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Applications for sixth Rev-Up MKE business pitch competition open now

Triciclo Peru was a winner of the Rev-Up MKE competition. Photo supplied.

Near West Side Partners, Inc. (NWSP), along with representatives from Marquette University and banking partner Town Bank announced in a press release Tuesday that applications are open for the sixth Rev-Up MKE competition – a “shark tank”-style small business competition with the goal of revitalizing commercial corridors on Milwaukee’s Near West Side. The program will again provide an opportunity for startup entrepreneurs to expand or start a business in the Near West Side and receive the support they need to make it a success.  

“The Near West Side is excited to welcome a new generation of entrepreneurs to our developing neighborhood,” NWSP executive director Lindsey St. Arnold Bell said in a statement. “We are excited to see continued interest from startups, organizations and businesses seeking to invest in Milwaukee, and bring new jobs and vibrancy to our commercial corridors.” 

Since the launch of Rev-Up MKE in 2016, a number of competition finalists have officially opened – and expanded – their businesses:  

  • Pete’s Pops manufactures and sells popsicles out of its flagship location on Vliet Street, with additional seasonal locations in Bay View, West Allis and Whitefish Bay; 
  • Lisa Kaye Catering operates a full-scale commercial kitchen and dining hall at the Forest County Potawatomi’s Wgema Campus;
  • Triciclo Perú continues to bring Peruvian flavor to Milwaukee through empanadas, pisco sours and more at its Near West Side restaurant; and
  • A Goodman’s Desserts bakes up mouth-watering desserts at a kitchen space in the Ambassador Hotel. 

“We are thrilled to be supporting Near West Side Partners and local entrepreneurs as a partner for Rev-Up MKE,” Town Bank president & CEO Jay Mack said in a statement. “As an active small business lender in Milwaukee with two locations in the Near West Side, we understand the importance of entrepreneurship to grow and develop communities.”

Town Bank will provide seed funds for the winning venture and is sponsoring the Rev-Up MKE reception. Similar to previous years, the program will culminate with a “Live Pitch Event” on September 13, hosted at the Rave/Eagles Ballroom where each finalist will present before a panel of judges. 

“The Near West Side has been home to some of Milwaukee’s greatest entrepreneurs – from William Harley and Arthur Davidson to Fredrick Miller,” Marquette University Senior Director of Community Engagement Kelsey Otero said in a statement. “Marquette’s innovation team is proud to be working with Near West Side Partners, Town Bank and many others to support fresh startups in the neighborhood.”

The winner, who will be announced at the Live Pitch Event, will receive significant resources to support their new venture, which will be located in a Near West Side storefront, including a $10,000 cash gift, $25,000 in in-kind services (such as architectural renderings, ongoing small business mentoring, free legal audit and communication support), and advertising, recognition, and support from Near West Side Partners and anchor institutions. 

Applications are available on the NWSP website, as well as at the Near West Side Partners’ office, located at 624 N. 24th St. Applications close on July 12 at 11:59 p.m. Upon review by a panel of judges, finalists will be informed and announced at the end of July.