The Milwaukee 7 celebrated its first anniversary Wednesday evening, November 29th 2006 with a gala reception for friends and members of the multi-county business promotion council that was held in what we used to call the Public Service Building, 231 W. Michigan St.
The host was WE Energies, which also has opened space in the building for the new Milwaukee 7 Resource Center, which was unveiled that day as was the group’s new website, www.choosemilwaukee.com .
Gale Klappa, the head of the energy company, was the host of the event, which had as its centerpiece a signing of a Code of Ethics in which the member counties and communities promised to play nice when soliciting new investments. Klappa had a hard time getting the audio visual equipment operating at first, providing one of those embarrassing moments that can quickly lose you a crowd. Fortunately, in a place like the headquarters of a giant utility company there is usually somebody on staff who knows his way around electrical equipment, if not the president of the firm. Happily, somebody got to the errant device to work just as it appeared that master tinkerer Michael Cudahy was about to take a whack at it. Distinguished attendees included Daniel F. “Jack” McKeithan; his wife, judicial sister Patricia Brash McKeithan; Mayor Larry Nelson of Oconomowoc; retired MSOE head Dr. Robert Spitzer and others too numerous to mention including Rep. Jeff Stone and Sen. Alberta Darling.
Governor Jim Doyle was called upon for remarks, and he obliged with the news that Wisconsin exports are up 50 per cent in the last 3 years, and that we Wisconsinites should begin to brag about ourselves, which he admitted is a distinctly un-Wisconsin thing to do.
Klappa said an institutional investor had come to WE Energies to take a look at the company, expecting Milwaukee to be a miserable, “dilapidated” place, but found it to be “cool.” Klappa, a jokester, let out a little crack about his amazement at finding Tom Barrett andScott Walker at the same table. The mayor then took his turn addressing the audience, and he was fired up.
Firstly, he said, we must eliminate the term “Rust Belt” from our lexicon. “Do you think the terms “Rust Belt” and “Sun Belt” were coined by Northerners?” he asked.
We have “the East Coast, the West Coast and the Gulf Coast — Call us “the Fresh Coast,” he said, adding that our greatest asset is fresh water, and has been so for the150 years of European settlement that this area has endured. Barrett also acknowledged Klappa as the architect of the Resource Center, an idea he brought with him from Atlanta, along with a bunch of utility executives.
“So is everybody else in that room,” said a WE Energies employee.
WE “Caters” to the Crowd
The attendees at the Milwaukee 7 event were treated to an elaborate buffet served by uniformed staff. The wines of the evening were from the House of Bogle, and included a red or white for those who did not have a taste for champagne, which was also served. The cuisine included crab, shrimp and crab stuffed inside shrimp along with smoked trout, assorted canapés, lamb phyllo puffs, brie in something and prime steer tenderloin. All of the food was made on the premises and served by WE Energies employees as part of their regular jobs. Who knew that the electric company ran one of the better catering outfits in town? Sorry if you missed the event, but for many it was one of the best rebates they ever received from the power company.