Several Milwaukee Common Council members have signed a letter urging Oshkosh Defense to locate a production facility for United State Postal Service trucks in Milwaukee’s Century City Business Park.
“The City of Milwaukee has already made substantial investments to prepare for just such a purpose and our Department of City Development stands ready to make certain that what few gaps may remain are closed to your satisfaction,” the letter reads.
The letter, dated today, was sent to president and chief operating officer John Pfeifer of Oshkosh Defense. USPS recently awarded the company a $482 million contract to build between 50,000 and 165,000 newly-designed postal service trucks over 10 years.
The letter is signed by nine aldermen: Khalif Rainey, Cavalier Johnson, Nik Kovac, Nikiya Dodd, Chantia Lewis, Michael Murphy, Mark Borkowski, Jose Perez and Russell Stamper II. Last week Mayor Tom Barrett also said he was urging Oshkosh Corp. to build the USPS trucks at Century City.
Oshkosh Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The contract calls for a sustainable fleet of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) or zero emission electric vehicles and fuel-efficient low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles.
Rainey, whose 7th Aldermanic District includes the Century City Business Park, pointed to the impact it once had on surrounding neighborhoods. The business park was once home to A.O. Smith and later Tower Automotive, which employed thousands of workers before shutting down operations in 2006.
“These NGDVs represent an exciting step toward not only improving the service provided by the USPS, but in demonstrating the benefits of using cleaner energy in corporate vehicle fleets. Looked at another way, they are about the future. This is a future in which those who live and work near Century City deserve to share,” Rainey, who spearheaded the letter, said in a statement.
The letter called the prospect of a Century City-based Oshkosh Defense facility a “unique moment in American history that could transform the lives of thousands of city residents in a positive direction.”
“What is more, the jobs this contract will create are precisely those that once brought family-supporting, long-term employment to generations of men and women who lived in the neighborhoods surrounding the factory. Some of us saw it first-hand and all of us have heard of the opportunities provided. These companies were the heart of their community and they, in turn, built lives around them. The Common Council and the mayor have worked in the intervening years to find the right fit to make these opportunities more than a memory.”
The Century City Business Park, located south of Capitol Drive and west of Hopkins Street, was the site of controversy last year after Strauss Brands’ backed out of a proposal for a $60 million facility. The company withdrew its proposal days after Rainey pulled his support for the project due to public pressure.
While Spanish train maker Talgo Inc. and Good City Brewing have established operations in Century City, efforts to attract more companies to the area have been slow, in part because of location challenges including crime, facility security, employee safety and its distance from the freeway.
However, the business park may be gaining some traction after New York-based Planet to Plate Inc. recently proposed plans to locate an urban farm within Century City in an industrial building currently occupied by Good City Brewing.