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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Train plant in Milwaukee may yield more benefits

From an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Tom Daykin:

The decision by Spanish train maker Talgo to locate its first U.S. assembly plant at the former Tower Automotive site on Milwaukee's north side will have a bigger payoff than the 125 jobs it will create, a company executive and public officials said Tuesday.

Talgo will expand and add jobs if the company sells more trains, Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez said Tuesday. Talgo already has orders for at least four trains from the states of Wisconsin and Oregon, and it hopes to sell several trains to other states with new high-speed rail lines, said Perez and Gov. Jim Doyle.

Also, while Talgo will import train car shells from Spain, it will buy other components from U.S. suppliers, Perez said. Those vendors could include Milwaukee-based Super Steel Products Corp. and Oak Creek-based Milwaukee Composites Inc. Such supplier contracts are expected to create around 450 jobs throughout the Midwest, Doyle said.

Finally, Talgo's facility at the former Tower site boosts the city's efforts to create a business park there, said city Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux. That business park, dubbed Century City, will eventually have an estimated 700 to 1,000 jobs, he said.

Much of this, however, depends on developing a national high-speed rail system - financed with an initial investment of $8 billion in federal stimulus tax funds - that critics believe will draw fewer passengers than expected.

Talgo said Tuesday it will soon begin assembling trains in Milwaukee. Perez said the company will begin work between June and September and is already recruiting employees. About 60 positions are needed to build trains and another 65 jobs for maintenance work, he said.

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