Biden visits Milwaukee, highlights Black-owned businesses

President Joe Biden visited Milwaukee to tout his administration's investment in Black-owned businesses Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The Biden administration announced Milwaukee is a finalist for millions of dollars in funding for revitalization and job creation in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor and efforts to replace lead pipes across the country.

"Lead exposure disproportionately affects low-income communities and disproportionately affects people of color," Biden said.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

Biden took to the stage at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, located near 29th and Vliet on Milwaukee's north side. He promoted his administration's small business growth and the infrastructure law that will fund lead pipe removal nationwide.

"Everyone should be able to turn on a faucet and know whatever they’re drinking was clean, pure and not have to worry about it," said Biden.

Last month, the Biden administration announced a new rule that requires all lead service lines to be replaced within 10 years. Biden said it will create good-paying union jobs and reduce lead exposure in children.

Rashawn Spivey, owner of Hero Plumbing, introduced the president. Hero Plumbing is a Black-owned business that is replacing lead pipes in Milwaukee.

Wednesday marked Biden's third visit to Wisconsin this year. Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said it is clear why Biden is focused on the state; polls show people are unsupportive of Biden and the economy – even with historic lows and decreasing inflation.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

"There’s more to do," he said. "I think the message is resonating, and the story needs to be told."

"We’re making sure Milwaukee is coming back, and all of Milwaukee is coming back," said Biden.

The Biden administration announced Milwaukee is one of 22 finalists for up to $50 million to reinvest in the gutted 30th Street Industrial Corridor. The area was once home to thousands of jobs.

"To grow small businesses, create good-paying jobs and build factories of the future," Biden said.

The mayor said the money, if awarded, would do more than create jobs. It would stabilize lives, families and neighborhoods surrounding it.

"(It) presents opportunity to have transformative development in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor," said Johnson.

The Black vote will be critical as the country approaches the 2024 general election. Wisconsin is forecast to be one of four toss-up states and crucial for Democrats in the upcoming elections. 

Republicans respond

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) touched on several topics Wednesday, including how people's finances have been affected over the past three years.

"One economic study said that about $10,000 is what is costing Wisconsin families just to maintain their standard of living from what it was in January 2021 when President Biden took office," Johnson said. "One statistic I like using is that $1 you held at the start of the Biden administration is now worth 85 cents, so even though inflation is down that damage has been done. It is permanent. Wages aren't keeping up with the Biden inflation."

Brian Schimming, chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said the road to the White House goes through Wisconsin.

Republicans said economic policies, reckless spending, the refusal to secure the border and soft-on-crime policies have hurt people across the state.

Protest for Palestine

Pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce prior to the president's arrival Wednesday.

More than 100 people called for a cease-fire in Gaza and demanded the U.S. end aid to Israel.

"This is the least we could do for our people. They are being killed, they are being taken away – the water, their food, the electricty the everything – they hardly can survive," said protester Azmi Alaeddin.

A number of protesters told FOX6 News they are disappointed with the federal government's stance on the Israel-Hamas war.

Photo gallery

Image 1 of 7

Air Force One arrives in Milwaukee

Official statements

A Better Wisconsin Together Executive Director Chris Walloch

"We appreciate President Biden coming to Wisconsin to shed light on his administration's efforts to make sure we have an economy that works for working families, safe drinking water, and a climate that will support generations to come.

"Thanks to Biden Administration investments, hard working families in Wisconsin have received essential resources that will help people support their families and build a better future. It’s time that Wisconsin Republicans in Congress end the partisan antics and start working together with President Biden to deliver for Wisconsinites."

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin)

"President Biden is in Milwaukee to tell people not to believe what they are seeing with their own eyes. While in Wisconsin, the president should visit a grocery store to talk with customers who are paying 20% more for groceries. Inflation has made everything 17% more expensive in just three years. Bidenomics is making it more difficult for families to afford the things they need. We need to change course in Washington." 

AFP-WI State Director Megan Novak

"As President Biden arrives in Milwaukee this Christmas season touting his top-down policies, Wisconsin families are still struggling under this 'Bidenomics' economy. All Wisconsinites really want for Christmas is lower inflation and affordable energy."

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel

"Democrats abandoned Milwaukee in 2020, but Republicans are delivering. As we bring historic economic investments ahead of our 2024 Convention and policy solutions from lowering costs to school choice, Wisconsinites aren’t interested in more lip service from Joe Biden."

Mike Marinella, Midwest Press Secretary for National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)

"Joe Biden's disastrous policies created a dumpster fire in communities across Wisconsin, and extreme Wisconsin Democrats poured gasoline on that fire. Biden's unpopularity will drag down their party in November, just like he's dragging down middle-class Wisconsinites who are suffering from his failed 'Bidenomics' agenda."

WisGOP Chairman Brian Schimming

"From higher costs and lower wages to three consecutive quarters of declining GDP in Wisconsin, Bidenomics have failed working families. No amount of campaigning can erase the disastrous impact of the Administration's policies on Wisconsinites." 

Associated Press contributed to this report.