Friday, November 12, 2010

MMAC Takes a Partisan Pass on Progress

Over the past week I have been publicly wondering why the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) has been so silent on high speed rail and all of the jobs and development that it has already brought to Milwaukee. While hundreds of current Milwaukee jobs, a new Milwaukee manufacturer, area suppliers and critical development are all hanging in the balance...MMAC has been content to stand mute.

On day six (Wednesday) they finally emerged from their increasingly isolated bunker to say that the high speed rail project really isn't that big of deal to them. And apparently new Milwaukee manufacturer Talgo is not that big of deal to them either. Likewise, MMAC is not very concerned about Talgo's area suppliers, the hundreds of current and future Talgo jobs, or the critical development of the former Tower Automotive site. This is not to even mention the 300 (non-Talgo) layoffs that have already occurred because of the stalled high speed rail project.

While I'm listing off the things that aren't such a big deal to MMAC, I certainly have to mention the City of Milwaukee. The city has been a very active partner with MMAC and area businesses in the areas of creating jobs and economic development (unlike the County). But by virtue of their "who cares" attitude on high speed rail, they are also proving themselves to be a lousy partners for the City of Milwaukee in the future. What kind of real partner is willing to so casually dismiss multi-millions of dollars in city investments in the high speed rail project? Those dollars include investing in the expansion of the Milwaukee Intermodel Station and in the aggressive efforts to successfully woo Talgo to Milwaukee. If I were a City of Milwaukee official, I would certainly have to think long and hard about whether I can afford to team-up with people that have such little regard for city interests/investments.

So what is the real reason that MMAC has taken a total pass on the high speed rail project and the jobs/commerce connected directly to it? Are these big powerful business elites simply fearful of an unchecked power-crazed governor-elect? I seriously doubt that since they very directly helped put him there (see their funnelling $400k in anonymous donations). No, it looks more and more like this recent election has finally inspired them to come-out of their partisan closet once and for all. Sadly it has also caused them to take a pass on manufacturing, commerce, jobs, development and progress in Milwaukee.

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