Chris Abele for Milwaukee County Executive

Chris Abele Announces Job Creation and Economic Development Plan

Monday, January 31, 2011
CONTACT: Brandon Lorenz

Chris Abele: Time to Change the Way Milwaukee County Does Business
Abele Rolls Out Job Creation and Economic Development Plan

MILWAUKEE — Boldly pledging to help make Milwaukee County one of the best places to do business in the country, County Executive Candidate Chris Abele today released his vision to help create private sector jobs and boost businesses across the County.

“The status quo is simply not working, and we need to fundamentally change the way Milwaukee County does business and economic development,” Abele said.  “It’s time to end the culture that too often accepts ‘no’ as an answer, and transform it into a culture that strives to find a way to say ‘yes.’  I’ll work with everyone – Democrats and Republicans, workers, CEOs and small business owners – to turn Milwaukee County around, help businesses grow, and create new private sector jobs.”

The announcement follows the formation of the “Job Creators for Chris” steering committee that includes Republicans and Democrats who are executive level business leaders and small business people who believe Chris Abele is best positioned to help move the Milwaukee County economy forward.

Chris Abele’s five basic job creation proposals are a bold agenda intended to make Milwaukee County one of the best places in the country to do business and create private sector jobs.  Explained in greater detail below, these key objectives include keeping taxes low, leveraging unused and underused county assets to generate new economic activity, and streamlining, consolidating and centralizing the burdensome regulatory processes of various layers of government that stand in the way of new development.

“Milwaukee County faces enormous economic challenges, including businesses struggling to stay open, unacceptably high unemployment and reduced hours, wages and benefits for many workers,” Abele said.  “By fundamentally changing how Milwaukee County approaches economic development, we can help new businesses and companies get started and grow in Milwaukee County, and spark new jobs and new economic opportunities for every resident.”

Chris five key economic development and job creation points include:

  • Hold the line on taxes: High taxes stifle growth and crowd out development and investment.  Milwaukee County residents pay enough in taxes. Just like families have to make do with what they have, so should government. Tax increases are the first resort of career politicians, but tax hikes encourage politicians to put off hard choices to solve problems and ignore innovative ways to deliver services more efficiently.  As Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele will not raise your taxes.
  • Leverage County assets to help businesses start up and grow:  Whether obvious assets like the vacant Park East and Research Park grounds, or less known resources like unused or underused buildings, the County possesses land and facility assets that aren’t needed or could be put to better use.   As one of his first acts as County Executive, Chris will order a comprehensive audit of County land and building assets, identify those that are unneeded or underused, and then deliver a plan to transform those assets into job generators.  Chris will remove roadblocks to development in land parcels like the Park East, and he will sell at competitive terms unused and underused land and building assets to companies and entrepreneurs who want to start or expand business ventures.  Revenues from land and building sales will then be directed into a segregated fund to provide loans and grants to businesspeople eager to launch or expand ventures but are having trouble finding startup capital in the current tight credit market.  By leveraging unutilized and underutilized assets, the County can help spark new job supporting economic development.  Finally, leveraging County assets includes overhauling the transit system to ensure residents without transportation are connected to the highest density of employers, as well as job training centers like MATC, MSOE, UWM and when possible, using smarter routes during shift changes and rush hour.
  • Streamline, consolidate and centralize economic development strategies and regulatory climate:  Separate, uncoordinated regulatory requirements and processes by the State, the County and the 19 municipalities within the County create hassle, frustration and confusion for people looking to start a business and create jobs.  A prime example is the long vacant Park East, which requires both City and County approval of development projects in the corridor. It’s time to vastly improve intergovernmental cooperation in Milwaukee County, and it begins with streamlining and consolidating permitting, licensing and zoning requirements.  Many of these functions are redundant, and by ending duplicative bureaucratic requirements we can make it easier to grow jobs and businesses without compromising key labor and environmental protections.  At the same time, different Municipal, County and State economic development strategies in Milwaukee County lead to missed opportunities.  Municipal, County and State efforts need to better coordinated, and speak with the same voice to the business community.
  • Aggressively market Milwaukee County across Wisconsin and the country:  One of the most important roles government can play in economic growth and development is harnessing the bully pulpit to cheerlead, market and advocate for Milwaukee County.  Speaking with one voice, the Municipalities, the County and State can together aggressively recruit companies and industries that would be a natural fit for Milwaukee County’s infrastructure and workforce.  A key example is targeting businesses that provide water related products and services.  Another is luring the enormous pool of venture capital in Illinois to make investments in Milwaukee County.  And as County Executive, Chris understands that even if it’s not directly in the County’s jurisdiction, it is still essential for leadership to fight for key institutions within the County.  That is why Chris will proactively pursue ways to bolster assets like UWM, the emerging energy industry, and the creative class by building partnerships across Wisconsin and the nation.
  • Property tax grace period for new small business startups that create new net jobs:  Helping create new small businesses in Milwaukee County is critical to growing jobs and economic development.  Chris will grant a short-term property tax exemption for new small business startups based on new net jobs created in Milwaukee County.

Chris Abele is a civic leader and community advocate who has worked to strengthen Milwaukee County by helping to build and grow programs in education, the environment, community development, health services and the arts. He helped lead an audit of the county’s pension problems, and identified an idea that will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Chris proudly lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Miriam and their daughter, Lauren.

For more about Chris Abele, visit

Comments for this article (3)

  • Jose Fernando Moreno says:

    Greetings. I am a resident of Shorewood who grew up in the Milwaukee area. I recently graduated from UWM with an economics degree, and I just started working on a masters in public administration and urban planning. I would like to participate more in Milwaukee’s civic life, and thought your website was interesting. If you are looking for people to work on the campaign, I am interested in meeting to see where my skills might fit into your general strategy. Our county sorely needs leadership and your ideas sound like they fit with mine. I am multilingual, well educated, and would love to get my hands dirty if you guys can handle the fact that I need some time each week to take care of my three year old. I look forward to communicating with you further. Thanks for your time.

  • Joe Messinger says:

    Glad to see some constructive, concrete ideas

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