KENOSHA – At a factory the size of Sanmina Kenosha Manufacturing Facility, you would expect to see hardworking men and women creating high-tech products. On Thursday, it was filled with listeners and reporters waiting to hear from Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, United States Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss expanding broadband internet.
Kenosha was the sight of the discussion because of a recent initiative from the Nokia Corporation. Nokia has announced they will hire 200 new employees in Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie to manufacture fiber-optic cables to expand internet in the area. This move comes after the Biden-Harris Administration has allocated $65 billion towards expanding internet across the country.
Some local leaders are enthusiastic about these initiatives. Trevor Jung is the Transit Mobility Director for Racine, and says Racine is making some changes because of these investments.
“The city of Racine has benefitted from the electrification of our transit fleet. That is, in part, due to federal investments in infrastructure. And to see that along with what we are going to be celebrating today….local government and private enterprise have a partner at the federal government.”
The keynote speakers of the event all highlighted reasons why they believe investing in internet is important. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, says she fought for the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal that made this project doable. Baldwin says it is good for Wisconsin to diversify the products it offers.
“In Wisconsin, we make things. Whether that’s some of our more iconic products like beer, bratwurst, cheese, Harley Davidsons or some of our lesser known items like critical components made right her at Sanmina. Manufacturing and innovation are key parts of Wisconsin’s identity….. When we are investing tax dollars, we should be supporting American businesses and products.”
When Secretary Raimondo took the stage, she defined her job as ensuring America stays competitive in the global economic theater. She said over 8 million houses in the U.S. do not have WI-FI, and there are more with WI-FI the family cannot afford or with just poor connection.
Finally, Vice President Harris took the stage with thunderous applause. She began her speech by recounting the manufacturing jobs that have left the U.S. since the 1990’s, and described the requirements and goals for the infrastructure investments of the Biden-Harris Administration.
“In America in the 21st Century, high speed internet is not a luxury; it is a basic necessity. And yet when President Biden and I took office 800,000 people in Wisconsin and 30 million people across the country did not have internet access. So we decided to do something about it. We invested sixty-five billion dollars to reduce the cost of high speed internet plans and build thousands of miles of fiber optic cable… President Biden and I required that the materials used to complete these projects, from steel, to electronics, to fiber-optic cable, must be made in America by workers in America.”
Harris emphasized the importance of the American laborer. When the conference concluded, Secretary Raimondo said American laborers can be supported while also embracing automated production.
“Automation in technology is a good thing, it allows workers to be more productive. America is the innovation capitol of the world, but you can do both. If you look around here it is highly automated. The equipment that is being made here is the first of its kind to be made by American workers,” said Raimondo.
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