By Urban Media News
Four years after the election of Scott Walker, Wisconsin is struggling to add jobs and improve economic security for working class families across the state.
Walker’s entire economic platform is built on the promise of job creation, a promise he quantified in 2010 as 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term. Although Walker made it clear that figure was his floor for job creation, his lofty rhetoric hasn’t translated into job growth – especially in areas like Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha hit hard by the recession. Wisconsin is creating jobs at half the national average and while other states benefit from the national recovery, Wisconsin continues to lag behind in each new job report.
Last week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke offered a ray of hope for families just barely scraping by, underemployed workers forced to work two or more jobs, recent graduates drowning in debt, and workers afraid of their future job prospects in Walker’s economy. Burke offered a serious plan to “Invest for Success” and make Wisconsin a thriving, top ten economy – music to the ears of Wisconsinites strung along by the empty promises of the Walker administration.
Burke’s plan obviously draws heavily on her private-sector experience at Trek where the division she led grew annual sales from $3 million to $50 million. Investing for success starts with creating more good paying jobs and making sure workers have the skills they need to fill them and succeed. Burke’s plan grows the economy from the middle out, creating more jobs, more opportunity, and ultimately more prosperity for us all.
Wisconsin has everything it takes to be a top ten economy. Burke’s plan uses five core strategies to invest in the pieces of our economy that are working and enhance them for a cutting-edge 21st Century economy.
As governor, Burke plans to organize economic development and public policy efforts around industry to clusters – not individual firms, close the degree gap to connect workers with the latest cutting edge jobs, invest in ideas and entrepreneurs who will create the jobs of the future, position Wisconsin to be competitive globally, and create a business climate to grow jobs and attract a high-quality workforce.
The plan is well thought out and its attention to detail is a clear sign that Burke plans to hit the ground running on day one to get Wisconsinites back to work. The “Invest for Success” model builds on input Burke’s received in her travels around the state – including large urban areas like Milwaukee, traditionally a catalyst for economic growth.
It’s no secret that Milwaukee’s unemployment rate still stands at nearly 10 percent, and Burke tackles that head-on with a plan to leverage “anchor institutions” like universities, hospitals, foundations, industry research centers, and large employers to generate real wealth in Wisconsin’s urban communities.
Anchor institutions can create wealth through small business that supply and support the operations of large businesses, that’s why Burke plans match anchor institutions and local vendors in order to promote more small business creation. Burke wants to make anchor institutions in urban areas more involved with the community, not just by creating jobs, but by creating local relationships that can create wealth and help revitalize neighborhoods.
Anchor institutions have a vested interest in keeping the neighborhoods they do business in safe and economically stable. As governor, Burke will direct Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to engage employers to create programs to help struggling areas bounce back by helping employees purchase and improve single-family homes. It’s a novel idea that is surely to be welcomed by communities ravaged by the housing foreclosure crisis and families who have played by the rules, but still can’t seem to attain the American Dream of homeownership.
The most impressive part of Burke’s 37-page jobs plan lies waiting in the last few pages of the document where the candidate outlines her commitment to an objective, verifiable monitoring of Wisconsin’s progress while on its way to becoming a top ten economy and model for the rest of the nation.
Burke is a candidate that doesn’t plan to issue a pie-in-the-sky jobs pledge and ask the public to take her word for it. Instead, she plans to be open and honest about the results of economic growth in Wisconsin under her tutelage – exactly what you would expect from a world class business professional. To track her progress Burke will create a new online tool, “The Wisconsin Jobs Dashboard”, available for the public to monitor if Wisconsin is on the right track.
“Invest for Success” is an example of what Wisconsin can be in the years to come when someone with a real experience creating economic growth and prosperity is at the controls. Wisconsin won’t create 250,000 jobs by 2015, but if we choose Burke in November we can turn our economy into a juggernaut ready to compete in the 21st century for years to come.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper or NCON Communication, its staff or management.