Last week, a Milwaukee-based research nonprofit called the Public Policy Forum published a report determining how “innovative” the metropolitan area’s economy is as it gets ready for Foxconn to call one of its suburbs home.
So is Milwaukee’s economy innovative? It depends on who you ask. An established life sciences company might say yes, considering that Milwaukee has a competitive concentration of scientists and engineers compared to other Midwestern cities, at 13.1 per 1,000 working age adults. But the founder of a tech startup struggling to secure venture capital — Milwaukee startups only received $44.7 million in funding in 2016 — might think that the city still has a long way to go before it can be considered a good place to start an innovative business.
It can be tempting to paint the arrival of a factory like the one from Foxconn or a big exit from a hometown startup as a sign that a city’s economy has “made it.” But the report serves as an important reminder that it takes a lot of pieces to fall into place until a city’s economy can truly be considered a fertile place for multiple players in the tech industry — especially one that hopes to one day rival Silicon Valley.
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FROM THE HEARTLAND TECH CHANNEL
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