DealerFire, an Oshkosh-based custom automotive web design and Internet marketing firm, is relocating its corporate headquarters to a renovated historic building in the city’s downtown, a move that is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
“This is a key development for the City of Oshkosh on two fronts. Not only will this project mean more jobs for the region, but redeveloping this historic building will result in a more vibrant downtown, which is good for the entire city,” said Governor Scott Walker.
The company will quadruple the size of its headquarters when it moves to the redeveloped historic Frank Percey Gun and Fur House at 531 N. Main St. The company is investing $1.24 million in renovating the century-old building, which has been vacant for more than a decade.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded DealerFire up to $522,000 in economic development tax credits for the project, if the company fully meets the terms of the agreement, which include the creation of 123 new jobs. WEDC has also awarded a $250,000 grant to the City of Oshkosh to assist with the renovation costs.
“WEDC is pleased to be able to assist DealerFire and the city with this key redevelopment project,” said Reed Hall, Secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “A healthy downtown not only draws new businesses and customers to the city center, but is essential to the overall economy of the community.”
DealerFire, which was founded in 1999, has outgrown its current 7,000-square-foot headquarters on Algoma Boulevard. The company also plans to invest more than $1 million in equipment, hardware, software, and employee training at the new facility. The company expects to have about 180 full-time employees at the new facility within the next three years.
“The WEDC grant is critical for DealerFire to sustain the momentum we have created as a national leader in the automotive web and digital marketing space,” said Eric Hoopman, company founder and president. “The ability to expand our physical footprint will ensure that we can continue to grow our local workforce, while retaining our core technological focus that has gotten us here.”
Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff added, “The city is working with our economic development partners to help create more, higher-paying jobs, locate more jobs in the downtown, and redevelop and renovate existing buildings to improve the downtown and increase tax base. The DealerFire project does it all.”
The project calls for a total renovation of the building; however, many of its historic features will be retained. The redevelopment of the Frank Percey Gun and Fur House, which was built around 1900, is a key piece of the city’s plan to provide more sustainable wages to downtown workers and to develop an IT cluster in the area. Construction on the project is slated to begin later this spring, and it is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Discussions are under way to convert the company’s existing headquarters on Algoma Boulevard to an IT incubator/working space.