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OnRamp: Uphill Battle on Entrepreneurship

Milwaukee has an Uphill Battle on Entrepreneurship

Written By: Dan Steininger, President and Co-Founder of BizStarts
As seen on the August 2, 2016 post in Milwaukee Business Journal OnRamp Blog.

It should come as no shock that Milwaukee does not rank in the top 10 cities of the nation for best places to be an entrepreneur.

But what is really annoying is that we’re not even in the top 50. Sadly, Madison ranks well ahead of us despite the fact that Milwaukee is arguably the major engine of economic growth in the state of Wisconsin.

The Livability Index weighs a variety of factors when ranking various cities when it comes to entrepreneurship and the numbers don’t lie. The ranking experts look at such things as number of businesses created and employees hired between 2011 and 2015, unemployment rates, number of VC deals in the past decade, value of SBA loans, percentage of college-educated locals, cost-of-living, and population increases or decreases.

They also factor in such basic concerns as quality education, affordable housing, and health of the citizens, transportation infrastructure and the overall economy of the city.

It is interesting that the list includes Bismarck North Dakota, Sioux City Iowa, Billings Montana and Fargo North Dakota.

We should not be lured to complacency by the housing boom going on in downtown Milwaukee. It’s wonderful, but with chronic unemployment in many of our neighborhoods, racial segregation and poor educational performance by MPS students, we have a big uphill battle.

The answer is to begin by declaring there’s a crisis and make clear that the crisis should not be wasted.

Meg Jones, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, documented in a recent book the stories of how Milwaukee companies made possible our victory in World War II.

This region has been a hotbed of entrepreneurship and there’s no real reason that can’t happen again. We need community, political, and business leaders focused on this crisis.

We need to support innovative entrepreneurs like Ben Krejci who heads up the Wisconsin operations for Rally Bus.

Rally Bus is a startup that provides Uber -like services to groups of people wanting to go to various destinations by bus. This would have great applicability for employers who have employees that struggle to get to their employers. There are nursing homes and other facilities in outlying places like Waukesha and Mequon that can’t get low income workers to their facilities.

Rally Bus could be a real game changer. The more we can support entrepreneurs like this the better the image of our community will be and our ranking as a desirable place for entrepreneurs will improve. Guaranteed.

View Dan’s blog post on OnRamp >>

About the Author
Dan Steininger is the president and co-founder of BizStarts. BizStarts facilitates the creation of new companies in southeast Wisconsin. He currently teaches courses on innovation for the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education for business leaders. Contact BizStarts >>

About OnRamp
OnRamp offers conversation and connections among the entrepreneurs who are shaping Wisconsin’s economy, and brings corporations and start-ups together at statewide events. View other OnRamp blog posts >>

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