A Letter from the President & Chair: December 2015

Posted on Dec 21, 2015

Dear GMC Members and Partners,

Thank you for your continued commitment to the Greater Milwaukee Committee. Together, we are building a global city where all people want to live, learn, work, play and stay. Milwaukee is on the cusp of many transformational changes. Our economy, our educational systems and our downtown and neighborhoods have significant opportunities and challenges. Your commitment provides the civic drive to create game-changing opportunities in Milwaukee.

We create a city where people learn by creating learning environments that develop highly skilled and innovative people who are key to our community’s economic prosperity. Educational success grows the talent pool and sets the stage for innovation.

  • Education happens in the classroom. We build a pool of talented teachers through our Teachtown MKE initiative. Teachtown MKE again partnered with organizations like Teach for America and City Year to make their educators feel welcome in a new city and help them to find housing through Find My Spot.
  • We work closely with MPS superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver to foster innovation and excellence in our 26 high schools. Over the summer, we partnered with MPS to host a strategic actioning session to reimagine MPS high schools.
  • We are deeply engaged with the M3 partnership on the reinvention of Bradley Tech by creating stronger articulation pathways between Bradley Tech, MATC and UWM in Bradley Tech’s freshman class, and will chart indicators in college readiness and preparedness as we move forward with this important initiative.
  • At the pre-college and college levels, we are a key partner in Milwaukee Succeeds – Goal 3, postsecondary and career readiness – and are working with area student retention experts on strategies to help close the skills gap in Milwaukee.

We create a city where the next generation of leaders wants to stay.

  • At the high school level, we now partner with Inspire Southeast Wisconsin to take the Talent Dividend’s My Life! My Plan! statewide. Inspire Southeast Wisconsin pairs freshmen with growing career paths in our region and real-time, real-life volunteer business coaches. Currently, we have 33 active company profiles with a goal of 75 for fall, 38 active coaches and 103 active career-based learning activities. Through the My Life! My Plan! program, the GMC set the stage for state education and career preparation standards.
  • The GMC’s innovation initiative, Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE), creates programming that convenes corporations, universities and colleges and talent networks to foster an innovative workforce in the Milwaukee area. In 2015, MiKE expanded a unique entrepreneurial skills accelerator – The Commons (in partnership with Startup Milwaukee) – that has so far provided 210 students from 21 universities and colleges with an entrepreneurial experience that creates an environment for learning teamwork, risk and reward and critical thinking. This is the first time we’ve seen so many of our region’s higher education institutions collaborate and financially support a program like this. MiKE also partnered with Creative Alliance Milwaukee in 2015 to host the inaugural Walk the Talk conference exploring the intersection between creativity and innovation. The conference, attended by 250 change-makers, featured more than 30 local innovators and creatives, including an additional 25 local leaders who served as “super colliders,” and highlighted 20 Milwaukee organizations and companies.
  • As an expansion of our support for the Earn to Learn program, we provide corporate internship matches with young men of color attending Morehouse College and other historically black universities so they return to Milwaukee for their careers. In 2016, we will expand this opportunity to 40+ students with the creation of MKE Fellows.

We create a city where people want to live and play. We believe in the power of place. We use new methods and tools for designing and programming public spaces to increase civic engagement, connect across economic, racial and gender divides and accelerate both the city’s and neighborhoods’ success.

  • We partner with the City of Milwaukee and our civic innovators, NEWaukee, WAM DC, Riverworks and Creative Alliance Milwaukee, who test new ideas to make our city more successful. These ideas include the NEWaukee Night Market, originally funded with an ArtPlace grant to the Greater Milwaukee Committee; WAM DC’s creative placemaking subcommittee, in collaboration with the GMC’s Creative Placemaking Committee; and art installations along the Beerline Trail Extension in the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods.
  • In 2015, the GMC’s Creative Placemaking Committee and Downtown Task Force focused on increasing vibrancy and prosperity in both the heart of our downtown and its equally important neighborhoods.
  • We’ve proven Milwaukee’s potential to national funders. The Kresge Foundation is the latest national foundation to endorse and financially support our work in creative placemaking across the city.
  • We create vibrancy in key areas of the city that build Milwaukee’s image as a city where people make a difference every day. From the NEWaukee Night Markets and CAM’s the Spot on West Wisconsin Avenue to the Beerline Trail Extension in the heart of Harambee, we enhance our partners’ ability to create a platform for change in our city and remove the barriers to affecting that change.

We create a city where people work.  Job creation is the answer to the significant disparity in Milwaukee, and the GMC creates and grows opportunities for prosperity in our region. If we want different outcomes, we need to change the inputs. Milwaukee is a slow job growth city. There are no silver bullets and the economic system is complex. We need to grow jobs at a greater scale to change poverty, violence and educational issues of our community.

Most job growth comes from small to mid-size companies with high growth potential. If we want to change the output of poverty, we need to change the input by creating jobs.This is why Scale Up Milwaukee is important.

  • We create a broad, powerful platform for companies to grow in Milwaukee. Our Scale Up Milwaukee initiative helps entrepreneurs of small companies realize large-scale growth in revenues and jobs.
  • Of the 27 companies that went through Scalerators 1 and 2, 100% experienced accelerated growth. The beginning total revenues of the companies were $65 million; total revenues to date are $95 million. The companies have confirmed 128 new position hires, with an additional 77 jobs expected to be created within the next year. In the current Scalerator 3 session, the 18 participating companies have more than $100 million in revenues.

Stay tuned for our 2016 plans in the annual report, available at our annual meeting on February 8th, 2016.

Thank you for your support, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Sincerely,

Julia Taylor & Ted Kellner