From the President

A Letter from the President: March 2016

In this month’s and other upcoming president’s columns, I’d like to share some personal stories of success stemming from our initiatives.

Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE)

College students try to make the most out of their school experience, and Michael Snowden, a business major at Cardinal Stritch University, is no exception. Michael was one of ten students chosen to participate in MiKE‘s Destination Innovation program, a collaboration with Southwest Airlines and Kohl’s Department Stores. Despite never having flown before, Michael embraced this opportunity to brainstorm with fellow students on the future of customer service and then pitch his ideas to other passengers while at 35,000 feet in the sky.

Michael remains connected to MiKE through our flagship program, The Commons, a skills accelerator that seeks to prepare college students for the 21st century innovation economy. Michael was accepted into the spring 2016 session and is working on one of six student-led startup teams called Doughnation, an app that will allow college students to easily support their favorite nonprofits. Michael and his team will share their final presentation on April 19th at Demo Day.

Another Commons participant, a Mount Mary University student, found a full-time job through The Commons. A communications major with no IT background, Shannon admitted she never would have applied for the job she ended up being offered at Kohl’s. She applied – and was hired – because The Commons gave her an opportunity to show her leadership skills and personality, which easily won over the Kohl’s team, who held the position for her until she finished school. Kohl’s had not often hired graduates from Mount Mary in the past – The Commons connected the dots. Learn more about Shannon here!


Teachtown MKE

One of Teachtown MKE‘s many offerings for our teachers is free tickets to sporting events. After a Marquette University basketball game, one teacher sent us a note:

“I went to the Marquette Game with my daughter last Saturday and it was a great daddy daughter date 🙂 Thanks again for the tickets. Afterwards we went ice skating at Red Arrow Park and ate cake pops and drank coffee! She was so happy!!!! Thanks again, we plan on attending again. ”

Teachtown MKE not only provided this teacher and his daughter with a great experience, but encouraged him to explore downtown and continue attending basketball games.

Scale Up Milwaukee

Matt Carroll of AccuTrans was introduced to Scale Up Milwaukee well before the Scalerator recruitment period began. His business provided a coach and driver for a group of Brazilian emissaries visiting Milwaukee to learn about Scale Up Milwaukee and the activities growing the region’s economy. One year after the introduction, Matt has just completed the Scalerator program and has a growing list of related accomplishments marking his impressive growth. He’s acquired three other coach and limousine companies in just the last three months and received the 2016 Small Business Administration Wisconsin Emerging Small Business Award. All this, and AccuTrans is outperforming Matt’s ambitious projections with revenue that is nearly 90% ahead of the same date last year!

Stay tuned for more stories in coming months, and feel free to pass along any you might have.



Julia Taylor

A Letter from the President: February 2016

Originally published in Milwaukee Succeeds’ “Hey It’s Danae!” newsletter

The Greater Milwaukee Committee is proud to be a founding partner of Milwaukee Succeeds. We need community-wide collaboration to educate our children, move Milwaukee forward and redefine our community’s future. Collaboration is a key tenet of not just Milwaukee Succeeds, but all of the GMC’s projects and initiatives. The more people who are at the table, the better outcomes we can expect.

An ongoing tenet of our work is an important one: STUDENTS COME FIRST. All of our students deserve a school that embraces high standards for learning, an inclusive and celebrated multicultural student body, an excellent faculty, a vibrant environment and a caring community. With these qualities in place, our schools will better serve all of our area’s children.

Every child, regardless of where he or she is born and his or her circumstances, deserves a great education. The GMC is committed to racial equity and inclusion and we view all of our initiatives through this lens. This is one of the many reasons why the GMC is involved with Milwaukee Succeeds, an initiative that embraces the same approaches through similar lenses.

The GMC’s enduring commitment to Goal 3 (all young people utilize postsecondary education or training to advance their opportunities beyond high school and prepare for a successful career) is one that the GMC continues to focus on throughout our work in education. The Goal 3 network strategies include reducing summer melt into postsecondary, supporting continual academic and career planning, and helping students successfully complete a postsecondary education program. These strong pillars of our educational agenda are found throughout the GMC’s Reimagining High Schools initiative, our continuing work with Bradley Tech & Trade, and our commitment to MKE Fellows.

In 2014, the Lumina Foundation announced Milwaukee as a “Community Partnership for Attainment” and subsequently invested $180,000 into Milwaukee Succeeds’ framework for change. As a partner in this grant, we believe that Lumina’s investment is an exciting opportunity to incorporate institutes of higher education throughout the Milwaukee region into Milwaukee Succeeds. Already, delegates from many of our region’s institutions have come together to share best practices regarding student attraction and retention. This approach has tremendous promise. We know that with postsecondary education or training, there are almost eight times more available positions than job openings without requirements.

The GMC is committed to the work and progress of Milwaukee Succeeds, and we thank all of you for the passion you put into educating our children every day. We know this is a long process and remain committed to the process and the initiative. These challenges have faced our city for years, and will take years to overcome. Our collective impact will be the game-changer for our Milwaukee children.

Thanks to our many members who have joined in our commitment to Milwaukee Succeeds.


Julia Taylor

A Letter from the President & Chair: December 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.


Julia Taylor & Ted Kellner

A Letter from the President: November 2015

Our Innovation in Milwaukee, or MiKE, initiative is making great strides in connecting companies and organizations with our region’s talent, whether college students, young entrepreneurs, freelancers or seasoned professionals. In 2015, MiKE’s major programming included Walk the Talk, in collaboration with Creative Alliance Milwaukee and attended by 250; Destination Innovation, which flew college students via Southwest to the Kohl’s Innovation Center in California to pitch their ideas; and the third annual 180 Reverse Job Fair during YPWeek, where MillerCoors, Quad/Graphics, Zywave, Associated Bank and Harley-Davidson pitched young professionals on their companies.

MiKE’s premiere program, The Commons (in collaboration with Startup Milwaukee), saw 140 students participate in the 2014 pilot program. The Commons is a cross-university program promoting the applied use of entrepreneurial teachings, providing an opportunity for students to explore innovation in a supportive low-risk environment, serving as a source of talent for area businesses looking to work with and hire the city’s emerging thinkers and playing a pivotal role in economic development and job creation in Southeast Wisconsin.

This past weekend, The Commons hosted Demo Day to celebrate the achievement of its second class of students. These 65 students participating in both startup and corporate innovation teams presented on the work they had done with their teams through the 10-week program. Rather than making financial asks, students asked for feedback and requested connections to other talent who could help further develop their projects. Corporations teaming up with students in this cohort included Briggs & Stratton, Kohl’s Corporation, Direct Supply and Brady Corporation.

In addition to the Demo Day presentations, most corporate teams had the opportunity to present their projects to the staff, including CEOs and higher-level leadership, of the companies with which they were paired. By providing this kind of experience to students and companies, The Commons hopes to continue improving the chances that students will look for jobs and business opportunities right here in Wisconsin.

Moving forward, The Commons team plans to continue developing and fine tuning the program curriculum, hire a full-time entrepreneur-in-residence to implement programming, increase the size of each class and develop a student database.

The Commons is making a serious impact on our region. Already, Milwaukee companies have hired students both for full-time positions and internships. Fourteen of the 23 academic institutions involved in The Commons are providing financial support for The Commons, and five are providing academic credit to the students involved. Marquette University also provided a $50,000 Innovation Fund grant.

If you’d like to hear more about or get involved with The Commons, please contact Michael Hostad.



Julia Taylor

A Letter from the President: October 2015

Many of you were able to join us for our October membership meeting featuring a pertinent debate over whether K-12 education is the most important issue facing our emerging leaders. At the meeting, we were presented with another perspective – that segregation is actually the most important issue.

Clearly, these are two problems which are connected and intertwined, and perhaps equally important to address. The Global Shapers group, a part of the World Economic Forum, passionately argued the two sides of the issue – education and segregation – while sharing personal stories and anecdotes and making the arguments easy to identify with for our members.

We received positive feedback from the membership meeting.

“I think this is one of the best programs we have had.”

“I enjoyed the discussion. Both teams were prepared and articulate.”

“Topic was great. Debaters were polished… it was good exposure for the group.”

Thank you to all of our members who engaged with the meeting and shared their positive, as well as critical, feedback with us and the Global Shapers.

We know it’s important to face these issues, and it is reassuring – and encouraging – see tomorrow’s leaders’ willingness to face them head on, no matter how uncomfortable. We hope that through our work at the GMC within issues of race, equality, education and workforce development, we can begin to solve some of the barriers facing Milwaukee in becoming – or remaining – a world-class city.

Check out video from the meeting  here.



Julia Taylor

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