The Greater Milwaukee Committee – About Us

The Greater Milwaukee Committee is a private sector civic organization whose mission is to contribute to the cultural and economic base of the Milwaukee Metropolitan area.

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GMC Initiatives

The Greater Milwaukee Committee's work is implemented through its initiatives and committees. Learn more about our work throughout the community.

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The Commons

The Commons is a collaboration between the GMC’s MiKE initiative and Startup Milwaukee that works to attract, develop and retain the brightest entrepreneurial minds by creating a cross-university program that promotes the applied use of entrepreneurial teachings.

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Welcome to the Greater Milwaukee Committee

The Greater Milwaukee Committee’s mission is to make Greater
Milwaukee the best place to live, learn, work and play.

Our membership – comprised of our region’s business, labor, academic, philanthropic, nonprofit and civic leadership – believes that intelligent, active interest in public affairs is the true measure of citizenship, and the foundation for community.

​Commons student, corporate accelerator changing course after second class debuts

From The Milwaukee Business Journal
Published November 23, 2015

The Commons student and corporate startup accelerator debuted its second cohort of student-led projects and early-stage companies Sunday, and now refocuses as it moves toward a third class.

Sixty-five students from 23 local universities and colleges participated in a “demo day” Sunday, displaying projects and business concepts created over 10 weeks in teams of 11. Rather than the funding request that follows most accelerators’ completion, Commons students’ “ask” was for feedback and connections to customers.

Its spring class pares the program back to nine weeks, focused on a more in-depth curriculum targeted toward engendering creativity, critical thinking, communication and other soft skills.

Companies partnering in the program are Kohl’s Corp., Menomonee Falls, Wauwatosa’s Briggs & Stratton Corp., Milwaukee-based Direct Supply Inc. and new-to-the-team Brady Corp., also based in Milwaukee. The refocus toward soft skills came from student requests and from those companies looking for talent, Commons co-founder Joe Poeschl said.

“(Companies) can teach the hard skills,” he said. “It’s much more difficult to find someone with soft skills.”

In spring 2016, The Commons may add another 10 seats, but without additional funding and resources, Poeschl said, adding its expansion will be slow by necessity.

The Commons is operated by Startup Milwaukee and the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative. It’s currently funded through a combination of support from individual and foundation donors, corporate sponsors and university membership fees.

According to MiKE’s Michael Hostad, 90 students have pre-applied for the Commons’ spring program already. However, he said, its growth requires support, something Hostad and his fellow Innovation in Milwaukee members are actively pursuing.

Read the full article here.

Demo Day showcases progress of The Commons’ first class

From BizTimes
Published November 23, 2015

After 10 weeks of assembling business models, prototypes and market research, student startup teams under The Commons presented their masterpieces-in-progress during a Demo Day event held Sunday at Ward4 Milwaukee.

The event gave all 11 teams a chance to show off the strides they have made since launching their efforts in September.

For some, Demo Day also opened up an opportunity to pitch their ideas in hopes of garnering additional financial support and establishing key connections in the startup space.

The 11 teams enrolled in The Commons over the last two months represent the first official class of the entrepreneurial skills accelerator, which is a project of Startup Milwaukee and Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE).

The Commons, announced in August 2014, marries academia with industry as it gives college students from regional institutions a platform to begin building early-stage companies as well as learn from executives at companies like Direct Supply and Brady Corporation.

The accelerator, open to any student from participating schools, kicked off with a pitch event in September, during which select student entrepreneurs and companies explained their ideas to a room full of students.

About 65 students threw their entrepreneurial ambitions into the first class, with five student teams focused on fleshing out startup ideas and six other teams centered on finding solutions to fit the needs of local companies.

Read the full article here.


Using Supply Chains to Grow Your Business

From Harvard Business Review
Published November 20, 2015

Until a few years ago Steve Cronce’s Raphael Industries did $1 million dollars a year of specialized industrial painting for customers within driving distance of their plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One of them happened to be GE Healthcare, which sent Raphael “dead” X-Ray tube parts for re-coating and re-commissioning. Challenged by other entrepreneurs in Scale Up Milwaukee’s Scalerator program to come up with a plan for rapidly ramping up his business, Cronce wondered: “What if I redefined Raphael as a strategic link in the global medical imaging supply chain, rather than as a paint shop?” This supply chain epiphany is taking Raphael toward $10 million of work a year by burrowing into GE’s global network as well as serving its competitors. He is poised to become the leader in this segment of a multi-billion dollar market. “By serving as GE’s and other equipment makers’ supply partner, the whole world is now my scope. I am no longer limited by geography.”

This story leads us to a question: Which sounds sexier: sassy Silicon Valley startup or nose-to-the-grindstone supplier? No doubt the tech startup wins the popularity contest hands down.

But let’s change what we’re asking: Which has the better potential to scale up and create long term value for customers, owners, investors, and employees? According to a study by the Center for an Urban Future, small businesses that win large supply contracts report average revenue growth more than 250% in the two years after their first sale. The reality is that the vast majority of successfully scaled ventures are not mythical unicorns with billion dollar paper values, but workhorses that plug along, steadily producing results year after year.

Read the full piece here.

Greater Milwaukee Committee hears push for downtown action plan: Slideshow

Published November 10, 2015
From the Milwaukee Business Journal

Get ready for a lot of focus groups, roundtables, workshops and other forums for public input in the coming year, said Toni Griffin, a national consultant who is leading planning for the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Downtown Task Force.

Griffin came to Milwaukee on Monday to talk about the crafting of a new action plan for the downtown. See the attached slideshow for pictures of her visit to the University Club for the GMC meeting and the prominent Milwaukee-area business executives who attended the meeting.

Read the full article and check out the slideshow here.

GMC downtown task force eyes consensus, inclusion for long-range plan

Published November 9, 2015
From the Milwaukee Business Journal

Greg Wesley, one of the leaders on Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Downtown Task Force, observed that Milwaukeeans sometimes lead by crisis.

Business leaders and public officials will mount advocacy campaigns behind the streetcar or the arena, and weather the debate that comes with controversial projects.

“What we really want to do as a task force is not have to get on the phone and rally people behind one particular project, but to know there are several things we want to accomplish down the road in a broad way,” said Wesley, equity partner in Milwaukee law firm Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP.

Wesley’s statement, which came during a Monday GMC event, defines one goal of an “action agenda” the Downtown Task Force is in the early stages of drafting. What that agenda will recommend has not been determined. But in short, it would be a long-range plan for the downtown with priorities and activities. It can look at public transit and other infrastructure, trends and opportunities in the real estate market, potential public-private partnerships and changes in government regulations.

The Greater Milwaukee Committee members gathered Monday to hear from Toni Griffin, founder of Urban Planning for the American City and a consultant helping to draft the report.

Check out the full article here.

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