As many Milwaukee city leaders celebrate an all but certain win of the 2024 Republican National Convention, another major conference is currently being held in Downtown Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Center, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and the Miller High Life Theater are the venues hosting the Cru National Staff Convention through July 24. Cru is a faith-based organization.
According to Visit Milwaukee, the conference is expected to bring nearly 7,000 people to the city throughout the week.
Paul Alexander, the National Director of Information and Operations for Cru, said the organization went through a bid process trying to find cities to host their conference. Ultimately, he said Milwaukee had the facilities and family-friendly environment they were looking for.
"Housing is a big deal for us because we bring our families with us. So we're trying to find places with lots of suite hotels, Air BnB's that are conducive to a family environment at a conference. We also look for a city that wants to have families," Alexander said.
Alexander came a week before most other attendees to get everything set up. So far, he said all but one experience has been positive.
"I did see a car get stolen, so that was a little bit disturbing. But otherwise, I just can't say anything but positive things about the city. The weather has been nice, the people are great, the food is awesome," Alexander said
The Cru conference is one of many the city hopes to continue to host in the coming years. Mark Kass, Editor-in-Chief, of the Milwaukee Business Journal said there's several reasons why more and more organizations are picking the Brew City.
"I think it's the experience, I think it's the hotels, I think it's really kind of unique here. Think of the art museum. I think it's the cost. I think it's the access point, it's easy to fly in here, it's easy to drive here," Kass said.
While many people are focused on the big win of the 2024 Republican National Convention coming on the heels of winning the bid for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Kass said ultimately it's about winning the long-term game which means smaller and mid-sized conferences and conventions.
"I think the 2020 win and the 2024 win are great, but it's the long-term that you want to win," Kass said. "You don't want it to happen only every four years. You want it to happen in July, August and September every year."
Although the 2020 DNC was largely scaled back due to the pandemic, Kass says the preparation for that has only helped the city to become a go-to host, including for the RNC in just two years.