Mayor Barrett Delivers 2018 State of the City Address
Februray 26, 2018
Prioritizes Economic Development, Housing, Public Health and Safer Communities
MILWAUKEE – Highlighting Milwaukee’s progress and growth, Mayor Tom Barrett presented the 2018 State of the City Address on Monday at the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. Mayor Barrett emphasized the City’s efforts in strengthening neighborhoods, promoting job growth, building healthier and safer communities, and improving educational initiatives in Milwaukee.
“We in Milwaukee are in the midst of a remarkable era,” Mayor Barrett said. “Years from now, Milwaukee residents will look back at this time as a pivotal moment in which we established who we are and built the foundation for our future.”
Mayor Barrett highlighted economic development throughout the City. In heart of Milwaukee, companies like Bader Rutter, Hammes Company, Foxconn and BMO have grown and relocated. He applauded Northwestern Mutual for engaging local companies in the construction of its new tower. Northwestern Mutual awarded $127 million in contracts to Local Small Business Enterprises, almost a third of the applicable contracts for their new building. He also previewed the opening of the Bucks arena and the street car, “The Hop”, expected later this year.
Mayor Barrett issued a challenge to work together to improve housing opportunities for 10,000 Milwaukee households. He announced he is ready to commit significant tax increment financing to incentivize the creation of thousands of affordable housing units over the next decade.
To expand on the City’s economic progress beyond downtown, the Mayor expressed continued investments in the surrounding neighborhoods. In 2017, four tax incremental districts were established in neighborhoods outside of downtown with plans for more development projects in the coming year. In Sherman Park, an ambitious goal to renovate 100 homes has made progress with 75 homes acquired and work underway in 25 properties. The City also opened the doors to Mitchell Street library on the city’s south side.
The Mayor announced that Associated Bank has agreed to purchase a significant portion of the STRONG HOMES loan portfolio in an effort to strengthen Milwaukee homeownership. He affirmed that access to quality housing is one of his priorities in 2018.
When discussing public health, Mayor Barrett endorsed innovative collaborations to address the challenges faced by Milwaukee’s youngest residents. In the past year, programs like the Strong Baby campaign and Trauma Response Initiative have contributed to the physical and mental well-being of children. Mayor Barrett reiterated his dedication to lead abatement and noted that since 2003, the number of children with an elevated blood levels of 10 micrograms or more is down by 90%. And the number of children with blood lead levels of five micrograms is down by 70%.
Mayor Barrett reported progress made in public safety with reductions in homicides for the second consecutive year and over 2,759 guns taken off the streets. His support for programs like Blueprint for Peace, Cease Milwaukee, and Beyond the Bell have engaged adults and youth in violence prevention programming over the past year. He pronounced his support for victims of gun violence and denounced the willingness of federal and state politicians to impose harsher gun laws. Mayor Barrett also voiced priority to continue improving community and police relations.
Mayor Barrett touted last year’s Earn & Learn figures saying the program raised over $700,000 in the past year and put more than 2,800 youths to work. The Compete Milwaukee jobs program has provided employment and skills training to more than 275 City residents to date. Additional support programming will be provided in 2018 with the establishment of Mentor Greater Milwaukee and the Office of Early Childhood Initiatives.
Appreciation remarks were offered for community and faith based leaders who have taken center stage to repudiate hate and advance on-the-ground efforts. Mayor Barret embraced the diversity of his constituency and called attention to the discrimination, marginalization, and abuse that they face. He called for all to unite and contribute to the betterment of the many social, economic, and systemic issues pressing our City.
“When we face challenges, we will overcome them. And, when we see opportunity we will embrace it,” Mayor Barrett said. “I invite everyone to join me in guiding in what our future holds making sure the great things ahead of us are broadly shared and rewarding for all Milwaukee.”
Read the full 2018 State of the City Address.