MILWAUKEE — It's been two years too long for thousands of Northwestern Mutual employees who eagerly returned to Milwaukee over the weekend for the company's annual financial network meeting. A meeting that's being held in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
"When it was virtual, it didn't have the same energy," said Aaron Shapira.
"To be back and to be around the lakefront to be around the people coming to see all the new development, it feels good to be here," said financial advisor, LaPiere Carby.
Representatives with Northwestern Mutual say the 142nd annual meeting has hit a new record. More than 13,000 employees, along with their family members, have registered and are staying in Milwaukee for the event. With its biggest turnout yet, the company is projecting an economic impact of $20 million on the city.
"When you have a two-year hiatus, it means a lot more," said Jason Hyler, the general manager of Oak Barrel Public House.
Hyler, along with a number of other restaurants in the Deer District, definitely saw and felt that financial impact during the lunch hour alone Monday on day three of the four-day conference.
"The last time I think we've seen volume of this magnitude would be the Bucks playoffs. Not this past year, but the year before," said Hyler. "This is a hurry up, get them what they need, take care of them the best you can, and make sure you promote it and get them to come back later."
With only a little time left, employees are making sure they get the full Cream City experience that they know and love.
"We've gone through a lot of the pubs. The best part is getting all the food, beer, and cheese," said Shapira.
"I always have to go to Kopp's when I come home. You got Rocky Rococo's, you got Cousins. These are things you can't get nowhere else but in Wisconsin," said Carby.
The last day of the annual meeting will take place on Tuesday and will end with a concert on Summerfest grounds with musical acts that include Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line.