Near West Side Partners, Inc.
Press Release

Near West Side Partners Announces 4th Annual Rev-Up MKE

Applications now open for the “Shark Tank”-style small business competition

By - Jun 19th, 2019 02:59 pm
Rev-Up MKE

Rev-Up MKE

MILWAUKEE – Near West Side Partners, Inc. (NWSP), along with representatives from Harley-Davidson, Marquette University and WaterStone Bank, today announced that applications are open for the fourth annual Rev-Up MKE competition – a “Shark Tank”-style small business competition with the goal of revitalizing commercial corridors in the Near West Side. After three successful years, the program will again provide an opportunity for startup entrepreneurs to expand or start a business in the Near West Side and receive the support it needs to make it a success.

“The Near West Side is ready to welcome another generation of entrepreneurs to our growing neighborhood,” said Keith Stanley, executive director of NWSP. “We are excited to see continued interest from startups, organizations and businesses seeking to invest in Milwaukee, and bring new jobs and vibrancy to our commercial corridors.”

NWSP remains committed to enhancing key commercial corridors in its neighborhoods. Rev-Up MKE meets a critical need by helping identify and support local businesses that can relocate or open in the Near West Side and bring new services and opportunities to area residents and employees.

Three businesses have officially opened since the launch of Rev-Up MKE back in 2016:

  • First-year winner Pete’s Pops serves up homemade popsicles out of its “pop window” on Vliet Street (and at farmers markets across the region, and at Miller Park);
  • Second-year winner Lisa Kaye Catering has just celebrated the grand opening of its new commercial kitchen and dining hall at the Forest County Potawatomi’s Wgema Campus; and
  • Second-year runner-up Hands in Harmony has been open for almost a year teaching hundreds of piano lessons at its studio on Highland Avenue.

Two additional businesses are coming to the neighborhood soon:

  • Third-year runner-up Triciclo Perú MKE is due to open the doors of its Near West Side empanada restaurant this summer; and
  • Third-year winner KalyANa Organics plans to bring her organic, gluten-free baked goods to the Near West Side in the near future.

“We are thrilled to be a partner in this unique program for the fourth year in a row,” said Doug Gordon, president and CEO of WaterStone Bank. “As an active small business lender in Milwaukee, we understand the need for new business formation and entrepreneurship to grow and develop our communities.”

WaterStone Bank will provide seed funds for the winning venture and is sponsoring the Rev-Up MKE reception event. Similar to previous years, the program will culminate with a “Live Pitch Event” on September 24, hosted at the Rave/Eagle’s Ballroom where each finalist will present before a panel of judges.

“The Near West Side has been home to some of Milwaukee’s greatest entrepreneurs – from William Harley and Arthur Davidson to Fredrick Miller,” said Kelsey Otero, associate director at Marquette University and project lead for the Rev-Up MKE competition. “Marquette’s innovation team is proud to be working with Harley-Davidson and WaterStone Bank to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in the neighborhood.”

The winner – who will be announced that evening – will receive significant resources to support their new venture, which will be located in a Near West Side storefront, including:

  • $10,000 cash gift;
  • $25,000 in in-kind services (architectural renderings, ongoing small business mentoring, free legal audit and communication support); and
  • Advertising, recognition and support from Near West Side Partners and anchor institutions

Applications are available on the NWSP website at, and at the Near West Side Partners’ office, located at 624 N. 24th St. Applications close on July 22 at 11:59 p.m. Finalists will be selected by a panel with notification announcement scheduled for the end of July.


Near West Side Partners, Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission to revitalize and sustain the Near West Side as a thriving business and residential corridor, through collaborative efforts to promote commercial corridor development, improved housing, unified neighborhood identity and branding, and greater safety for residents and businesses.  Near West Side Partners, Inc. is an organization of businesses and civic leaders from throughout the Near West Side, including the organization’s five anchor institutions – Advocate Aurora Health, Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, MillerCoors and Potawatomi Business Development Corp.

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