Economy & Business
1:00 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Milwaukee Partners With Northwestern Mutual to Put Residents to Work

Milwaukee residents will soon work on building a new tower for Northwestern Mutual, under an initiative city leaders announced Monday.
Credit Marti Mikkelson

NML is in the midst of dismantling one of its main buildings in downtown Milwaukee – and replacing it with a skyscraper. Within months, nearly 150 city residents could find themselves working on the project.

Workers are nearly finished demolishing the old, brown NML building. Later this year, they’ll begin constructing the new tower, which will take until 2017.

“It’s going to be a major construction project and our goal as a partner in that project is to provide opportunities for our residents to be involved,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced the initiative at City Hall.

He says the city will use $500,000 to train and hire residents for construction jobs.

“We want to see people get the skills they need so they can have jobs to support their families,” Barrett says.

Barrett says the city plans to place 150 people in jobs on the Northwestern Mutual site and another 200 on other construction projects.

The jobs and training will be staggered, according to Linda Stewart. She’s chief operating officer of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, another partner in the initiative.

“All of the jobs will not start at the same time," Stewart says. "This is going to be a long-term opportunity. We want to get as many people in the pipeline as possible because there will be opportunities over multiple years."

Stewart says the half-million dollars will go a long way toward employing people well beyond this year.

Earl Buford, CEO of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership, says other opportunities on the horizon include road construction, sewer work and projects within Milwaukee Public Schools.

The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership will coordinate the worker training. He expects it to take anywhere from one to eight weeks, depending on the line of work.

“So for instance, they may go through our 60-hour electrical class; they may go through our three week sewer and water class,” Buford says.

Buford says his agency will do most of the worker training at its headquarters, but other partners are coming on board.

“For instance, a lot of building and trade apprenticeship programs are willing to also do training at their sites,” Buford says.

Buford says public meetings will take place throughout the city this summer, to meet people interested in the jobs and begin assessing their skill levels.