The Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force hosted a panel Friday morning featuring guests from Denver, Oklahoma City and Cleveland – and while topics such as new arena, transit and taxation were covered – the main takeaway was that these visitors feel Milwaukee is at its tipping point culturally.
Nearly 200 people filed into the Todd Wehr Theater in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Center to join chamber of commerce presidents and chief executive officers Roy H. Williams (Oklahoma City), Kelly Brough (Denver) and Joe Roman (Cleveland) for an hour-long discussion about what their cities have done to revitalize and expand their cultural and entertainment districts. It was near the end of the panel when the trio was asked about its perception of Milwaukee that things got really interesting.
After a pause, and some kind words about the foundation provided by the lakefront, the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan itself, Brough said:
"I think how I look at it is this is it’s in a transition area, and this is the moment where you get to decide, do we tip it? I’d say this is where we were as a city about 20 years ago. Are we going to make the investments and make a run at the things that will tip us to be a city of the world, not a city in the United States."
The three panelists all admitted it’s a long, difficult process with no true blueprint – no "magic formula" – but it requires investments in land, amenities, transit, public space and growing the city’s brand globally.
But, starting that investment now is vital.
"The intensity of the moment is greater than ever," Brough said. "Our history has been one that says just attract that company and we’ll be fine. What we know is, the reality is, that company’s not going to come without the workforce, so you have to do both. And to create the future you want, you have to say what’s it take to get the company and you have to say what’s it take to get the workforce, or keep the workforce…Read more...