Market analysis will help promote downtown

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

The University of Wisconsin Extension will do a market analysis of downtown Milwaukee and an analysis of the southeastern Wisconsin region to assemble data that will be used to attract more businesses.

Milwaukee Downtown business improvement district (BID) No. 21 partnered with the Milwaukee Development Corp.(MDC), an affiliate of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), to provide a detailed market analysis that will serve as the backbone of a future business retention and recruitment plan, said Beth Nicols, executive director of Milwaukee Downtown BID No. 21.

"The main purpose is to touch companies on an individual basis and then to aggregate that data, analyze it and determine what programs can be implemented to help improve the business climate downtown," said Pat O’Brien, president of MDC.

The U.W. Extension will assist Milwaukee Downtown in creating a clearinghouse of market information, including business addresses and customer information so that Milwaukee Downtown can become a central source of statistics about the downtown area, evaluate opportunities for business expansion and recruitment and evaluate existing and emerging industry clusters within the Milwaukee region for both Milwaukee Downtown and MDC, Nicols said.

"The collaboration is part of a recruitment and retention plan and one of the first steps is to understand who is here, what we have, what the companies look like and what are their wants and needs," O’Brien said.

The Milwaukee Downtown BID reaches from 10th Street to Lake Michigan and from Schlitz Park to the Menomonee River, Nicols said.

MDC will keep a focus on market information and business needs for the metropolitan area, and Milwaukee Downtown will focus on the market information, business and tourism related needs of the BID, Nicols said.

The market analysis for the downtown and metropolitan areas will be complete this fall and will eventually become part of the Milwaukee 7 Business Call Program, O’Brien said.

The Regional Economic Development Council is overseeing the Milwaukee 7, an organization that hopes to spur regional development. The seven counties in the region are Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Ozaukee and Washington.

The Business Call Program is a new initiative created by the Milwaukee 7 in which more than 100 volunteers will call on companies in the region to ask them about what they need to grow.

"The Milwaukee 7 is developing an overall Web site, which the downtown BID would be a part of as well as other municipalities and counties in the region," O’Brien said.

The site will serve as a virtual resource center to consumers, businesses and residents both located in the area and looking to visit or move to the area, O’Brien said.

"One important sub group in the Web site is a real estate and demographic section," O’Brien said. "If a company is looking to move within our area, the company could look for available property and within one to 10 mile increments and could find the drive time, look at demographics in terms of population or business demographics."

The site is being developed by Milwaukee-based Hanson Dodge Inc.

The Milwaukee 7, MDC and Milwaukee Downtown are expecting the Web site to be available to the public in four or five months, O’Brien said.

Milwaukee Downtown is in the beginning stages of collecting data through a series of surveys and focus groups, Nicols said.

Both Milwaukee Downtown and MDC are currently training volunteers to conduct an Executive Pulse survey in March, Nicols said. The Executive Pulse Survey is distributed by Executive Pulse Inc., a business retention database systems company based in Erie, Pa.

"The goal is for the volunteers to get out there and to get in touch with as many executives as possible," Nicols said. "We want the environment to be as pleasant as possible for businesses to grow, expand and continue to be successful."

Milwaukee Downtown is also conducting focus groups through April to gauge the thoughts and opinions of residents, employees and business owners located within the BID.

"We want to know how we can nurture the environment of downtown so that it is a good place for people to live, work and play here," Nicols said.

"We know we need to be proactive," Nicols said. "We need this type of information to best understand the marketplace but also to educate on it, understand assets and protect assets. It is time for us to look at who is here, who is loyal and committed to downtown and to say thank you to them for everything that they have done."

The collaborations between Milwaukee Downtown, MDC and the Milwaukee 7 will continue in the future as each entity further develops their retention and recruitment plans for their specific areas.

Next year, Milwaukee Downtown hopes to add to its effort by hiring a business retention and recruitment specialist or business development coordinator. The organization also will consider creating an incubator to attract and meet the needs of start-up companies and identify key areas to be the program’s focus, Nicols said.

"This is a great step in the right direction," Nicols said.

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