From the President

A Letter from the President: August 2015

Providing access to quality education to all students, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic class or zip code, is one of the most important efforts of the GMC. Our education committee, co-chaired by Mark Sabljak, Nancy Sennett and Katherine Gehl, works to achieve this through a number of initiatives, including Teachtown MKE, the Milwaukee Talent Dividend, Milwaukee Succeeds and Bradley Tech. We work closely with educational leaders throughout the region to overcome challenges and find solutions.

To that end, in July, the GMC partnered with Milwaukee Public Schools to host a Strategic Actioning Session (SAS) with the goal of re-envisioning what MPS high schools can and should be in order for all students to be successful and to create a vibrant community. Sixty-two caring, divergent thinkers, including teachers, representatives from the MPS central office, school leaders, community and business leaders, students and the College Board,  came together for three days with one goal: to transform MPS high schools.

Everyone agreed, over the course of three days, to commit to positive and sustainable change now. Small, flexible, rotating cross-sector groups with targeted, specific, critical topics focused on subjects broken out of larger ideas identified to redesign MPS high schools. Candid conversations about tough topics revealed game-changing opportunities as powerful stakeholders and influencers got out of their individual comfort zones and set aside agendas to collaborate and invest in a shared win for students.

This new vision puts students first in order to empower citizens who are resilient, learning and leading to innovate real world solutions.

Our MPS high schools will provide every student with a magnitude of opportunity and pathways to success in the community and adulthood with:

  • High standards for learning
  • An inclusive and celebrated multicultural student body
  • An excellent faculty
  • A vibrant environment
  • A caring community

Our high schools build curiosity and inspire creativity.

Some “big learnings” came out of the SAS:

  • Paradigm shift: If we want different results, we need different inputs
  • Business and philanthropic communities are on board for MPS high school success
  • Developing synergy amongst our community is critical
  • We have much to celebrate in MPS high schools

Out of the SAS emerged a courageous action plan to tackle critical MPS issues facing high schools to help them move forward. We developed 30- and 90-day plans that are already being implemented, as well as some quick wins that will immediately begin the shift towards better schools and outcomes for our children.

We hope you’ll join us in the journey towards better schools for our students. We will continue to update you in the coming months on our progress, and thank our GMC members for your ongoing commitment to providing quality education to all students.



Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

A Letter from the President: July 2015

Dear GMC members,

For many of our members (and even the GMC itself), the word “summer” is synonymous with “interns.” College students – some of them Milwaukee natives, some not – arrive in droves in May to work at area companies, nonprofits and other organizations big and small and learn what they can in the three months before heading back to school. Looksharp reports that Milwaukee is one of the most likely places in the United States to find a paid summer internship – 70.1% of internships here are paid – making our city desirable to the more than 10,000 students who flock to Milwaukee annually.

We know that interns need more than busywork to make their time here worthwhile. If given meaningful projects, interns can see the impact of their efforts and even have the opportunity to make enough of an impact to secure a job offer after graduation.

Interns are also vital to the health and future of our city. We must ensure that interns enjoy their time in Milwaukee and see it as more than just a summer stop-over; by opening the doors to the city to them, interns will see Milwaukee as a place to return to after graduation to start their careers, families and more.

The GMC worked diligently throughout the year to help place summer interns, especially through Morehouse. The GMC partnered with the MKE Fellows program, championed by Quarles & Brady and John Daniels, to pair students with GMC companies. A total of 15 students were paired and are receiving joint programming all summer long through an organized “Lunch & Learn” series and professional development workshops hosted by The Commons, part of the GMC’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative.

The GMC’s summer intern, through the Morehouse Scholars program, is Justice Hudnall. Justice is a Milwaukee native himself, having graduated from Washington High School. He will start his junior year at Morehouse in the fall, studying business marketing, finance and accounting. At the GMC, Justice has worked on several projects, including our multiple summer strategic actioning sessions, the Scale Up Milwaukee initiative and a weekly intern newsletter. He has learned how to use marketing software and the benefits of the GMC’s work to the community, school systems, businesses and transportation. He plans to come back to Milwaukee after he graduates in order to build strong foundations in urban communities. We hope other interns have had such eye-opening experiences and plan to bring their knowledge back to Milwaukee.

Earlier this month, the GMC, in partnership with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, hosted the third annual Intern Celebration right here at the Global Water Center. Interns were encouraged to network and meet others outside their own companies in an informal setting at a location that they might not otherwise visit. Badger Meter president, chairman and CEO Rich Meeusen gave a resounding welcome to the interns, stressing the fact that companies and their CEOs are aware of how vital interns are to their inner workings. In order to facilitate networking, interns also filled in the blank of the statement, “My favorite thing about Milwaukee is…”. Some of our favorite answers:

  • Summerfest
  • The Riverwalk
  • Accessibility to leadership
  • Lake Michigan
  • No traffic!
  • Affordability

Thank you to the many companies who are employing summer interns through the Morehouse Scholars program and Earn and Learn. We’d love to hear what you’re doing with interns at your companies to ensure their success and excitement about our city – please email Danya Strait at the GMC with any suggestions and best practices you’d like to share with other members.




Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

A Letter from the President: June 2015

The last months have been exciting for our creative placemaking initiative and projects. As you may recall, we launched the Creative Placemaking Committee last fall, chaired by Ellen Gilligan and Barry Mandel. The second full committee meeting took place yesterday, but subcommittees have been meeting regularly all year.

In the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, the GMC is working with Riverworks Center, the City of Milwaukee and MKE<->LAX on the Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development creative placemaking project. We are investing in this corridor as an opportunity for the sharing of access and resources between the neighborhoods and a spine for redevelopment. As a vibrant public space, the trail serves as the symbol and the source of our focus on access and equity. The bike trial in the Riverworks area is far from just a bike trail; it has become an important component of neighborhood economic revitalization.

This project exemplifies the importance of cross-sector, public/private partnerships. Through a strategic actioning process earlier this year, a wide range of participants from across sectors and interest worked to create an interactive infrastructure as well as an integrated process for communication, planning and workflow. In the subsequent months, we held a follow-up session and hired two project coordinators, and Riverworks hired two new staff members to focus on the project. Keep an eye out for a news conference and more updates coming soon.

The second area we focus on is West Wisconsin Avenue, where WAM DC has formed a Creative Placemaking Subcommittee in order to support efforts along The Avenue. This subcommittee is a collaboration with the City of Milwaukee, the GMC, Westown Association, NEWaukee, Creative Alliance Milwaukee (CAM), MKE<->LAX and other neighborhood stakeholders.

The subcommittee’s work aligns with the City of Milwaukee’s Growing Prosperity Plan including using creative placemaking to establish places within Milwaukee in which all segments of the community and region can interact. Further alignment with the City’s plan includes revitalizing The Avenue with a focus on cultivating artists as entrepreneurs, supporting innovative businesses, enhancing quality of life and opportunity, and improving neighborhood market conditions.

The WAM DC Creative Placemaking Subcommittee builds from work initiated in 2014 through Creational Trails: The Avenue including the NEWaukee Night Market, which was supported by ArtPlace America, and CAM’s 4MKE Initiative, which was commissioned by WAM DC. These 2014 summer initiatives influenced community perspective on safety, density and vibrancy on The Avenue, particularly at night, through the integration of art and creative entrepreneurship. The Avenue explores walkability and interaction with a broad range of cultures enjoying downtown’s main street through animating a vacant lot and historic streetscape.

The WAM DC Creative Placemaking Subcommittee also announces a second summer of collaborative programming with Westown Wednesdays, which this year includes the Westown Association Farmers’ Market, River Rhythms, the NEWaukee Night Market and CAM’s 4MKE Initiative. This collaboration is made possible with the support of the City of Milwaukee, WAM DC, the GMC, CAM, NEWaukee, the Westown Association and MKE<->LAX, with funding support from local businesses and the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant, which also includes in-kind technical support from the Project for Public Spaces.

As you can see, there isn’t a dull moment in our creative placemaking projects. We look forward to supporting a more vibrant and connected city in the years to come.



Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

A Letter from the President: May 2015

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to South Korea on behalf of The Water Council. This trip was one of many recent opportunities when Milwaukee wound up on the world stage through our expertise in forming public/private partnerships. The Water Council’s ability to convene and collaborate to leverage the strongest position for growth for Milwaukee is one that many in the world would like to emulate, including South Korea.

Because of the international reputation of The Water Council, we were invited to Daegu City, South Korea, to speak at the Korean National Water Industry Cluster’s quaternary board meeting during a special session titled “Global Water Industry Development through a New Innovative Private-Public Partnership Cluster.” Along with the director of global water practice at The World Bank Group and the president of the Korea Water Partnership, I delivered a keynote speech before a panel dialogue.

What emerged from the meeting was incredible. The City of Milwaukee, Daegu City and the Water Council signed the Korea Water Partnership agreement, and next month, two people from Daegu City will attend The Water Council’s Water Summit. Between July and October, two Daegu City employees will visit Milwaukee, and in September, Daegu City’s Mayor Kwon will attend WEFTEC and visit Milwaukee to sign the memorandum of understanding.

The Water Council serves as a shining example of the success of public/private partnerships, as public entities like the City of Milwaukee, nonprofits like the Greater Milwaukee Committee, large corporations like Badger Meter, and educational institutions like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee came together to bring a vision to life. The Korean Water Cluster has the potential to do the same and bring together design and construction firms, other industry members, educational institutions, the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and K-Water.

The GMC looks forward to more global opportunities for our region in partnership with the Water Council and continuing to serve as an organization which has the ability to bring many different groups from different sectors to the table to solve problems in our city and beyond.



Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

A Letter from the President: April 2015

We look forward to seeing many of our members at our April membership meeting as we hear from Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and hear updates from our Scale Up Milwaukee initiative.

We’ve come a long way from the initial visit that Shel Lubar set up to Babson with UWM leadership to explore how to grow entrepreneurship and scale companies in Milwaukee. Since then, with Shel’s leadership and dedication and strong support from GMC chair and economic development committee co-chair Ted Kellner, we have launched and taken to Phase II our Scale Up Milwaukee initiative. Thank you also to our key partners – the WEDC, American Express OPEN, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the City of Milwaukee and WHEDA.

Scale Up Milwaukee recently hosted its finale on March 20th, featuring the graduating class and many supporters. The Scalerator, a six-month program taught by Babson faculty members, is open to select businesses in the Milwaukee region poised for rapid growth. The companies have a total revenue of nearly $38,000,000 and anticipate growth of up to 50% over the next year, and plan to hire more than 150 new employees in 2015!

These are huge numbers, not just for the companies participating in the Scalerator, but for our region as a whole. This shows that Milwaukee is on the cusp of major job and economic growth; Scale Up Milwaukee is just one way of encouraging that growth and supporting companies in their efforts to hire more people and grow their businesses.

The Scalerator Finale featured presentations from three Scalerator companies – Brilliance Business Solutions, Scathain, and Telcom & Data- who, along with nine other Scalerator graduates, will be on hand at the Scalerator Village preceding Monday’s membership meeting from 11:30-noon to share their success stories. Prominent community members, including Mayor Tom Barrett and Park Bank president and Scale Up Milwaukee co-chair David Werner, were also vocal in their support of Scale Up Milwaukee at the finale.

We hope you will join us before the April membership meeting on Monday, April 13th, from 11:30-noon to meet some of the dynamic individuals representing companies that are shaping the growth of our region.


Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

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