Couture developer pledges workforce development funds

Barrett Visionary Development Group, which wants to build the 44-story Couture apartment tower near the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee, has pledged $100,000 for workforce development, which will be matched by a $100,000 grant from the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic announced Tuesday.

The addition of the $200,000 in funds increases the planned workforce development investment for The Couture and the proposed downtown streetcar project to $500,000, Dimitrijevic said.

“This city-county partnership will help touch more than 500 workers, providing the necessary job training skills needed to connect with open positions in our growing economy while building our talent pipeline,” said said.

“The investment of half a million dollars from the city and county together will be used for evaluation, assessment, recruitment workshops, and career pathway/training programs translating into real jobs on these projects,” said Earl Buford, president of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board.

The Couture is a proposed $144 million development that would be built at the site of the Milwaukee County Downtown Transit Center at the southwest corner of Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive. A proposal to sell the site to Barrett will be reviewed by the County Board on Thursday, Dec. 18.

For the project, Barrett Visionary Development owner Rick Barrett has also agreed to hire 40 percent of workers from within Milwaukee County and contract with disadvantaged business enterprises for 25 percent of the project.

Barrett is also seeking $17.5 million in tax incremental financing from the city to pay for public spaces in the project including a transportation hub with a streetcar stop. He has said that the streetcar project is vital to the current design of The Couture.

“As a lifelong Milwaukeean, I am excited to help take us to the next level,” Barrett said. “I am happy to partner with the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board to provide additional resources to train workers and develop our diverse workforce.”

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