2020 was supposed to be Milwaukee’s big year. The Democratic National Convention was going to put Milwaukee in the national and international spotlight. The NBA Finals was a possibility, too. The Ryder Cup in Sheboygan County also would have been a big deal and attracted attention to the region.
But it didn’t work out that way at all. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a virtual DNC and much of the economy was shut down in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. Economic activity plunged, then improved significantly as the economy reopened, but has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels and some industries, especially the restaurant industry, remain in peril.
Summerfest and all of the other annual events that make life in the City of Festivals special were canceled. The Brewers played a partial season without fans in the stands. The Ryder Cup was postponed.
Civil unrest, sparked by violent confrontations between police officers and suspects, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, led to rioting and looting that damaged or destroyed several businesses in Kenosha, Wauwatosa and Milwaukee.
In February, a mass shooting at the Molson Coors brewery in Milwaukee resulted in the death of six individuals, including the gunman. Eight people were wounded in a mass shooting at Mayfair mall in Wauwatosa in November.
So, many of us are eager to move on from a very difficult year. But, before we do, there are still some things to celebrate about 2020.
BizTimes Milwaukee continues its tradition of recognizing the top businesses and leaders of the year with its annual Best in Business selections. This section honors our staff’s picks for southeastern Wisconsin’s corporation, chief executive officer, small business, family-owned business and community leader of the year.
This year’s honorees are: Milwaukee Tool, which unveiled plans for a second corporate campus and a new manufacturing facility in the area; Mark Irgens, whose commercial real estate firm completed a new office tower in downtown Milwaukee and made progress on other projects; Fiveable, a Milwaukee startup that saw a surge of business during the pandemic; Rite-Hite, which announced plans for a new headquarters in Milwaukee; and Wisconsin Center District president and CEO Marty Brooks, who found a way to finally advance the long-planned convention center expansion.
Read all about these accomplishments in this special report.