There are numerous projects and services to support entrepreneurship across the country. Known incubators or projects, these organizations and locations are an opportunity to support entrepreneurs and business owners. One of these is Scale Up Milwaukee, an action project focused on developing the entrepreneurial capacity in Milwaukee by bringing together the policies, structures, programs and climate that foster entrepreneurship.
Rescue a CEO spoke with Daniel Isenberg, the architect of Scale of Milwaukee, about what's on tap for Milwaukee this year and why “scale-ups” matter to a growing economy.
What is Scale Up Milwaukee?
Launched in the spring of 2013, Scale up Milwaukee is a multi-group effort to empower new and existing businesses in Milwaukee to scale rapidly by fostering a stronger entrepreneurship ecosystem.
What makes Milwaukee a good place to be an entrepreneur?
Due to some robust assets, Milwaukee can become an excellent place to an entrepreneur. Milwaukee has a strong foundation – with 32 colleges/universities and 12 major campus locations, Milwaukee has the largest degree-seeking population in Wisconsin; a strong focus on urban planning and engineering; a strategic priority to reclaim manufacturing excellence; hundreds of potentially world class suppliers of manufactured products and advanced services, headquarters of global market leaders, one hour from an international air hub, one the of the largest creative workforces in the US. Perhaps most important is a committed and motivated core of public and private leaders who are aligning around growth entrepreneurship.
What are the goals of the initiative?
Our goal is ambitious – to improve the following factors that compromise this ecosystem: the labor force, access to large local customers, access to appropriate financing, infrastructure, networking, entrepreneurship education, government policy, and even the city’s entrepreneurship culture. We will achieve this over the coming three years by working with Milwaukee’s formal and informal entrepreneurship stakeholders to be more supportive of a much more ambitious entrepreneurial achievement, more aligned on a growth-obsessed vision, and more integrated in their actions to foster scale up ventures.
Why do you feel that entrepreneurship is important?
When ventures enter into relatively rapid growth spurs, they create a demand for employable talent, generate personal wealth, and when profitable pay taxes which helps everyone.
What happened during the pilot phase last year?
In the six-month pilot phase, Scale Up Milwaukee worked with more than 2,500 public and private leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investors and faculty members from across the region.
Some of the activities as part of the pilot phase included:
- Conducting community roundtable discussions to understand local opportunities and the obstacles;
- Holding a financial stakeholders workshop to improve the flow of entrepreneurial finance by enhancing the understanding of needs between entrepreneurs and providers of capital;
- Collaborating with Mayor Tom Barrett’s office to bring attention to growing companies in the area to emphasize the message of growth;
- Hosting the Corporate Venture Forum, where over 200 corporations and entrepreneurs convened on how to partner for mutual benefit; and
- Establishing the “Scalerator”, where a dozen growth-driven ventures participated in an intense training focused on rapidly increasing growth.
Why do “scale-ups” matter to a growing economy?
Ventures which are actually exhibiting significant growth, i.e. scale ups, offer a number of rich benefits to entrepreneurs and the local community, satisfying market needs, generating wealth, creating employment and improving regional fiscal health. Scale ups can come from any industry, age group or socio-economic status.