Mayor Tom Barrett and President Barack Obama need look no farther Monday than Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley, or the former Tower automotive plant-turned-train assembler, for a good Labor Day stories.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Years of hard work to reclaim the once-polluted and oft-ignored Valley have led to high-profile plant openings or commitments: Palermo's Pizza, for one - - and the two exciting and clean/alternative energy innovators - - Helios USA, (solar panels) and Ingeteam (wind turbines).
Talgo, the Spanish train maker, is also opening in Milwaukee at the Tower plant on the west side, assembling train sets for the high-speed rail initiative that is a centerpiece of Obama's infrastructure focus.
Local, state and federal investments have helped bring about these new plants, their production jobs and the spin-off white collar employment - - all in an older part of the city with sizable numbers of low-income and minority residents living close to these workforce opportunities.
Call it a green revolution with a blue collar: The new Milwaukee honoring the tried and true.
Barrett and Obama can also say that Republicans in Wisconsin are hostile to some of the public programming that helped bring these high-paying jobs, and their tax-base support, and the overall added value to Milwaukee - - the economic driver for Southeast Wisconsin and the entire state.
It's a strong and positive political and economic message.
It can be delivered with pride and conviction.
The environmental cleanup, alternative energy, economic growth and jobs connections evident in the Valley, and not far away at Tower, are a model for the rest of the country, and they illustrate a real path out of the recession to a cleaner, greener and recovered economy.
There's your new paradigm.
There's the change we hoped for.