A guide to executive suites and office space for rent in Milwaukee as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting offices in Milwaukee.
History & Geography
Though the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee is not the capital, though it is the cultural and economic hub of the state. Milwaukee is located on the shore of the massive Lake Michigan at the confluence of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee rivers. Several smaller rivers including the Root River flow through the city itself, making water a predominant physical feature of the city. Among the Indian tribes which originally inhabited the area around Milwaukee were the Fox, Mascouten, Sauk and Potawatomi. The name Milwaukee is derived from the Potawatomi word for ‘gathering place’. The first settler in the area was a French Canadian called Alexis Laframboise, who established a trading post in the area in 1785. Soon settlements sprang up on both sides of the Milwaukee River and before long a rivalry had grown up between the towns of the west and east banks. However in 1845, following a conflict known as the Milwaukee Bridge War, the towns were united and the City of Milwaukee was officially incorporated in 1846. During the early and middle 19th century a great number of German immigrants came and settled in the area, and the German influence can still be seen today in the city’s restaurants, schools and churches. Later in the century many Poles, fleeing political oppression, came and settled in Milwaukee. Currently the city has the fourth largest Polish population in the US. Many other European nationalities also emigrated to Milwaukee, including Italians, Croatians, Serbians and Greeks. In the early years of the 20th century many Mexican Americans also immigrated to the city. By 1960 Milwaukee was one of the largest cities in the country. Later in the century the population stabilized and many emigrated away from Milwaukee, though it was spared the economic decline that hit other cities in the rust belt because of its large immigrant population. Many regeneration projects have revitalized the city since the 1980s and today it is one of the most economically dynamic in the region.
Milwaukee is primarily known for its beer brewing industry. With the German immigrants that came over in the early 19th century also came their tradition of brewing beer. At one point Milwaukee was the largest beer producer in the world and was home to four of the world’s most productive breweries, Pabst, Blatz, Schlitz and Miller. Today only Miller remains, however is still a large employer in the city. Manufacturing has also traditionally been an important bulwark of Milwaukee’s economy and remains so to this day. Among the companies who have headquarters in Milwaukee are Johnson Controls, Marshall & Ilsley Corp, Rockwell Automation, Harley Davidson, Manpower Inc, and Northwestern Mutual. There are also a high number of financial services firms who call the city home. Many specialize in mutual funds and transaction processing system. Healthcare is also a large part of the economy and makes up approximately 27 percent of the jobs in the city. Among the companies in this sector based in Milwaukee is GE Healthcare Diagnostic Imaging and Clinical Systems.
Tourism & Culture
While Milwaukee is not a major tourist destination, its proximity to Lake Michigan means that a fair number of visitors end up in the city. Many come to sail, windsurf and kitesurf on the lake, as well as simply lounge on its grassy banks. Milwaukee itself plays host to a number of festivals throughout the year, so many that it has earned the nickname City of Festivals. Meir Festival Park, located directly on Lake Michigan is the favored destination for these. Among the most popular is Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the world, which attracts over one million visitors every year. Additionally Milwaukee hosts the Wisconsin State Fair as well as many fair’s related to the city’s immigrant past such as the Polish, Greek, Italian and German festivals. Among the sites in the city itself is the famous Pabst Mansion, built in 1892 by beer tycoon Frederick Pabst, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, a visually stunning structure which has a distinctive ‘wing’ on the roof which acts as a sunshade. Just south of the Art Museum is Discovery World, the largest science museum in the region.
Milwaukee is served by General Mitchell International Airport which lies to the south of the city. It is connected to the Amtrak Hiawatha service which calls on Chicago and downtown Milwaukee. Mitchell was recently ranked as one of the 30 fastest growing airports in the world. The city itself is served by a comprehensive bus system. It also has over 65 miles of bicycle lanes many of which run near Lake Michigan or along one of the city’s many rivers. Of the 50 largest US cities Milwaukee has been ranked number 15 on the walkability scale.
Currently Milwaukee has a vacancy rate of approximately 21 percent. Much of the vacancy is in the Downtown West sub-market, though the Southeast and 3rd Ward/Walkers Point sub-markets are also suffering from a high rate of vacancy. Milwaukee was fairly badly hit by the economic crisis and the resulting recession, however is now starting to bounce back. In 2011 the market had its first year of positive absorption for some time and it has been forecast that this will continue into 2012. GE has recently expanded significantly downtown and this has been good news for the property market overall.