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Let’s Scale Up Milwaukee

As published on BizTimes.com December 4, 2014

Let’s Scale Up Milwaukee
by Mary Blasberg

Scale Up Milwaukee continues to inspire new projects in the U.S. and beyond. Earlier this year, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced its launch of Scale Up America, an effort to support community efforts fostering entrepreneurial activity and business growth. In September, the SBA announced eight specific programs in communities throughout the U.S. that will receive funding support.

Following on the SBA’s launch, on November 17th, the Scale Up UK Report was launched. It was covered in the Financial Times, Guardian, Wired, and more. Milwaukee was prominently cited as an impactful case study, alongside the Cambridge 50 and Google Campus London. Dan Isenberg, who provides the thought and practice leadership for Scale Up Milwaukee, was the keynote speaker at the Scale Up UK launch.

Its information is relevant and worthy of sharing on the home front. Among the highlights:

* The first class of companies participating in a six-month “Scalerator” program that provides training and mentoring on growing a business, revenues have increased 25 percent above initial projections for 2014;
* Projections based on Scale Up Milwaukee’s initial rollout call for development of 60 high-growth companies in the region as a result of the initiative, resulting in a commensurate increase in jobs regionally, along with wealth, tax base and quality of life; and
* Increasing recognition – both regionally and on an international level – of Milwaukee as a center for growth-oriented entrepreneurship.

For those who haven’t come across it yet, Scale Up Milwaukee is an action project focused on developing the entrepreneurial capacity in the southeast Wisconsin region by bringing together the policies, structures, programs, and climate that foster an environment that promotes entrepreneurship. Milwaukee is the first city in the country to develop a regionwide program, and it has been backed by Gov. Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett as part of a bipartisan effort to stimulate the economy, as well as by the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and others.

The Scale Up Report is led by Sherry Coutu based on the work of experts at Oxford, Cambridge, Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project, MIT, Harvard, Endeavor, Kauffman and others. In the report, Scale Up Milwaukee’s structure is outlined, its participants are credited, and its expected outcomes are anticipated. These Milwaukee ideas were used to create high impact actions that the UK could use to boost their economy in terms of jobs and economic growth.

The report’s research corroborates the idea that substantial economic growth comes from scaling up business ventures as the most important driver of entrepreneurship in all of its manifestations. Scale ups play an extremely important role in stimulating the economy, but they face many barriers, especially in locations where the policies and programs tend to overlook the value of these rapidly growing companies with even more potential to grow. These barriers are primarily access to export markets and access to talent. Scale Up Milwaukee helps companies to move past these barriers while bringing together all actors in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

During the official launch of Scale Up UK and release of the report on November 17th, Scale Up Milwaukee surprised the several of those in attendance with congratulatory shirts, creating a long distance feeling of solidarity between the UK and the Midwest. Conversations regarding the Scale Up impact are being had around the world, with Milwaukee’s presence taking a well-deserved authoritative stance.

Scale Up Milwaukee is an initiative we are excited to be implementing in Milwaukee and one that cannot only be a leader in our region, but throughout the world.