Milwaukee is headline news around the country, but not the type we want to see. The news of rioting and the images of businesses damaged and on fire (two of which are MMAC members) in the Sherman Park neighborhood are devastating. This situation is challenging to all of us working to make Milwaukee a great place to grow a business. It is also challenging to those in the community who feel disenfranchised.
Milwaukee is sadly only the latest city to experience this desperation, but this time it is our city. MMAC continues to work to find productive ways to help. We have:
- Reached out to our member businesses in the neighborhood to offer help in any way.
- Contacted a job training entity in the neighborhood (one we have worked with), that serves local residents, many returning from corrections facilities, to offer help.
- Contacted the mayor to offer assistance, along with aldermen and the Common Council president.
- Conducted a conference call with my counterpart in St. Louis to share their lessons learned
Longer term, MMAC is committed to moving the education agenda forward to help drive better student outcomes (a must). We continue to advocate for policy and funding changes that will improve the quality of day care providers serving 19,000 low income children in the city. And we continue our advocacy for the state funding needed to expand successful innovative school models that better serve low-income children.
In addition, through our non-profit subsidiary, the Milwaukee Development Corporation (MDC), we are working in targeted ways to improve neighborhoods. For example, MDC is providing funds to organizations working to put foreclosed homes back on the market. In fact, we have funded seven home rehabs in Sherman Park. Through MDC we are also investing in blighted properties to help our corporate partners like MillerCoors, Harley-Davidson, and Aurora Healthcare stabilize their surrounding neighborhoods.
MMAC is engaged and trying to do more to be part of the solution. Not because someone finally got our attention by destroying property, but because our vision for Milwaukee to be globally competitive, providing high-value, high wage jobs that support a vibrant quality of life for all falls flat without a vital and educated citizenry.
I welcome your thoughts and reactions.
Tim Sheehy is the president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce