Late last week, Near West Side Partners, Inc. (NWSP) – along with partners Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, and WaterStone Bank – announced the third installment of its annual "Shark Tank"-style small business competition.
The goal of Rev-Up MKE is to help entrepreneurs launch or build a business on the Near West Side, while helping to revitalize commercial corridors in that neighborhood.
Applications are available online until 4:59 p.m. on July 25. At that time a panel of judges will select the finalists who will move on to a live pitch event on Sept. 25 at The Rave’s Eagles Ballroom. As on the popular "Shark Tank" television show, the finalists will pitch their plan to the judges.
The winner, which will be announced at the event, will earn $10,000 in cash and $25,000 in in-kind services such as small business mentoring, legal audit, architectural renderings and communication support to help get its business going in a Near West Side storefront. WaterStone Bank will provide seed money for the winning pitch and there will be "advertising, recognition, and support from Near West Side Partners and anchor institutions."
"The Near West Side is ready to welcome another generation of entrepreneurs to our growing neighborhood," said Keith Stanley, executive director of NWSP, in a news release. "We are excited to see continued interest from startups, organizations and businesses seeking to invest in Milwaukee, and bring new jobs and vibrancy to our commercial corridors."
Last year’s winner, Lisa McKay of Lisa Kaye Catering, LLC, has hired three Near West Side residents to join her catering team and plans to open a Near West Side location in autumn.
"Since being named winner of last year’s Rev-Up MKE competition, I’ve received tremendous encouragement and support from the many residents and businesses in the Near West Side," McKay said. "I am excited to help celebrate and support this great neighborhood in Milwaukee and bring in more jobs as we grow our business and programs."
Pete’s Pops, which won the first Rev-Up MKE contest two years ago, expects to open a storefront in Vliet Street this summer.
"The Near West Side has been home to some of Milwaukee’s greatest entrepreneurs – from William Harley and Arthur Davidson to Fredrick Miller," said Kelsey Otero, associate director at Marquette University and project lead for the Rev-Up MKE competition.
"Marquette’s innovation team is proud to be working with such great partners to find the next generation of entrepreneurs for the neighborhood."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.