Near West Side Partners, Inc.
Press Release

Near West Side Partners Launches $5 Million Challenge Fund

NWSP has already secured $2M+ in commitments and begun making first neighborhood investments

By - Apr 12th, 2016 11:12 am

MILWAUKEE – Near West Side Partners, Inc. (NWSP) along with representatives of its anchor institutions, announced today the launch of the Near West Side Economic Development “Challenge Fund” – a $5 million, 3-year initiative that will create new opportunities for investment in economic development efforts in the Near West Side. The Challenge Fund was announced as part of a news conference hosted at the Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where NWSP leadership was joined by representatives from the five anchor institutions and many other Near West Side organizations.

“The Challenge Fund will provide critical resources for us to invest in priority projects in the Near West Side,” said Keith Stanley, Executive Director of Near West Side Partners, Inc. “We applaud the leadership and tremendous support from our initial investors, especially Milwaukee Urban Strategic Investment Corporation (MUSIC) and the Harley-Davidson Foundation.”

NWSP has committed to raising $5 million over 3-years – and it has already secured $2+ million, exceeding its first year goal. This includes an initial $800,000 matching grant from Milwaukee County, secured last Fall, in addition to $1.2 million in private resources committed by Milwaukee Urban Strategic Investment Corporation (MUSIC) and the Harley-Davidson Foundation.

“We are tremendously excited to play a role in the revitalization of Milwaukee’s Near West Side,” said Pat O’Brien, President of MUSIC / Milwaukee Development Corporation. “We are proud to be working with such great partners and investing in a clear, strategic effort to improve this important part of our City. We hope that our commitment will serve to attract others to join our work.

The Challenge Fund will be managed to provide a permanent, ongoing source of investment resources for the Near West Side. For example, the Fund will be used to acquire priority properties in the Near West Side, which can be rehabilitated and sold, returning assets to the Challenge Fund for reuse on future properties. Likewise, the Fund may provide Small Business Investments that will consist, in part, of revolving loans that enable the Challenge Fund to reinvest capital through a series of new businesses in the Near West Side.

“Harley-Davidson has been a part of the Near West Side for more than a century,” said Tonit Calaway, Vice President of Human Resources for Harley-Davidson, Inc. and president of the Harley-Davidson Foundation. “We’re proud to be reinvesting in the neighborhood we call home. We believe the Challenge Fund is one more tool we can use to continue the great momentum in the Near West Side.”

Initial Investments

NWSP will utilize the “Challenge Fund” to invest in the priority initiatives established in its recently adopted Strategic Plan. The plan identifies and prioritizes key efforts that will best add value to the Near West Side in four focus areas – housing, safety, commercial corridor development and neighborhood identity and branding – as well as connected areas such as workforce development, education and health care.

NWSP recognizes that many of its efforts require significant capital investments. One goal, clearly identified and supported by local elected officials, is the acquisition of problematic parcels in the Near West Side to gain control of strategic sites and provide an opportunity for future development. NWSP also plans to help provide resources to incubate new businesses in the Near West Side, enhance the aesthetics in key commercial corridors and undertake efforts to promote increased homeownership.

Among the initial sites targeted for acquisition and redevelopment, include:

  • Residential Properties: NWSP is looking for opportunities to acquire, rehab and sell properties that have the potential to improve the residential housing stock in the Near West Side or provide opportunities for walk-to-work housing for employees. One example of that effort is the planned acquisition of a City-owned foreclosure property at 3424-26 W. Highland Ave. Currently a rooming house, the property would be acquired, converted into a duplex, and made available for walk-to-work housing.
  • Commercial Properties: NWSP is looking to target strategic sites in commercial corridors. Among its first planned acquisitions is a City-owned commercial property at the corner of 35th and State that NWSP would acquire, rehab and make available for a commercial use (with residential above) to bring renewed vitality to this vital intersection in the Near West Side.


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 – Aurora Health Care, Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, MillerCoors and Potawatomi Business Development Corp.

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