By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Jul 24, 2016 at 11:29 AM

We trumpet Harley-Davison's anniversaries, as we should.  But, Northwestern Mutual has a track record that goes back 159 years in Milwaukee.  Yep, next year marks 160! 

Today the company is a worldwide brand and this week it opens its annual "Meeting of the Association of Agents."

That's right, 159 years in business and 136 years of annual meetings. Indeed, Northwestern Mutual will hold its 136th Annual Meeting of the Association of Network Representatives in Milwaukee, July 23-27. 

The event should draw nearly 10,000 people from across the country, comprising members of Northwestern Mutual and their families. The company’s annual meeting will have an estimated economic impact of approximately $12.9 million for the local economy and guests will fill about 13,800 hotel room nights.   

New this year, and to help welcome the NM family from all over the country, VISIT Milwaukee will move its new interactive art piece, the six-foot "Me in MKE" statue, to the outside front entrance of the Wisconsin Center on 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The statue invites visitors to stand in and form the letter "K" and is part of a new hands-on component to help increase engagement and awareness of VISIT Milwaukee's mission to both locals and visitors. Lines could be seen for the photo op with the statue at Summerfest, with users tagging their photos with the hashtag #MeInMKE.

"We are thrilled to welcome Northwestern Mutual back to Milwaukee once again," said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. "Northwestern Mutual represents the largest convention of our year and has a tremendous impact on our area's economy. We look forward to welcoming the thousands of attendees to Milwaukee and creating great experiences for them while they're here."

Agents and their families flock to Milwaukee every year, and each year I love the buzz that's created by adding nearly 10,000 visitors to Downtown Milwaukee.

As part of the annual meeting, some agent offices are raising funds for childhood cancer research and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and running in a 5K.  

For Northwestern Mutual, it’s an opportunity for the company’s employees and financial professionals to reflect on another strong year and to showcase what's coming here in Milwaukee.  The company expects to distribute dividends exceeding $5 billion (the largest in its 159-year history) to participating policy owners and maintains the highest financial strength ratings awarded to any life insurer by all four of the major credit rating agencies.

Northwestern Mutual will be conducting events and seminars for its financial representatives at the Wisconsin Center, the BMO Harris Bradley Center and at metro hotels including the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, the InterContinental Hotel and The Pfister Hotel.

In addition, the company is hosting events at Discovery World and the Milwaukee County Zoo, and promoting area attractions to the financial representatives’ families, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum and Daniel M. Soref National Geographic Dome Theater.

And then there's the private big name show. Each year Northwestern Mutual brings a major entertainer in, too. Maroon Five, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and others have headlined shows for the company and its families. This year, Imagine Dragons performs.

When you see you an agent (easy to spot with lanyard name tags) or someone in the NM family this week, say hello and be sure to welcome them to Milwaukee. You might also want to say happy almost 160th, too!

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

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.