opts against paying regional economic group in 2015
Milwaukee 7 still partnering with Ozaukee County officials
By Dave Fidlin - News
PORT WASHINGTON — Ozaukee
County’s government will not be contributing financially to a
seven-county economic development organization, heading into
2015. But county supervisors say their support toward growing
the local economy is as strong as ever.
Amid deliberations over next year’s budget, Ozaukee County Board
members recently jostled back and forth about the merits of
contributing financially to Milwaukee 7, a nearly decade-old
regional organization focused on economic development.
As its name suggests, Milwaukee 7 represents Milwaukee County
and the six surrounding counties: Kenosha, Ozaukee, Racine,
Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. Since its inception,
Milwaukee 7 has undertaken a number of initiatives, including
talent attraction and retention activities, workforce
development and public-private partnerships.
took a temperature of the board … it became clear there
was not widespread support”.
— Dan Becker Ozaukee County Board supervisor on the
board members’ interest in paying the $10,000 dues for
Milwaukee 7 membership
When it was founded in
2005, the Ozaukee County Board contributed financially to
Milwaukee 7. In the ensuing years, the amount was whittled down
until it completely evaporated.
In an attempt at reversing course, Supervisor Dan Becker last
month suggested the county contribute $10,000 toward Milwaukee 7
in 2015. Becker presented the board with a resolution in support
of the financial allocation, but he eventually rescinded it
before a formal vote was taken.
“As we took a temperature of the board … it became clear there
was not widespread support,” Becker said of the funding
proposal. “I think it’s good to have everybody behind an
initiative such as this.”
Recounting the recent deliberations, Becker said there was a
contingent of the board that did not believe the county was
getting enough of a return on its investment through the
Milwaukee 7 partnership.
Efforts to reach a representative at Milwaukee 7 for comment on
the county board’s recent decision were unsuccessful by the News
According to its website, Milwaukee 7 operates from income
through a variety of sources – local and county dollars being
one of many contributions. Other funding buckets have included
federal and state dollars, grants and proceeds from tax
incremental financing districts.
While Ozaukee County itself has not been contributing to
Milwaukee 7 in recent years, several local public and private
leaders do serve on the organization’s board. Among them: Thomas
Meaux, county administrator; Jennifer Rothstein, supervisor;
Kathleen Schilling, executive director of Ozaukee Economic
Development and Carol Schneider, CEO of Seek Inc.
County Board Chairman Lee Schlenvogt said he and his elected
colleagues will revisit financial contributions toward Milwaukee
7 as the year progresses.
“We are all strong believers in economic development,”
Schlenvogt said. “But this is something we’re going to continue
to review. We’d like to set some kinds of goals (for Milwaukee
7), but we haven’t quite decided what they should be. This is
something we’re going to talk about more after the first of the
Becker said he envisions the actual funding debate being
revisited in the middle of 2015. From his vantage point, he said
he would like to receive periodic updates from a Milwaukee 7
staff member at county board meetings.
“We want to see some results,” Becker said. “It would be nice to
receive some updates and see how they are progressing in Ozaukee
While the county board continues to maintain a moratorium on
funding Milwaukee 7, Becker said they are providing muscle to
Milwaukee 7’s local counterpart, Ozaukee Economic Development.
Becker said he and his colleagues recently issued a challenge to
OED. If the organization can raise $15,000 toward programs aimed
at spurring economic development, the county board will match
Becker himself also has joined OED’s board of directors.