MILWAUKEE -- Beginning Friday, July 7th the economic future of the entire Midwest will be discussed and parts of it decided right here in Milwaukee. Cities that used to compete are now working together.
Officials from Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and other cities may not always get along.
“Our sports teams can compete," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joked.
But on Friday, they set aside rooting interests to support economic ones.
“We all face similar challenges. We all have people who need jobs," Barrett continued. "We all want to work more closely with industry. Let’s see how we can become better partners together, and learn from each other.”
Twelve cities, stretching from Ohio to Kansas and north to Minnesota, announced an agreement today to create the Midwest Urban Strategies Consortium.
“To prepare Midwesterners for the jobs of our future," stated Michael Holmes, with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment. "And the jobs of tomorrow.”
It’s a first of its kind collaboration between local workforce development boards, aimed at growing jobs and opportunities throughout an entire region.
“The workforce needs throughout the Midwest, are not confined to certain geographic areas," said Barrett.
“When you start looking at cool things like pharmacy tech, IT, financial planning," added CEO Earl Buford of Employ
Milwaukee, which is the administrative lead on this project. "Those are careers.”
Instead of each of those cities competing for grant money, they will now be able to share funds.
“These are resources that Milwaukee wouldn’t have gotten," Buford said. "We don’t have the size and scale of our board of a Chicago, which is three-times our size. But working with Chicago, working with Detroit, working with Cincinnati, working with St. Louis, it’s a pretty strong collective effort.”
And one these leaders hope will bring some shine back to the rust belt.
Employ Milwaukee, the workforce development board serving the county, is the administrative lead for this new consortium -- meaning the newly formed Midwest Urban Strategies Consortium will have its hub right downtown.