Entrepreneurship is a key part of economic development

MMAC leads efforts to highlight Milwaukee as a destination for innovation, startups, and entrepreneurship — and form stronger connections among the people who make it all happen here.

By Tim Sheehy
President, MMAC

We have made great strides in economic development in the Milwaukee Region, with the success of the Milwaukee 7 Regional Partnership in corporate attraction and expansion now totaling some 24,000 new jobs with an annual payroll of $1.4 billion from those project wins.

But economic growth does not live on recruitment and expansion alone.

Growing our own is a necessary component of driving prosperity for the region. The Milwaukee Region has long been a home to startups that innovate how we live, work, and play — from Harley-Davidson and Marquette Electronics to Wantable and Bright Cellars. And even more is coming: Shine is developing groundbreaking nuclear technologies to become a world leader in medical tracers and cancer treatment elements.

But Milwaukee’s innovation strength is better known from the established structures of our Fortune 500 heavyweights, established midsize firms and higher education institutions. That isn’t ending anytime soon, nor should it. But we can add more to it. 

For all of our strengths, Milwaukee is not known nationally as a thriving hub for startups, entrepreneurship and venture capital investment. The idea that Milwaukee is somewhat risk-averse is a familiar one. But at the same time, are we too modest about the existing strengths and successes of our startup scene? (That sounds familiar, too.)

In the Fall 2021 issue of MMAC’s Milwaukee Commerce magazine, we’re looking at some of the Milwaukee Region’s entrepreneurship success stories. This a step in what will become a broader MMAC-led effort to highlight Milwaukee as a destination for innovation, startups and entrepreneurship — and form stronger connections among the people who make it all happen here.

Milwaukee is different, and the entrepreneurship scene we build together should be different, too. But the benefits of promoting and building more start-ups are the same; new ideas and a broader talent pool to fish in — retaining a bigger share of our next generation of homegrown talent who might otherwise be tempted to leave for the coasts, while also inviting talented people from other regions to move here or invest here.

By building a thriving, more connected entrepreneurship community, we’ll become an even more attractive destination for the kinds of problem-solvers and risk-takers that can help our economy thrive.

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