MANDI Feature

Riverworks Week is an Award Finalist

Event that brings businesses and residents together to unite the district is up for an award.

By - Aug 20th, 2020 05:00 pm
Riverworks Week. Photo courtesy of LISC.

Riverworks Week. Photo courtesy of LISC.

“Riverworks Week provides a window for residents in both Harambee and Riverwest to see the exciting things that are going on inside these great buildings and gives a sense of pride that you’re living in a happening place, and these buildings have a lot going on,” Riverworks staff shared.

Riverworks Business Improvement District (BID), Riverworks Development Corporation and the Harambee Neighborhood Improvement District form Riverworks, which is a collaborative that seeks to positively impact residents and their communities. From this collaboration, Riverworks Week was born.

Riverworks Week takes place each year as a result of the desire to improve, maintain, promote, and celebrate the collaborative through a community-wide week of programming and events. The Riverworks team emphasized how uniquely situated the organizations in their collaborative are to connect with residents, not just industry. Their desire to capitalize on the relationship between residents and real estate and show off how the community’s assets led them to starting Riverworks Week.

“That was really the genesis of a lot of this programming, to wake up some of the capacity of our businesses already there — to understand and unite — but also to welcome the broader community,” Carl Nilssen, VP of the Board of Directors for Riverworks Development Corporation (RDC), said.

Darryl Johnson, Executive Director for RDC, told FOX6 News that Riverworks Week is about “really kind of highlighting what we do as a creative district in Milwaukee’s northeast side.”

The intersection of residents from different neighborhoods and real estate development provides opportunity for Riverworks, and the programming for the week focuses on flaunting all the area has to offer. Some of the past activities to engage residents have included a pop-up cafe, a business pitch contest, a bike tour and a 5k run.

The pitch contest, called the Dolphin Pool, is “like Shark Tank, only gentler,” according to its website. It provides a chance for budding entrepreneurs to gain exposure and win prize money.

The events of the week are not just for the fun of it, though. Riverworks Week hopes to foster a feeling of excitement for living in such a vibrant community.

Nilssen said they hope to change some of the public’s perception of the Riverworks area with the programming and show the advantages of its geographical location.

“One of the big objectives of the week is to combat this idea that Riverworks isn’t safe, that it’s falling apart … it’s none of those things,” he said. “It’s not unsafe, our buildings are in great condition, we have Capitol Drive which gives us access to the freeway and to the lake, Holton Street is about a six-minute drive to downtown. … It’s unbelievable the proximity to assets that you would want personally that are within 5-10 minute travel time.”

Johnson noted that the week of events can also encourage business owners to see the potential in opening up operations in the area.

“The other key piece that’s happened is we’ve had small businesses, people in the district come to the events and see the workmanship of what we’re doing to pull it together, but they’re also seeing the district and the camaraderie between businesses and staff,” he said. “We have people come and a year later, they want to open up their business.”

The September events are by no means the only time Riverworks is working to develop its surrounding areas and engage residents, but it offers a sneak peek.

“This one week in September … it’s a great touchstone for so much of what we’re doing,” Nilssen said.

Riverworks Week normally took place every September, but this year the programming will take place virtually.

To learn more about what Riverworks is up to, visit

Categories: Real Estate

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