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'We see Milwaukee as a city on the rise': American Family Insurance reveals details for downtown

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 20:45:00-05

MILWAUKEE — American Family Insurance is getting a lot of attention for its deal to take over Miller Park's naming rights in two years. But, it's the company's plan to create an office and jobs in downtown Milwaukee that could have a bigger impact.

Company executives are not sharing specific details yet, but they confirm they're getting closer to finalizing the land or building they will develop in downtown Milwaukee to house hundreds of employees. They are reportedly focused on downtown, west of the Milwaukee River.

"People are asking why Milwaukee?" said Justin Cruz, the Vice President of Inclusive Excellence for American Family Insurance. "By building a stronger presence in Milwaukee with a more diverse community, and also a larger economic employment base, we might actually be more successful bringing more diverse talent into the state of Wisconsin."

Madison has long been the home of American Family Insurance, but Cruz says Madison can't compete with the "sheer size" or "city feel" of Milwaukee.

After years of millennials leaving Milwaukee for jobs elsewhere, experts say more are staying, or wanting to return.

"That's creating a lot of interesting momentum and energy," said Amanda Daering, the CEO of Newance, a company she created to connect companies to millennials in Milwaukee."The awareness around being an employer of choice for young people is at an all-time high."

Over the next two to five years, American Family Insurance will be looking for local tech talent to fill new jobs in everything from data science and software to finance and marketing. The company is already making plans for community partnerships.

"Partnerships that provide career development starting in high school," Cruz said. "Getting more young girls and minorities into coding. Working with the school district. Making sure we can hire local. Both in the community and in our customer base, we're seeing more racial and ethnic diversity that we really want to be able to reflect that in our workforce."

"That's crucial because I think we could do a better job of showing students there are cool jobs here," Daering said. "We're getting there. Young tech workers here have access to an emerging startup scene and business that are turning to tech. Milwaukee is also much more affordable than the typical coastal tech cities. You can have a great quality of life here and accessibility to business leaders. The chance to make a difference and make a name for yourself."

"We want to be part of the revitalization we're seeing here," Cruz said. "We see Milwaukee as a city on the rise."