Barrett receives suburban backing to lead workforce efforts

ICC vote to be sent to governor

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett received the backing of suburban Milwaukee County officials to continue as the chief elected official in the area’s workforce development efforts.

The chief elected official is in charge of appointing the board of the organization known as Employ Milwaukee. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele had sent a request to Gov. Scott Walker asking that he be named the chief elected officer in the Milwaukee workforce development area.

Abele has said he was seeking to have leadership of the organization return to a more regional approach.

The Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment held a public hearing on the request in June. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen sent a letter to Barrett earlier this month asking to have the top elected officials from all of the Milwaukee County units of local government work out an agreement “in an effort to build county and regional collaboration which meets the demands of employers and job seekers.”

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council voted 13-2, with representatives from Oak Creek and St. Francis opposed, to make Barrett the chief elected official. In previous meetings on Abele’s request, the ICC had considered making changes to Employ Milwaukee’s board to create more regional representation, but no decision has been made on that idea.

“We are all committed to providing family-supporting jobs and training opportunities to all Milwaukee residents,” Barrett said. “I appreciate the support from my fellow mayors and leaders, and am looking forward to working with you all to continue building the region’s workforce for the future.”

In a statement, Abele said regardless of who is the chief elected official “all of us must contribute to see better outcomes than the ones we have today.”

“Workforce development and addressing racial disparities in unemployment rates have to be top priorities for all leaders if we are to build a stronger Milwaukee County,” Abele said. “The only question should be who is in the best position to make the most and fastest progress on this imperative.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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