Urban Studies 600 Capstone


The BID Capital of the U.S: How Neoliberal Urban Governance Led to the Creation of Diverse BIDs in Milwaukee

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Capstone Project

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Milwaukee, relative to its population, has more business and neighborhood districts (BIDs) than any other city in the country. But how did Milwaukee achieve that status? Nationally, the creation of BIDs is frequently explained by the reduction in federal spending in urban areas during the 1970s, leaving cities to find other solutions for urban revitalization. Neoliberal policies became the focal point of local governance with a focus on the role of local actors. This study will use archival research to examine how neoliberal governance in the city contributed to the creation of diverse BIDs in Milwaukee. Special attention will be given to Historic King Drive (BID-8), Downtown Milwaukee (BID-21), and Cesar Chavez Drive (BID-38). These three BIDs have distinctive demographics within their boundaries, making them optimal for a case study. Local government, business owners, and communities are the key actors that will be examined within the study. The diversity of unique conditions means that there is not a uniform model for BIDs, leading to a variety of governance depending on the structure of local governments. Findings from this study will not only explore the actors in the creation of BIDs, but will also look at the particular forms of governance and resources that each BID engages with. Previous research on the topic has mostly focused on a quantitative analysis of the BID’s outcomes rather than a qualitative approach examining the processes of the creation of BIDs. This research aims to look at the processes through a qualitative approach, opening the door for further research in the field.

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