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Where’s the ‘official’ push to keep Talgo in Milwaukee?

By Marie Rohde

Remember the day when it was announced that Talgo, the Spanish train car manufacturer, was establishing its U.S. headquarters in Milwaukee?

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.


  1. Thank you for this coverage. I, personally, am deeply troubled by the prospect of Talgo leaving. it makes perfect sense to me that if our state drops the High Speed Rail system, the Co would go to a different state where it will find support in the actions of product usage. I was very excited when I initially heard that Talgo was choosing Milwaukee, with the plans to expand their industry after getting established. To me this was the very thing our future needs to build green jobs, boost our economy. i would think, that just as there are other support industries that would sprout up, and create a new product economy in the midwest, dependent on the success of Talgo and High Speed Rail.
    lets not also forget the huge contribution to the health of the planet this new growth ca help provide. While I am not a scientist, i did have a math professor for a father, and we would crunch the numbers together to demonstrate how efficient trains were to trucks, or cars. The nos. (we would gathered from the Milwaukee Journal, usually), demonstrated an average ability to move more that 30xs to 200Xs what an average auto could achieve. ( the no.s made an impact on me, and I was only 12.) While vehicles have gotten more efficient, yet HSR has gotten much more efficient. The other issue that i never hear mentioned is the health cost to all of us. There is the high correlation of high carbon fossil usage to rates of asthma, w/ an average child population of 30% in urban areas. Single user, versus mass transits, are great contributors to this problem, and we are all paying!. Some how we don’t want to acknowledge that our behaviors and “needs” for conveniences is impacting us in some detrimental ways. i really hope we change our orientation and come out in mass support to keep High Speed Rail so we can combat these other issues. Scott Walker, please think, others, please act. Thank you.

  2. Can people not see this as corporate posturing? It’s not much different than a sports team that threatens to leave town unless they get what they want. The difference in this case is that they are doing it AFTER Milwaukee built it a factory. If Talgo were to leave because it looses one contract (the Wisconsin train) that tells me they would leave town anyway when that train contact is completed. What is the term of their lease? 2 years. Hardly a “long term partner”.

    Talgo got a steal at $2.59/sf. The $350,000 per year rent barely pays the interest on the cost of putting them in the building. Guess what, it will likely cost millions to renovate the building for the next company that leases the building when Talgo leaves. This whole deal is a financial fiasco.

  3. Wisconsin Under Walker: Closed For Business

    What a f’ing joke… There is also another Japanese company in the same field that crossed WI off their list.

    Tim Sheehy = STOOGE

    nyuk nyuk nyuk

    What company in their right mind would relocate here after this circus?

  4. From the Business Journal:

    “Nippon Sharyo officials considered sites in other Midwestern states, including Wisconsin, for the train manufacturing facility, but landed in Rochelle because of the transportation links and $12 million in public incentives, said Kevin Koyasu, the company’s president. Political acceptance of rail projects in Illinois, versus the opposition from Gov.-elect Scott Walker in Wisconsin, did not factor into the decision, he said.”

  5. LOL… and you really believe that? How gullible are you? That is simply a matter of taking the high road and not burning bridges unnecessarily. It also ensures that they do not lose leverage with the state of IL (i.e. “we did you a favor by locating here”, not “we ended up here because WI is obviously a backwater”. Make no mistake, once Walker was elected, Wisconsin was out of consideration.

    “but landed in Rochelle because of the transportation links”

    Gee…. pretty simple….. Rail = transportation link

    Walker has put a giant clown suit on the entire state of Wisconsin. I think I saw my Reagan portrait shed a tear the night that moron was elected.

  6. Scott Walker. Right. Can we pick ’em here, or what? And I’m not even going to discuss Tailgunner Joe McCarthy.

    Scott Walker’s phony “pro-jobs” campaign hoopla is so transparent after the election. Concrete Scott hasn’t even bothered to shed crocodile tears over Talgo’s imminent departure, and Wisconsin – years ago the nation’s progressive clean-government ideal – slides still deeper into the backwater.

  7. You guys crack me up. Milwaukee dumps 6 million into a project for a 2 year lease that will gross less than $700k. For what, 125 jobs that are to last a couple years?

    Meanwhile Mayor Barrett makes the business atmosphere so tough in Milwaukee that Buy Seasons takes it’s 400+ jobs to New Berlin. Buy Seasons is doing well enough to add on to their 360,000 sf faciltiy, at no cost to the tax payer. Perhaps if Buy Seasons employed the same union labor that stuffs Barrett and Doyle’s pockets the City would have given them $6 million in constructon costs and a $2.59/sf sweatheart lease.

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