In Marketplace Commentary

Stand tall, and tell the Milwaukee story. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi)

Tell the Milwaukee story, tell it again and tell it some more

In 1872, a Milwaukee banking executive named John Johnson offered a statement regarding local attitudes that still echoes today. Johnson decried that we don't have the "necessary blow and brag" for this "the handsomest and healthiest and happiest city in the West."

Johnson's full words are below, but before you read and share them, check your own Milwaukee pride. While there's no doubt that massive progress has been made in Milwaukee in the past 10-15 years, we all must become better and more passionate ambassadors and evangelists for Milwaukee.

We heard it recently at the MMAC Annual Meeting. "Tell the Milwaukee story." "Fly the Milwaukee flag." Executives from Froedtert Health, Quad/Graphics, Generation Growth Capital and more all expressed similar views when asked what Milwaukee needs more of.

If I've said it once, I've said it thousands of times: A city is only as good as the stories it tells. And we as Milwaukeeans must embrace the responsibility to tell the Milwaukee story. Find the good in greater Milwaukee, tell your neighbors, your out-of-town colleagues, the dude next to you on the airplane, your Facebook friends. Fly the flag, pump your chest, gush about Milwaukee products and talk up Milwaukee and our people whenever you can.

Just this Sunday, in Steve Jagler's regular "C-Level" feature on JSOnline, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. CEO John E. Schlifske expressed similar sentiments saying, "It's imperative that we change inaccurate perceptions of our city so that we are seen as a growing and vibrant tech hub."

I'm not blind to our areas challenges, nor are you. But packaging, promoting, protecting and positioning the greater Milwaukee story must be top of mind for all of us.

Milwaukee's a great place, and we all must stand tall and boast our pride when and however we can. It's our collective and civic responsibility. Onward and On Milwaukee!

John Johnson
Marine Bank executive
1872 thoughts about Milwaukee
From "Making of Milwaukee."

"There is one thing we are deficient in here. We have not the necessary blow and brag. Not only have we not that, but we daily see men standing with their hands in their pockets whining about Milwaukee being a one-horse town and such like talk.

"Such men are not worthy to live here.

"Milwaukee is not Chicago, but there are few cities like Chicago.

"Milwaukee has grown at a rate surpassed by but a very limited number of cities in this whole Union.

"Instead of grumbling and whining, let us have some city pride, some 'esprit de corps,' and let us not listen to any citizen of Milwaukee trying to make us believe he had traveled far and seen great cities by crying down this the handsomest and healthiest and happiest city in the West.

"Let us cultivate the talent of brag, and whether at home or abroad let us boast of Milwaukee, her beauty, her order, her growing trade, commerce and manufactures."


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