The United Veterans Partnership Economic Development Corportion is a unique nationally recognized veterans-led organization that works to improve the lives of Veterans and the conditions of communities where Veterans live. As an economic development entity, the UVPEDC is focused on the development of affordable housing, connective local residents to employment opportunities, business development and veterans services.
The UVPEDC is also involved in the process of transforming communities. Veterans are uniquely positioned to impact community change, as they often bring skills, discipline and knowledge gained in the military to develop and implement a plan of action. The UVPEDC is involved in economic development efforts, including; planning, project development, partnership development and policy. The UVPEDC develops, manages and partners with business associations and community groups to build consensus, attract necessary resources and get results.
The United Veterans Partnership Economic Development Corporation was founded in 1994 by several veterans who wanted to make a positive impact on their community, they include; Mel Dorsey (Army – WWII) and Justin William (Army – WWII), Ike Walters (US Navy) and William Sims (US Army – Vietnam). The original vision was an organization that supported youth. UVP volunteers would coach little league football, baseball and basketball games; and some veterans would take youth and their family members on fishing trips.
Based on some of the challenges that some of the families faced – housing and employment issues, and other family issues, the UVP branched off into becoming an economic development organization. In 1996, the UVP partnered with Esperanza Unida (in Milwaukee) nationally -recognized job training program to deliver accelerated training programs targeted to people with relatively low income. Some of the programs included construction, welding, auto-mechanical and customer service. An attractive feature of the program was connecting the trainees to an employer. Today, the job training program is known as the United Regional Opportunity Center (“UROC”).
In 1999, the United Veterans Partnership EDC then began a partnership with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and the North Avenue Community Development Corporation to develop affordable housing and commercial properties in Milwaukee’s central city. The partnership was highly successful, developing several catalytic projects. The affordable housing projects were some of the first in Wisconsin to provide job training in the construction trades to low income residents. The UVP has expanded to developing scattered site homes for home-ownership.
In 2002, to provide a comprehensive economic development strategy, the United Veterans Partnership EDC began providing business development technical assistance to small businesses. Technical assistance included; the development of business plans, real estate development assistance and financing assistance. The In 2004, the UVPEDC partnered with a Business Improvement District to develop the United Opportunity Fund; which provided micro-lending to start-up businesses.
Today, the United Veterans Partnership Economic Development Corporation is working to expand and deepen its impact in the community by 1) developing additional affordable housing, 2) expanding its training program and 3) becoming a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).