Downtown Task Force

A Letter from the President: June 2016

Taylor, JuliaAs we enter another beautiful Milwaukee summer, we’d like to share some updates on our key initiatives with you. We’re keeping busy at the GMC offices!

Scale Up Milwaukee

Scale Up Milwaukee recently launched a new membership program model; the very first quarterly members meeting took place at the end of June at the University Club with more than 70 individuals from about 50 organizations. Scale Up Milwaukee membership is the perfect way for everyone to directly engage with Milwaukee’s growth-oriented programs, network and culture. We encourage everyone to join and be a part of this exciting movement. For more information, reach out to Elmer Moore or check out the webpage here.

Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE)

MiKE is in the process of planning Walk the Talk 2016, a conference exploring the intersection of innovation and creativity. The conference is scheduled for Thursday, October 13th, and will be hosted in the Near West Side neighborhood. Leading up to the conference, MiKE will host a summer speaking series. The second speaker is in just a few short weeks on July 20th – check out more information and register here.

The Commons completed its spring 2016 session with another 75 students completing the program. The Commons has now served more than 285 students, and after completing the program, 90% of students feel more connected to our professional community and 81% are more likely to look for job opportunities in Wisconsin.

MKE Fellows

Forty-five high-achieving black male college students have been placed in paid summer internships at top companies through the MKE Fellows. Throughout the summer, we’re hosting professional development sessions and partnering with local companies for lunch and learns. Thank you to all the area companies participating!

Teachtown MKE

The GMC launched this important project in 2013 and since then has welcomed nearly 2,500 educators to our urban schools, helped relocate nearly 500 of them to this region and continues to serve hundreds each month in social and professional development activities. In fact, educators that participate in Teachtown MKE activities are 15% more likely to be retained in the classroom. The Teachtown MKE Key to the City, a card given to each educator, includes free admission and promotions to many of Milwaukee’s cultural institutions.

MPS and Bradley Tech

The Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council teamed up with Milwaukee Public Schools’ Bradley Tech High School recently to get more students interested in construction jobs and enter apprenticeships. Bradley Tech hosted its first Life Mentor Day, organized by local professional mentors and Bradley Tech students to celebrate five months of mentorship and working hands-on with welding, plumbing, tile-setting, heating, brick-laying, cement-laying and electrical wiring activities. Special thanks to Dan Bukewicz for his leadership with that program!

Reimagining High Schools

There is a lot going on throughout our high schools. Just last summer, 62 diverse Milwaukee leaders met at the Catalyst Ranch in Chicago to reimagine what MPS high schools can and should be in order for all students to be successful and to create a vibrant Milwaukee community.  Ultimately, the SAS attendees collectively conceived a vision for the MPS high school of the future. This initiative has a strong commitment from the 60+ collaborators from the MPS High School SAS. The GMC, in partnership with Milwaukee Public schools continues to take on projects like the Super School grant with Morse Marshall High School and the Bradley Tech Redesign plan. These efforts are increasing educational opportunities, finding innovative ways to support our schools, and enhancing outcomes for our students.

Talent Dividend/Inspire Southeast Wisconsin

Following up on our Talent Dividend program, now known as Inspire Southeast Wisconsin, in its first year, the program flourished with 110 active companies, 138 active career coaches and 270 career-based learning activities. Thousands of students learned about companies and connected with professionals in the fields they’re interested in.

Downtown Action Agenda

In May, the team of consultants working with the Downtown Action Agenda was in town for Immersion Week. This included several days of meetings to connect the consultants with the planning efforts already underway or recently completed to ensure alignment and avoid duplicative work. The civic engagement phase of the project began just in the last month. The first round of focus groups is coming up in late July and early August, and will engage 100 key community stakeholders.

Creative Placemaking

The GMC’s efforts in creative placemaking were recently spotlighted during a panel discussion as part of the National Main Street Center’s annual conference held in Milwaukee in May. Looking ahead, the Beerline Trail Extension will soon kick off summer programming along the trail in the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods.


We encourage you to stay engaged with our projects this summer. If anything jumps out at you, let us know and we’ll get you hooked in.



Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

Greater Milwaukee Committee hears push for downtown action plan: Slideshow

Published November 10, 2015
From the Milwaukee Business Journal

Get ready for a lot of focus groups, roundtables, workshops and other forums for public input in the coming year, said Toni Griffin, a national consultant who is leading planning for the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Downtown Task Force.

Griffin came to Milwaukee on Monday to talk about the crafting of a new action plan for the downtown. See the attached slideshow for pictures of her visit to the University Club for the GMC meeting and the prominent Milwaukee-area business executives who attended the meeting.

Read the full article and check out the slideshow here.

GMC downtown task force eyes consensus, inclusion for long-range plan

Published November 9, 2015
From the Milwaukee Business Journal

Greg Wesley, one of the leaders on Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Downtown Task Force, observed that Milwaukeeans sometimes lead by crisis.

Business leaders and public officials will mount advocacy campaigns behind the streetcar or the arena, and weather the debate that comes with controversial projects.

“What we really want to do as a task force is not have to get on the phone and rally people behind one particular project, but to know there are several things we want to accomplish down the road in a broad way,” said Wesley, equity partner in Milwaukee law firm Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP.

Wesley’s statement, which came during a Monday GMC event, defines one goal of an “action agenda” the Downtown Task Force is in the early stages of drafting. What that agenda will recommend has not been determined. But in short, it would be a long-range plan for the downtown with priorities and activities. It can look at public transit and other infrastructure, trends and opportunities in the real estate market, potential public-private partnerships and changes in government regulations.

The Greater Milwaukee Committee members gathered Monday to hear from Toni Griffin, founder of Urban Planning for the American City and a consultant helping to draft the report.

Check out the full article here.

Greater Milwaukee Committee forming downtown development plan

Published November 9, 2015
From BizTimes

The Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Downtown Task Force, launched earlier this year, has contracted with urban planning consultant Toni Griffin as it evaluates the challenges and opportunities facing Milwaukee’s downtown.

Griffin, founder of Urban Planning & Design for the American City, has been working with Task Force to study Milwaukee’s downtown and help develop its action agenda goals.

Linda Gorens-Levey, partner at General Capital Group, Alex Molinaroli, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Johnson Controls Inc., and Greg Wesley, equity partner at Golzalez, Saggio & Harlan LLP, serve as co-chairs of the Task Force.  Their role has been to garner support from Milwaukee’s business and civic leaders to create a long-term vision for the city.

Griffin has been working with the task force for about eight weeks. She spoke at the GMC’s November member meeting Monday to give an update on their work in setting a strategic framework for downtown development.

Read the full article here.


Gateway Plaza would link downtown to lakefront

Published October 27, 2015
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A new parklike public plaza, designed to make the lakefront area near Discovery World, Maier Festival Park and other attractions more welcoming and accessible to downtown Milwaukee, would be built with private and public funds under a proposal unveiled Tuesday.

The Lakefront Gateway Plaza would replace about 1 acre of vacant green space on the east side of Lincoln Memorial Drive, just west of Discovery World. The plaza would be just across the street from the planned Couture apartment high-rise and possible future Johnson Controls Inc. downtown office tower.

The plaza would feature a fountain area that would double as winter ice-skating rinks, as well as trees, shrubs, benches and paths. It would connect to the west side of Lincoln Memorial Drive with a pedestrian bridge, and with an extension of E. Clybourn St.

The plaza is to help better connect the two sides of Lincoln Memorial Drive; such nearby attractions as the Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, and private developments such as the expanding Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. headquarters and the 833 East office building — both now under construction.

The plaza design is from a team led by Graef, a Milwaukee-based design, engineering and planning firm. Graef’s partners are PFS Studio, of Vancouver, British Columbia; Dan Euser Waterarchitecture, of Richmond Hill, Ontario; Milwaukee-based Rinka Chung Architecture; and local civic marketing and event planning group NEWaukee.

The Graef team was among four design teams asked by a group of city and county officials and others, including representatives from nearby public and private developments, to provide a proposal. That same group selected Graef’s proposal to pursue.

Graef’s plans so far are conceptual, and there is no construction schedule. A more detailed proposal would undergo Plan Commission and Common Council review, with public input used to help make revisions.

Graef would likely time the plaza’s construction to coincide with the planned Clybourn St. extension, and the planned extension of Lincoln Memorial Drive southward to Chicago St., in the Historic Third Ward, said Patrick Kressin, a Graef principal.

That would likely mean the plaza’s construction would start in 2017, he said.

Also, there are not yet specific financing sources for the project. One preliminary estimate said the plaza could cost $26 million, with the city already committing $3 million to help build the pedestrian bridge.

Those city funds would be repaid through new property tax revenue generated by the Northwestern Mutual project.

But the “strong preference” of city and county officials is that the plaza project uses as much private funding as possible, Mayor Tom Barrett said.

That could be a challenge, with several Milwaukee cultural institutions also competing for money.

On Monday, a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce task force said a new regional sales tax could be used to finance deferred maintenance and other projects for cultural assets such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee Public Museum and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

The Greater Milwaukee Committee, the private civic group that will help raise funds for the plaza, plans to tie that effort with the other fundraising campaigns, said Julia Taylor, president.

“I don’t see it as competition at all,” she said. “I think this will be pretty quickly embraced by the community.”

Read the full article here.


Page 1 of 212