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Main Street Milwaukee: Program at a crossroads

The Main Street Milwaukee (MSM) Program is a highly touted economic development program designed to promote economic growth and revitalization in selected city neighborhoods. Milwaukee’s Main Street program is a partnership between the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD) and the local chapter of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), who have tailored the national Main Street program for use in six local districts. Established in 2005, MSM has been cited by city officials as a key component in the city’s overall economic and community development strategy.
This research project, which was launched in September 2009, originally set out to explore the strengths and weaknesses of several MSM districts in an effort to explore why this particular economic development strategy has succeeded or failed in different Milwaukee neighborhoods. Early in the analysis, however, we recognized that sufficient performance data did not exist to adequately assess that question in depth. Our attention turned, therefore, to the broader question of whether, why, and to what extent the MSM program itself has succeeded in delivering its anticipated results.

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