City jobs program unveiled for NML project

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Monday unveiled a workforce development program for the 32-story Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project at the company’s corporate headquarters campus in downtown Milwaukee.


“Our goal as a partner in this project is to provide opportunities for our residents,” Barrett said. “People need to have jobs were they can support their families. That’s what this is all about. Northwestern Mutual has been a wonderful partner in this.”

The project will create more than 1,000 construction jobs.

The city is providing $54 million in tax incremental financing for the $450 million project. TIF funds are paid back by increased property tax revenues generated by the development. As part of the TIF deal with the city, Northwestern Mutual pledged that at least 40 percent of the workers on the construction project will be city residents.

The city’s workforce development program for the project, unveiled on Monday, aims to put 350 Milwaukee residents on a career path in the construction trades and will place 150 individuals in jobs on the Northwestern Mutual project and 200 in jobs on other projects.

Using $500,000 in funds from the Northwestern Mutual TIF district the city has engaged the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP/BIG STEP), to lead the training and placement activities. The Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board will also play a significant role, Barrett said. City departments and members of the Milwaukee Common Council helped develop the program’s framework, officials said.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to give a pathway for city residents to get jobs and develop careers,” said Earl Buford, president and CEO of WRTP/BIG STEP. “We’re developing details for a work plan with Northwestern Mutual and the contractors.”

City and workforce development officials emphasized that the workforce development program for the Northwestern Mutual project will provide people with jobs that can lead to long careers in the construction industry. The Northwestern Mutual project is one of several major constructions projects planned in the city that could create ample job opportunities in the construction trades for the next several years.

“There is a lot of construction work on the horizon,” Barrett said.

“Construction is a growth sector in Milwaukee,” said Linda Stewart, chief operating officer of Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board. “There will be job opportunities. We’re looking forward to getting more and more people in the community into the workforce.”

The Northwestern Mutual project provides a long-awaited jobs boost in the city after the Great Recession and its slow-growth aftermath, said Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy.

“This is a new start of putting a lot of our residents to work,” he said. “The most important thing is to see our city grow, but not just for one sector of the community, but for all segments of the community.”

Construction of the 1.1 million-square-foot Northwestern Mutual building, which will be the largest office building in the state, is expected to begin by the end of this year and be complete in 2017. A team of Gilbane Building Co. and Milwaukee-based C.G. Schmidt Inc. will be the general contractor for the project.

“The success of this project is not just in the erection of a beautiful building but in a community benefit that reverberates throughout the community,” said Ald. Ashanti Hamilton.

The new Northwestern Mutual building will replace a 16-story building that is being torn down. The demolition work is nearly complete and that building will be gone by late June or early July. About 75 percent of the materials from the demolished building will be reused and recycled, including 67,000 tons of granite, masonry and brick; 6,400 tons of steel, aluminum and other metals; 10,000 tons of wood; and 53 tons of carpet, the company said in a project update. In addition, 2,000 windows were removed from the building.

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