Northwestern Mutual exceeds minority and local resident hiring goals

October 16, 2015

By Steve Waring

Special to The Milwaukee Times (Part two of a three-part series)


(Series continues next week) Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons is on schedule and continuously getting taller each week. This project’s fiscal impact will have a ripple effect on the local economy. Moving forward Northwestern Mutual’s dinosaur-size footprint along E. Wisconsin Ave., will breathe more life and vitality on the city’s downtown east side near Lake Michigan.

During the first quarter of 2015, Northwestern Mutual exceeded agreements it made to hire more minorities and steer more sub-contracting jobs to local businesses, according to an independent report recently released by the City of Milwaukee. The report was compiled by Prism Technical Management & Marketing Services, LLC. It indicates that through March 31, 2015 Northwestern Mutual had paid Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) $98.7 million in contracts. Northwestern had committed to spending at least 25 percent on SBEs. The funds spent account for 29.6 percent of the total value of applicable construction and service contracts. The data on the hiring Resident Preference Program (RPE) report indicates that 213 Milwaukee residents were hired. Of that number 64 residents came from socalled Central City zip code areas which have some of the highest unemployment levels in the state. “We’ve embraced the commitments we made to the city of Milwaukee. We wanted to reinvest in our community by growing our own workforce in Milwaukee and also by creating opportunities for small businesses and residents during the construction of the project,” said Northwestern Mutual Vice President and Project Leader Sandy Botcher,” in a report published on the Northwestern Mutual Internet website. Construction work is considered a skilled trade and hours completed on a job are an important means to achieve seniority and a better chance of being hired for the next project. On October 5 Northwestern Mutual announced that it would break ground on a 33-story development next to its downtown campus. The 33-story tower will feature luxury apartments, retail space and eight stories of parking. The entire project is estimated at more than $100 million and will be built on property the company already owns on the block bounded by North Van Buren, East Mason and East Wells streets. Demolition of the buildings currently on the site will begin in January with construction expected to begin in March. With construction expected to begin soon on a new $500 million arena for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team and several other Milwaukee construction projects underway, most likely there will a need to train additional residents to fill the demand. “Northwestern Mutual believes more strongly than ever in Milwaukee and the vibrancy of our city,” said Northwestern Mutual Vice President and head of Northwestern Mutual Real Estate Tom Zale. “We’re creating a destination for future residents looking to live, work and play in the heart of an exciting city while providing convenient parking for our growing employee base.” The company has been helping local residents get training and apprenticeship hours in an innovative project which leased space at the Century City development site located on property formerly owned by A.O. Smith, in order to construct steel panels which are later transported and installed at the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project.