George Christianson Heads to WHEDA

George Christiansonby Vince Bushell

The section of Riverwest along Capitol Drive is a busy corridor with small manufacturing and large and small retail outlets dominating the area from Keefe Avenue north. There have been many changes to the area over the past six years, and the person most responsible for those changes has been George Christianson. The Capitol corridor has a Business Improvement District (BID) and, under the direction of Christianson, the group has enhanced the look of the area by improving the streetscape and landscape. NMIDC/Riverworks has given many businesses in the area much appreciated assistance. Christianson ran for state office recently and lost, but he will be going to Madison anyway. The good work he and the staff at Riverworks have done has caught the attention of Governor Jim Doyle, and he has tapped Christianson to be Deputy Director of Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). Riverwest will soon have a friendly ear in Madison on housing and development issues. “During his six years with NMIDC, Christianson attracted $40 million in new development to the area,” WHEDA Executive Director Antonio Riley said. “His overall experience and his track record of long-term strategic planning will be assets to WHEDA.” At NMIDC, Christianson designed and implemented several new programs including business assistance, job training and placement, and real estate development. NMIDC recently has been developing the first phase of a $3.6 million retail shopping center that will generate sustaining revenue for the organization. Christianson formed the Riverworks BID in 2000 and it has grown to become one of the state’s largest BIDs. Christianson led several programs aimed at improving the aesthetics of Milwaukee’s Riverworks Center area. The BID already has leveraged more than $800,000 in investments and is finishing a $1.2 million streetscape project in partnership with the City of Milwaukee. Bob Gintoft, NMIDC Board President, is currently acting director for NMIDC. WHEDA is Wisconsin’s state housing authority. Its goal is to stimulate and preserve affordable housing, small business, and agribusiness. For more information on WHEDA lending programs visit WHEDA’s web site at or call toll-free 1-800-334-6873. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 6 – June 2003
by Vince Bushell