By Press Release Submitted to Published Jul 21, 2016 at 10:24 AM

Near West Side Partners, Inc. (NWSP) today announced eight finalists selected as part of the Rev-Up MKE small business competition. The program’s goal is to provide an opportunity for the winner – and as many finalists as possible – to expand or start a business on the Near West Side and receive the support it needs to make it a success. This announcement brings NWSP closer to providing new services to area residents and employees in the Near West Side. 

"The Near West Side is home to some of the world’s greatest start-ups – companies that are now iconic brands like Harley-Davidson and MillerCoors," said Keith Stanley, Executive Director of Near West Side Partners, Inc. "Based on the great ideas and high-quality applications we received in the first annual Rev-Up MKE competition, it is clear that entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive in the Near West Side."

The panel of judges selected nearly twice as many finalists as had originally been expected based on the strength of the applications and the quality of the business ideas. Each finalist will receive significant business training and consulting support as they prepare for the live-pitch event in September where the winner will be selected.

"It is our hope that many of these businesses will find success in the Near West Side, bringing new jobs and new vibrancy to our commercial corridors," said Stanley.

The finalists

The selected finalists include:

Bucks Burgerdogs & BBQ, Valerie Kennedy

A food truck looking to bring food cooked over a wood-fired open flame grill to the Near West Side.

Funky Fresh Spring Rolls, Trueman McGee

A mobile food vendor/manufacturer offering unique spring rolls in non-traditional flavored rolls, made with fresh local ingredients.

Green Source Juice Bar and Cafe, Marshall Harley

A juice bar and cafe focused on supplying fresh and organic healthy food choices to the community. 

MilWaz Collective, Leilani Lopez-Blasini, Milagros Cuevas, Ruben Lopez, Erika Martinez, and Rachaad Howard

A cooperative that will connect local artists and screen printers by providing a space to work and sell their products.

Pete's Pops, Pete Cooney

A local, Milwaukee company, that offers fresh fruit and cream popsicles (otherwise known as paletas) in unique flavor combinations.

Sew Alive, Pamela Graham

A retail business that specializes in leather products, specifically for personal and home decor. Part of the business consists of offering workshops and teaching young people creative skills.

That Salsa Lady (TSL), Angela Moragne

A family-owned, full-functioning incubator kitchen with a shared restaurant and retail space. TSL is dedicated to the elimination of food deserts. Through reconnecting people to healthy, affordable nutrition, salsa becomes the difference in how people relate to food.

WasteCap Resource Solutions / Milwaukee Community Service Corps., Joe Liebau

Two local nonprofits combining to build custom furniture from salvaged materials in foreclosed homes throughout Milwaukee.

Business training and live pitch event

As part of the competition, all eight finalists will begin hands-on business training, with technical assistance and mentorship from a number of organizations in Milwaukee, including: WWBIC, BizStarts, Marquette Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic and the Harley-Davidson Young Professionals group. The program will culminate with a "Live-Pitch Event" on September 27, 2016, hosted at The Rave/Eagle’s Ballroom where each finalist will present before a panel of judges and the public. The final winner – who will be announced that evening – will receive significant resources to support their new venture, which will be located in a Near West Side storefront, including:

  • $10,000 start up business funding from WaterStone Bank
  •  Over $25,000 in in-kind services (architectural renderings, support on rent payments, small business consulting, free legal audit and communication support);
  • One year of computer power, storage space and Internet bandwidth to house mission-critical applications on a private server, courtesy of Potawatomi Business Development Corporation, Stack41 and Data Holdings; and
  • Advertising and recognition from Near West Side Partners.

Details about the finalists and the live-pitch event will be available on the NWSP website here

"We are excited to begin the next phase of the competition – working with each of these eight finalists to help refine their business model and prepare for the live-pitch event," said Stanley. "We hope that the support from this process, as well as the resources provided to the final winner, will become a catalyst for renewed entrepreneurial endeavors in the Near West Side."