Northwestern Mutual conference to have $19 million economic impact for Milwaukee

NOW: Northwestern Mutual conference to have $19 million economic impact for Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The first Northwestern Mutual conference since the pandemic is having a big economic impact on the city.

Tuesday is the last day of the conference at Fiserv Forum. It brought in more than 13,000 people from all over the country -- a record for the conference.

"Downtown has been pretty barren lately in the last couple of years, so it's nice to see people out here enjoying it," Emma Vanderbilt said.

The conference in the Deer District means plenty of foot traffic for nearby businesses.

"We're very busy. And a lot of families too, which I was surprised by," Vanderbilt said.

Emma Vanderbilt is an employee at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart. She said this event has gotten sales up to pre-pandemic numbers.

"Especially during the week, a lot of these places are more busy on the weekends than anything else. So, for example, today is one of the slowest days of the week usually and we've gotten a good number of customers in so far," she said.

VISIT Milwaukee estimates the conference will have a $19 million impact on the city.

"It's amazing. Just being able to keep up after the pandemic and everything. Obviously sales dropped off, a lot of business had to close it down, so starting to get everything back flowing again is really helping to get things flowing for us," Matthew Garcia said.

Just down the street, The Spice House is also seeing more customers than usual.

"Last person I talked to, they were from Connecticut," Garcia said.

Assistant Manager Matthew Garcia is excited big events like this are returning to Milwaukee.

"Back in 2020, we were supposed to get the Democratic conference and the pandemic ruined that and what it could've done for our city. Just starting to get more things going on, it's nice to see," he said.

He is also happy visitors are finally getting the chance to enjoy the city.

"It is an amazing city. Underrated in the eyes of the general public. Anybody who ever comes over here and actually spends time here, they always realize how amazing it is. And there's actually stuff to do. Not just cows roaming the streets like people think," Garcia said.

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