During a visit to a business in Milwaukee, Governor Walker unveiled a plan to revitalize a strategic portion of Milwaukee’s inner city. The main focus of the program will be the defunct 30th street industrial corridor. Ironically that has been home to the Spanish train builder, Talgo, which the governor essentially put out of business in Milwaukee recently.
But the plan, apparently developed by Wyman Winston, executive director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), will be funded to the tune of $100 million dollars through the sale of tax exempt bonds to private investors.
The program is incredibly ambitious, aimed to revitalize the area through housing development, industrial development, small business/entrepreneurial support, workforce skills inventory, work skills training and transportation infrastructure improvements. I am not sure $100 million is enough even if the expected private sector companies come on board. A year in the making, this was supposedly developed over the past year by a number of state agencies including WHEDA and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). Mr. Winston and WHEDA will be taking the lead on the program and promises to see it through.
Now, Mayor Barrett’s response was just a wee bit skeptical. And rightfully so. This type of initiative is incredibly un-Scott Walker like…and the mayor suggests the timing is motivated by the approach of the recall election. I have my own cynical tendencies and can understand the mayor’s reticence when hearing the plan.
But I am not willing to look this gift horse in the mouth. Milwaukee needs help. It can use state help. So even if Governor Walker is proposing this for the wrong reasons, I welcome the fact that he is doing the right thing. I just hope he stay’s out of the way and let’s Mr. Winston (WHEDA) and Reggie Newson (DWD) see this thing to fruition.
Of course the Mayor’s skepticism is partially related to being in full recall campaign mode and rightly so. But he has a far far better reason to be skeptical…and actually an extremely good reason to be VERY ANGRY!
A snippet from the article:
The plan is meant to coordinate the resources of multiple state agencies with the city and other economic development entities.
Coordinate with the city? If that is the case, why was the first time that Mayor Barrett heard about this program today? Why was it announced at a solitary state press conference without any of the elected officials or administrators from the City of Milwaukee?
Or is this simply another prime example of Governor Walker’s inability to work and play well with other? His continued inability to negotiate? His continued unwillingness to be a real leader instead of a plutocrat?
I was totally surprised by this development…and I can’t imagine who convinced the governor that helping Milwaukee will help the state and although he came up short of talking commuter rail, he talked about inter modal transportation and reviving the freight rail corridor in Milwaukee.
But my feeling is, whatever happens on June 5th, who ever the occupant of the governor’s mansion should see this thing through!