Editor’s note: The following is a letter to President Barack Obama from Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).
Dear Mr. President:
As CEO of our regional Chamber of Commerce, I am asking for your support for an estimated 1,000 family-supporting jobs from the direct and indirect impact of a $600 million contract for Bucyrus International.
Policies conceived in Washington have a real impact in cities like Milwaukee. As you visit our region tomorrow, I ask that you take a close look at those consequences.
The Bucyrus contract hinges on the U.S. Export-Import Bank providing a financing guarantee. Despite meeting the Bank’s guidelines and rules for carbon emissions, the Bank has said the project runs counter to your environmental policies. If the Export-Import Bank does not reverse its decision, the $600 million sale of the mining equipment, and the family-supporting jobs to produce it, will simply be awarded to a foreign competitor.
Let’s take a closer look at what those jobs mean to our community. According to a study conducted by our chief economist, Bret Mayborne, using U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis formulas, the deal would provide for 326 jobs (direct and indirect) in the Milwaukee Region and an additional 658 jobs in areas outside the region, bringing the total direct and indirect jobs estimate to at least 984.
When you consider the time it will take to design, engineer, manufacture and assemble the equipment needed for this project, the impact is far-reaching. In fact, it reaches all the way down the employment chain, from executives and marketing to purchasing and support staff, to welders and machinists. Not to mention the jobs created and sustained at Bucyrus’ supplier base of 250 small and medium-size businesses.
Our regional economy grows when local companies export their goods and services outside the region. These dollars are then re-spent in the local economy, supporting more spending at suppliers and businesses that maintain the overall quality of life in our region. Manufacturing is the largest economic driver in our region, ranking us second in the nation for a percentage of workforce employed in this industry.
There are more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs in the state of Wisconsin. This project means a lot to a lot of people.
As the wheels of Air Force One touch down Wednesday morning and you meet with our citizens, please ask yourself, is this really a policy that will create the jobs that are so desperately needed in this economy, in this region?
Mr. President, we do need your leadership.
(To view the MMAC’s full economic impact study on job creation related to the project, click here.)