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Milwaukee County trying to play nice with its neighbors

Can we really all get along?

The advent of regional development associations has cropped up in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and while these efforts are mostly symbolic, it may be the first step toward a truly unified economic collaboration this region has seen.

And by region, of course, I mean Milwaukee versus the rest of southeastern Wisconsin.

Milwaukee was once denounced for gobbling up unincorporated areas directly outside the city, and the borders surrounding the city have been fiercely guarded for decades since. It took initiatives on Milwaukee’s end to bring the level of paranoia back to workable levels.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Area of Commerce began the Milwaukee 7 initiative that established the first truce between Milwaukee and the outlying region. The coalition of southeastern Wisconsin counties, with all its claimed success, still does not have the same central focus featured on the newly formed Milwaukee Gateway Aerotropolis Corp., which focuses development efforts solely around General Mitchell International Airport.

It should not require the creation of the aerotropolis concept to realize what economic value an international airport has on surrounding communities, but if that is what it takes for southern Milwaukee County to work together, then it is the best made-up word (not) in the dictionary.

Next week, the Transportation, Public Works and Transit committee will vote on a resolution that would make Milwaukee County the ninth local unit of government represented on the Aerotropolis Corp. If approved, the measure will go before the County Board for final approval later this month.

Milwaukee County would become partners with Cudahy, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Oak Creek, South Milwaukee, St. Francis and the city of Milwaukee to promote the area surrounding General Mitchell.

Members of this collaborative nonprofit organization will eventually pitch in money toward new infrastructure geared toward attracting new investment opportunities.

It is at that point we will see how well we can actually work together.

Joe Lanane is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. He gets along with most of his co-workers.

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