By The Business Journal of Milwaukee

A California water-technology company is planning to establish a manufacturing facility and offices in Milwaukee that could create up to 300 jobs.

American Micro Detection Systems Inc., Stockton, Calif., is looking for a Milwaukee site for a $7.5-million, 2,000-square-foot manufacturing, testing, assembly and shipping facility, said Robert Keville, chairman, president and CEO. The initial project would create 10 jobs, he said, but if the business is successful, AMDS will establish offices to manage marketing, sales and accounts receivable and payable, he said. That could increase the number of jobs to up to 300, he said.

⿿It⿿s all sales driven, right?⿝ Keville said. ⿿The more we sell, the more we hire. But being located in Milwaukee for us is going to be a huge advantage.⿝

The move is partially spurred by a $1.5 million investment that Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. made in the company about a month ago, said Rich Meeusen, chairman, president and CEO and co-chairman of the Milwaukee 7 Water Council. The agreement requires the company to set up a production facility in Milwaukee by June 2011, he said.

The move is expected to be announced at a press conference scheduled for Sunday.

He said the companyâ¿¿s Milwaukee location will be good for the community and make it easier for Badger Meter to collaborate with AMDS.

⿿We are in the business of measuring water,⿝ he said. ⿿They are in the business of detecting contamination in water. I think there is some synergy between the two.⿝

The company, established in 2003, manufactures equipment that tests water, oil and other fluids for impurities and heavy metals. Keville ran a company that developed national security equipment to track submarines, for example, and adapted some of the technology to be used in water-treatment plants and manufacturing,

The Milwaukee manufacturing facility would be the companyâ¿¿s first.

Keville said he has not chosen a site. He said he wants the building to be near one of the two places where the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is establishing its School of Freshwater Sciences.

American Micro Detection Systems is looking at the Reed Street Yards property, where the city plans to establish a business park for water companies. Reed Street Yards, along with the Great Lakes Water Institute on Greenfield Avenue, is one of the two sites for School of Freshwater Sciences buildings.

Keville said he also has looked at two nearby sites: The Tannery at 720 W. Virginia St. and the building at 234 W. Florida St.

Keville said the city of Milwaukee has offered forgivable loans to the project and the state of Wisconsin is offering tax credits. Both packages require the company to create new jobs. He would not give details on the incentive packages because the company has not yet signed the deals.

⿿What I am so pleased about is the level of enthusiasm we are seeing from the city of Milwaukee,⿝ Keville said. ⿿We were courted by a number of other states who were willing to give us cash up front.⿝

Keville said he signed non-disclosure agreements with other states that offered incentive packages and could not name which other locations he considered.

Keville said Milwaukee is attractive because its local companies can supply the services AMDS needs and because of the efforts to brand that area as a worldwide hub of companies whose products involve water.

⿿It⿿s in its infancy,⿝ Keville said, ⿿but it is only going to grow. Lake Michigan isn⿿t going to get any cleaner by itself.⿝

Meeusen said AMDSâ¿¿s planned move to Milwaukee is further proof for skeptics that Milwaukee can become a international seat of water technology companies.

⿿If we were located on Lake Superior, we would call it Lake Pretty Good,⿝ he said. ⿿We just never believe that we are anything, and I find that very frustrating. The fact of the matter is Milwaukee is a water hub.⿝

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010