From the President

A Letter from the President: February 2017

Taylor, Julia

Two businesses opened doors in Milwaukee over the past few months that will impact Milwaukee much more than normal business openings.
Zurn’s new Headquarters building became the first company to locate in the Reed Street Yards, a water technology and research park. And, Tandem, a new restaurant in Lindsay Heights, opened its doors and created a new business structure for neighborhood ownership and talent curation.
The move of the Zurn Headquarters to Milwaukee demonstrates the impact and growth of the water cluster and the work of the Water Council and its partners, including UWM’s School of Freshwater Management and MMSD. Zurn’s parent company is Rexnord, whose headquarters are located in the Global Water Center a few hundred yards away. Since 2007, under the leadership of Todd Adams, President and CEO, Rexnord has invested in the water management industry that today makes up 40% of Rexnord’s sales.
So, why pick Milwaukee for the Zurn Headquarters site?
According to Todd, it’s the talent, the cluster of water technology industries, the research, and the Water Council that make Milwaukee an attractive site. The City and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation both invested in the move, and from the beginning, supported the Water Council and the water technology cluster. This is another tangible outcome of the belief and work of many in the Water Council over the years including Dean Amhaus, Rich Meeusen, Paul Jones, Todd Adams, Mayor Barrett, Rocky Marcoux, Lee Swindall, Carlos Santiago, Mike Lovell, Mark Mone, Kevin Shafer, David Garman and of course, the GMC. I will always remember Rocky drawing a circle on a map during the Strategic Action Session eight years ago around the vacant and contaminated old railroad switching yard called the Reed Street Yards and committing to develop a tax incremental financing district for a Water Technology Park. Today, I can look out my office window at the Reed Street Yards, a showcase of green infrastructure and sustainable site design with the new Zurn Headquarters right there in plain sight, and know we are just starting the growth of Milwaukee as the world’s water hub. If you haven’t toured the Global Water Center or seen the Reed Street Yards development, please get in touch and I will give you a tour.
In December, Gary Witt, Executive Director of the Pabst Theater Group, invited me to lunch at Tandem, a restaurant that recently opened at the original site of the Wally Schmidt Tavern. Tandem is at 1841 W. Fond Du Lac Avenue just a few miles from the Sherman Park uprising this summer. Tandem plays a number of key roles in the community. In a neighborhood with few restaurants and a connecting point to downtown, Tandem is in the right place to connect the dots. Juli Kaufmann of Fix Development and Jeremy Davis from Walnut Way Conservation Corp. undertook the development and renovation. There are now over 40 small investors in the project who live in the neighborhood and have provided either cash or sweat equity. Chef and Manager Caitlin Cullen, formerly with the Top 30 Restaurant Bavette, is also an educator and created a marvelous menu. Her work with Tandem has led to a recipe (pun intended) that many can learn from in creating a neighborhood talent pipeline. She employs young neighborhood people and trains them to work both in the back and front of the house and the kitchen, preparing them to be able to move to positions with other restaurants. Caitlin is working with the Bartolottas on this talent pipeline project.
When Gary and I had lunch, there was a large table of 15-20 neighborhood women celebrating a birthday, several downtown young professionals, and my neighbor at a nearby table. Our server was a young man who had worked for two weeks with the professionalism of an experienced, successful server. And, the food was great! Gary was setting Caitlin up with a DJ turntable and music for the evening crowd.  He is a great community advocate for this restaurant with a double bottom line. So, please, stop by The Tandem, 1841 W. Fond Du Lac Ave. for lunch or dinner and call them for catering opportunities. Let’s support this important neighborhood investment. Caitlin Cullens’ contact info is or call 248-508-9535.


Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

A Letter From the President: November 2016


Thanks to your membership and involvement, we haveTaylor, Julia enjoyed a great year filled with many successes to build from. In October, our Board of Directors approved the 2016-2020 GMC Strategic Plan.

Together we will make Milwaukee a great place to live, learn, work, play and stay. We couldn’t do it without you and we invite you to deepen your involvement by joining a committee, participating in our events, or helping attract valuable resources to support our collaborative work and civic engagement.

Read more about our initiatives below and how you can get more involved!



Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

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

A Letter from the President: May 2016

Taylor, JuliaSummer is finally here, but the GMC isn’t slowing down! One of our initiatives in particular, Scale Up Milwaukee, is poised to scale up itself.

In the past month, Scale Up Milwaukee celebrated growth and Scalerator 3 participants at the Celebration of Growth, learned about the Bucks’ plans and challenges from president Peter Feigin and heard from Palermo Villa, Inc. president and CEO Giacomo Fallucca. Scale Up Milwaukee also underwent a staffing transition, and moving forward, the initiative will continue its successes in the capable and experienced hands of team members Elmer Moore and Elizabeth Spaits and globally-known consultant Dan Isenberg.

And that’s not all. Scale Up Milwaukee also launched its new membership program. Scale Up Milwaukee members will have access to myriad opportunities, including:

  • Invitations to quarterly members-only meetings
  • Access to a regional and national network of professionals across all sectors who are uniquely positioned to help you grow
  • Links to worldwide markets, projects and partnerships
  • Access to a pipeline of prospective employees and interns
  • Waived, discounted and/or early registration to Scale Up Milwaukee-sponsored events
  • Member profiles in and access to our Scale Up Milwaukee Community Directory, the only listing that includes stakeholders from across the growth ecosystem

We invite you to join the new Scale Up Milwaukee membership and be a part of the amazing things happening. Quite simply, if you want to grow – and you believe in growth – you belong in the room.

For more information on membership, visit or email Elmer Moore at


Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

A Letter from the President: April 2016

Taylor, JuliaOn Monday, the Public Policy Forum released a report entitled “Help Wanted” that examines the teacher pipeline issue in our region. Educator attraction and retention is not a new issue, but it continues to plague many cities throughout the country because of its multifaceted nature. Here are some important pieces that color this complex landscape in Milwaukee:

We’re fighting national trends. These educator trends are not unique to Milwaukee; our numbers reflect national trends. The New York Times recently reported that there is a teacher shortage nationally. Half of all teachers nationally leave the profession after five years. Many urban markets are facing vacancies including Oklahoma City, Providence, and San Francisco. Recently, Hawaii’s state department of education announced they will need to fill 1,600 vacancies for the 2016-2017 school year. Also, Wisconsin is not the only Midwestern state experiencing declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs; Indiana is facing similar issues.

We’re experiencing some demographic shifts. Decreasing enrollment is not only in teacher prep programs. Locally, Milwaukee metro-area colleges have seen a nearly 9.2% drop (7,224 students) in enrollment since the 2010-2011 school year. We believe that this drop is largely the consequence of demographic shifts. There were 15.2 million college students in 1999 and 20.4 million in 2011. The number of Americans turning 18 hit its recent peak in 2009, and will continue to decline through 2017, according to the New York Times. In the state of Wisconsin, youth ages 15-19 showed a population drop of 14,915 from 2010-2015, a 3.7% drop. (Source: UW Applied Population Lab and State of Wisconsin Demographic Services Center)

Still, there exist promising practices here in Milwaukee are already reversing this trend. These efforts work each day to make Milwaukee the top destination for urban educators throughout the region.

The GMC launched Teachtown MKE 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.

Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee is a group comprised of our area deans of education who are working to address these issues collaboratively.

Alan Shoho, dean of the School of Education at UWM, is also working to engage local middle and high school students to explore careers in education. His pilot will be launching in fall so stay tuned for some additional information on this exciting initiative.

Americorps education programs such as City Year, Teach for America and College Possible are immersive opportunities for high school and college grads alike to begin their careers in the education field.

Additionally, there are recognized best practices for teacher retention including:

  • Increasing salaries: 97% of teachers who earned more than $40,000 their first year returned the next year, compared with 87% who earned less than $40,000. By the fifth year, 89% of those earning $40,000 or more were still on the job, compared with 80% earning less than $40,000.
  • The power of mentorship: 92% of teachers assigned a mentor their first year returned the next year, and 86% were still on the job by the fifth year. Only 84% of teachers without mentors returned in the second year, declining to 71% in the fifth year.

Milwaukee Public Schools includes both of these strategies for their first year educators. The MPS teacher starting salary is $41,262 and each new educator is paired with a teaching mentor.

We do not want this discussion to end here. In fact, we hope that this is just the beginning; our teacher workforce is one of our community’s most precious commodities. We hope you’ll join us on May 4th for a luncheon, in partnership with the Public Policy Forum, at the Italian Community Center, where we’ll continue this important conversation. The event will begin with a presentation of the new report by the Forum’s senior education researcher, followed by a panel of education stakeholders who will discuss potential solutions. For more details on this event, please click here (registration closes at 5:00 p.m. Friday, April 29).



Julia Taylor

Page 3 of 612345...Last »