MILWAUKEE -- On Friday, Governor Scott Walker announced that the state is re-allocating $4.5 million to address workforce and neighborhood development in Milwaukee.
The announcement came almost two weeks after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed Sylville Smith, which set off a rash of violence in Sherman Park.
Walker said he hopes addressing high unemployment in impoverished areas of Milwaukee will help prevent future unrest.
“We still have pockets in the state, particularly here in Milwaukee, that have unacceptably high levels of unemployment,” Walker said. “The number one issue if we want to create more jobs, more higher education, more opportunities, is workforce,” the governor said.
Of the $4.5 million in state funding that will be put directly into the city, $2.5 will be used for workforce development.
Ray Allen, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary, said his agency will deploy mobile job centers into poor areas of the city.
He said DWD’s offices will remain at full staffing, but the mobile centers will offer the same services – like resume help, job searching and assessments.
“We’ll be deploying our services to job seekers in their neighborhoods,” Allen said. “We will be using community centers, nonprofit centers and faith-based facilities, so that we’ll be bringing the services right to where the job seekers are.”
Vincent Lyles, the president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, said he was encouraged by the new initiative.
“People need to know they can easily access those resources,” Lyles said.
Lyles said he hopes a stronger workforce will help prevent another round of violence and unrest like the one seen in Sherman Park earlier this month.
“Sometimes in these tragic situations you need people to come together,” Lyles said. “I think this is a big step in the right direction.”
The other $2 million of the allocated money will be put towards rehabilitating or demolishing abandoned properties in Milwaukee currently owned by the city.