By Jennifer Epps, GJLN Organizer
As the Community Benefits model continues to pick up steam, we in Milwaukee see 2008 as a year of momentum. 2007 has been a year of building, with the hiring of new staff, a rally in support of the Park East development and many opportunities for public testimony on the need for good jobs, affordable housing, and environmental responsibility in our planning and decision-making.
We’re gearing up for two new campaigns in 2008. The first is a partnership between Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods and Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH). MICAH was a founding member of the Coalition and has remained an integral partner in the effort for accountable economic development policy; policy that puts Milwaukee residents first!
In August, the Coalition joined MICAH as it kicked off “The People’s Campaign.” With over 600 Milwaukee residents, The People’s Campaign is a strategic campaign aimed to educate, train, and organize congregation leaders and residents to improve economic conditions in Milwaukee.
MICAH’s first step in the campaign is to expand the City’s local hiring Resident Preference Program (RPP). In conjunction with this, Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods is organizing a campaign to pass a city-wide ordinance that would require all projects that receive a public subsidy of $500,000 or more to follow community benefit standards, including increased local hiring, prevailing wage, maximum apprentice and training ratios, and 20% affordable housing units where applicable. The GJLN coalition and MICAH will continue to engage Milwaukee residents to take the leadership role in this campaign.
In addition to our work on standards for publicly supported projects, the Coalition is laying the foundation for a long-term campaign focused on the redevelopment of a former industrial site. The former A.O. Smith/Tower Automotive site was at one time the home to a factory that employed thousands of inner-city Milwaukee residents in good paying, family supporting jobs. Since the last worker walked out of the gates in 2006, the Tower neighborhood has faced an unknown future. However, by engaging and organizing residents of the Tower neighborhood, the Coalition can ensure that the redevelopment plan considers the needs of the community, not just developers.