Impact of Obama’s stimulus package hidden in plain sight
significantly involved people of color and women in these projects on both the business and labor levels.
WisDOT Deputy Secretary Dr. Ruben Anthony Jr. has spearheaded the department’s efforts in this area beginning with the Marquette
Interchange project, which resulted in 19-20 percent of the work to go to disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE). That success has
continued with the ARRA-funded projects currently on their way in Wisconsin.
On the I-94 expansion to a six-lane highway east of the Badger Interchane, the numbers have been impressive. “The minority
participation there is 14 percent for Madison, which is higher than normal,” Anthony said. “Then the labor participation is five percent
for minority and three percent for women. Overall those are pretty good numbers.”
Over in the I-94 corridor in the Racine-Kenosha area, the ARRA-funded work is also ensuring that people of color aren’t the “last hired,
“As far as the I-94 project connecting Milwaukee and Illinois, our DBE share thus far is 27 percent,” Anthony said. “That is higher
than we were able to achieve on the Marquette Interchange. We used the same techniques and all of the preparation we did on the
Marquette Interchange moved us right into being ready for economic stimulus. Now for labor on the Marquette Interchange, we had 24
percent minority labor. On the I-94 project, we didn’t do as well. We had 16 percent, which is still higher than the eight percent or so
that the federal government requires for minority labor. For women, we were about six percent. So we still have, collectively, some
impressive numbers. Unions are facing difficult times because they are saying they still have 25 percent of their bench unemployed and
waiting for work. For us to accomplish 16 percent minority labor and six percent women labor, it is a step in the right direction. That
comes from early planning and making preparation prior to the economic stimulus coming.”
One of the other major ARRA-funded expressway projects is U.S. Hwy 41 in Brown and Winnebago Counties. While the
communities of color are relatively small in Northeastern Wisconsin, the participation by people of color has been anything but small.
“On this project, we have a DBE share of 20 percent up in the Green Bay area,” Anthony said. “This is really helping Native Americans
and other minorities up in that area. It has just been impressive. The road building industry has worked hand-in-hand with us and they
put DBEs to work there at a 20 percent level. Many of them are Native American. Who would have expected that we could do
something like that? This is because of the economic stimulus. If the stimulus hadn’t happened, this project would have never
happened. In terms of minority labor, it is five percent, which is good and four percent for women. So you have a combined labor for
women and minorities at nine percent.”
Overall, DBE participation on ARRA-funded projects has been strong in Wisconsin. 11 percent of the work has gone to DBEs. In
terms of the labor force, 16 percent of the workers have been people of color and five percent women for a combined total of 21
percent of all workers on these projects.
Wisconsin’s success has caught the attention of the Obama Administration as well as other state DOTs. Wisconsin is being held up
as a model for other DOTs to emulate and is using WisDOT staff to spread the word.
“U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and President Barack Obama have said that under Jim Doyle’s leadership, we have the best DBE
program in the country,” Anthony said with pride. “They’ve asked us to go around and share many of the techniques that we use in our
DBE program with other states so that other states can remove barriers from their programs and have similar success as we have
had. I was in Cleveland last week. Michelle Carter, our program manager, Eugene Johnson and I have been deemed to be subject
matter experts. Between the three of us, we are going everywhere they want us to go to share this message so that we can help other
states have similar success with their disadvantaged businesses and disadvantaged laborers that we have been able to have in this
state. So I have been to Cleveland. I went to Portland a couple of weeks before that. Michelle went to Denver. We’re going to Hartford,
Connecticut, Phoenix, Arizona, New York City and Louisville, Kentucky all at the expense of U.S. DOT because they want us to tell the
story of what we have done here. Wisconsin has really gotten accolades. I’m very proud to be a part of this administration. I don’t think
without the type of leadership we’ve gotten from Governor Doyle and Secretary Busalacchi that we would be accomplishing what we’
Anthony has witnessed the impact that the Obama stimulus has had. “Had it not been for the stimulus money, there would have
been fewer construction projects going on and you can translate that to less disadvantaged business involvement and less labor
involvement,” Anthony emphasized. “You can drive down University Avenue. You can drive down the Badger Interchange. You can
drive in Milwaukee and the Fox Valley and you’ll see that there is work going on. Had it not been for Barack Obama’s economic
stimulus program, had it not been for this state being ready to have projects ready to go, we would not have the success that we have.
None of that would be happening today.”
And more people working is good for Wisconsin’s economy.
By Jonathan Gramling
Part 2 of 2
This construction season seems like those of summers past with major
projects on Wisconsin’s Interstate Highways and dozens of projects in
progress in any municipality. Things may appear to be normal, but they are
anything but normal. If it weren’t for the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA), President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, many of these
construction projects — along with the jobs they represent — would disappear,
projects like University Avenue in Madison or work on I-94 between the
Badger Interchange and CTH N near Sun Prairie.
The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation (WisDOT) has had “shovel-ready”
projects ready to go for the $371 million in ARRA funds that Wisconsin is
receiving. And through the leadership of Governor James Doyle and WisDOT
Secretary Frank Busalacchi, WisDOT has the infrastructure in place that has
|Deputy Secretary Ruben Anthony Jr. at the I-94
expansion project near the County Highway N exit to
Sun Prairie, which is a federal stimulus project