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Social Media, Digital, Development, Public Affairs, Media Relations

In 2014, Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell and Marquette University President Mike Lovell convened a group of 30 CEO-level leaders from major employers in Milwaukee’s Near West Side to discuss their shared vision for revitalizing their community. Following that meeting, Mueller Communications was engaged by Harley-Davidson, on behalf of the five major anchor institutions – Aurora Health Care, Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, MillerCoors and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation – to help establish and support an organizational structure that could help bring that vision to life. It was also called upon to provide ongoing strategic and communications assistance to the new organization, its Steering Committee, Board and Working Teams.


Mueller Communications has been called upon to play an integral role in all of the efforts listed below, including in facilitating and coordinating Board, Steering Committee and Working Team meetings and planning sessions; coordinating and developing events – including news conferences, quarterly CEO Symposiums, focus groups, congressional briefings and fact-finding trips; developing and implementing an external communications strategy with the media and key stakeholders that has led to hundreds of stories and millions of impressions regarding the Near West Side; and developing supportive communications materials (e.g. website, presentations, talking points, fact sheets, handouts, etc.) for the work at all levels of the organization. 


The organization's initial accomplishments include:

  • New Non-Profit: Formed a new non-profit organization – Near West Side Partners, Inc. – to help provide a vehicle to support the vision of the anchor institutions. We built a broad and diverse board with representation from the anchors, key non-profits and partners (e.g., DPW, DCD, MAWIB) and secured buy-in on a mission, vision and priority focus areas for the effort.

  • Fact-Finding Trips: Organized and facilitated fact-finding visits to the University of Pennsylvania, the Near East Side of Indianapolis and several neighborhoods in Chicago to learn best practices and bring good ideas back to Milwaukee.

  • Strategic Plan: Engaged a consultant to develop a strategic plan for the Near West Side, based on extensive input from the anchors, four working teams, neighborhood associations, residents and local elected officials. The result is a great roadmap to guide our work in the months and years ahead.

  • New Brand Identity: Developed a new brand identity to signify the Near West Side as a “Neighborhood of Neighborhoods.” We unveiled the logo as part of an event with our local elected officials and hundreds of employees from our anchor institutions and residents as part of one of Mayor Barrett’s Walks. The event also marked the launch of the organization’s website and social media platforms, which Mueller Communications helped establish and continues to maintain.

  • BID 10 Expansion: Launched an effort to create a newly expanded Business Improvement District to serve the entire Near West Side and provide an ongoing, sustainable source of revenue – an effort that resulted in a 300% increase in resources to enhance the community.

  • PARC Initiative: Developed and launched NWSP’s first major initiative – Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime (PARC) – a 3-year, $2 million anchor-funded program designed to help improve safety and change perceptions of the Near West Side.

  • NWS Economic Development Fund: Announced a $5 million Near West Side Economic Development Fund to be used for key acquisitions and catalytic development efforts in the Near West Side. Through the support of other organizations in the community, the fund has already passed $2 million in assets and has already been used to acquire key problematic parcels in the Near West Side for redevelopment.

  • Broader Media Awareness: Mueller Communications has worked closely with NWSP to develop and implement opportunities for greater media attention and awareness of the organization and the neighborhoods. This work generated more than hundreds of stories about the work of NWSP, representing millions of impressions.

  • 27th Street Tobacco Shop / Gov. Walker Signs AB 628: As part of its public safety initiative, NWSP identified the 27th Street Tobacco Shop as one of the most significant sources of crime and disorder in the neighborhood. Through the collective efforts of NWSP, the City, residents and local businesses, NWSP led efforts to change state law to provide greater local control over these types of operations. Partnering with the City, NWSP brought local pressure that led to the voluntary shut down of the facility. NWSP acquired the site and has made it available to a local non-profit organization for redevelopment.

  • Rev-Up MKE: Since its inception in 2016, Rev-Up MKE the small business competition has provided an opportunity for start-up entrepreneurs to expand or start a business and get the support needed to make it successful in the Near West Side. Finalists receive hands-on business training from Near West Side Partners anchor institutions in preparation for a live pitch event. The final winner receives significant resources to support their new venture, which will be located in a Near West Side storefront.

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