Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group is making a $2 million commitment to kick-start the Milwaukee 7’s next five-year fundraising campaign.Gale Klappa, M7 co-chair and executive chairman of WEC Energy Group, announced the gift at the economic development partnership’s annual meeting, which was held Wednesday at Northwestern Mutual’s downtown headquarters.
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“I've been involved with M7 since its very beginning and we so much believe in it and believe in the results that are so evident and so successful that we want to step forward and kickstart the campaign,” Klappa said.M7’s previous five-year, $10 million campaign concluded at the end of 2019.Over the next five years, M7 will have a “laser-like focus” on attracting more businesses to the seven-county region, Klappa said. He did not disclose the total goal of the new campaign, which is called “Prosperity 2025,” but said more details will be released in the coming weeks.“We think this effort has made a huge difference to the economy and prosperity of the region and that’s why we think it needs to continue and accelerate,” Klappa said.M7 launched in September 2005 as a regional economic development platform for the seven counties of southeastern Wisconsin: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. The group markets the region to companies looking to expand operations or relocate.Its work has been executed in five-year campaigns. At the 2020 annual meeting, M7 leaders said the most recent campaign brought 46 “project wins,” representing 10,521 pledged jobs and $1.8 billion of new capital investment in the region.Major contributors to the previous campaign included WEC Energy Group, the Bradley Foundation, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, JPMorgan Chase and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.