Gov. Scott Walker took his message to the Oak Creek-Franklin area Wednesday night, laying out his priorities to about 220 members of the South Suburban Chamber of Commerce.
The governor keyed on economic development during his 30-minute speech at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 6401 S. 13th St., where he also delivered high praise for the Oak Creek-Franklin area.
"Oak Creek and Franklin are where it's happening—not just in Milwaukee County, but all across the state," he said to loud applause.
Walker laid out the same priorities he did in his State of the State address: creating jobs, workforce development, education, government reform and infrastructure.
The governor said they match those of the business community.
"We are committed to working with you," Walker said.
With several representatives of Caterpillar in attendance, Walker urged passage of a mining bill he said will create jobs not just in northwestern Wisconsin, where a mine is proposed, but in this part of the state as well.
"Some may say (it's) on the other side of the state, but really it has an impact right here in southeastern Wisconsin," Walker said. "When we have a new mine up in northwestern Wisconsin, that means more work for anyone, whether it's a big company like Caterpillar or any other company in between."
Earlier in the day, the governor traveled around the state with Reed Hall, appointed Tuesday as chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Hall was also at the chamber event.
The appointment has been criticized by Democrats, including state Sen. Chris Larson.
"Secretary and CEO Hall, with very little economic development experience, is the least qualified of those considered for the position," Larson said in a news release.
Walker, meanwhile, told South Suburban Chamber members that Hall and the WEDC will play a big role in creating jobs, but success won't be driven from Madison. It will come region by region, community by community, Walker said.
How many jobs, and whether it will meet Walker's promise to add 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term, remains to be seen.
Much has been made of that number and the slow pace toward that goal so far. But Walker said it wasn't just a campaign promise—it was "much more profound than that."
He said he wanted to have a positive impact on the numerous families and communities he saw hurting from the recession.
"If we hit that goal, exceed that goal, that means now there are at least 250,000 people, more importantly 250,000 families, in our state where someone has a job," he said. "Where someone can go back to their house every night and not have to worry quite so hard about putting food on their table, or putting clothes on the backs of our kids, or ultimately making that mortgage payment."