Milwaukee – The Historic King Drive BID # 8 today announced that Executive Director Deshea Agee is leaving the position later this month to pursue other opportunities and the BID has begun a national search for new leadership.
“We are so grateful to Deshea for his tremendous leadership over the last five years,” said BID Board President James Phelps. “During his tenure, the BID has experienced significant new growth and supported the creation of more than 20 Black or Brown-owned small businesses in the King Drive Corridor. We look forward to building on this great work in the years ahead.”
The Board of Directors has engaged a search firm to launch a local and national search to identify the next leader for the BID. Agee will continue to serve the BID in a part-time, advisory capacity until the new Executive Director is on board.
During Agee’s tenure, the BID has seen many significant successes, including:
- Supporting the attraction of many new businesses and amenities for the area, including the Bronzeville Collective MKE, Gee’s Clippers, Jewels Caribbean, Pete’s Market, and the soon to re-open new America’s Black Holocaust Museum, to name a few;
- Retaining mainstay businesses, such as: Glorious Malone’s fine sausages, Voluptuous Secrets Lingerie and Bouchard’s Clothing;
- Building new partners and major initiatives including: Bader Philanthropies, ThriveOn King (Medical College of Wisconsin and Greater Milwaukee Foundation), Dohmen Company Foundation’s new Headquarters, American Family Insurance regional facility and the planned location for Milwaukee Public Museum and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum;
- Building partnerships with outside organizations to increase funding to the Corridor and its members including Bader Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), AARP, North Shore Bank, Sweetwater Foundation and the City of Milwaukee.
- Expanding the BID to encompass over 80 new properties in Harambee and Haymarket and growing the BID’s revenues to better support businesses in the district;
- Securing Main Street accreditation from the National Main Street Center and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as well as the “Great Places in Wisconsin Award” from the American Planning Association; and
- Supporting new business attraction through programs like Brew City Match and Pop-Up MKE.
“It has been a tremendous honor to help lead the Historic King Drive BID during a time of great opportunity,” said Executive Director Deshea Agee. “I am proud of our shared success and know that the Corridor will continue to build on this great momentum in the years ahead.”
The BID has several major initiatives that will be lead by the new Executive Director, including:
- Catalytic Project: The BID is finalizing a project plan to attract investors and a development partner with a shared vision for a mixed-use project on King Dive, north of North Avenue.
- Traffic Calming and Streetscaping: The BID is engaged in a process with stakeholders, DPW and Alderwoman Coggs to develop support to enhance streetscaping and provide for more pedestrian-friendly traffic patterns to support small business growth.
- Business Retention and Attraction: The BID is continuing its successful work to help incubate, attract and retain small businesses in the Corridor, especially those owned by local black and brown entrepreneurs. Ongoing programs include a new $25K loan fund, matched by North Shore Bank; BID grants; a $275K loan fund through Brew City Match and LISC; and supporting white box grants through the City.
- Victory over Violence Park: The BID, with its partners, will finalize Victory over Violence Park through projects in the next two years.
The BID will also continue to invest in small businesses and support major initiatives such as the grand re-opening of America’s Black Holocaust Museum, construction of ThriveOn, the partnership between the Medical College of Wisconsin and Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the development of the Dohmen Foundation headquarters building, the potential for Hop streetcar expansion and the potential advancement of American Family Insurance offices and the Milwaukee Public Museum complex.
“We have never been more excited about the future of King Drive,” said Phelps. “We look forward to finding the next visionary leader who will help us continue to make this the best King Drive in the nation.”