February 17th marked the first Quarterly Member Meeting of 2016! The bulk of the meeting focused on the forthcoming redevelopment of Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor area, which is being led by the Harbor District Initiative. Thank you to Ruekert & Mielke of Waukesha, WI for hosting The Water Council and our Members with record breaking attendance.
KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: HARBOR DISTRICT INITIATIVE
The main presentation focused on the redevelopment potential of Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor area, located south of the Historic Third Ward, east of S. 1st Street and north of the Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee. The Inner Harbor area lies adjacent to Milwaukee’s Water Technology District, which was the subject of a panel discussion at the 2015 Q4 Member Meeting.
Lilith Fowler, Executive Director for Harbor District, Inc. gave an overview of the current state of Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor and surrounding area that comprise the District. She emphasized her organization’s long-term goal is “to achieve a world-class revitalization of Milwaukee’s harbor that sets the standard for how waterfronts work environmentally, economically, and socially over the next century.”
Previously, the land that makes up the Harbor District was rich marshland, home to wildlife, rice fields at the confluence of three rivers. Eventually it became the center of commerce for the region, as Milwaukee became the leading shipper of grain in the world for a time period. The Harbor was an economic driver for the city, as a hub of industry, mills and foundries. Naturally, the employees of the Inner Harbor built-up the surrounding neighborhoods to be close to this job center.
Today, this formerly bustling corridor, while still an active port, is now home to 100+ acres of brownfields, and the once sprawling acres of wetlands, have been reduced to a mere 6.6 acres. Fowler was quick to point out that the time is now to focus on the area’s redevelopment potential, as multiple opportunities exist, including:
More proof that the time is now to act on the plan being developed by the Harbor District, Inc.:
Moving forward there remain many challenges and obstacles. The most apparent being funding of this massive project, and the timeline it will take to transform the sprawling site. Environmental remediation costs are estimated to be in the millions, the key question, where will this money come from? Additional challenges that emphasize the need for public/private partnership to successfully redevelop the Inner Harbor, are:
Harbor District, Inc. has already made progress on their redevelopment goals. They have conducted an online survey, receiving more than 900 responses; completed key informant interviews; and hosted a Waterfront Innovations Charrette in 2015 with both national and international teams resulting in an overall Water/Land Use Plan. Get involved, and find out more about the Harbor District Initiative here.
Water Council Program Updates
Meghan Jensen, Director of Marketing & Membership, outlined the changes attendees can expect to see at Water Summit 2016: Establishing a Water Resilient City, including:
The biggest announcement was the introduction of a Water Summit Moderator who will lead this new format; Charles Fishman, Author and Fast Company contributor, will serve as Moderator for the entire Summit. Register today and save with early bird rates here.
Karen Frost, Director of Small Business Development, highlighted results from the recently conducted Small Business Survey that was conducted in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Institute for Water Business.
Lastly, Elizabeth Thelen, Director of Entrepreneurship & Talent, announced that the application process for BREW 4 will open in late March. Thelen also introduced Brennon Garthwait as the newly appointed Open Innovation Manager at Veolia and BREW Corporate Liaison. The Water Council and Veolia recently announced the winners of POW!, the first corporate accelerator that is part of The Water Council’s BREW Corporate program.
Many thanks to Ruekert & Mielke for hosting our Q1 Member Meeting, mark your calendars for our Q2 Member Meeting, Wednesday, May 12, additional details to come.
Interested in joining The Water Council? Please contact Isaiah Perez, Member Services & Development Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org