I started watching an Amazon series called “Patriot.” It’s a quirky show about an undercover dude who is trying to keep Iran from getting a nuke. In order to get overseas with an intact cover, he poses as a normal employee of an industrial piping firm based in Milwaukee.
One can just imagine the writers talking about this. “He should have a job that sounds super boring and technical… that’s a gold mine of material.” “Hmmm… how about industrial piping?” “YES!” “Where should the company be based? It needs to be somewhere equally boring and easy to create weird characters in it… something rust belt.” “Cleveland?” “No, they have a good basketball team and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” “Milwaukee?” “YES! PERFECT!”
Anyway, in episode 2, one of those goofy local characters is talking to the main character, who is not from Milwaukee. He poses the question:
The answer was, “It’s an ice box… sun hardly shines; our economy is factory-based, dwindling since the ’60s; endemic violent crime in Milwaukee.”
That, my friends, is how the world still sees Milwaukee. And it is still largely true.
That is why we must work extra hard to attract businesses and people. Milwaukee doesn’t have the luxury of hot sandy beaches, glorious mountains, a temperate climate, or a warm water port. Nor does it have low taxes, friendly regulations, or a welcoming business climate. While we can’t change the physical or historical attributes of Milwaukee or our state, we can change the rest of it… if we want to. If not, well, I guess people will continue to think about Milwaukee like this for the foreseeable future.