Behind the podium were the logos of those who worked so hard to bring the plant to Milwaukee — the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee 7, that group of regional leaders devoted to regional cooperation for economic development.
One of the welcoming speakers on that cold day in March was Tim Sheehy, the president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
Just nine months later, Talgo is asking: What happened? Where are you guys?
What happened is simple: Scott Walker, who says the high-speed rail connection between Milwaukee and Madison would be too costly, was elected governor. The $810 million Wisconsin was awarded for the rail connection is likely to go to another state.
Talgo announced that if Wisconsin wasn’t going to have any use for high-speed trains, they wouldn’t have much use for Wisconsin.
As Bill Broydrick, a Washington D.C. consultant with Wisconsin ties put it: “If the Wisconsin money goes to New York, why wouldn’t Talgo move there too?”
Bombardier Inc., Talgo’s major competitor, has a strong presence in the Empire State, Broydrick points out.
In a pointed e-mail last week, Talgo spokeswoman Nora Friend noted that Milwaukee business leaders had played a major role in convincing her company to come to town. Now, she says, it’s time for those same business leaders to speak up if they want her company to stay in town.
Sheehy did not return calls on the topic.
Pat O’Brien, M7’s executive director, noted that his organization has a public policy committee. In order to take a stance, two criteria must be met: An issue must have regional impact and the group must come to a consensus on a policy.
“Clearly, this is of regional importance,” O’Brien said. “But we are divided on a policy.”
Friend could not be reached. She was traveling outside the country Monday, according to her voice mail.
Marie Rohde is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1807.