Dave Reid

Milwaukee’s Stimulus Request

By - Feb 11th, 2009 12:13 pm

Yesterday the U.S. Senate approved the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and although it still has conference committee changes to go through prior to arriving on President Barack Obama‘s desk it’s interesting to see what items the City of Milwaukee would like to see funded.  Milwaukee requested $599,062,000 in projects, in a variety of categories including roads, schools, and mass transit.  Of course it’s unclear whether any or all of Milwaukee’s requested projects will get funded but seeing what the City of Milwaukee requested shows the goals and direction of the city.

The website, Stimulus Watch, maintains a list of all the items and Milwaukee’s list includes a couple items of particular interest:

  • UWM-Engineering School — $5,000,000 to purchase downtown land and prepare land for the new location of the UWM-Engineering School.
  • Downtown Streetcar — $100,000,000 to develop and implement a Connector system/street car system to improve access to downtown, reduce travel time and reduce vehicle emissions.
  • Great Lakes Research Facility — $10,000,000 to provide infrastructure and facilities support for the recently created School of Freshwater Science, the first and only of its kind in the U.S.

The request of funding for the UWM Engineering School looks to be Mayor Tom Barrett‘s attempt to shift the proposed expansion of UWM from Wauwatosa to downtown Milwaukee.  If this were to be accomplished it would create construction jobs, although not immediately, but more importantly it could spur long run economic development in Milwaukee and encourage business to locate near the growing engineering core.

The streetcar funding might be a way for the Milwaukee to move forward on mass transit improvements without Milwaukee County’s direct participation.  Of these three projects, the streetcar seems to be the most “shovel ready” of the group though its true benefits would also be in the long run.  The benefits of the streetcar include encouraging development along the line, improving connectivity in downtown Milwaukee, and supporting the retail sector located near the line.

UWM is uniquely poised to tap into the emerging “water technology” market and help Milwaukee become a world leader in water technology.  Companies like Badger Meter exhibit the strength and opportunity of this market as they have seen profits continue to grow during this economic downturn.  The funding for the School of Freshwater Science is an opportunity for Milwaukee to tap into this expanding market, further the “Fresh Coast” brand, and bring new R&D dollars to Milwaukee.

Although these projects may not be as “shovel ready” as items such as road repair and regardless of if they fit in the current stimulus bill these items have long-range benefits that make them worthwhile.

For a complete list of Milwaukee’s requested projects click here.


4 thoughts on “Milwaukee’s Stimulus Request”

  1. Shelton V says:

    Nice analysis. I haven’t seen the rest of the money but seems like almost 1/2 a billion isn’t listed. Got any clue what the rest of that jazz is for?

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Shelton V Well there’s a big disconnect between what Milwaukee put in the U.S. Mayors document as “shovel ready” projects and what will actually be funded… Further I only picked out three items of interest, so if you follow the link to Stimulus Watch I believe it includes the rest of Milwaukee’s request.

  3. matthew says:

    I noticed that the website only had 5-6 cities in wisconsin that were listed as having projects that might get funded, so i think the list is just a partial abridged list and not a full list. I don’t think the final documentation for what will be in the stimulus has been released, so we don’t yet know what the actual requirements to qualify are.

  4. David B. says:

    Not specifically Milwaukee’s request, but it sounds like eight billion for high speed rail made it into the bill. Could we finally see high speed rail between Chicago and Milwaukee?


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