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Train Manufacturer Talgo to Bring Work Back to Milwaukee

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One lonely train car stands outside the Talgo plant in Milwaukee in 2014.

Mayor Tom Barrett says Talgo plans to refurbish rail cars for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority at Milwaukee's Century City.

READ: WUWM's Coverage on Century City

About six years ago, Talgo began manufacturing high-speed trains at its Century City facility, for the high-speed rail line that was set to travel through Wisconsin. But that work ended after the state broke its contract with the company in the wake of Scott Walker's first election as governor.

Walker had made it clear that he would fight the high-speed rail line. He argued that while it would be developed with federal dollars, the state would face financial obligations in ensuing years, once the line was operating. As a result of the state's move, Talgo largely pulled up stakes in Milwaukee, retaining space at Century City, mainly for use as a warehouse.

In his 2017 budget address Monday, Barrett said that "despite the hard feelings between Talgo and the state, the company recognizes its Milwaukee location is a great place to manufacture." Barrett says while Walker "worked to kill" the project, the city "worked even harder to build a solid relationship with the company," which now has paid off.

Century City is the former home of A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive on W. Capitol Dr. The city has transformed the property as a business park, in hopes that it eventually will create numerous jobs. Ald. Khalif Rainey, whose district includes Century City, says the Talgo decision will mean "new jobs for local people and even more activity" at Century City. He says "for too long, the site has been a sad reminder of jobs that left town and lives that were shattered by the departure of A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive."

Ann-Elise is WUWM's news director.
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