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City Financing of Northwestern Mutual Tower Providing Local Employment

Northwestern Mutual’s new downtown tower is reshaping Milwaukee’s skylineNorthwestern Mutual’s new downtown tower is reshaping Milwaukee’s skyline, and, at the same time, the project is connecting hundreds of Milwaukee workers with career opportunities in the building trades. Mayor Tom Barrett recently discussed the progress of the project’s Workforce Development Program, which is providing construction jobs and training opportunities for Milwaukee residents. 

A newly released report shows that Northwestern Mutual and Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)/BIG STEP are on target and/or ahead of schedule in meeting all contract requirements and goals to ensure access to skilled, qualified workers for the project.

WRTP/BIG STEP and its industry partners, along with the Building Trades and Employ Milwaukee, began working on establishing the jobs pipeline long before the project groundbreaking.  The partners have cooperated on Residential Preference Certification, outreach, and job readiness.

So far there are 355 Milwaukee residents from underserved, low-income neighborhoods who are working or have worked on the construction project, performing jobs in 21 trades.

“The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons is an amazing addition to the City of Milwaukee’s landscape, skyline, workforce and economic development,” Mayor Barrett said. “This progress is another sign of what an incredible corporate citizen Northwestern Mutual is and we could not be more proud to be the home of Northwestern Mutual.”

There are 600 Milwaukee residents enrolled in training through the partnership, with 465 in BIG STEP Apprenticeship prep/tutoring. Over 4,200 individuals participated in the program orientation and over 3,000 went through the application and assessment phase. This surpassed the 1,000 person and 500 person goals respectively.

The Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project is a $450 million construction project that includes a commitment that 40 percent of the hours at the construction site will be done by unemployed or underemployed City of Milwaukee residents. Tax Incremental Financing is supporting the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, including $500,000 for workforce readiness.

“It’s not only about jobs for individuals, but how we are bringing Milwaukee businesses to the table,” said Sandy Botcher, head of the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project. “To date, $105 million worth of contracts have gone to Milwaukee small businesses so that we are helping to grow their future as we build our own.”

City and workforce development officials emphasized that the Workforce Development Program for the Northwestern Mutual project will provide people with jobs that can lead to long-term careers in the construction industry. All goals must be achieved by the end of the project anticipated to be in 2017.