Jobs announcements feel espléndido!
Trabajo, trabajas, trabajamos!
Forgive me for dusting off my very limited Spanish, but all this talk about new jobs coming to Milwaukee and Wisconsin inevitably brings to mind the homeland of Cervantes and Picasso!
This week’s announcement that Spanish train manufacturer Talgo will locate its new high-speed passenger rail manufacturing and assembly facility at the former Tower Automotive site in Milwaukee comes on the heels of last month’s news that another Spanish company, Ingeteam, will construct a factory in the city’s Menomonee Valley to build energy-producing wind turbines.
While nobody is suggesting that the decisions by these two companies mark the end of a very challenging time in our state’s economy, they are significant on several different levels.
First of all, enough already with the talk that manufacturing has disappeared from Milwaukee’s landscape. Companies that make things — like Harley- Davidson, Bucyrus, Johnson Controls and Rockwell Automation — still make up a huge chunk of our local economy.
It is true that the last several decades have seen the departure of many good-paying and highly skilled manufacturing jobs. But it is also true that there are certain industries, including energy and transportation, which are poised for growth, and with the right type of local, state and national incentive packages, good things can happen.
It isn’t an accident that these announcements have come during the administrations of President Barack Obama, Governor Jim Doyle and Mayor Tom Barrett. Smart businesses look to partner with governments because they know that good universities and links to necessary transportation networks and energy sources require an efficient and expansive public sector.
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s pledge to bring 250,000 new jobs to Wisconsin by getting government “out of the way” may appeal to a small group of ideologues, but successful governors of both parties know they have to be at the table, engaging companies to bring jobs home.
Milwaukee has been in need of good news on the jobs front for some time and these back-to-back announcements feel like aloe on a sunburn. Mayor Barrett came into office with a pledge to focus on jobs, especially in parts of the city like the Menomonee Valley, and the acquisition of Ingeteam and Talgo seem like promises kept.
Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation, is still very much in the throes of a serious economic downturn. Even though the two companies are expected to bring about 400 jobs to the area, that won’t be enough to turn the economy around, even when you add the hundreds of other jobs that are expected to go to suppliers, construction firms and other collateral services.
But the two announcements still amount to outstandingly good news, and we should be glad that they’re here, right when we need it.