Bucyrus Foundation commits $10 million to South Milwaukee initiatives

The Bucyrus Foundation gave $1.5 million to fund the redevelopment of the Bucyrus Club in South Milwaukee.

Last updated on September 13th, 2021 at 01:07 pm

The Bucyrus Foundation will distribute $10 million over the next decade to support economic development, schools, nonprofits and revitalization efforts in South Milwaukee.

The gift will be dealt out as a series of annual $1 million donations for the next 10 years and will be administered through the City of South Milwaukee and South Milwaukee School District, the foundation announced Thursday.

The donations will fund an array of initiatives, including the redevelopment of downtown South Milwaukee, “potentially laying a foundation for the creation of an entity focused on investments in property acquisition and rehabilitation, business attraction and retention, public improvements, marketing, events and other initiatives aimed at revitalizing South Milwaukee’s city center,” the foundation said.

The foundation will also direct $2 million of its gift to the South Milwaukee School District to fund investments in athletics and STEM and manufacturing career education.

The foundation, which was established in the 1970s by the Bucyrus Company (later Bucyrus International, Inc.) and was transferred to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation in 2002, primarily supports projects that train or strengthen the local workforce, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Before being purchased by Caterpillar in 2011, the South Milwaukee-based mining machinery supplier at one point employed more than 11,000 people, including 2,400 in South Milwaukee. Following its sale, the Bucyrus name was retired and its products were rebranded.

In recent years, the foundation has directed its giving toward several South Milwaukee initiatives, including a downtown revitalization grant program, funding of the city’s economic development director position and a community grant program. The foundation gave $2 million in 2020 toward the launch of the Bucyrus Club and Event Center and Bucyrus Museum and development of Bucyrus Commons, a downtown public gathering space.

“Since we announced our gift for the Bucyrus Club and downtown public space in 2020, we have been looking for ‘what’s next.’ And we wanted ‘what’s next’ to be a lasting investment in the city we embraced for a century, and that embraced us. This is it,” said Tim Sullivan, chairman of the Bucyrus Foundation and former Bucyrus president. “We couldn’t be more excited to step up in this way to help the residents, business owners, and students of South Milwaukee. South Milwaukee’s success was always our success, and we are proud to honor that legacy with this donation.”

Portions of the foundation’s 10-year gift will also support improvements to public spaces and greenspaces, including initiatives to help fund city- and county-owned parks and other natural areas like Bucyrus Commons, the South Milwaukee War Memorial, Grant Park and the Oak Creek Watershed.

The gift will also support a grant program for South Milwaukee nonprofit organizations, including South Milwaukee Human Concerns, which received support from Bucyrus prior to its sale.

“This is a historic day in our city,” said South Milwaukee mayor Erik Brooks. “These funds will have lasting impact across South Milwaukee and will further strengthen the legacy of this storied company in our city. We could not deliver South Milwaukee’s promising future without partners like Tim and the Bucyrus Foundation, and we cannot thank them enough for their generosity. We are excited to start strategically investing these funds.”

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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