internship during his junior year of college with an organization that specializes in economic development. Battle's internship with an economic development organization led to his first post-college job as the executive director of Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance, in Iron Mountain.

Battle explained that he had to raise money to pay for the project, create a list of projects and start gathering resources to assist companies. It was an amazing opportunity, because you had do everything. It was a challenging task, but there is no better way to gain knowledge.

Battle was successful in his role and created a deal that allowed the communications infrastructure contractor CCI Systems, which had other locations in the U.S. to choose from, to expand its operations in Iron Mountain. This initial job led to an offer to work for a larger organization of economic development in Muskegon (Mich.) and ultimately the opportunity to run KABA. This forced him to move along with his fiancee, while they were in the middle of getting married.

Battle, who has since established roots and a family in Kenosha is now looking forward to his future involvement in the community in a role that will be less visible. Battle has been involved in public service through KABA. He is currently a board member for the Kenosha Unified Schools District.

Battle said, 'I'm still a part of the community and my family and friends are still in it, so I'd like to keep involved.' In my new role at Zilber, i want to be involved in the community and organizations around Milwaukee.