Wisconsin is going through the same issues as Ohio, with a new Governor who isn’t interested in connecting his two largest cities by passenger rail, with additional connections to the two largest economies in the Midwest – Chicago and Minneapolis.
Madison businesses are unhappy. Where do Ohio businesses stand? Do they care one way or the other? I’m asking, because I don’t know. In all the reports I’ve read about the plan to connect Ohio’s largest cities with inter-city passenger rail, I don’ t remember seeing anything about any businesses, business groups, or chambers of commerce voicing either support or opposition for the 3C rail plan. It’s possible I’ve not seen something or forgotten though, so I’d be interested to hear if there are any major corporations asking the Governor-Elect to re-think this.
Business leaders in Milwaukee, Madison differ on train
By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 10, 2010
Madison – Business leaders in Madison are trying to keep alive a proposed $810 million passenger rail line between the state’s two largest cities, but so far they’re getting little public support from business leaders on the other end of the tracks in Milwaukee.
It has some good quotes too:
Imhoff, the chief executive officer of First Weber Group, a statewide real estate agency based in Madison, said he feels that opponents of the rail line are giving up potentially large economic development benefits to avoid the costs of operating the line.
“To me it’s like somebody giving you $500,000 for a new home and you complaining that you have to pay real estate taxes,” Imhoff said.
Kevin Conroy, president and chief executive officer of the Madison biotech company Exact Sciences Corp., said the connection beyond Milwaukee is critical.
“Chicago is a very significant economy in the Midwest, and we want to be connected to it in a world where being connected accentuates growth,” said Conroy, who added that he would personally take the train on his regular business trips to Chicago.
Dick Granchalek, president of the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Chicago-to-Minneapolis train line has been a top priority for his chamber for a decade.
“It’s a shortsighted approach,” he said of opposition to the line. “Throughout history, transportation has been the crux of development, whether that was the river in La Crosse, the interstate, freight lines or airports.”
Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger said his community expects that its property tax base would grow by $20 million to $25 million because of development around a planned train station. He said that potential growth would far outweigh whatever Watertown has to spend on operating the station.
“We cannot turn down this opportunity to participate in one of the greatest gifts to come our way in a long time,” Krueger said at a Milwaukee news conference. “If we turn this down, I think we will be the laughingstock of the nation.”