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$15 million awarded to help turn former Chrysler engine sit into Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood

Written by: Chuck Quirmbach | Read this story from WUWM Milwaukee

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is sending $15 million in federal money to Kenosha to help with the city's innovation neighborhood. That's a plan to create a site for business start-ups, a technology academy, housing, retail and green space on 107 acres that used to be home to the now torn-down Chrysler engine plant on Kenosha's west side.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said the state money will be paired with city funds and maybe other contributions to pay for a start-up incubator facility. He said it's time to move ahead.

"I look at this as an opportunity for our youth, for our older workers who need retraining, for the ability for our employers to hire and pay good wages to the individuals who are looking for it," Antaramian said at a Thursday news conference in Kenosha.

Antaramian said it'll take eight to 10 years to fully build the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood.

Kenosha community activist Porche Bennett-Bey attended the news conference and quizzed the mayor as to whether the project will benefit nearby kids in the city's Black and Latino neighborhoods.

Antaramian answered, "The goal is to keep our young people here. Our goal is to make sure opportunities arise for all of our young people in the area and the surrounding area. "

Later, WUWM asked Bennett-Bey if she was satisfied with the answer. "I believe what the mayor is saying. We've talked a few times. It's just wanting to be sure because it's the answers I have to give to people in that area. Knowing that I already have an organization that will do a lot of youth work, we can make sure those youth have an opportunity," she said.

While in Kenosha, Gov. Evers also handed out $10 million in federal funds to move the Kenosha Job Center to a more accessible part of the community.

The grants come as Republicans continue to claim Evers was too slow in sending Wisconsin National Guard troops to Kenosha in August 2020, during disturbances following the police wounding of Jacob Blake, Jr., a Black man.

The Democratic governor said the grants are not part of a political reply.

"First of all, we believe we always have kept Kenosha a top priority for us in the state of Wisconsin. This answer is an answer for the city and county that put great proposals together, and I'm just happy we're going to make a difference in the people's lives in the county of Kenosha," Evers said.

Regional colleges including UW-Parkside, Carthage, Gateway Tech and Herzing University say they'll collaborate with the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood.


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