Ken Nelson spends most of his time on the Foxconn area in Racine and Kenosha and the campus area in Madison. He has followed Foxconn closely and is as knowledgeable about its plans as anyone in the state. He meets regularly with government officials in the area regarding the challenges that come with Foxconn. He discusses Foxconn regularly with business and civic leaders. Ken was born and raised in the Foxconn area and much of his family still lives there.
In Madison, Ken works on both student housing and commercial uses in the campus area. He understands the economics of the student-housing business from time spent on the development of such projects.
Early on, Ken showed a nose for deals. In his second year in the business he brokered the then-largest deal in Wisconsin history and followed that up with the leading suburban office building. He quickly determines whether a deal is feasible and avoids wasting anyone’s time on deals that will never work. He has developed innovative financing techniques such as a tax-exempt bond superior to a US Treasury bond. The idea was so good the Internal Revenue Code was amended about six months after the first such bonds were issued.
Ken began his real-estate career as a broker with the James T. Barry Co. in Milwaukee after leaving Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG). Later, he moved into development. He foresaw the popularity of all-suite and limited-service hotels and became the first franchisee of Residence Inns and the second franchisee of Hampton Inns. He has also developed office properties and a high-rise, mixed-use project that included Ritz-Carlton Residences. He was selected to develop the Kenilworth student-housing project in Milwaukee and was a finalist for the redevelopment of the Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital campus, adjacent to UW-Milwaukee, with thousands of beds of student housing, a project that eventually fell victim to neighborhood opposition.
- University of Wisconsin – Madison, M.B.A., Finance
- University of Wisconsin – Madison, B.B.A., Accounting
- Certified Public Accountant (inactive)
- Milwaukee Rowing Club, president 1992-2007