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Building Stronger Communities

Project Overview

In 2014, Harley-Davidson convened a group of anchor institutions – legacy companies and organizations with deep roots in neighborhoods west of Milwaukee, including Advocate Aurora Health, Marquette University, Molson Coors and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation – to commit to supporting the revitalization of the neighborhood. From the outset, Mueller Communications provided ongoing strategic and communications assistance as business owners, community leaders, and residents developed a new, innovative approach to leveraging the neighborhoods’ many positive assets to address its challenges. Near West Side Partners became the vehicle for that work.

The Challenge

The Near West Side comprises seven unique neighborhoods full of rich architectural character, historical infrastructure, diverse neighborhoods, and an array of businesses. Increased strategic investment was needed to rebrand and revitalize this neighborhood to its former glory and help support the workforce, institutions, housing, development, and the people of this community. Coordinated communications strategies have been a critical tool in building awareness about the assets in this community and the value of investing here.

The Solution

Mueller Communications’ role with Near West Side Partners (NWSP) has evolved since our initial engagement in 2014. We collaborated with founding members to help form and organize the new non-profit organization, including a Board of Directors, Steering Committee, and Working Teams. We helped coordinate and develop events including fact-finding trips, news conferences, focus groups, congressional briefings, and quarterly CEO Symposiums that laid out the goals and mission of the organization. With those foundational pieces in place, Mueller Communications developed key messaging for the organization and guided brand design.

On an ongoing basis since then, our team has provided media relations, public affairs, social media implementation and community relations support to NWSP, developed collateral materials, and provided ongoing guidance to organizational leadership. 

After more than five years in operations, NWSP and Mueller Communications recognized a need to enhance the organization’s online presence through a website overhaul. In 2021, Mueller developed content for and designed a new website centered on the neighborhood and the needs of its residents, business owners and visitors, while continuing to tell the story of NWSP.

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The Results

Near West Side Partners, with the support of Mueller Communications and NWSP’s many partners, has achieved incredible success, becoming a national model for neighborhood revitalization. Those achievements have included:
  • Developing a central nonprofit organization: Near West Side Partners helps to provide a vehicle to support the vision of the anchor institutions. With the help of fact-finding trips, strategic planning initiatives, and broader media awareness; a new brand identity, website, and social media were revealed to position the Near West Side as the “Neighborhood of Neighborhoods.”
  • Expanding the Business Improvement District: A program launched to expand BID 10 to provide an ongoing, sustainable source of revenue for the entire Near West Side, resulting in a 300% increase in resources.
  • Launching a signature safety initiative: Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime (PARC) was designed as a data-driven initiative focused on improving safety and changing perceptions of the Near West Side.
  • Launching an entrepreneurial competition to attract small business investment: NWSP, Harley-Davidson and Marquette University have developed the Rev-Up MKE small business competition to provide guidance and funding for entrepreneurs who seek to open storefronts in the Near West Side.
  • Stopping significant crime sources: NWSP worked closely with the City of Milwaukee and eventually the State of Wisconsin to intervene at a hot-spot crime property, successfully altering state law in order to shut down a facility and improve the safety of the neighborhood.
  • Securing millions in investment: By aligning around a strategic vision, demonstrating clear successes, and telling the story of this neighborhood, NWSP and its partners have secured millions of dollars in private and public investment to help support the revitalization of Milwaukee’s Near West Side.