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Milwaukee, WI City Showcase

Enhanced Nighttime Economy through Partnerships and Licensing

The city of Milwaukee launched a series of initiatives in response to the rapid growth of downtown’s nighttime economy. Recognizing nightlife as an economic driver, strategies provide a balance of support and proactive public safety. A foundation of trust takes work, time and ongoing effort. Hear how police, food truck vendors, policy makers and residents opened dialogue and established partnerships to build a better downtown. You’ll learn how Milwaukee virtually eliminated the presence of aggressive transients, public drinking, and significantly reduced aggravated assaults and thefts of vehicles.

Liquor Licensing Reforms:
  • The city adopted more transparent and customer-service friendly procedures for granting licenses. The reforms came in the wake of scandal involving allegations of bribery and extortion of local business owners in exchange for liquor licenses. Learn about how the city clearly communicates expectations to applicants and notifies residents living in proximity to a new liquor license business.
  • Code RED: The Milwaukee Police Department’s downtown precinct created a pilot program called Responsible Entertainment Deployment (Code “RED”) in 2011, which deployed two dozen extra officers in six downtown entertainment zones on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Find out how the project dramatically reduced crime downtown, and why businesses endorsed it.
  • Food Truck Program: Mobile Food operators vs. brick and mortar - Is there a happy medium? Learn about the process unfolding in Milwaukee.
  • The “Right Cops" - do you have them working in your entertainment district? Officers assigned to entertainment districts must possess strong communication skills as well as knowing when to switch from “Cop Mode” to “Concierge Mode”. Find out specific character traits for the ideal entertainment officer.
  • Expand your nighttime initiatives to manage daytime conventions. Daytime conventions and events will often drive nearby entertainment districts, especially mid-week. Learn how an appropriate policing approach will help to keep the conventions coming back.
  • Connectivity between Clusters of Activity: Learn how Milwaukee is working to strengthen connectivity for the passageway between the 3rd Ward and Downtown. Partners worked together on a competition that will brighten the passage to make a friendlier connection between several entertainment zones. Learn about the process and where the project stands today.



Stephen R. Basting

Elizabeth A. Weirick

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