Milwaukee's manufacturing heyday was decades ago. Along with the decline in that part of the economy, in recent years the city has had issues fostering innovation. A study last fall by the Public Policy Forum showed that the city ranked near the bottom every year since 2006 for the number of business start-ups. Other studies rank Milwaukee - and Wisconsin in general - low on other measures of innovation activity.
But some say the data doesn’t paint a complete picture. This month’s issue of Milwaukee Magazine places movers, shakers and innovators on the cover, spotlighting both new and established companies in the city. Senior editor Matt Hrodey, who wrote several articles in the series, says things seem to be changing, even if the raw number of business startups hasn't drastically increased.
"We have a high survival rate for startups," Hrodey says. "We put enough sweat and effort into getting good infrastructure and mentorship in place that people have a pretty high success rate."
Hrodey says there have been a number of success stories among startups that have relocated to Milwaukee in recent years, such as Bright Cellars. And, he says, the lower numbers have given the companies that are growing a better chance to stick out. "In California," Hrodey explains, "they might have been lost in the deluge."