Please understand, beloved cheeseheads, when I say Milwaukee will forever be a second class city and county, it is with a heavy heart. I have a lot of great memories of the city from my youth, and want it to be brilliant and vibrant again.
However, after reading in the Journal-Sentinel
today, and hearing on the radio (thanks Charlie) about the County Board's possible decision on the Park East corridor, I can only say they must WANT to remain a second class city.
First off, a first class city looks to attract outside investment, and bring people in. Milwaukee has been experiencing an exodus since I was a kid, and the population was over 700,000. Today it stands under 600,000.
Second, first class cities understand economic development is something that has to happen on both large and small scales. The driving out of businesses who they don't like because they aren't big enough isn't how you become a destination for entrepreneurs who are looking for somewhere to invest.
Third, and finally, first class cities (and counties) have elected officials who can do math! Which brings me to the Park East development.
Two companies are looking to develop an area known as the Park East Corridor. An ill fated freeway was once there, and now there is nothing but empty acres waiting for development.
Company A offers 2.9 million for the land, and a 104 million dollar development that will creaste 2.02 million a year in tax revenue, and 500 jobs, 27% of which would be earmarked for minorities. Over a hundred condos (at $450,000 each) would be the centerpiece, along with 55,000 square feet of office space, and 30,000 of retail.
Company B offers 2.8 million for the land, a 34 million dollar development anchored by a gas station and convenience store. It would feature 14,000 square feet of offices and 9,000 of retail space (I think that's called a strip mall). 600,000 a year in tax revenue would be generated, along with 137 jobs, 35% of which are earmarked for minorities. The builder would also offer 2% of annual profit to the county for helping with homelessness.
So, which offer does a first class county take? Don't ask the Milwaukee county board, they are planning to choose option B, based on the 35% of jobs going to minorities being a bigger percentage than Option A.
Now, as I constantly remind folks, I'm not a math major, but I do have a calculator (and 31,000 Holiday Inn Express bonus points). If option B is better, because of the 35% number, then someone explain to me how the 87 less minority jobs created is better? You see, if you use a calculator, you find that 27% of 500 jobs is 135 for minorities. 35% of 137 jobs is 47.95 for minorities.
So option A would provide as many minority construction jobs as Option B would construction jobs period, and it's a worse deal? The 2% is also a supposed kicker, but for that 2% to make up the difference in tax revenue ($1.4 million) the smaller $34 million dollar development would have to generate $70 million in annual profit. I'm pretty sure that dog don't hunt.
I'm sorry Milwaukee, but with leadership like the current county board, you are destined to remain that far north suburb of Chicago, and not a first class city in your own right.Update, 5:30am:
The lead editorial
in today's Journal Sentinel also whacks the county board for it's short sightedness on this plan. Evidently the editorial board can do math, too.
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