Monday, October 19, 2009

Growing Power Successes Ignored by Business Elites

Let's talk a little here about businesses big and small, and who's doing what to create jobs in Milwaukee.

The Journal Sentinel notes today that Growing Power - - the Milwaukee-based leader in urban agriculture, and a real job-and-image-creator for the entire State of Wisconsin - - has again won a national honor: this time for a precedent-setting partnership to expand and implement green technologies.

It's amazing how often Growing Power and founder Will Allen - - the group's website is here - - get great press for actually doing something in the world of resource management and employment.

And wouldn't it be nice if all the corporate honchos in the region - - the folks who have established top-down institutions like the M7, and the Water Council, and who are pushing for all sorts of fancy new headquarter facilities and business parks - - acknowledged that Growing Power is a real deal.

And could and should be one of their real partners, perhaps - - dare I say it - - a leader and mentor for business leaders?

Somewhere along the line I may have missed Growing Power's inclusion into all the water-and-resource-based plans and planning, and if so, shame on me.

If not, why isn't Growing Power always at the table, in a real capacity, offering a new perspective, along with a lot of success to back it up?

Asked another way: Is the M7 a true regional collaborative, or more of a private club?

One more thing about the M7, its priorities, and its relative value.

The co-chair of the M7 Water Council is Badger Meter CEO and President Richard Meeusen.

Badger Meter is simultaneously pushing for office space with the UWM School of Freshwater Science because we are are said to have a water-industry hub in the Milwaukee region that needs nurturing, while the company is also moving water-based jobs to Mexico.

I'd argue that's a heck of a contradiction, especially as the M7 is pressing for public aid to build itself a headquarters operation - - while community development organizations like Growing Power or the other grassroots efforts in town, with far fewer resources, are helping small businesses and creating jobs, day in and day out.

Examples abound - - whether in the Menomonee Valley led by the Sixteenth Street Community Health Clinic, or on the north side, where the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation incubates everything from small businesses to senior housing in a new city library.

The point is that some people are working from the bottom up, others from the top down, but I see little inclination from the folks at the top to share power and resources with people slogging it out in the trenches.


Anonymous said...

Picking up the thread at the end of the posting about Badger Meter:

After announcing that a third of its Milwaukee area factory jobs are going to Mexico, Badger Meter reported record profits today.

That says a lot about CEO Rich Meeusen's dedication to the region.

What's also interesting is a little tidbit in today's JS story-- that Badger Meter is outsourcing "some" R&D.

Outsourced to a Milwaukee company?

Don't know.

But it would be interesting if the Chair of the M7 water group was turning away from Milwaukee for this key, high-end function.

From the Journal Sentinel story:
"...Badger Meter also said it outsourced some of its research-and-development work, which reduced its engineering costs.
Along with reductions in administrative costs, Badger boosted its total profit margin to 39% in the third quarter from 34% a year earlier.

Sales in the quarter fell 11.6% to $60.8 million, with declines in both of Badger Meter's main divisions: Sales of water meters for residential use fell 9%, while sales to industrial customers that meter water for industrial production fell 24%..."

Interestingly, the official announcement says nothing about "research-and-development."

In the company's official release, Meeusen is quoted as saying only:
"...Selling, engineering and administration expenses decreased 8.2% in the third quarter and 4.1% for the 2009 year-to-date, reflecting the impact of our cost-containment programs,” said Meeusen. .."

Brutus said...

There goes another company (Badger Meter) on the gut and run coarse. Tragically, labor and environmental standards are virtually missing in most free-trade countries. Do we need to be more like Mexico,China or Vietnam to compete! People living 20 to a house to survive. Those arguements were made in 1890's California and was the beginning of the labor movement. Also; What kind of mess are they leaving behind for those remaining tax payers too take care of?