Industrial Land Analysis

In August of 2021 the Department of City released an updated Industrial Land Analysis. It was approved by Common Council on September 21, 2021 as file number 210587

This document updates the 2004 Industrial Land Analysis and is designed to build a shared understanding of Milwaukee’s current industrial sector and provides a roadmap for future decision-making. This analysis will influence land use and zoning decisions for years to come, and includes a tool for the City of Milwaukee to use in making future decisions regarding land use and zoning.


Growing Prosperity, Milwaukee’s 10-year Action Agenda for Economic Development called for a data-driven, location-based approach to attract development to Milwaukee’s industrial areas. Growing Prosperity set forth ambitious goals for Milwaukee to return 500 acres of vacant and underutilized land to productive use for industrial redevelopment and to consistently maintain an inventory of 100 available acres of developable land for manufacturers. To achieve these goals, Growing Prosperity recommended updating the City of Milwaukee’s analysis of industrial zoned land to ensure that zoning regulations and industrial land policies and strategies align with current trends and market forces impacting industrial development, particularly within key regional asset industry clusters identified by the Milwaukee 7.

 Milwaukee has a long, proud history as a manufacturing powerhouse. This industrial legacy remains critical to the Milwaukee’s economy today. Industrial activity accounts for 45,000 jobs in the City and over $3.6 billion in wages. Industrial jobs are declining as part of a nation-wide trend, but Milwaukee remains a strong industrial hub compared to other cities. Milwaukee’s seven Industrial BIDs contain most of the City’s manufacturing jobs. In all, there are about 2,160 businesses within the City’s Industrial BIDs. Milwaukee’s Industrial Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are critical employment centers for the City.

The land use and facilities needs of modern manufacturers continue to evolve and the City of Milwaukee is ensuring that its industrial zoning and land use policies facilitate continued reinvestment and job creation. The seven Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Milwaukee were integral partners in this planning effort. This industrial land analysis will help individual BIDs refine their own strategies as well as provide overarching guidance that can be used across the City of Milwaukee to support modern industry through the zoning code and other land use policies.


The Plan estalished five goals:

  1. Increase resiliency of Milwaukee’s industrial economy.

  2. Improve the utilization of existing industrial land for new jobs and economic activity.

  3. Align activities to promote and expand industrial jobs to meet the needs of BIPOC residents and business owners.

  4. Capitalize on Milwaukee’s manufacturing history to create the next generation of makers and entrepreneurs.

  5. Improve the physical and social connections between the Industrial BIDs and surrounding communities.


The Plan identifies 10 different strategies to support these goals.  Read the plan linked below to learn more about how the City and its partners intend to implement these different strategies.

  1. Align zoning to protect and expand industrial uses where appropriate

  2. Expand land assembly, clean up and site preparation activities for industrial uses

  3. Accelerate the rehabilitation of older industrial spaces for new businesses

  4. Create an entity that can be more proactive in the development of small and mid-sized industrial space

  5. Identify where contemporary "warehousing and distribution" fit in future planning

  6. Transition away from industrial use where appropriate

  7. Invest in key public realm improvements in Industrial BIDs

  8. Make the case for industrial jobs

  9. Connect businesses to businesses and businesses to neighbors

  10. Continue to improve access to industrial job opportunities



Plan Documents

2021 Industrial Land Analysis

2004 Industrial Land Analysis 

Additional Project Resources

Link to project website

Plan Infographic:

 809 N. Broadway, 2nd floor, Milwaukee, WI 53202 




For More Information

Monica Wauck Smith, AICP
Senior Planner
[email protected]

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