Case Study: Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons

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Case Study Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons


Build The Local Economy

CG Schmidt and its contracting partner led the construction for Northwestern Mutual’s 32-story, 550-foot-tall high-rise office building and two-block-long, four-story Commons. At 1.1 million SF of space, it is the largest office space under one roof in Wisconsin. With a construction value of $461 million, the entire team (City, owner, program manager and general contractor) challenged themselves to create significant contracting opportunities for Milwaukee’s small business enterprises and Milwaukee residents.


Exceeding a hiring commitment for the Northwestern Mutual project was a major goal for the project team. The project team executed a comprehensive outreach program with the goal of sharing opportunities for local small businesses and Milwaukee residents.

Our Goal 25% SBE Participation 40% Local Workforce


The team communicated this program to local small business and residents through the following efforts:

›› Proactively engaging local chambers of commerce, numerous industry representatives, and more than 100 community-based organizations to help ensure that the project included significant participation from diverse segments of the local community.

›› Holding 15 information sessions to highlight contracting opportunities.

›› Working closely with the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP on nine workforce fairs, attracting more than 1,200 city residents.


Putting Local Residents To Work

In an unprecedented partnership with the Milwaukee Building Trades Council, a project labor agreement (PLA) was implemented with provisions for small business participation and prevailing wage and benefits for the local workforce. CG Schmidt worked closely with the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTPBIG STEP), Milwaukee’s Office of Small Business Development (OSBD), affinity groups including the ethnic chambers of commerce, and other key stakeholders who support and engage local and small construction firms and related services. CG Schmidt and its contracting partner dedicated full resources to support the owner’s commitment to the City of Milwaukee’s SBE requirements and resident preference program (RPP).

Local Small Business Enterprises were awarded $127.1 million in contracts or 31.4% of the total value of applicable construction and professional services contracts. Milwaukee residents eligible under the Residents Preference Program (RPP) performed 43.5% of the construction hours on the project.

As a result of the workforce fairs, more than 300 of the event attendees entered career pathways and assessed apprenticeship readiness, pre-employment and training services with WRTP/BIG STEP.

One significant success story is the curtainwall fabrication on the Tower and Commons project. Our team hired Benson Industries and Duwe Metals for the complete fabrication of the glass curtainwall panels that were installed on the project. What makes this so special is that the panels were being produced in Milwaukee by local residents – many who reside in the inner city – who were either unemployed or underemployed.

A custom training program at the glazer’s union training facility was developed for the Residents Preference Program workforce to learn this special trade. The Duwe Metals crew now has a unique skill set to help them find subsequent work. Northwestern Mutual also committed to provide letters of recommendations to the workers for future employment.

Goal Exceeded 31.4% SBE Participation 43.4% Local Workforce


The Northwestern Mutual Tower has 2,750 curtainwall units with approximately 125,000 RPP Shop Hours

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