Scale Up Milwaukee, an initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, is an action project focused on developing the entrepreneurial capacity in Milwaukee by bringing together the policies, structures, programs and climate that foster entrepreneurship.

Scale Up Milwaukee is, at its very core, an initiative to infuse a greater ambition and capacity to grow into our region. By working directly with ambitious entrepreneurs and the stakeholders that support them, Scale Up Milwaukee helps companies grow, accelerating the environment that makes growth a core, self-sustaining part of the fabric of Milwaukee.

Scale Up Milwaukee is based on a model developed by Daniel Isenberg, founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Projects.  Isenberg has worked with entrepreneurship ecosystems abroad, in places such as Colombia, Brazil and Denmark, fostering policies, structures and cultures that stimulate long-term economic growth, development and prosperity through programs and workshops.

Milwaukee is the first community in the U.S. to develop an entrepreneurship program based on this model.  The initiative is also backed by Governor Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett as part of a bipartisan effort to grow the economy by stimulating high-growth ventures and encouraging job creation.

The long-term strategy for Scale Up Milwaukee is to create an integrated effort to simultaneously impact six domains of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Milwaukee: Culture, Policy and Leadership, Finance, Human Capital, Markets, and Supports.

Domains EES 3

The History of Scale Up Milwaukee

The first phase of the project wran for six months, launching in April 2013. The goal of phase one was to create a broad awareness among public and private leaders and stakeholders of what to do, a commitment to do it, and a plan of action.

The project is an initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), having started by working closely with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Administration (WHEDA) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).  This coalition, along with many other stakeholders, has produced an actionable blueprint for Milwaukee that will help lead to a measurable increase in growth driven start-ups and successful scale-ups.

As evidenced by American Express OPEN’s leadership in convening a broad group of stakeholders in support of Small Business Saturday, OPEN has helped to mobilize organizations to cultivate high-growth entrepreneurship as part of OPEN for Enterprise: Coalitions for High-Growth Entrepreneurship. American Express OPEN’s focus is to develop an actionable blueprint in partnership with entrepreneurship expert Daniel Isenberg that can be implemented in a wide variety of U.S. cities, starting in Milwaukee in 2013, to scale new and existing ventures.

In Milwaukee, American Express OPEN served as a catalyst to foster a self-sustaining entrepreneurship ecosystem. Supporting the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and the diverse group of private and public organizations it is bringing together, American Express OPEN helped generate awareness of this initiative and its outcomes locally and nationally.  American Express OPEN will not be involved in matters of public, legislative or regulatory policy.

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