Milwaukee Mayor and former WI gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett explains hopes for regional collaboration

August 1, 2012

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Last week, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson came to Chicago to discuss “mega-regional priorities” at the Metropolitan Planning Council’s annual luncheon. (Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was scheduled to attend, but couldn’t get out of a City Council meeting in time.)

There’s a push underway for the region to work more collaboratively and revamp its image.  Many say the “Rust Belt” should trade in its nickname for something catchier like the “Fresh Coast,” which reflects the area’s strengths and uniqueness.

“I think it’s time that we as a region promote America’s 'Fresh Coast' because that is who we are,” Barrett explained at the luncheon.

Milwaukee has been trying to capitalize on its proximity to Lake Michigan for a number of years, and the efforts go beyond just branding--it wants to become the next Silicon Valley of water technology.

According to the Milwaukee Water Council, the area is already home to over 130 “water technology companies.” Chicago’s own Blue Tech Alliance exists to promote similar businesses in the Chicago area.

Wednesday on Afternoon Shift, Milwaukee Mayor and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett joins us for a primer on the water technology industry. He'll also explain the ways in which he thinks the region should be working more collaboratively.  Do Gary and Milwaukee need Chicago more than we need them? What could we stand to gain by working together, and what exactly do those efforts look like? Tune in to hear Barrett’s thoughts just after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.