Riverworks Newsletter - August 2020
Greeting Friends and Neighbors:
During these challenging COVID-19 times, Riverworks Development Corporation will continue to work hard at having a positive impact on the economic development landscape on this area. At this time, we are not having any in-person meetings or clients in the office; however, we do have an inside drop box for people to leave their information for staff. Riverworks' staff is currently working split-shifts in the office a number of days and remotely the other days. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their understanding and support in helping us continue to serve you in a safe and healthy way. Our staff is committed to providing the best possible service to help our neighbors, partners and clients. As always, we are here to assist your needs - no matter how big or small.
I am very optimistic about the rest of the year; we have so much more to do before the end of the year to impact this community and the people we serve in many positive ways. The Riverworks area has experienced good growth and some minor set-backs, but overall the organization continues to be at the forefront of providing quality services to businesses and residents. Riverworks continues to work hard at increasing community prosperity, building strong public and private partnerships, bringing positive developments to the area, and creating programs that provide residents with the necessary tools to be successful in the workplace.
REMEMBER, BUY LOCAL — Riverworks area is a great place to live, shop and to do business, let’s continue to promote and support our local businesses.
Extraordinary Care from the Financial Clinic
The City of Milwaukee was selected by the national nonprofit organization the Cities For Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE) to receive $80,000 in grant funding, technical assistance and training to launch a new public Financial Navigator program. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Citi Foundation, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase support the CFE Fund’s Financial Navigators efforts.
The Financial Navigator program is designed to help residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing remote assistance in navigating critical financial issues and making referrals to other appropriate social services and resources. The City of Milwaukee will offer these Financial Navigator services in partnership with Riverworks Financial Clinic starting in October.
Community Engagement Through a Pandemic
Community engagement has been challenging during COVID-19 with many activities being postponed or canceled. The events and activities that are still happening are taking many precautions to ensure all involved are safe.
The big Harambee Clean Up definitely has a new look this year. Being a collaborative effort between several organizations such as Westcare, Safe & Sound, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Running Rebels, 5 Points Neighborhood Association, Milwaukee Job Works, Historic King Drive BID, Northcott Neighborhood House, Operation Dream, Riverworks and various residents from the community, it was decided to focus on delivering clean up kits to residents for them to keep. Special thanks to Bader Philanthropies for their continued support. Interested in a clean- up a kit? Please text CLEAN UP to 414-250-8164, call 414-662-4254 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please follow MKE Harambee Clean on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The LOVE YOUR BLOCK Milwaukee program, through the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation, provides community members and organizations opportunities to engage residents in the revitalization of their neighborhood through mini grants on city owned vacant lots. Riverworks has been working with Ms. Josephine Key, and her neighbors on the 3100 block of Buffum, to activate a city lot into an inviting green space for the community. Garden beds, a pathway and benches have been installed with solar lights and a shade tree coming in the near future. Residents have been maintaining the garden and cutting the grass. Special thanks to Groundwork Milwaukee for their assistance.
The Riverwest Farmer’s Market is going strong as it going into its 10th week. Due to COVID-19 concerns it was moved to the 2700 N Pierce block in order to facilitate proper social distancing. Making sure the community still has access to fresh local produce while maintaining safety is paramount during this most troubling time. There are several farmers with a variety of produce, eggs/meat, bakery, prepared foods to go, along with a small selection of body products and other creative products. The Market is held each Sunday from 10-3pm through October 25th. Please visit riverwestmarket.com or follow Riverwest Gardeners Market on Facebook and Instagram.
If you have not filled out your Census form yet please visit 2020census.gov. The information collected helps determine congressional representation, and informs billions of dollars in federal funding for education, libraries, emergency services along with community infrastructure.
Arts, Culture, Creative Placemaking
Music on the Beerline - August 14, 2020
A virtual world won't stop the show. The 2nd Annual Music on the Beerline music series will be held Friday, August 14, 2020 from 6-8pm via Facebook. This year's show is two hours of jam-packed information and entertainment from some of Milwaukee's most amazing leaders and artists. We have Genesis Renji, Brit Nicole, Corey Pieper, Jade, Sista Strings, Zach Pietrini and Cigarette Break! You do not want to miss this! Join us and dance along.
The Buzz in THE VIBE
Surviving and Thriving Through it All
On June 1st, THE VIBE co-working office space reopened. Due to COVID-19, and some broken windows from vandalism that required the entire front to be boarded up, there have been some changes - but THE VIBE lives on! The co-working space has continued to operate with reduced hours, existing members only, and only virtual events. Nonetheless, THE VIBE continues strong because of the number of entrepreneurs and business people that connect with THE VIBE to continue to work hard on their business dreams! THE VIBE is happy to share that its effective partnerships with BIZSTARTS, Small Business Development Center (SBDC), WI Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), and MKEBlack allow for entrepreneurs to truly survive and thrive during these very challenging economic times. THE VIBE provides a low-cost one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs that seek to start and grow their business. To catch THE VIBE, please visit our website, call, or email us.
Workforce Development in Action
Persevering in Trying Times
There is no doubt, we are in trying times. We are taking more precautions and this is affecting every area of our lives. Due to COVID-19, this has changed how we even get a job. On July 15, 2020, Riverworks partnered with Employ Milwaukee, the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Urban League, and other organizations and businesses for a Drive-Thru Job Fair. Our collective efforts allowed over 500 participants to receive current employment and training literature safely.
Riverworks is always concerned about the whole person! Providing employment services through our Workforce Development department is a small-but-vital part of our organization. We understand that to be successful in your future endeavors, training and education may be needed. Although going to school looks different nowadays, virtual schooling is available and we link individuals to current educational and training opportunities (such as GED, CNA, CBRF, Construction, CDL, Administrative certifications...). In partnering with local agencies, we ensure individuals are offered all the tools necessary to be successful in their careers.
Real Estate Development
New Murals on the Beerline Trail
Over the past 3 years, the Beerline Trail Leadership Committee has been working with Hood Design Studios to create an impactful and lasting design on the Linear Park portion of the Beerline Trail, from Keefe and Richards to Capitol Drive. Out of that collaboration, a master plan has been developed to transform the area into a neighborhood asset. The most critical part of this project is the Vienna Accessway, where a new access point will be created between the Beerline Building at 3775 N Richards and 3rd Street Industrial LLC at 3832 N 3rd Street.
Riverworks, in collaboration with Hood Design Studios and Vedale Hill, plan to install murals along the Vienna Accessway as the first step in establishing the new trail entrance. The purpose of these murals are to create a welcoming and familiar space for Harambee and Riverwest residents and businesses and to be a destination place in the Milwaukee area. The final design of the murals are still under review, however plans for installation will occur near the end of summer or throughout fall 2020.
BID #25: Milwaukee's Creative District
The Riverworks BID #25 is made up of over 220 businesses, employing over 2,500 people; as liaisons for the district, it is our duty to enhance the area through streetscape and building beautification, increasing safety and security through our improvement grant and being an economic resource for the businesses and property owners within the district. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the small businesses, especially our creatives, quiet hard and that why we want Riverworks Week 2020 to be a catalytic marketing tool to directly promote our creative and unique businesses.
Riverworks Week is a celebratory tribute to the businesses, community organizations and partners of the Riverworks BID #25: Milwaukee’s Creative District and this year we are taking it virtual. We are viewing this new normal as an opportunity to reach a larger audience and to cater specific content that highlights the unique qualities within the BID. This year’s Riverworks Week events will include Milwaukee’s original pitch contest, The Dolphin Pool. The Pool will showcase 6 entrepreneur finalists to pitch their start-up to our panel of expert judges and our Community Choice vote will allow you, the viewer, to have a say in who wins our specialized prize package. The second event of Riverworks Week is Creative District ALIVE, a promotional opportunity for 30 businesses in the district to share their story in a 30 second video.
Harambee NID #7
The Harambee NID #7 assesses property taxes of all residential properties within the boundaries of the NID, and pools that money to fund home repair grants. In 2020, those grants are being allocated specifically for replacing deteriorating roofs. Our staff and board are working hard to continuously improve the processes for applicants, contracts, and distribution of funds, so as to streamline the process, make sure those with the greatest needs are taken care of, and protect both the homeowners and the contractors. There are ongoing conversations among the board about what types of repairs would bring the most value to the residents and the community, and how to evolve as an organization.
2020 has presented additional obstacles as we have had to adapt our typical annual meeting into a virtual event; regardless, we managed to have a better attendance than normal and significant response for the Board of Directors election. We welcome back some fantastic board members from 2019, as well as some new faces; please join us in celebrating our 2020 NID Board of Directors: Ella Bennett, Thomas Chelimsky, Fernando Delgadillo, Cordella Jones, Anthony Kazee, Todd Slusar, and Lakeisha Wilder. We are truly grateful for their dedication!
Shout Out to Our Supporters!
Riverworks would like to send a special shout out to major supporters of our Financial Clinic and affordable housing programs. Wells Fargo, the Zilber Family Foundation, Bader Philanthropies, US Bank, and Associated Bank are helping us meet the increased demand for our financial counseling, virtual tax services, stable housing, and access to a variety of critical benefits. Thank you all for your ongoing support and extra help during this important time!