Back to All Events

Urban Manufacturing Alliance National Gathering

Building New Narratives for Manufacturing

Menomonee Valley Partners is excited to partner with the Urban Manufacturing Alliance to hold their 2019 National Gathering in Milwaukee. Held in a different city each year, the fifth Gathering will showcase how practitioners in Milwaukee and beyond are using stories to break down the stigmas surrounding manufacturing while creating new audiences and partnerships for the sector.


Attendees from Milwaukee and around the country will explore and share how organizations are creating impactful community connections through financing programs, community coalitions, and workforce initiatives that lift up and sustain makers and manufacturers. By working to stimulate these entrepreneurs, local stakeholders are keeping good-paying manufacturing jobs in urban neighborhoods.

As practitioners, we know that manufacturing holds the promise of economic mobility for communities. The sector can provide family-sustaining wages and, with the right training partnerships, help lift individuals into enriching career paths. But the stigmas surrounding manufacturing still abound, like that its jobs are dirty, boring, and don’t provide career ladders. On the other end of the spectrum are those who think manufacturing careers require a more traditional, costly degree.

We need new kinds of exposure to how manufacturers/makers and communities are connecting and benefiting from each other.

Photo: Lohmann & Rauscher

Photo: Lohmann & Rauscher

Photo: All Hands Boatworks

Photo: All Hands Boatworks

UMA Gatherings help to build a stronger maker/manufacturer ecosystem by uniting practitioners from across the country and giving them a dynamic platform to discuss coalition building strategies, face-to-face, with like-minded professionals.

Who attends these Gatherings?

Attendees include individuals representing city, county, and state economic development agencies; city planning, workforce and sustainability departments; affordable housing developers; academic institutions from K-12 through university and technical schools; makerspaces; CDCs; mission-driven real estate developers; lenders, such as banks, CDFIs, and philanthropies; students and faculty; business improvement districts; neighborhood associations; designers and artists; faith-based institutions; elected officials; and manufacturing and making businesses themselves. We take a very broad definition of who is connected to manufacturing and invite anyone to come.

I have a very small budget. Can I still attend?

Cost should never be a barrier to attend. If you or someone in your network needs support, please have them reach out to Crystal Marie.


Wednesday, June 5

  • Welcome Reception, 5 - 6:30pm, The Twisted Fisherman

  • Menomonee River Valley and Harbor District Boat Tour, 6:15 - 7:45pm **Sponsored by WE Energies Foundation**

Thursday, June 6

Gathering Day, 9am-6:30pm, Bradley Technology and Trade School

  • 9:00am – MKE Story Gallery Opens: The MKE Story Gallery provides opportunities for attendees to learn what peers are working on in Milwaukee and have conversations with colleagues facing similar issues. We’ll have 8-10 featured Milwaukee organizations and businesses sharing their work connecting communities to manufacturing. Storytellers include:

    • All Hands Boatworks

    • Brew City Match (LISC Milwaukee)

    • Dolphin Pool (Riverworks Development Corporation)

    • Doors Open Milwaukee (Historic Milwaukee)

    • The Engine: A Conference for Makers & Manufacturers (Havenwoods Economic Development Corporation)

    • Granville Connection (Granville Business Improvement District)

    • Industrial Land Use (Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee)

    • Rev-Up MKE (Near West Side Partners)

  • 10:00am – Event Begins; Welcome Remarks

  • 10:30am – Welcome Address: “The Role of Research in Building New Narratives” by Professors Laura Wolf Powers (Hunter College) and Greg Schrock (Portland State University)

  • 11:00am – Local and National Rapid Share Presentations: Through lightning-style presentations, we will hear from local and national organizations who have created programs that connect manufacturing to diverse types of communities, and how they are telling their story of why these connections provide mutual benefit to each other. Specific presenters to be announced soon.

  • 12:00pm – Networking Break + Lunch

  • 1:00pm – Interactive Storytelling Workshop: Stories are what make us human. They engage our deepest emotions, connect us more deeply to each other, and open doors to new possibilities. In Milwaukee, we’ll use the power of stories to build narratives that shape who we are and where we’re headed as manufacturing community leaders. During our afternoon breakout sessions, we’ll use design thinking to help each other craft and workshop new stories about our industry, our individual services, and our manufacturing businesses, using what we’ve created to construct new narrative maps that can lead us forward as we leave the Gathering and go back to doing our work at home, in our own city. Session will be led by Milwaukeeans, Coe Douglas and Kim Beckmann.

  • 4:30 - 6:30 pm – Happy Hour with Makers Market **Sponsored by Square**

Friday, June 7

  • 10am - 1:30pm: City-Wide Manufacturing Bus Tour with Adam Carr

  • 10am - noon: Riverworks Walking Tour with Riverworks Development Corporation


About the Urban Manufacturing Alliance

The Urban Manufacturing Alliance is a coalition of organizations and individuals working together to grow more equitable and prosperous economies in cities by building robust, environmentally sustainable, and inclusive urban manufacturing sectors. In everything we do, we are vigilant to ensure that the new urban manufacturing economy reflects the diversity of our cities and offers environmentally sustainable and inclusive equitable employment, ownership, and innovation opportunities to residents of all urban communities.

About Menomonee Valley Partners

Menomonee Valley Partners’ mission is to revitalize and sustain the Menomonee River Valley as a thriving urban district that advances economical, ecological, and social equity for the benefit of the greater Milwaukee community. MVP envisions a thriving Valley with a well-balanced mix of industrial, recreational, and entertainment uses that strengthen Milwaukee.

Earlier Event: June 5
Food Truck Wednesday