What does it mean to pledge trust and transparency?
When we announced our plans to expand the Wisconsin Center early last year, we publicly acknowledged the responsibility we had to all of Milwaukee’s downtown businesses and residents to bring about a positive impact from this transformational project.
Of course, no one could have predicted what happened next. Despite the uncertainty, we felt strongly that moving ahead with the expansion project was a strategic risk that would put the city we love at the top of the convention game in a post-pandemic world.
It was time to convey that certainty to the right audiences and make sure we had the support needed to keep the project moving forward. When I began at the WCD in January of 2018, I pledged to the board that I would be transparent and forthcoming with information. I believe that having laid that groundwork for two years is what made my contentions to continue with the project compelling enough for the board to vote “yes.” Not only was the WCD pledging to double the square footage of the convention center and bring a decade-old project to fruition, but in doing so we knew we would positively impact the lives of thousands of Milwaukeeans through our robust MBE commitments and residents preference work on the construction site. The project was shovel-ready…when better to think unconventionally than when we have the opportunity to really make a difference?
The timing of this announcement was surprising for some and respectfully opposed by others. At the end of the day, the board voted “yes” and today, here we are, growing more excited and inspired by the vision of what the expansion will bring. Earlier this month, fencing went up around the perimeter of the former parking lot north of the Wisconsin Center. After spending the past several years laying the groundwork behind the scenes for this project, it’s extraordinary to see the team’s hard work beginning to come to life in real-time. Early site work is underway, and the official groundbreaking is planned for later this year. These are our first physical steps towards the $420 million Wisconsin Center expansion.
Today, this project is stirring big excitement in the community, as well. I’m proud to share that the WCD Board was awarded the Milwaukee Magnet Award by VISIT Milwaukee at its annual meeting. This award honors a company that draws dollars and talent into the community while recognizing leadership and commitment to long-term economic investment in the region. Furthermore, we were awarded the MMAC Focus on the Future award in the ‘Growth’ category, which recognizes the success of companies finding new opportunities, entering new markets or developing new products. We are glad that the pride for the expansion is translating and resonating with the community, and we are honored to be recipients of these awards.
We remain committed to transparency and inclusion with all who are involved and affected by the expansion. We’ll continue to provide you with updates, but if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Until next time,