Through philanthropy, Bucyrus returns to heart of South Milwaukee

An industry giant that once shaped South Milwaukee through its manufacturing presence is now helping reimagine the suburban city through its philanthropic legacy.

The Bucyrus Foundation of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation recently awarded the city of South Milwaukee a $200,000 grant supporting economic redevelopment activities downtown, within the former Bucyrus site and across the city as a whole. In addition to significant community benefit, the investment demonstrates the great value corporations can experience when partnering with GMF for their philanthropy.

“Bucyrus conducted business in South Milwaukee for 118 years from 1893 until the sale of the company to Caterpillar in 2011,” said Tim Sullivan, chairman of the Bucyrus Foundation of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “Bucyrus provided a strong economic base to the city of South Milwaukee during that period of time, and the South Milwaukee community in turn supported the company. It only stands to reason that the company continue to support the community that supported it for so many years through its ongoing philanthropic foundation that was established 40 years ago.”

The city will use the funds to invest in three key areas in 2018:

  • Replenish the city’s downtown revitalization grant program, where downtown property and business owners can qualify for up to $30,000 in matching grant funds for interior and exterior remodeling projects. ($50,000)
  • Fund the city’s newly created economic development director position. ($75,000)
  • Development of a master plan for the former Bucyrus campus once a new owner purchases the 30-acre property, currently home to Caterpillar Inc.’s South Milwaukee operations. ($75,000)

“For many years, we were a company town – shovels used to build the Panama Canal were built here. Bucyrus proudly defined us. This grant is a reflection of that, and we are so thankful to have attracted these funds,” South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks said. “South Milwaukee is at a crossroads, and the choices we make today will shape the redevelopment future of the city. These funds mean Bucyrus will help shape that future.”

Bucyrus was a leading manufacturer of surface mining equipment for many decades, and its private foundation was a significant source of charitable giving in the community.  In 2002, the company transferred its foundation to GMF, which manages administrative services, support and investments.

“Our decision to have GMF manage our Bucyrus Foundation has really worked out well for us,” Sullivan said. “Being part of their investment portfolio gives us comfort in knowing that our funds are well taken care of, and since they are co-mingled with such a large portfolio, we are getting the advantage of size. Additionally, not having to worry about administrative matters, tax returns to name just one, allows us to focus entirely on investing our funds wisely and in line with our charter.  Finally, the staff are not only very experienced but also highly attentive to our needs. Without question, the right choice for us.”

The path taken by the Bucyrus Foundation is one that is open to corporations of all sizes that have charitable interests and could benefit from the robust services of a philanthropic partner. An added value is the alignment that can occur around common community goals.

“The Bucyrus Foundation has been part of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation family for more than 15 years,” said Fred Gutierrez, senior program officer for GMF. “Supporting revitalization and redevelopment efforts in South Milwaukee through this new grant continues our shared interest in strengthening the economy and social fabric of local communities.”