Monday, February 2, 2015

Milwaukee's César E. Chávez Drive Bronze Statue To Be Unveiled

FARM Project headed by the César E. Chávez Drive BID 38 plans to make major announcement in late March of the long awaited unveiling of the bronze statue on the Drive of the late United Farm Workers leader.

By H. Nelson Goodson 
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

February 2, 2015

Milwaukee, WI - Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) has learned that a bronze statue in honor of the late United Farm Workers leader César E. Chávez will be unveiled this Summer on the César E. Chávez Drive Business District in the Southside of Milwaukee. A major announcement of the Chávez bronze statue and events on Chávez Drive is planned for March 31 at the City Hall Rotunda by the César E. Chávez Drive FARM Committee, Alderman José G. Pérez of the 12 Aldermanic District, Mayor Tom Barrett and business sponsors and non-profit organizations, including supporters.
HNNUSA contacted the Chávez Drive Farm Committee leadership, the Chávez Drive BID 38 and Alderman Pérez for comment, but none have responded about the upcoming Chávez bronze statue unveiling this Summer on Chávez Drive.
Olivia Villareal, Corporate Secretary of El Rey Holdings, Inc. (El Rey Food & Grocery store chain) told HNNUSA on Monday, that her family is honored to have donated $10,000 to the bronze man size statue of César E. Chávez and would be responsible for any extra landscaping needed for the statue. The El Rey store on 916 S. Chávez Drive had built a market place area in honor of Chávez too. She recalled her childhood experience working as a farm worker with family members and parents who lived in Waukesha, but had to travel to farms for work. Conditions in those days in Wisconsin for farm workers from out of state were harsh, "deplorable conditions" and many lived in poor housing conditions, which had no running water and would share community showers, according to Olivia. She says, that Chávez helped Wisconsin to bring about change and to provide better working and living conditions for migrant farm workers. Chávez was not only about the boycott of grapes and low wages in California, but he was also instrumental in creating an awareness of the plight of Latinos around the country including Wisconsin that mobilized the community to struggle and fight for their civil rights in order to be treated equally among Americans.
Alderman T. Anthony Zeilinski released the following comment, "Mr. Chávez was a great fighter for worker rights and I am proud our city finally has his statue." Alderman Zeilinski along with Aldermen, José G. Pérez,  Robert "Bob" Donovan, Nik Kovak and Robert W. Puente, including Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs co-sponsored the Cesar E. Chávez city worker optional holiday, which was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council by a 13-1 vote last April 2014.
The Chávez Drive Business District has gone through a major facelift (streetscape improvement) in the last five years to draw consumers to the area. In 2010, a $1.6M streetscape improvement project took place between W. Greenfield Ave. to W. National Ave. along the César E. Chávez Drive. More than 20,000 vehicles drive through Chavez Dr. a day and more than 147,000 per week during the year.
A 2006 city economic study reported that the Southside households in the predominately Latino community located inside Postal Zip Code 53204 in Milwaukee spent more than $91 million annually in retail goods, according to the Department of City Development statistics. In one day, they spent approximately $249,315.06. The biggest tax-generating base for the city comes solely from the Southside compared to other districts.
In Milwaukee, over 850 Hispanic owned businesses generate more than $225 million in annual sales. It is abundantly clear that the immigration of Hispanics and undocumented immigrants to Southeastern Wisconsin is tied to a large degree to the available resources that Hispanics have in Chávez Drive, the 12 and 13 Aldermanic Districts.
In Wisconsin, over 3,000 Hispanic owned businesses generate more than $800 million in annual sales, creation of jobs and available employment resulting in population growth as well as business growth. In 2013, Governor Scott Walker's (R-WI) office reported that Hispanic-owned businesses in Wisconsin are growing at a rate of 7.6 percent, accounting for $2.4 billion in sales and employing 11,000 people.
The Hispanic population increased by more than 4%, greater than the national Hispanic growth rate, and more than 271,000 Hispanics lived in Wisconsin in 2007. The population of Hispanics had grown by 40% since 2000. The U.S. Census reported that 355,468 Hispanics resided in the state or 6.2 percent of the total population in 2012.
In Milwaukee County alone, about 13.9 of the County population was Hispanic.
In 2014, Hispanics became the largest minority population in Wisconsin surpassing Afro-Americans, according to the U.S. Census report.
The Mexican government and the U.S. State Department including the State of Wisconsin have agreed to open an independent Mexican Consulate in Milwaukee not associated with the Chicago Mexican Consulate this year or early next year. Plans are underway by the Mexican government to secured a building location either in the Milwaukee downtown area or Third Ward Business District to open the Consulate.
Last month, the Milwaukee Library Board of Trustees (MLBT) rejected a $21M development project plan to relocate the Forest Home Library to the 1100 block of S. César E. Chávez Drive and decided to locate it in the Hill's Building at the 900 block of W. Historic Mitchell Street in the 12th Aldermanic District. If the MLBT would have decided to relocate the library to Chávez Drive, it would have drawn national recognition along with the planned unveiling of the Chávez bronze statue on the Business Improvement District (BID) 38.
The South side project in 2010 was part of the $1.968 million dollar improvement plan for the Cesar E. Chavez Business Improvement District (BID) #38 Streetscape Project and the City of Milwaukee funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Project approved by President Barack H. Obama. 

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