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Letter from the President: February 2018

There are many incredible things happening in our city, yet the renaissance happening in our Downtown has not been felt by many in our city, including many of the adjacent neighborhoods. MKE United, a cross-sectoral effort to create a 10-year strategic action agenda for a shared and inclusive vision for our Downtown and adjacent neighborhoods, is working to ensure this prosperity spreads across all neighborhoods, both adjacent to downtown and beyond. In the coordinated effort between the City of Milwaukee, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and Milwaukee Urban League, we are working to reimagine how Milwaukee engages its residents and leaders and are working to develop an action agenda that will result in meaningful change and equitable growth for our city. Last summer, we released six transformative directions, key areas of focus for intention and change, relating to jobs, housing, demographics, retail and cultural assets, transit, and building the capacity of the many groups already doing great work in these areas.

In early February 2018, MKE United moved into Phase II with a Strategic Actioning Session, engaging a group of 70 area business and community leaders from diverse backgrounds. These leaders spent two days incorporating the extensive research from the Phase I community engagement sessions and worked to develop a tangible plan to move forward. By creating seven working groups, we were able to develop unique strategies in multiple important areas for implementation of the MKE United vision. We are focused on:

  • Aligning resources from Milwaukee Development Corporation, LISC Milwaukee, and other partners, to develop a fifty million dollar neighborhood development fund, to invest in catalytic community-based projects, as well as gap financing.

  • Building an alliance to demonstrate cross-sector support for policy changes, in areas such as shared revenue and regional transit authority, increasing local control and creating a more sustainable and equitable path for growth in the Greater Downtown and the region.

  • Committing to growing equity and access, including a partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to host an Equity Forum, building local fluency around racial equity and providing participants with a tangible equity framework.

  • Connecting with businesses, community organizations, and potential partners, to engage over 200 in the next year, with multiple points of connection each, ensuring the ongoing work is iterative and connected to the needs of the community.

  • Working to support aligned projects and initiatives, both existing and new, through a weighted prioritization of impact, equity, time, partners, and resources.

  • Building out a robust community-driven communications strategy, incorporating a website refresh, social media, and video along with a speaker series of local individuals discussing intersections with the six Transformative Directions.

  • Building out an infrastructure for change assessment and support, using ADKAR change management theory, across partnerships and constituents.

  • Formalizing a longer term structure for governance and growth of MKE United’s implementation.

The success we saw in 2017 would not have been possible without the support of the GMC membership. We know that this path forward will result in an inclusive Milwaukee, one that is prosperous for all neighborhoods and Milwaukeeans. If you would like to get more involved in this area of our work, please reach out to Tony Panciera, Director of MKE United, at 414-905-0101 or

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