Menomonee Valley Partners
301 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 400B, Milwaukee
Urban Ecology Center
1500 E. Park Place, Milwaukee
Once an industrial powerhouse, much of the Menomonee Valley became a blighted brownfield for decades.
Thanks to a partnership between Menomonee Valley Partners and the Urban Ecology Center, in collaboration with the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin, the Valley today is seen as a national model of sustainable revitalization.
Nearly 40 companies have relocated to the area since 1999, and more than 5,000 jobs have been created.
Together, these organizations have embarked on a series of interdependent projects on a vacant 24-acre site that respond to the needs of not only the Valley, but also the nearby neighborhoods.
The collaborative vision sought to improve job accessibility, science education, environmental and public health, and the overall vitality of the neighborhoods.
Approximately $23.5 million has been raised and major construction on several new projects already is complete.
The collaboration has established three bike and pedestrian bridges that link to the Valley, Mitchell Park and south side neighborhoods. It also has created an additional 12 miles of patsh on the Hank Aaron State Trail, providing access to the Menomonee River for fishing and canoeing, public art, glacial landscapes and community gardens.
The Urban Ecology Center has established programming for elementary children and adults and has created an outdoor classroom in its new Menomonee Valley branch.
Ken Leinbach, executive director of the Urban Ecology Center, makes sure to acknowledge the support the collaboration has received from the community.
“It takes all of us,” Leinbach said. “The only way to do it is collaboration and partnership. There is no way you can do this alone, and for that we are thankful.”
The process demonstrates how different organizations can come together in a creative way for the betterment of the community as a whole.
As a result, the effort has become a model for integrating sustainability and economic development in communities nationwide.