Milwaukee health systems, universities commit to hiring, purchasing from city’s disinvested zip codes

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The Milwaukee area’s largest health care systems and universities are committing to increase their hiring and spending in the city’s lowest-income zip codes under a new collaborative.

The Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative has launched with founding organizations Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin, Froedtert Health, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is organized by the nonprofit JobsWork MKE.

The organizations announced this week their intention to focus on hiring residents and purchasing from businesses in the 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53210, 53212, 53216 and 53233 zip codes – an area that has a combined population is 206,000, with 33% living in poverty.

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“This is a major commitment by those with the power to make a significant difference,” said Bill Krugler, president of JobsWork MKE, formerly Milwaukee JobsWork. “We’re excited and optimistic this will help lift more people out of poverty and revitalize neighborhoods that have been neglected for too long.”

The MAC said it is joining anchor collaboratives from cities across the country, in which member organizations commit to using their collective economic power to employ residents and purchase from businesses in disinvested neighborhoods.

The group plans to announce its hiring and spending targets in the fall.

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“These anchor institutions already have demonstrated they have the economic power, and commitment to our community, to make a positive impact. Now, working together, their impact will be even greater,” said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

The member organizations are seeking to fill a range of high-demand, mid-skill positions, such as phlebotomists, medical assistants, facilities maintenance workers and administrative assistants.

“The Milwaukee area health systems, like the collaborative’s education members, are experiencing a great demand for qualified employees and, concurrently, are committed to increasing the diversity of their workforce at every level of their organizations,” said Joy Tapper, executive director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership. “These systems also are eager to purchase more goods and services locally, from a diverse supplier network, to strengthen the economic well-being of the community. The Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative will help them meet these shared goals.”

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The organizations also plan to purchase services and supplies, ranging from janitorial and mechanical to medical equipment repair and IT, from the targeted zip codes.

“People in the target neighborhoods need jobs and employers need people to fill their open positions,” said Rodney Moutry, director of the Milwaukee Anchor Collaborative. “Our focus is to identify and prepare people to fill these jobs and establish careers. It becomes a win-win.

“With their combined purchasing power, they could support and help grow a wide variety of businesses, such as a commercial laundry or a supplier of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment),” he added.

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