After spending two days last week in Downtown Chicago, I couldn’t help but think about what Milwaukee’s future holds. I know, I know, apples to oranges comparison for the two cities. But just think of what Milwaukee could be with Chicago’s population, or, heck, even just 100,000 more people. Wow.
Massive population growth, though, isn’t in the near future for Milwaukee. And that’s OK.
Creating population density and opportunities for people to connect are on our docket, and I think Milwaukee is uniquely positioned to win. So does Conde Nast.
Development is everywhere in our greater Downtown, and everywhere developers want to create gravity. Right? This means constructing destinations that attract people and create new energetic places. If you create a new center of gravity, you get more business and attention.
More important, though, than creating gravity for Milwaukee is creating collisions. And this is what many developments like the Lakefront Gateway, 833, the streetcar, the coming-soon improvements at Discovery World and, of course, the new Bucks Arena and Live Block will do.
This may seem simple, but it’s really important to consider. Why are we the city of festivals? Why do beer gardens work? Why do sports events work? Answer: Festivals, sports and beer gardens create massive opportunity for people to connect, collide and be incredibly cognizant about doing so. See, Milwaukee is at its best when we build for connection.
So as the dizzying pace of Downtown development continues, let’s all think hard about how best to create opportunities for all of us to better collide. And let’s be thoughtful and strategic about it. We need to run into more people, we need to be sandwiched together more often and we need more shared, social space in Downtown.
Milwaukee wins because we embrace community and shared space. We may not have the sheer population that Chicago has, but we have the people energy and enough new development to create amazing places through which we can all better connect.
The future is now, Milwaukee. Let’s embrace the collisions it’s going to provide. Onward.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.