July 15, 2021 | Board Spotlight: Welcome to Main Street America's New Board Member, Deshea Agee | By: Abby Armato, Communications Coordinator, MSA |
Please join us in welcoming Deshea Agee to the Main Street America Board!
Deshea Agee is the Vice President of Emem Group, a Milwaukee-based design build real estate firm specializing in residential and commercial real estate development services. He recently left his post of more than five years as the Executive Director of Historic King Drive Business Improvement District No. 8 (King Drive BID) and Director of the King Drive Main Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At King Drive BID, Deshea oversaw implementation of the organization’s annual operating plan, property owner relations, business engagement and recruitment, and community outreach. He also served as the point of contact for King Drive’s membership in Main Street America’s UrbanMain network.
“Deshea is a dynamic local leader who deeply understands how to bring people and small businesses alike back to neighborhood commercial districts,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of Main Street America. “I am thrilled that he has joined the Main Street America Board where his expertise in community-based development and engagement will support local Main Street programs on a holistic level.”
Deshea began his career in public service as an Economic Development Specialist at Milwaukee’s Department of City Development. He served nine years in the department: first as a project manager of the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District, and then leading commercial corridor revitalization efforts. Deshea assisted in creating and implementing Milwaukee’s commercial property renovation grant programs, was a liaison to business improvement districts and managed tax-increment districts. He also worked with Milwaukee Common Council members on Aldermanic initiatives, as well as Citywide initiatives such as the MKE Business Now Entrepreneurship Summit. Prior to his career in public service, he served as the development assistant at Pabst Farms, a 1,500-acre mastered planned community. Deshea serves as a director on several boards in addition to Main Street America, including the Employ Milwaukee and Safe and Sound Inc.
Learn a little more about Deshea below:
How long have you been working in the Main Street and/or economic development field? How did you get your start in this work?
I have worked in economic development since 2005. My interest in economic development began during the inaugural year of the Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) program. The ACRE initiative is designed to increase the number of people of color working in the commercial real estate industry. After completing the nearly year-long program, I found my passion in helping to improve my community through the built environment and commercial corridor revitalization. My first job in real estate was as a development assistant at Pabst Farms, a 1,500-acre master planned community. After completing a year internship there, I was fortunate to receive an offer working for a small woman-owned development firm and then the City of Milwaukee.
Before you became the Vice President of the Emem Group, you spent over 5 years as Executive Director of the Historic King Drive BID #8 in Milwaukee. What was one of your proudest accomplishments while serving as E.D. of the local Main Street program?
One of my proudest accomplishments was changing the perception of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in my hometown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I became the executive director, there was a stigma of blight and disinvestment on King Drive. During my tenure, the sentiment of the street changed. The corridor became a Main Street America member district, new businesses started to open, vacancy decreased, and major projects came online. The vision for building the best King Drive in the nation is now supported by local property owners, city government, philanthropy, and the community stakeholders. I am happy to have this accomplishment as a part of my legacy.
What piece of advice or words of encouragement would you give to a local Main Street leader?
I would encourage local Main Street leaders to seek to build new relationships with city government and philanthropic leaders in their communities as often as possible. The impact of combined efforts and collaboration can be greater than any single effort alone. These new relationships have helped in bringing resources for businesses and a change in the image of Milwaukee's King Drive Main Street.
Please join us in welcoming Deshea!#Blogs#UrbanMain