By Anna Lardinois
The term “startup business” often conjures the image of a group of twenty-somethings coding late into the night from their Silicon Valley-based computer lab/skateboard park. While that is sometimes the case, the reality is that startups begin in universities, research labs, and home offices all across the country, every day. Wherever there are doers and dreamers, startup businesses are being launched. A startup business doesn’t necessarily have to be a technology company, it can be any new business with a unique idea and the ability to scale into a large market.
Milwaukee, with its deep roots in manufacturing, might not be the first place you think of when you think about the next wave of startup businesses, but maybe it should be. Milwaukee has all of the ingredients to become the next center for innovative new businesses. With Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and UW Milwaukee graduating skilled engineers each semester, coupled with the innovators already employed by Milwaukee’s many world class businesses, the city has the talent to create inventive new products, and our Midwestern work ethic ensures great ideas will quickly become tangible products. Along with talent, the city has several startup business accelerators, incubators, and support organizations designed to assist and develop these emerging businesses.
A city with a robust startup business community is a healthy city. New companies are the leaders in job creation, and the creation of high growth startup businesses will mean more jobs for Milwaukeeans. These innovative new companies will attract skilled talent into the city, increasing the tax base, and creating new customers for businesses in all sectors. When a startup business succeeds, the whole community benefits.
To ensure we reap the rewards created by startup businesses, Milwaukee must foster the startup business community. We do that by developing and nurturing our Startup Ecosystem. Beyond venture capitalists, accelerators, and incubators, there is a role for each of us to play. The schools that educate the next generation of innovators, the business leaders who lend their expertise as mentors, and the companies willing to use novel technologies are all essential components of the startup community.
An increase in successful startup businesses ultimately improves the quality of life for every Milwaukeean. The increased tax-base will expand funding for public transportation, parks, the protection of public waterways, and so many of the other things that make Milwaukee a great place to live. From the invention of the modern typewriter to the creation of individually bottled beer, Milwaukee has led the way in innovative business practices for generations. It is time for us to lead the way again and become the next forerunner in the creation of successful startup businesses.