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Real Estate & Development Conference will be "Developers Fantasy Camp"

Imagine you have been appointed king of Milwaukee for a day. You hold all the chips, you press all the buttons and you pull all the levers. And you are a commercial real estate developer.

What is the one dream project you would do?

BizTimes is asking that question to three of southeastern Wisconsin's most prolific, accomplished and visionary commercial real estate developers. They will present their dream projects at the 10th annual BizTimes Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference.

The theme of this year's conference is "Developers Fantasy Camp." The panelists who will present their dream projects at the conference will be:

Gary Grunau, president of Grucon Group in Milwaukee. Grunau has more than 40 years of construction and development experience. Grunau's Downtown Milwaukee development projects include the former Grand Avenue Middle School (now Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language), the Milwaukee Education Center (now part of Golda Meir School), the Hyatt Regency, Schlitz Park, the Wisconsin Center, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Riverwalk System, the Time Warner Building and the Boston Store Revitalization, as well as ManpowerGroup's world headquarters.

Bob Monnat, partner and chief operating officer of Mandel Group Inc. in Milwaukee. Monnat joined Mandel Group in 1999 after previous experience with the company's predecessor, Trammel Crow Residential. He also served as vice president of Wispark Corp. Monnat oversees Mandel Group's three primary disciplines: development, construction and property management. Monnat specializes in multi-family and mixed use development, including urban revitalization, in-fill development, brownfield redevelopment and traditional neighborhood development. As chief operating officer of Milwaukee-based Mandel Group, Monnat has been involved in the development of several major building projects, including University Club Tower, the North End and the East Pointe Commons projects in downtown Milwaukee, Gas…

Aim higher at the fourth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference.
Aim higher at the fourth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference.

Get Smarter with BizTimes

A smarter Milwaukee is a better Milwaukee. And a better Milwaukee is better positioned to grow in a global economy.

That is the premise behind the fourth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference, which will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Experts in workforce development, education and executive enlightenment will convene to share their insights about how southeastern Wisconsin's educational institutions and infrastructure, as well as the private sector, can collaborate to develop smarter employees who have the skills that employers need to grow their companies and the region's economy.

The conference also will feature a discussion about how the region's executives can become more enlightened and effective leaders. It will kick off with opening remarks by Tim Sullivan, who is serving as a special consultant for business and workforce development for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Sullivan recently submitted his long-awaited workforce development report to Walker, calling for bold actions to address the gap between the skills needed by the state's employers and the skills of the available workforce. The report, "The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin Workforce Development," is a comprehensive review of the background and current issues pertaining to workforce development in the state.

He will outline his bold recommendations at the Get Smarter Conference.

Sullivan's remarks will be followed by a panel discussion of workforce development and executive enlightenment. The featured panelists will include:

  • Mike Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lovell will discuss the future of collegiate education and share ideas for how employers can become engaged with the region's universities.
  • Joe Weitzer, dean of corporate and community training at the Waukesha County Technical College. Weitzer will discuss how the Wisconsin Technical College System is responding to the need for trained employees in the sk…
Sue Black (left) emceeing last month's Miss Brew Fest competition.
Sue Black (left) emceeing last month's Miss Brew Fest competition.

Another Milwaukee mystery...

One of the lasting legacies of Sue Black's eight years on the job as director of the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture is her ability to reach out to the private sector and secure corporate partners to support the park system.

At a time when former County Executive Scott Walker was slashing the department's budget, Black was able to convince companies such as REI, MillerCoors, Kohl's Corp., the Milwaukee Bucks, Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co. Inc., Harley-Davidson Inc., AT&T Inc. and Rockwell Automation Inc. to step forward and become corporate partners with The Park People of Milwaukee Inc., an independent non-profit organization promoting citizen stewardship of Milwaukee County Parks.

Black convinced MillerCoors to lead the clean-up of Bradford Beach. She convinced Bartolotta's to provide food at county park venues such as Boerner Botanical Gardens. She convinced Starbucks to open a coffeehouse at Red Arrow Park in Downtown Milwaukee.

According to Dan Cody, board president of The Park People, Black convinced the corporate partners to donate because the quality of life in Milwaukee is a vital tool for recruiting talent to the city, and a clean, effective public park system is crucial for that quality of life.

"I think she was really effective at that. She really went out and hustled her butt off to get some private money to augment the money that was being cut from her budget," Cody said. "She was a real go-getter in terms of corporations, not only for sponsorships, but for donations."

Cody said the corporate sponsors had absolute confidence that their donations would be put to effective use under Black's leadership of the county parks.

The question now is, with Black's abrupt and mysterious firing by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Aug. 16, will the corporate sponsors be less inclined to support the county parks?

"It's fair to say that with their money they felt very comfortable with Sue at the helm. That's why they op…

Sheriff Clarke and Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr.'s feud is just the latest example of failed civility.
Sheriff Clarke and Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr.'s feud is just the latest example of failed civility.

Civil discourse is a faint memory

When newly named Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan attempted to make his first stump speech on the "soapbox" at the Iowa State Fair Monday, he was greeted by a small chorus of hooligans who shouted at him the entire speech.

Undaunted by their rude taunting, Ryan responded, "Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another ... These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin."

I'm afraid the Janesville congressman was reading from an old playbook that no longer applies. In Wisconsin, civil discourse, much less compromise, appears to be dead.

Another reminder of the lack of civility came this week in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr. released the following statement Monday regarding Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr.'s decision to provide security for a Republican rally featuring Ryan and his presidential running mate, Mitt Romney, in Waukesha County on Sunday.

"In yet another display of misplaced priorities, Sheriff Clarke opted to compromise the public safety of Milwaukee County taxpayers yesterday when he misappropriated law enforcement resources to protect GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan. In February 2012, Sheriff Clarke made the decision to assign sheriff's deputies to only partial security during President Obama's trip to Milwaukee to visit Master Lock. At that time, the Sheriff cited 'elimination of dignitary protection funding' from the sheriff's 2012 budget as reason for limited support. Yet, somehow, when GOP hopefuls came to a neighboring county, Sheriff Clarke had no problem with providing security and resources that should be focused on his own county. Once again, Sheriff Clarke has chosen to put his personal ideology ahead of his responsibility to protect and serve. The taxpayers of Milwaukee County pay Sheriff Clarke to administer law enforcement services, not to raise his personal profile as a conservative ideologue. All high ranking officials, no matter what party…