By Karen Stokes
Milwaukee native Deshea Agee has recently been named executive director of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District (BID) #8.
Agee, 40, has 16 years of community development experience and has spent the last nine years as the economic development specialist for the Department of City Development in Milwaukee.
Agee, a graduate of Marquette University, is married with three children. Some of his experience includes real estate finance, real estate development, business recruitment and working with grant programs.
Agee is succeeding Jerome Knapp who resigned after three years in September to begin working for Kingdom Workers in Wauwatosa.
“When I started with the city, I realized I liked working with businesses,” Agee said. “What most attracted me to this position is the area.
I’m passionate about redeveloping Bronzeville and King Drive. My church is in the area, so it was a logical next step to my career.”
“I’ve known Deshea for a long time. He has a good understanding of the city of Milwaukee which gives him a big advantage over other individuals who have held that position,” said Sam Denny, board member of Historic King Drive BID. “He is very eager, enthusiastic and doesn’t have a huge learning curve.”
Historic King Drive BID is responsible for developing relationships with property owners and managing and promoting businesses located between Locust Street and McKinley Avenue.
The district is funded through a special tax assessment on commercial properties for operations and projects.
The BID exists for economic purposes involved with recruiting businesses, upkeep and making the area safe.
“I will be helping property owners access city funding and will be an advocate for the available programs,” Agee said.
“Basically, I’ll be a voice for the property owner, ensuring the area remains stable and continues to grow.”
“I am asking that the residents and the surrounding community complete a survey to find out what people buy in that area.
Many people spend their money in other parts of the city like Mayfair, Bayshore and other municipalities like Menomonee Falls,” said Agee.
“The research piece is really important to find out what the community wants. I have my own ideas including restaurants, hobby shops, a gallery, even things for kids to do. We need to make King Drive a place where everyone wants to come.”
King Drive has had numerous successes, but Agee sees room for improvement.
He promises to be hands-on in this position and connecting people to resources available to assist them in realizing their dreams of entrepreneurship, growing their business or finding employment.
“I’m passionate about what can happen on King Drive.
I see it as a place where people will want to go. We’re not there yet, but there are some successful businesses that have been there 10 to 15 years and some exciting new businesses,” he said.
“Many entrepreneurs who decided to start their businesses on King Drive had a vision they can be successful there.
Currently, there are empty storefronts but there will be an announcement coming soon about filling those vacant storefronts.
I want to be an accessible resource to anyone who wants to own a business on King Drive. I’m taking the calls,” Agee said.