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Why a Milwaukee group is targeting people in Minneapolis to move here

Posted at 5:19 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 20:06:41-04

MILWAUKEE — As Milwaukee looks ahead to the Spring Election and the mayoral race, one of the issues the candidates will need to tackle is the city’s shrinking population. Milwaukee as a whole is losing residents. If you compare Wisconsin's two largest cities, Milwaukee and Madison, one is growing while the other is shrinking.

In the last decade, according to the U.S. Census, Milwaukee's population has gone down from about 595,000 residents to 577,000 people who call the city home. That is a drop of about 18,000 people. When compared to Madison, that city has seen an increase of nearly 37,000 people. It is why organizations like VISIT Milwaukee are looking to bring in people.

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“Everything begins with a visit. So if we get people to come and be visitors here, be a tourist here, that might encourage them to be a resident someday,” said Joshua Albrecht, vice president of marketing and communications for VISIT Milwaukee.

The organization has a target in mind of who that could be. It is trying to get people in the Midwest who live about six hours away to come here. Specifically, people living in the Minneapolis area.

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“This May we are going to be distributing more than 48,000 copies to direct homes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market as we look to expand into the Minnesota market,” said Joshua Albrecht of VISIT Milwaukee on where they are sending the Milwaukee magazine.

“This May we are going to be distributing more than 48,000 copies to direct homes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market as we look to expand into the Minnesota market,” said Albrecht.

One of the places they hope people will visit is the Bronzeville neighborhood on Milwaukee's near west side. In January, that neighborhood made the New York Times top 52 places in the world to visit.

That neighborhood has seen a revitalization in the last decade.

The vice chair of the Bronzeville Advisory Committee, Deshea Agee, says the Black Holocaust Museum reopened, the former Gimbels department store is being redeveloped for offices and the Bronzeville Center for the Arts plans to create a cultural center.

“It is becoming that area of attraction for African American arts and culture that it was intended to be years ago,” said Agee.

Agee says we don't just need to bring people in, but keep people from leaving. He says he often hears a variety of reasons people move out of the city.

Deshea Agee
Deshea Agee, vice chair of the Bronzeville Advisory Committee, says the Black Holocaust Museum reopened, the former Gimbel Department store is being redeveloped for offices and the Bronzeville Center for the Arts plans to create a cultural center.

“In some cases, it was for opportunities to build onto their careers, and in some cases, some have thought crime is bad in Milwaukee. You know, we still have segregation, you go to other cities and you see people are maybe a little more friendly,” said Agee.

He says building more opportunities for everyone like what is happening in Bronzeville will make a difference.

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"Some of the development projects that we're working on is really about how do we create the Milwaukee that people want to come to, and not only that, create the Milwaukee people want to stay in if they're here,” said Agee.

Though the population of Milwaukee is down overall, the downtown has seen substantial growth in the last decade, according to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. The organization says in 2010 there were about 13,000 downtown residents. In 2019, that number grew to about 32,000. Today, there are nearly 35,000 living in the central part of the city.

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