By Reverend Terrance Sims
January 29, 2011
Today, Wisconsin minority communities are experiencing a crisis. The downturn in the economy, both in Wisconsin and across the nation, has left numerous people unemployed with no where to turn to find a job. These financial casualties struggle every day to make ends meet and worry how they will continue to get by without gainful employment. However, this misery is exponential in minority communities. While the national unemployment rate is generally decreasing, the reverse is true in African American communities across the country, including those in Wisconsin.
According to a report released on October 26, 2010 by the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, an astonishing 53 percent of Black men in Milwaukee were unemployed. The report further found that while unemployment in the state of Wisconsin was decreasing, African American males without jobs in Milwaukee were increasing. The report also cited that Milwaukee’s unemployment rate for Black males is second in the nation only to Detroit. Based on what we have seen in the Wisconsin communities that we serve, we believe that these statistics are still relevant with African American communities in other parts of the state feeling similar pain.
However, this crisis can be partially thwarted by passing legislation that will promote investment in broadband technologies. By passing the Telecom Modernization Act, Wisconsin can stimulate increased broadband investment that will create unlimited potential for our communities. With state-of-the-art broadband investment the opportunities are endless. It can allow underserved neighborhoods to promote economic development through the establishment of minority small businesses that hire locally. It can provide Wisconsin citizens with better access to healthcare, education and jobs. And it can give the voiceless a voice in the political process so that they can have an impact on issues that affect their everyday lives.
Most importantly, telecom reform is the essential first step to job creation. According to a study by the Brookings Institute, for every one percentage point increase in broadband penetration nationally, 300,000 non-farm jobs are created throughout the entire economy. The Telecom Modernization Act puts the state’s priorities in order as it eliminates resources spent on managing outdated regulations and allows those resources to be used to increase broadband investment and create jobs.
We applaud Governor Walker for his strong commitment to job creation and we look forward to working with him and the members of the Wisconsin State Legislature to swiftly pass the Wisconsin Telecom Modernization Act. This much needed legislation will put Wisconsin back on the right path and help create the jobs that our communities so desperately need.