On Friday, June 5, Fox11 News published an article, “Medical training center to replace old Shawano hospital”. The article details plans for a new medical residency training center to be established in Shawano, hopefully to be up and running by 2017.
Now don’t get me wrong. In no way am I against Shawano’s economic growth, in fact I am all for it. However, I do have a problem with the unjust, biased treatment that is handed out to certain business owners in Shawano. One corporation in particular, the Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, a.k.a. SIST, has endured this bias with endless patience and little response.
Let me give some examples to counter Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt’s impressive display of enthusiasm for the economic betterment of Shawano through the new and improved medical center.
“We think it will certainly put Shawano on the map…” said Lorna.
This statement caught my attention because it is utterly hypocritical. In 2005, an SIST subsidiary opened a new, state of the art go-kart track a few short minutes out of Shawano city limits. The track was unlike any other in the country.
Lorna was invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony as an honorary guest. With this diplomatic gesture of friendship, SIST was hoping to establish good relations with Shawano, intending to share in the delight of creating an exceptional facility, with the idea of putting “SHAWANO ON THE MAP”. Thus, the track was named USA International Raceway. Within a short period of time the track was already hosting its’ first international event.
With these events Shawano was being filled to its brim, with overflow to Green Bay and beyond. I guess Lorna did not view this as, “a great economic development project and one that could help our whole community.” She didn’t even have the courtesy to tell track officials that she wasn’t willing to attend the grand opening, in essence boycotting the track and snubbing what could have been the beginning of a great economic relationship. Apparently, SIST didn’t meet the criteria to join the good ‘ole boys club that Lorna runs.
One of the many international races held at the track was the Rotax Grand National, with attendees from around the country and world. Shawano Leader itself even reported, “Rotax race brings financial benefits for area”. However, not once in this article was credit given to the owner or track officials for putting together such a successful endeavor.
When SIST lost the track to receivership in 2010, under the guise of a ‘technical default’ even though all payments were timely and current, Lorna officially took Shawano off the map.
Not only did and has SIST brought millions of dollars in revenue to Shawano but it continues to help fill the tax coffers, which Lorna always seems so concerned with. Lorna stated that once the medical center is completed it will bring $180,000 in tax revenue.
SIST has owned a number of commercial properties, when at its peak ownership, the combined properties brought in around $268,000 in property taxes.
When these properties were acquired, SIST presented the City of Shawano council with detailed plans and drawings of their intended use. These were beautiful designs and ideas that would have enhanced downtown Shawano and provided services never before available locally. Several intended businesses included a Fabric, Upholstery, Carpet and Appliances retail store, a high end housewares store, Health Club, Upscale gifts, fudge and news center, featuring national and international publications.
Instead of supplying SIST’s enthusiasm with encouragement, criticism and malcontent were given. Over the years SIST attempted to acquire sound financial backing for their many business plans. However, it has been said that Lorna herself has made calls to different financial institutions dissuading them from interacting with SIST. One of those calls created the tracks alleged ‘technical default’ mentioned above. The endless negative media attention encouraged by Lorna has not created a positive environment either.
Now, every time you open the newspaper or turn on the TV you hear Lorna providing this or that business or investment group with a monetary boost from the City, to renovate, etc.
One property, was a vacant building located at 153 South Main Street in downtown Shawano. The property had been purchased by SIST in 2001. In 2014 the property was placed into receivership and in January an investment group purchased the property.
While in receivership the city demanded that SIST pay the property taxes which according to law firms across the country, is clearly the responsibility of the receiver. When SIST refused to pay and cited the law where it showed it was the receivers’ responsibility, the city threatened to withhold liquor licenses. However, once the new owners took over, with incredible swiftness the City emptied their pockets to fund the new owner’s investment project.
The Shawano Leader reported as follows, “The developer’s agreement calls for 153 SMS to get a $140,000 low interest, 10 year loan from the city to begin work on what will be a major renovation of the interior. The group will then get a $60,000 grant from tax incremental finance district funds once the property is ready for occupancy.
The point being made here is no matter what SIST tries to do they are continuously and strategically blocked by whatever means available; whether it be financially, through negative publicity, the absence of positive publicity, or judicially.
SIST has not been the only business in Shawano to suffer injustices; they have just been the only ones who dare to speak out about what they see. Many people in Shawano who have remained friendly with SIST or who tried to create business relations with SIST have felt the back lash of Lorna’s whip of injustice. Some by having their own businesses or jobs scrutinized and others paid the ultimate price, losing their own business in the process.