Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, is an organization that was established in 1998
to support the interests of the downtown Milwaukee business community.
The largest business improvement district in the state of Wisconsin and one
of the largest in the country, the organization was created through private-sector
leadership. Milwaukee Downtown is a management district organization that oversees
120 square blocks representing approximately 400 property owners in the center
of downtown Milwaukee. With a budget of roughly $2.7 million, the organization
funds specific initiatives aimed at creating a clean, safe and friendly downtown.
The initiatives include our Public Service Ambassador program — our walking
concierges who are uniformed in bright blue shirts offering workers, residents
and visitors a friendly face providing lots of helpful advice about local happenings.
PSAs also provide assistance to those in need who may be lost or who are just
looking for a place downtown to buy a book, have some lunch or see the sights.
In addition, you will see our PSAs staffing our Traveling Information Kiosk
at lots of downtown events. Our Clean Sweep Ambassadors in maroon uniforms are
responsible for litter removal, sweeping and power washing every block within
the BID. The Clean Sweep Ambassadors also play a key role in special projects,
including installation of our outdoor holiday décor in three Milwaukee
County parks. Our Landscape Crews plant and maintain more than 240 beautiful
planters and hanging baskets in downtown Milwaukee, including those you see
up and down the Riverwalk. Our Graffiti Removal Team is responsible for removing
graffiti from public and private locations within a 24-hour period, therefore
alleviating the desire for taggers to vandalize our downtown properties.
Branding the city
Some key initiatives our organization has worked on over the past nine years
include marketing and promotions; branding downtown Milwaukee as a great destination,
partnering with other neighborhood groups and businesses to fund the Milwaukee
Trolley Loop; streetscape enhancements in partnership with the city of Milwaukee;
and Transportation Fairs advising the community of progress on the Marquette
Interchange and parking options.
In addition, our organization plans and implements a variety of special events,
including the upcoming Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, Downtown Dining Week,
The Downtown Open House and Expo in conjunction with the Greater Milwaukee Association
of Realtors, and Downtown Employee Appreciation Week.
Market research is also conducted biannually to ensure that we keep our finger
on the pulse as it relates to the needs of our consumers. Our 2005 research
provided feedback indicating that the downtown Milwaukee brand is strongly planted
in the minds of nearly all those who live in southeastern Wisconsin. We continue
to utilize the feedback from our research to improve our operations and to better
target our audiences.
It is clear that the greater Milwaukee area is pleased with the renaissance
that is occurring in downtown Milwaukee. We have recently initiated a relationship
with the Milwaukee Development Corporation where we are working on an Executive
Pulse Survey, a survey tool designed to help us better understand the needs
and desires of downtown businesses. In addition, through our strategic planning
efforts, we will look at the future of downtown and assess the needs of the
community as we move ahead with additional programs.
Our organization will be celebrating 10 years of service to the downtown community
in 2007. We look forward to our continued involvement in making downtown Milwaukee
a great place to live, work and play. I look forward to sharing with you through
a monthly column our progress along the way. Feel free to check out our Web
site for more information on our organization at www.milwaukeedowntown.com.
See you around downtown.
Beth Nicols is executive director of the Milwaukee Downtown BID #21.