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UW-Milwaukee - Center for Economic Development

Technical Assistance Report Abstract

1993 Southside Economic Summit, May, 1993, by Marc V. Levine


In October 1992, the Milwaukee Foundation asked the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development (UWMCED) to provide technical assistance and research support for the Foundation's ambitious Families and Children in Poverty Initiative. This initiative targets Milwaukee's near South Side: it encompasses the historic Walker's Point neighborhood and adjoining areas generally bounded by Layton Boulevard (South 27th Street) to the West, Lincoln Avenue to the South, Canal Street to the North, and Lake Michigan to the East. Essentially, our target area is the 53204 zip code.

The near South Side is an ethnically and racially diverse neighborhood with a high concentration of low income families, unemployment, and children living in poverty. Economic development in the community must be an essential component of a program to life near South side families and children out of poverty.

Specifically, the Economic Development Steering Committee of the Initiative asked UWMCED to assist in the formulation of a strategic economic development plan that will identify the potential opportunities to retain and create family supporting jobs on the near South side. We have assisted the Initiative in the following ways:

First, the Center conducted a systematic economic audit of the near South Side, leading to the identification of industries that hold substantial promise for the creation of family supporting jobs in the community. In this report, we present these recommendations to the Steering Committee and participants in the Economic summit, to aid local decision-makers in developing programs that will help nurture the potential of these sectors, either on the near South side or elsewhere in Milwaukee that will be accessible to near South side residents.
Second, the Center has helped the Steering Committee initiate and organize a strategic planning process in which community leaders and residents can participate in the formulation of a community economic development strategy. This Summit is an important step in what hopefully will be an ongoing, participatory process of developing viable strategies for community economic regeneration.

The following document is a summary version of the detailed economic audit that UWMCED has prepared for the Initiative Steering Committee. The full audit provides detailed, benchmark data for economic planning on the near South Side, and will be available by request to all Summit participants. The enclosed report highlights our main findings and recommendations, and should provide sufficient material to inform discussion at the Summit on economic development strategies for the near South Side.

This report does not presume to summarize a final "strategic plan" for near South Side economic development. Rather, it is a "working document," designed to guide community residents and members of the Initiative's Economic Development Steering Committee as they attempt to formulate an action plan for community rejuvenation. This document should be viewed as a starting point for discussion in the community, not a final blueprint developed by outsiders.

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