Architectural Stone Supplier to Build $17.9 Million Facility in Sun Prairie, Could Create More Than 34 Jobs | Economic news

A Madison-based architectural stone cutter and supplier plans to move to its soon-to-be-built corporate and production headquarters in Sun Prairie – a $17.9 million project that is expected to create more than 34 jobs in the region over the next three years, the company said on Wednesday.

Founded in 1998, Quarra Stone Company provides custom cut stone to architects, artists and masons for construction projects nationwide. The company is the sole North American distributor of a gray quartzite found in Switzerland, as well as a type of limestone found in Spain.

Recent local projects for the company include the chemistry building at UW-Madison, as well as restorations of the Wisconsin State Capitol downtown, said Quarra founder James Durham. In other parts of the United States, Quarra plans to help build the Barack Obama Presidential Center, a library that opened last September and is to be located on Chicago’s south side in Jackson Park.

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Growing demand for Quarra’s products and services is the primary motivation behind the construction of the new headquarters, Durham said, adding that the intent is fully registered from Madison to Sun Prairie Business Park, located on the north section of the Highway 151. Once erected, the 65,500 square foot one-story facility would allow Quarra’s production and management staff to operate under one roof and have enhanced production capabilities.

“Our new facility is designed by Snohetta architects, a Norwegian firm with offices in the United States,” he said, adding that Sun Prairie is an area ripe for development. “Having them as the architect is unheard of and it’s probably the most highly designed building in the state of Wisconsin. It will allow us to make much bigger and heavier stones, which is what our market is asking for now.

The new Quarra headquarters, according to the design plans, is expected to feature a stone exterior facade with varying gray tones. Inside, the facility would have space for robotic and manual stone carving, as well as offices.

The building is part of a 25-acre campus, Durham said, adding that up to five building additions are planned for the next few years. Teams are due to break ground on the headquarters project within the next two months, Durham said, adding construction will take around 14 months.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is supporting Quarra’s project by authorizing up to $350,000 in state income tax credits over the next three years, the organization announced Wednesday morning. But the actual amount of tax credit Quarra receives depends on the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period, the WEDC said.

An economic modeling study showed the project could indirectly create an additional 25 jobs in the Dane County area, WEDC said. The 59 jobs are expected to generate $128,104 in state tax revenue over a five-year period.

Additional jobs are expected to include a mix of robotics programming, computer operations, sculpting positions, as well as some administrative roles, Durham said.

Funding for the project is also $975,000 in tax grants from the City of Sun Prairie, said Community Development Manager Scott Kugler.

Tax subsidies – known as tax increment financing or TIF – are a tool that many municipal governments use to attract business development. Through the use of TIF, governments can divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area to a project like Quarra, Kugler explained.

The rest of the money will come from bank loans and equity generated by Quarra Stone Company, Durham said.

On the impact Quarra’s eventual move to Sun Prairie will have on the city, Kugler said the venture not only brings economic development opportunities, but also a certain originality in terms of line of work, which has in the past impressed local government officials.

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