On Tuesday, June 14, CARW Board Members and Leaders had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Department of City Development (DCD) Commissioner Lafayette Crump. This intent of the meeting was to have a small group discussion on the Mayor’s Economic Development plan and to gain feedback from the commercial real estate community on how we can partner to bring jobs and economic growth to Milwaukee and the region.
Throughout the conversation, Mayor Johnson said “I want to find a way to get to ‘yes’”. He used examples of working with companies, real estate stakeholders, and common council members on examples including Milwaukee Tool and even the RNC. Following the session, attendees seemed optimistic with the sincere interest in having a dialogue and working together to not only bring business, but also improve processes.
The Mayor communicated several goals for the City including:
- Grow the City of Milwaukee population to 1,000,000
- Get Development done – take action – move forward
- Create family supporting jobs
- Build and support stable communities
- Ensure real and perceived safety in the City
- Support Downtown Development AND build sustainable opportunities in the Neighborhoods
- Leverage the tools within the City like TIF and resources from M7
- Focus on Housing and Affordable Housing to build communities / density
He also outlined a number of challenges:
- Fiscal restraints that impact ability to attract and maintain City staff, police force
- Limitations on how the City can raise revenue to pay for services
- Misalignment / communication about processes and timelines
- Past experience with the City / lack of partnership
The collective group discussed a number of opportunities:
- Develop a list of targeted properties that a subsect of CARW members may offer an assessment related to viability / marketability?
- Commercial corridors
- Other specific industrial sites
- Leverage Mayor’s relationships with business owners and enthusiasm to build relationships / attract companies / residents
- Promote commercial real estate development and opportunities with high school students and younger
- Access resources from Employ Milwaukee / Earn and Learn program
- Work with the City and administration to lead in “Back to Office” – more people ‘in the office’ will bring more activity and vibrancy to our City streets and activity in our restaurants
- Collaborate on best-practices for permitting and approvals (most communities can process within 45-60 days) – it is a barrier for some companies looking for approvals (leverage innovation)
- Assist with advocacy efforts tied to alternative funding means (sales tax)
Commissioner Lafayette Crump also outlined areas of focus for the Department of City Development including:
- Speed for approvals and communication
- Certainty / Clarity in processes and timelines / expectations and viability
- Innovation to support evolving marketplace and in order to stay competitive with other municipalities
Overall, members were pleased with the discussion and are optimistic about the opportunities to continue our work together!