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Ted Matkom’s job bounces between both ends of Milwaukee’s social spectrum, from opening a high-end downtown hotel at the former Pabst Brewing Co. site to encouraging residents in central city neighborhoods to unite behind common goals.

The Wisconsin market president for developer Gorman & Co. Inc., Oregon, Wis., is involved in the seemingly distant endeavors with equal enthusiasm. He oversaw development of the 90-room Brewhouse Inn & Suites, which opened in April at The Brewery in Milwaukee, and he is leading the rehab of 200 foreclosed houses in Milwaukee’s central city. About 90 percent of the houses are rented to women and their families, he said.

Matkom said his biggest unmet goal is to unite residents in the areas where Gorman is renovating homes to form tight-knit neighborhoods with shared goals. Matkom said he is not trying to lead, but rather organizing meetings, setting up the coffee and doughnuts, and stepping back.

“One of the biggest surprises I encountered was the true difficulty of community building and community organization,” Matkom said. “Every person has a different agenda and a different goal of how they want their community to look. Everyone wants stability, no crime and rising property values. But there are a million different ways to get there if you ask a million different people. What I have yet to do, and my goal is to do, is to create a community from our scattered site developments.”

A conversation on Matkom’s endeavors churns up a seemingly endless list. He has 10 years of experience as an attorney, where his work included supporting Columbia St. Mary’s expansion of its East North Avenue campus in Milwaukee. After joining Gorman & Co. as general counsel, he traveled to work on projects in Arizona, Mississippi and Illinois.

In Wisconsin, he served eight years on the board of Menomonee Valley Partners Inc., the business group behind the rehabilitation of the once-blighted area into a booming industrial district. From there, he transitioned to serve as president of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corp. in northwest Milwaukee.

“I thought the 30th Street corridor was kind of the next frontier of redevelopment,” Matkom said. “It turned out there was a perfect synergy between trying to foster economic development in the 30th Street corridor and trying to foster stabilization in foreclosed, ravaged neighborhoods surrounding the corridor.”

Matkom and Gorman’s housing rehab is concentrated in neighborhoods around the 87-acre former Tower Automotive site, which the city has bought and rebranded as the Century City business park. Matkom is halfway through the fifth phase of the housing effort, each with about 40 housing units.

But there’s a job training component to those projects. After all, Matkom’s hat rack includes a position on the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board Inc.

For the housing rehab, Gorman hired Northcott Neighborhood House as a subcontractor. The Milwaukee nonprofit’s Youth Build program trains 18- to 24-year-olds in construction. Gorman created 28 jobs for Northcott workers through each of the housing rehab’s five phases.

“We were hoping those real-life experiences would help bolster their resumes to go out and find a job in, quote-unquote, the real world,” Matkom said. “What happened, which was a great story, however a little inconvenient for us, was it actually was successful. People were being hired away.”

Currently, Matkom is working with the Northwest Side Community Development Corp. to build a tech school and 43 apartments north of the Century City site. That project, like much of Gorman’s housing work, will compete for state affordable housing tax credits.

Matkom and the Northwest Side CDC previously collaborated on the award-winning Villard Square, a combination library and affordable apartment project at North 34th Street and West Villard Avenue. Howard Snyder, executive director of the CDC, said Matkom and Gorman, though in a profit-making business, take on projects more commonly associated with the nonprofit world.

“He knows there’s a profitable thing to do and a right thing to do, and you don’t find many people with that kind of skill and talent who want to work in these kinds of neighborhoods,” Snyder said. “We’re even looking at the next two projects down the road.”

Asked how his professional background — which started with legal and political science degrees — branched into community development, Matkom dusted off another role he played in the past. He said the two really gelled for him when he served on the Whitefish Bay village board for four years, starting in 2000.

“A lot of land-use issues went through, which really showed to me the importance of good development that was linked with community goals and the participation of the community citizens,” Matkom said. “That whole thing really has resonated with me throughout my career since then and it has really been the core of what I want to accomplish as a developer.”

Personal File

  • Title: Wisconsin market president
  • Company: Gorman & Co. Inc.
  • Age: 46
  • Family: Married 21 years to Beth, with four daughters age 3 to 20
  • Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison undergrad and Marquette University School of Law degree
  • Resides: Whitefish Bay

Judgment Calls

  • Best Decision: “Marrying my wife, Beth”
  • Toughest Decision: “Leaving the law firm to be a real estate developer”
  • Like best about your job: “The diversity of people I encounter every day.”
  • Most important lesson learned: “Always be true to your word.”


  • Pastimes: Golf, soccer and music
  • Band to see at Summerfest: Violent Femmes
  • Last book read: “Montana 1948: A Novel” by Larry Watson
  • Favorite vacation spot: Boulder Junction