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Kaplan offices set to expand, plan to move to Riverside Center II
Construction continued last month on the second Logistics Health building in downtown La Crosse. Tribune file photo

Kaplan Schweser and Kaplan Financial Education officials are busy expanding their work force and plan to move local offices to two floors of the Riverside Center II building in downtown La Crosse.

Kaplan will join Business Objects, which moved into 21/2 floors of the same building Feb. 20.

Riverside Center owner Don Weber, also Logistics Health Inc. chairman and CEO, said Wednesday the new tenant means he likely will construct a third building in 2009, perhaps next to the first two.

Andy Temte, CEO of Kaplan Schweser and Kaplan Financial Education, said Wednesday a 10-year lease has been signed for the fifth floor of Riverside Center II, and Kaplan has an option to lease the sixth floor. Kaplan plans to exercise the option this summer.

The two local divisions of Kaplan Professional now operate from 1905 Palace St. in La Crosse and temporary quarters at 2800 National Drive in Onalaska, Wis.

Kaplan's local employment has grown from 61 in October to 140 today, mostly because the Kaplan Financial Education operation moved to La Crosse. Kaplan expects to have 180 employees in the

La Crosse area by mid-summer, Temte said.

At the end of June, about 100 of Kaplan's employees will move to the fifth floor of Riverside Center II. And by the first quarter of 2009, about 80 more Kaplan employees will move to the sixth floor. At that point, all of Kaplan's local employees will work in the downtown building.

Temte and wife Linda own the building at 1905 Palace St., where Kaplan Schweser moved most of its operations in 2000. He said that building will be available for lease or sale.

The two local Kaplan divisions have been leasing the Onalaska space temporarily since Jan. 1 because they'd outgrown the Palace Street location.

"There are certainly efficiencies (to having all local Kaplan operations in one building)," Temte said. "But it's more the camaraderie, the cohesiveness of the employee populations."

Temte said the Riverside Center II building at 322 Front St. was chosen because "We needed a location that we'd be able to occupy quickly. I was also looking for a prominent, premier location for Kaplan Professional in the La Crosse area. The fifth and sixth floors of Don's building fit that bill. Don's ideals of job growth and job creation are in keeping with our vision of La Crosse. So it was an optimal partnership."

The two local Kaplan divisions provide live and online courses for people who plan to take professional certification or licensing exams in the financial services and accounting industries. For example, Kaplan Schweser offers courses for people studying for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam. The CFA designation primarily is for investment analysts.

Kaplan is owned by The Washington Post Cos.

While Kaplan plans to use the fifth and sixth floors of the six-story Riverside Center II, the local offices of Business Objects moved Feb. 20 from two other locations to the third and fourth floors and half of the second floor.

Business Objects has just more than 200 employees in La Crosse, a company spokeswoman said.

The rest of Riverside Center II will be occupied by the lobby, a coffeehouse, banquet/meeting facility, cafeteria for Kaplan and Business Objects employees, and a health and wellness center for employees of Kaplan, Business Objects and LHI, Weber said. There won't be any room for LHI offices.

"I wasn't expecting to get the opportunity to get a couple more good businesses in here," Weber said. "When it came up, it made a lot of sense to me. You diversify the employment down here. Both of those companies are providing new jobs. We kept Business Objects in La Crosse. And we're bringing through Kaplan new opportunities that weren't here before."

LHI has about 428 employees in its La Crosse building and probably will reach the building's capacity by early next year, when it likely will have about 700 employees working multiple shifts, Weber said.

Weber and wife Roxanne are principal owners of Riverside Center LLC. The Webers also own The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern on the first building's ground floor. The restaurant has 61 employees, Weber said.

"Decisions are going to be made in the near future about a third building," Weber said. It could house additional LHI offices or other businesses, he said. "This company is going to continue to grow," he said of LHI.

Steve Cahalan can be reached at (608) 791-8229 or scahalan@lacrossetribune.com.

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