Milwaukee entrepreneurs Nadiyah Johnson and Oby Nwabuzor are developing plans to add to the revitalization of the Sherman Park neighborhood by opening a tech hub and coworking space. Located just down the block from the Sherman Phoenix, a successful space for small businesses that opened in 2018, the new redevelopment project is keeping the neighborhood’s entrepreneurial momentum going.
The 5,100-square-foot building is already home to Johnson’s software company Jet Constellations. Renovations will allow the company’s social impact arm, the Milky Way Tech Hub, to expand to include a makerspace, coworking area, conference room and auditorium. Eventually Johnson hopes to launch a tech startup accelerator out of the space.
“Milky Way Tech Hub aims to create this narrative that Milwaukee is a very diverse and inclusive tech hub, and one way to do that is to have a physical location—being being able to actually have space in the urban community where people can have access to resources around digital technology,” Johnson told the Milwaukee BizTimes.
The Milky Way Tech Hub is supported in part by the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact’s efforts to build new startups and drive diversity and inclusion in the Southeast Wisconsin technology sector. Current Milky Way projects include a Facebook chatbot that provides live COVID-19 stats, brings awareness to local resources, and connects volunteers with local opportunities to help.
The Sherman Phoenix acts as the unofficial eastern gateway to the Sherman Park neighborhood, attracting visitors from around the city. It provides high-quality retail space for more than two dozen small businesses of color as well as community space for art exhibits, film showings and cultural events.
Together, Johnson and Nwabuzor are hoping to raise $300,000 for the new project. Nwabuzor is the founder of Envision Growth, which focuses on urban regeneration through the redevelopment of existing properties.