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It's a new day for Milwaukee. (PHOTO: Bobby Tanzilo)

I'm calling it: Milwaukee's officially over its inferiority complex

I've lived by many mantra in our first nearly 20 years of OnMilwaukee. First and foremost, "a city is only as good as the stories it tells." Next, "no one gives you the right to stand on the sides." Put those two together, and you have force for change, creativity and collaboration. Those three – change, creativity and collaboration – have fueled an amazing rebirth in Milwaukee. And I'm here today to tell you that our city is officially over its inferiority complex.

So much has changed since this 2007 piece. Need proof?

  • $3.6 billion in development since 2005
  • 67,000-plus higher education students now live in Milwaukee
  • Nearly 1,000 (997) new hotel rooms have been built since 2016
  • 83,490 Downtown workers
  • 26,000-plus residents in Downtown Milwaukee
  • Enthusiasm and engagement throughout Milwaukee
  • And more!

I've been involved in countless civic discussions, groups and round tables that have looked at Milwaukee's image and opportunities. For too long, too many people around these tables have decried lack, the need for a new slogan and, yes, the dreaded inferiority complex. "If only we tooted our own horns more," used to be a rallying call. Truth be told, it's been a rallying call in our city since the 1800s.

By the way, related, if you need a talking point or a simple way to explain Milwaukee to someone who knows little or nothing about our growing city, "a complete lack of pretense" is pretty darn good. Milwaukee: a city without pretense. But, I digress.

Today, in the midst of what could be the best summer of Milwaukee's history, I'm here – in, yes, I'll admit a bit of a non-scientific manner – to say that more people than not believe in what Milwaukee can do as opposed to what it can't do.

Milwaukee's inferiority complex is a thing of the past.

Believers beget other believers and Milwaukee's becoming – after 25-plus years of planning and hard work – a true can-do city.

Look around. Heck, look up at the cranes. Look down at the tracks, trails and treasures that are all over our Downtown. Milwaukee is on the move and growing each and every day.

Milwaukee may not be fully "there" yet, but who cares? We believe in ourselves again, and despite flaws, I declare that our days with a complex that's inferior are behind us.

Milwaukee's making stuff happen, and the best is yet to come. You can feel it.

Onward and upward.


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