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Ambition Center brings a co-working space to Milwaukee's north side

Carvd N Stone and Justin Gordon
Marcell Jackson in front of the Ambition Center, a co-working space on Milwaukee's north side.

As part of our COVID Earners Series, we speak with businesses owned and operated by people of color, who are reimagining our city’s future during the pandemic.

Marcell Jackson started working from home during the pandemic but he missed being in-person with other professionals. So, he turned to using co-working spaces, but quickly noticed that most shared offices and co-working spaces were located in downtown Milwaukee or in the surrounding suburbs.

So, he decided to open his own co-working space called the Ambition Center to support business owners, creatives, entrepreneurs and remote workers on the north side of Milwaukee.

Unlike traditional offices spaces, Jackson explains that co-working spaces can be used by different types of professionals who can then share a space and resources. He says the environment is a bit more open, free and relaxed.

"There's a ton of diverse individuals here, maybe with different businesses. You can have a graphic designer right next to a project manager, right next to a coder," Jackson explains. "All have their own — either business or working for different companies or maybe working on a special project."

He says he decided to open Ambition Center because there is a lack of co-working spaces on the north side where Black individuals could come together.

Historically, Jackson points out, the north side has been divested from and people usually don't see the value of having or keeping business there. Jackson wanted to create a space that is both inclusive and diverse.

"A lot of Black individuals live on the north side of Milwaukee. So having a space that was accessible was super important for me. We also have a media room dedicated to creators, videographers, photographers, and podcasters. [In] so many shared office spaces, you know, we always think professionals and startups and everything else," says Jackson.

With a new generation of workers emerging, Jackson envisions the Ambition Center to be a space where young professionals can see how they like traditional offices or what meeting clients in a business space feels like.

He draws the comparison to students unions, and suggests the concept could be used in adult working spaces to make connections with others.

"Co-working spaces are a safer place, you can come as a young professional, as a new graduate, get acclimated to how you want to work. But then also start to be around other professionals and start to learn to develop those skills which you might not be able to get just working from home," says Jackson.

Jackson says by reimagining Milwaukee's work spaces we can give professionals in the city a space to start their business or figure out where they're going next in their career.

He says, "As I think about being here, being resources when you think of Milwaukee and you think of the north side, you think of ambitious energy."

"[You'll] think of a whole bunch of ambitious professionals that are here, that are ready. Milwaukee has so much amazing talent already. I just feel like we're not tapped into," Jackson says.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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