Business, civic leaders unite to redevelop Milwaukee’s Near West Side

A cross sector of Milwaukee leaders have banned together with a collective vision to revitalize the city’s Near West Side and transform it into a viable business and residential corridor.

Together, leaders among some of Milwaukee’s largest business, education and nonprofit entities have formed Near West Side Partners, Inc., a nonprofit organization that will propel revitalization efforts forward in order to stimulate economic development in the area as well as improve the housing, safety and overall brand of the neighborhood.

Rana Altenburg, vice president of public affairs at Marquette University, will serve as president of the NWSP board of directors.

“On behalf of all participating organizations, we are excited to announce the formation of the Near West Side Partners organization,” Altenburg said in a statement. “By collaborating across our organizations, we are confident we can make a positive impact on the Near West Side neighborhood and create an even more vibrant place in which to work, live and play.”

Those organizations involved include Aurora Health Care, Avenues West Association, Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, MillerCoors, Potawatomi Business Development Corp., and Wiegand Enterprises.

The birth of NWSP stems from the Near West Side CEO Symposium, an October 2014 meeting hosted by Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell and convened by Marquette president Michael Lovell, Ph.D. That meeting united several of the city’s top executives around the issue of the Near West Side’s future.

Lovell also announced his partnership with Wandell during his presidential inauguration last September.

As NWSP gains momentum, it will activate four working teams in safety, housing, neighborhood identity and branding, and commercial development. The geographical scope of the organization’s focus centers on an area bounded by I-43 to the east, I-94 to the south, Highway 41 to the west and on the north, Vliet Street west of 27th Street and the north side of Highland Avenue east of 27th Street.

The organization hopes to announce new neighborhood development initiatives in the coming months. In preparation, the NWSP steering committee is assessing best practices for neighborhood improvement by looking at examples in Milwaukee, such as the Menomonee Valley, as well as in other cities. Steering committee members will visit four target cities in February and March to see successful revitalization efforts firsthand.

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