By Karen Stokes
President Joe Biden returned to Milwaukee on Wednesday. This was his third trip to the battleground state of Wisconsin this year as the 2024 race for president heats up.
The visit began at Hero Plumbing, a Black owned business at 4365 N 27th in the Garden Homes neighborhood owned by Rashawn Spivey.
Hero Plumbing is undertaking the replacement of lead pipes in homes throughout Milwaukee. This project is a component of a $15 billion initiative supported by bipartisan infrastructure legislation.
“Not only has our business grown, but we’re helping to save our community,” Spivey said.
Once departing Hero Plumbing, Biden addressed community leaders and residents at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce at 29th and Vliet Street in Milwaukee.
Spivey accompanied the president to the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, and introduced him. Biden discussed the urgency of replacing the lead pipes.
“Lead exposure disproportionately affects low-income communities and disproportionately affects people of color,” the President said. “This is the United States of America, for God’s sake. Everyone should be able to turn on a faucet and know whatever they’re drinking is clean and pure and not have to worry about it.”
Before Biden came to office, Milwaukee was slated to take over 60 years to replace the lead pipes. But last month, the administration proposed a new rule that’s going to require the water systems in Milwaukee to fully replace every one of the lead pipes within 10 years.
President Biden is struggling with poor approval ratings on the economy even as the unemployment rate hovers near historic lows and as inflation has plummeted in little over a year from 9.1% to 3.2%.
The Black vote will be critical as the country approaches the 2024 general election. Wisconsin is forecasted to be one of four toss-up states and crucial for Democrats in the upcoming election.
According to the latest Marquette Law School poll, President Biden’s job approval is at 42% in Wisconsin.
“I’m here today to talk about something that doesn’t get enough attention. I’m here to celebrate the progress we’re making to support Black small businesses here and around the country,” Biden said. “Because when Black small businesses grow, everything benefits. The community benefits. Everyone benefits. And it gives hope and prospects for people.”
Since 2020 America has filed a record number of new applications. Fifteen million applications to start new businesses.
“It’s led to the fastest growth in Black business ownership in over 30 years. Across the country, wages for workers are up. Black wealth is a record 60 percent since the pandemic,” Biden said.
In his speech, the president touched on Bidenomics, outlining his economic plan.
“We’re doing it by building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down. Not a whole lot trickled down on my dad’s kitchen table with a top-down economy,” he said. “But when building from the middle, when you increase the middle class, the poor have a shot and the wealthy still do very well, the middle class does well, and we all do well.”
“Through the American Rescue Plan we invested nearly $80 million in Wisconsin for the State Small Business Credit Initiative, helping countless small businesses grow and through the Small Business Administration, we’ve delivered $50 billion in capital this past year to small businesses across the country, doubling the number and the value of Black-owned businesses since 2020,” Biden said.
Biden also announced the Grow Milwaukee Coalition is among 22 finalists for the federal “Recompete” economic development grant through the Commerce Department.
The Milwaukee proposal seeks to revitalize the city’s 30th Street industrial corridor and reconnect the historically segregated Black community with other economic opportunities, the White House said.