Ted Bobrow

Jobs announcements feel espléndido!

By - Mar 4th, 2010 04:00 am
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Talgo train makers roll into Milwaukee, perhaps the Domes should add them to their current show. (Original domes photo by J.S. Clark via flickr)

Talgo train makers roll into Milwaukee. Perhaps the Domes should add them to their current show. (Original domes photo by J.S. Clark via flickr)

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.

Even Republican governors with names like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bob McConnell know this — and Walker’s protests to the contrary make him sound like a “Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time” tin soldier.

And while all jobs provide dignity,  some jobs are better than others. The good, family supporting green jobs that help reduce our society’s dependence on fossil fuels like those that Ingeteam and Talgo are bringing to Wisconsin are something that we can all be proud of.

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.

Olé, Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett! Olé!

Categories: Commentary, Gray Matter

0 thoughts on “Jobs announcements feel espléndido!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ted, why so happy? Talgo decides to POSSIBLY build trains here, POSSIBLY bringing 85 jobs here due to sweet deals and tax cuts for Doyle’s chosen businesses, but Super Steel, which already builds trains here goes into receivership on the same day, with the possible loss of 250 jobs already here. I know its crazy, old-fashioned math, but that nets out to a 165 job LOSS! Why didn’t Talgo just subcontract the work to the existing company? And remember, there is no guarantee that the choo-chool train is a go. There’s an election coming where this will be a major campaign issue. And finally – Where are Doyle, Barrett and Obama getting the money to plan with trains on the Super HO scale? This whole thing is a boondoggle. Just don’t look for sympathy when it all falls apart.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad to hear that in addition to you many other talents, Patti, you are also qualified to judge the relative merits of train manufacturers. Isn’t it possible that the free market worked and the better company won? Maybe NASA could use some advice from you next time they let a contract. And are you blaming government when a company goes into bankruptcy? What would Milton Friedman say? Methinks your ideology is interfering with your common sense.

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