November Letter from the President

Posted on Dec 06, 2017

Published November 21, 2017

Technology has become a foundational element of our society. The way we communicate, do business, travel and manufacture our products is reliant on technology. As a growing region that is now attracting international companies like Haribo, Foxconn and potentially, Amazon, our ability to match the demands of a technology centered economy is more imperative than ever.
Milwaukee is home to some of the world’s largest innovative and technology focused companies -GE, Johnson Controls, Rockwell Automation, ManpowerGroup, Northwestern Mutual, FIS and Fiserv…just to name a few. Our biggest issue is a regional shortage of tech talent. As we learned at the past GMC membership meeting, the need for more tech talent increased exponentially with the entry of Foxconn into the region. Foxconn plans to invest in an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem in Milwaukee, which will create 13,000 high wage jobs. This is an opportunity for not only Foxconn to call on our region to develop innovative ways to support Foxconn’s products, but also for industries that already call Milwaukee home to be recognized on a national level.
The good news is that a collaborative group of academic leaders, innovative corporations, and regional-minded civic leaders are coming together to grow a talent pipeline in support of new companies to the area as well as those that helped build Milwaukee into what it is today.
We’re seeing examples of this work already:
  • On November 1, Northwestern Mutual hosted a large summit to support the creation and growth of a sustainable tech hub.
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Aurora Health Care each are committing $5 million to venture funds that will invest in startup companies in the Milwaukee area.
  • M7 formed a regional team focused on growing and attracting tech talent working with a number of partners including higher educational institutions, workforce investment boards, K-12 systems, and corporations.
  • Last weekend, Northwestern Mutual partnered with The Commons to host a 32-hour innovation “Hack-It Bracket” that brought together nearly 100 college students from 16 colleges and universities in the region to build innovative technology solutions for NM.
  • Existing initiatives like Milwaukee Succeeds aligns in meeting the talent needs.
These are just a few examples that illustrate how our region has the necessary assets and mindset to meet our growing talent demands. With urgency, transparency, and collaboration, we have come together to take advantage of the opportunity to grow the talent pipeline of the future. As the Governor noted at the bill signing for Foxconn, while there were worries whether Foxconn would keep their promise to the region to create 13,000 jobs, he worried whether we could keep our promise to Foxconn to fill the jobs. This opportunity for prosperity for so many in our region compels us to keep this promise.
Finally, I invite you to come see the future of innovative talent in action at The Commons’ upcoming Demo Day on November 28. The Commons’ Fall cohort comes to a close with 11 student teams presenting innovative solutions to challenges put forward by companies like Kohl’s, We Energies, and Sartori Cheese. For more details and to RSVP, visit TheCommonsWI.com.
Sincerely,
Julia Taylor
President
Greater Milwaukee Committee