Friday, January 18, 2008

Time For Action: Say No to I-94 Expansion and Yes to Transit

Have we not learned anything from the days of Robert Moses? As he pushed new freeways through New York City he displaced families, businesses, divided communities and increased congestion. What we should of learned by now is that as you build and expand freeways you encourage more people to drive, you encourage people to live further apart, you separate comm unites and yes drive up taxes. Beyond the fact, that freeway expansion will not reduce commute times there are bigger issues around why spending $1.9 billion on this project is wasteful, unjust, and unnecessary.

Understand that roads do not pay for themselves and are not definitely not "freeways". Fuel taxes and registration fees give taxpayers the belief that roads are paid for by these taxes and these taxes only. Where in truth these don't cover the cost of roads nearly at all. It is easy to see this when bridges around the country are in disrepair but await fixing. It is easy to see this when some roads in Milwaukee are over a 100 years old. It is easy to see this when taxpayers get assessed thousand of additionally dollars to repave the street they live on. It is seen clearly when annually $1.3 billion of property tax state wide is spent to pay for roads. The truthful result of freeway expansion is to encourage a rise in property taxes by reducing the tax base, and expanding government liabilities.

Let us not forget that there are population groups who are not not helped by freeway expansion. For example there are the inner city poor who have no or limited access to a car. A recent report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development points out that "36.6% percent of Milwaukee-area families with incomes below the poverty level have no access to a vehicle." Further even for those who can "afford" the $4,357 annual cost of car ownership this amount of money represents a large portion of their income and reduces there ability to save for the future, buy a home, or raise themselves out of poverty. Another population group seemingly forgotten by the Wisconsin DOT are the elderly. As the Baby Boomer generation ages we will face a larger percentage of people over 65 many of whom will be unable to drive. This freeway expansion only helps to lock them in their homes and excludes them from society. Instead of using $200 million of this plan to expand the freeway we could use it for those who don't have a car or who can no longer drive.

To rebuild and modernize this stretch of I-94 without expansion it is estimated to cost $1.7 billion and if I-94 is in disrepair and in need of safety improvements then rebuilding it is a wise and prudent endeavor. Expansion seems unnecessary though, as a 2007 Texas Transportation Institute report points out that Milwaukee ranks 52nd in metropolitan freeway congestion which ranks Milwaukee similar to Tulsa not Chicago. So without expansion that $200 million in savings could be used to explore many options of improved transit services that could serve to improve mobility for people left out of the automobile biased economy. Potentially the KRM, light-rail, or bus rapid transit systems could be explored and funded with this $200 million opening opportunity to everyone. Clearly as we move into the future many more Americans will need access to mass transit options and if Wisconsin wants to succeed this is an area we must improve dramatically, or otherwise be left behind.

We need to build a city, and a region of the future.

Again it is time for action

Please email the DOT and tell them to Say No to I-94 Expansion and Yes to Transit

Frank Busalacchi, WisDOT Secretary

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time for Action: Say No to UW-Tosa... And Yes to UW-Milwaukee!

Milwaukee is facing a critical moment. A moment in time that requires action of its citizens.

Currently the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is in negotiations with Milwaukee County to acquire land at the County Research Park with the intention of building a new engineering school. Although UWM's ambitious plan to grow the university has value and promise its choice of location in Wauwatosa will have long term negative impacts on the city, the students, and the region. By locating the new school in Wauwatosa it will add congestion, promote costly freeway expansion, make higher education less affordable, put additional burdens on students, increase pollution, and encourage sprawl.

Locating UWM's new engineering campus within the city has numerous benefits for the students and the city. By locating within the city, students will have better access to mass transit and shorter distances to travel. By locating within the city, students who have gone to undergraduate school at UWM and wish to go on to graduated school won't need to move out of their homes to be close to campus. By locating within the city, students will have better access to internship opportunities at Fortune 500 companies such as JCI and Rockwell. By locating within the city, Milwaukee keeps 300 college graduates who will spur development, support local business, add eyes on the street, innovate, live and work. Keeping UWM within Milwaukee helps the students to help the city.

If UWM expands in Wauwatosa the students and Milwaukee will receive all of the negatives and none of the positives. Now some may say our moment has passed and our opportunity lost, but as citizens and taxpayers we can have a voice. So I encourage you to ask your elected officials to work with the city, to find a location downtown, in the Park East, or on the Eastside. I encourage you to ask them to "Say No to UW-Tosa... And Say Yes to UW-Milwaukee!"

It is time for action...

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Chancellor Carlos E Santiago -

City of Milwaukee Elected Officials

Mayor Tom Barrett -
Common Council President Willie L. Hines, Jr. - 15th District Alderman -
Alderman Ashanti Hamilton - 1st District Alderman -
Alderman Joe Davis - 2nd District Alderman -
Alderman Michael S. D'Amato - 3rd District Alderman -
Alderman Robert J. Bauman - 4th District Alderman -
Alderman James A. Bohl, Jr. - 5th District Alderman -
Alderman Michael McGee, Jr. - 6th District Alderman -
Alderman Willie C. Wade - 7th District Alderman -
Alderman Robert G. Donovan - 8th District Alderman -
Alderman Robert W. Puente - 9th District Alderman -
Alderman Michael J. Murphy - 10th District Alderman -
Alderman Joe Dudzik -11th District Alderman -
Alderman James N. Witkowiak - 12th District Alderman -
Alderman Terry L. Witkowski - 13th District Alderman -
Alderman Tony Zielinski -14th District Alderman -

Milwaukee County Elected Officials

County Executive Scott Walker -
Supervisor James White, 1st District -
Supervisor Toni Clark, 2nd District -
Supervisor Gerry Broderick, 3rd District -
Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, 4th District -
Chairman Lee Holloway, 5th District -
Supervisor Joseph Rice, 6th District -
Supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr., 7th District -
Supervisor Patricia Jursik, 8th District -
Supervisor Paul Cesarz, 9th District -
Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs-Jones, 10th District -
Supervisor Mark Borkowski, 11th District -
Supervisor Peggy West, 12th District -
Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr., 13th District -
Supervisor Richard Nyklewicz, Jr., 14th District -
Supervisor Lynne De Bruin, 15th District -
Supervisor John Weishan, Jr., 16th District -
Supervisor Dan Devine, 17th District -
Supervisor Roger Quindel, 18th District -
Supervisor Jim Luigi Schmitt, 19th District -

Monday, September 10, 2007

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as "Talent Magnet"

Universities are amazingly effective talent attractors, and their effect is truly magnetic. - Richard Florida, "The Rise of the Creative Class"

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has the ability to attract students, professors and researchers from around the world and these people represent a potential pool of talent to be grown within Milwaukee. A recent article titled Closing the income gap with education points out a severe lack of talent in Milwaukee County by showing that approximately only 1 in 5 residents have college degrees and further points out that the number of degrees per capita is correlated to per capita income level. Now the number of degrees per capita is just one measurement of talent but many studies have verified this correlation and so it appears attracting new students to Milwaukee is a priority. Additionally the report Attracting the Young, College-Educated to Cities put out by CEOs for Cities, points out that "college-educated young people are most likely to consider living in places similar to where they are now" so these students are more likely to stay within Milwaukee post graduation and increase the overall talent level. This ability to attract and retain talent is a significant opportunity the City of Milwaukee needs to capitalize upon.

To capitalize on this opportunity to the fullest indicates that a larger student enrollment for UWM should be another piece of the economic plan for Milwaukee because more students equal more talent. To achieve this goal many hurdles need to be overcome such as, how that many residents on the Eastside see UWM as a nuisance, the reality that the school is located in a dense neighborhood, and that it still has the stigma of being a commuter college. Some positive events are already occurring along these lines such as Joseph Zilber's $10 million donation to UWM to fund a new school of public health within the city. But to overcome these hurdles, significantly increase enrollment, as well as encourage students to stay in Milwaukee post graduation a number of steps need to be taken.

The Plan:

1. Change Perception - While UWM is no longer a "commuter college" it is still refereed to as such in the media and residents therefore an effort needs to be made to change this perception within the Milwaukee community. One way to change this perception is to change the schools name to the University of Milwaukee or Wisconsin State University to separate itself from the other UW-X schools and give it a new identity.

2. Increase Exposure - An expanded athletic program in either football or hockey could lead to more national recognition as well as increased alumni donations. Football would overtime allow for UWM to reach a much larger audience whereas hockey would further establish it within the Midwest. Both of these would help introduce the school to new potential students and in the long run help raise enrollment.

3. Housing - UWM currently has 2,700 beds on campus and receives 12,000 requests for housing each year which forces many students to live off campus or worse yet many students end up turning down UWM and going elsewhere. Local politicians should be encouraged to allow UWM to purchase and convert the former Columbia St. Mary's Hospital and convert the building into new student dormitories. Additionally the city should support new dormitories to be developed within the Eastside and Riverwest as space within the campus is already tight but the demand for housing will only grow as the school grows.

4. International Recruiting - One method that could be used to increase enrollment is to increase the reach for talent by recruiting students worldwide potentially using a plan similiar to what I laid out in the Athens of the Midwest article.

5. Expanding Campus - Encourage UWM to add its proposed additional two campuses within the
city be it in the Park East land or potentially land on the Eastside because spreading the campus throughout the suburbs introduces new hurdles for the school to overcome. For example expanding into the suburbs will make attending UWM more difficult and it will erode its identity. Expansion within the City of Milwaukee will only strengthen it ties to the community and allow more students to attend UWM.

6. Retention. - Programs such as Philadelphia's One Big Campus should be implemented in Milwaukee to increase the retention rate of students after graduation. The importance of retaining the students after graduation is to turn around the "brain drain", increase the overall population of the city, and increase the supply of highly educated citizens.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Development Update 8/27/2007

A quick update on some of the projects around Milwaukee...

First off, I noticed on the Beerline that the construction office is now in place for the Riverboat Landing Condos. Hopefully that is the first step before demolition can begin. Once complete I believe this project will continue to add vibrancy to the riverwalk with new its population and the mixed-use design that includes a restaurant.

Over at the North End both demolition and sewer work have gotten underway. The building shown is now completely removed and they've continued work eastward into the larger complex. I look forward to the removal of the water tower and it's placement on the corner as that would mark a nice milestone for this project.

And finally over in the Third Ward development never seems to stop. The River Renaissance project appears completion and really looks to fit in the neighborhood well. Additionally with the redevelopment of the warehouse at the corner of Broadway and Buffalo as well as the one on Water Street you can see that the redevelopment of existing warehouses in the Third Ward is continues as well.

Buffalo and Broadway

Water Street

Monday, June 25, 2007

Athens of the Midwest

For Milwaukee to truly re-emerge as a global city, it is time to learn a lesson from our past and embrace immigration. I understand this maybe a very controversial idea but this country and specifically this city was built by immigrants. Companies like Miller Brewing, Falk, Palermo and El Rey to name just a couple were founded by immigrants or their children. At a national level people like Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Colin Powell, Carl Sandburg and Peter Jennings were children of immigrants and Henry Kissinger, Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne, Madeline Albright, Albert Einstein, and Andrew Carnegie were in fact immigrants themselves. Clearly by looking at this list it's easy to see how immigrants have added to our culture, to our technology and to our GDP.

Recent research by Michael E. Porter of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, a Harvard Business School, indicated that inner-city populations that consist of at least a third immigrants see job growth expanding. Whereas inner-cities with less than a third of their population being immigrants are seeing negative job growth. Further recently research from Duke University indicates that 25% of tech companies started in Silicon Valley were started by immigrants and that number is rising year by year. Additionally other studies have repeatedly shown that immigrants create new business at a rate higher than regular citizens. All of this makes sense because for someone to leave their home country, start a new life, and work their way through our messy legal system they already are risk takers. So given that immigration can lead to new businesses and therefore new jobs and opportunities Milwaukee needs a plan to encourage immigration.

The Plan:
1. Start Early - The Dells, Great America and Door County all utilize organizations such as InterExchange which bring college age workers from abroad to work in the US. This gives them an early experience to life here in the US but it is often far from our city centers. Therefore Milwaukee should tie together our ethnic festivals with international workers to one add authenticity to the festivals themselves but more importantly to expose college age people from around the world to Milwaukee.

2. Housing - While these workers are employed at our ethnic festivals they should be housed on campus at UWM. This will allow them to get a good taste of campus life, urban living and what Milwaukee has to offer.

3. Education - During their stay at UWM these potential students should be recruited by UWM . Further UWM should facilitate their visa process to make it as easy as possible for them to enroll and continue their life in Milwaukee.

4. Sales Pitch - Special events should be thrown in conjunction with UWM, the city, and the festivals to connect current and potential immigrants to the school and most importantly to the city.

5. Employment - Milwaukee companies should be trained on the H1-B process and the advantages of diversity. Further these companies should be integrated into the UWM recruiting process and offer internships to these and other students.

6. Legislation - The City of Milwaukee should actively lobby the federal government to allow for increased H1-B recipients.

By implementing this plan the city can work to increase population, diversity and job growth all at a small cost.

Immigrants behind 25 percent of start ups
In business, immigrants add economic sparkle

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Public Works Projects to reduce the Jobless Rate

During the April 4th, 2007 Community & Economic Development Committee meeting Professor Marc Levine spoke about the jobless rate for black males in Milwaukee being close to 50% and his solutions to lower the rate. Basically he argued for large public works projects to put people to work because his research has shown these projects can have the most immediate impact. Long term things like Emerging Business and Resident Preference requirements are good but large public works projects have the most significant and immediate impact.

Now his first suggestion was building out a large Light Rail system which would solve two problems at once. First it would put people to work on a large scale and secondly once complete it would allow workers to get to the jobs. Unfortunately as we all know in our current political environment this isn't a very likely possibility in the short run. Though in the long run this is a must have so I'll leave it as option one.

So here are a couple of project ideas that could improve the overall quality of life in Milwaukee and work to reduce the jobless rate immediately.

1. Light Rail System

2. Remaking of MacArthur Square

3. Burying I-43 and creating another large public park that could tie the city together.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Development Update 11/29/06

Development# Units % SoldSourceStatusAs of Date
River Renaissance8050%WebsiteUnder Construction11/29/06
Union Point7270%WebsiteReady for Move In02/17/06
The Edge13335%WebsiteBreaking Ground08/18/06
Park Terrace Bluff Homes1643%WebsiteUnder Construction10/19/06
Park Terrace Row House2171%WebsiteUnder Construction10/19/06
Flat Iron3829%ArticleBreaking Ground07/19/06
University Club5682%WebsiteUnder Construction10/19/06
Kilborn Tower7459%ArticleReady for Move In09/23/04
601 Lofts8055%WebsiteUnder Construction10/19/06
City Green4429%WebsiteUnder Construction10/19/06
Sterling11287%WebsiteReady for Move In10/19/06
First Place on the River18465%Website

Under Construction10/19/06

Monday, January 09, 2006

Transportation: Mitchell International Improvements

The goal of growing Mitchell International ties closely together with the development of Milwaukee as an international city. Further it will help to bring tourism, business, jobs and money into the city of Milwaukee. To reach this goal steps need to be taken to improve service, increase international flights, further airport expansion, and connect the airport to downtown.

The first step towards improving Mitchell International is to address the issue of adequate service. Currently air service is hampered as one of our largest carriers, Northwest, continues to struggle. This hurts Mitchell International and its ability to connect Milwaukee with the rest of the U.S by limiting flights and raising prices.

The solution to this problem is for Milwaukee to bring Southwest to Mitchell International . Southwest has shown it is one of America’s best airlines and could fill the need Northwest is failing so badly at. Beyond simply filling a need, Southwest’s arrival could lead to increased business and tourism as Southwest has a track record of lowering average fares and increasing passengers per day each way when they enter new markets.

The second part of this plan is to bring international flights to Milwaukee and again Southwest can help in bringing international direct flights to Milwaukee. This has happened at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, when Southwest grew their traffic at the airport the overall traffic grew with it and pushed the airport to expand their facilities which in turn made them more attractive to international airlines.

To help facilitate bringing more international direct flights to Milwaukee, the land from the base closing should be used to develop an international terminal. The international flights Milwaukee should consider landing include Germany, Ireland and China. Germany is attractive as a tourist destination as it has historical ties to Milwaukee. And recently Governor Doyle lead an economic development mission to Ireland so it appears Ireland is poised to becomsignificantlynt trading partner with Wisconsin. Further as China's markets become more open these flights could open opportunities for increased trade as well. Given that Boston a city of 589,141 people has recently added Hainan Airlines, soon to be Grand China Airline, which will provide direct flights to China, it is possible that Milwaukee with a population 596,974 people could support these type of flights.

The final step is in the process of updating Mitchell International is the building of a light rail line that would connect the airport to downtown. The benefit of this line is that by tying the airport to downtown air travel becomes easy and less expensive. Additionally a light rail line allows for the possibility of transit oriented developments being created from downtown to the south side.

The combination of airport expansion, direct international flights, bringing Southwest Airlines to Mitchell International and a connecting rail line to downtown would create a new economic engine for Milwaukee and should become a key part of Milwaukee's revitalization efforts.

More Southwest Articles
Southwest Airlines has Manchester soaring
Southwest, Meet Philly. Philly, Meet Southwest
'Southwest Effect' may be just the ticket for tourism industry
Airport Experiences Record 33% IncreasPassengersrs
The Southwest Effect

Northwest Article
Northwest losses grow since Chapter 11 filing

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Vision: Milwaukee a Global City

To complete the transformation of Milwaukee from a beer and cheese industrial city to a truly global city. To do this various factors will be involved, including recruiting high-tech/high-paying jobs, increasing density and overall population, improving transit, creating new neighborhoods, and connecting both literally with air transit to the world and economically with business throughout the world. This vision for a new Milwaukee should promote the continued growth as a diverse modern global city over the long run.