Today, the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), a coalition of the region’s business, labor, academic, philanthropic, nonprofit and civic leadership, announced that Milwaukee will be the first community in the U.S. to develop an entrepreneurship program using a model developed by Daniel Isenberg, founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Projects. The initiative is 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.
OPEN for Enterprise: Coalitions for High-Growth Entrepreneurship is designed to help high potential urban communities connect a diverse group of stakeholders, including city planners, private investors, academics, entrepreneurs and public officials, to help maximize the social and economic value of the community’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Merging their collective expertise, the coalition can help to develop community programs that identify new ways to stimulate, support and “scale up” new and existing ventures.
Milwaukee, with its strong focus on urban planning, engineering and a strategic priority to reclaim manufacturing excellence, is a natural choice for this initiative. Working closely with GMC, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Administration (WHEDA) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), the Coalition will produce an actionable blueprint for Milwaukee that can help lead to a measurable increase in growth driven start-ups and successful scale-ups.
The OPEN for Enterprise model is based on Isenberg’s work in testing and validating entrepreneurship ecosystems abroad, including successful programs in Colombia, Brazil and Denmark to foster policies, institutions and cultures that stimulate long-term economic growth, development and prosperity through programs and workshops. The same assets that exist in these countries are evident in Milwaukee, the first U.S. city to incubate Isenberg’s model.
“By nurturing an environment for scalable Wisconsin-based businesses, Greater Milwaukee Committee’s partnership with Daniel Isenberg and American Express OPEN will help to support the State’s pledge to bring 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin – one-third of which will come from Milwaukee,” said Governor Scott Walker.
“We have growing companies that need skilled workers, and Milwaukee residents who need jobs,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “I am proud of this partnership and pleased that Milwaukee is leading the way.”
Through these partnerships, local communities using the OPEN for Enterprise model will target the development of high-growth, entrepreneurial firms, which can have a positive impact on job creation and strengthen local economies. In 2011, 12.3% of working age adults were starting or running new businesses, representing a more than 60% jump from 20101. And yet, 82% of U.S. businesses are sole proprietorships2.
“OPEN for Enterprise will help communities foster an environment in which growth-oriented entrepreneurial businesses can thrive,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “Our ultimate goal is to help empower communities to stimulate economic growth expansion and development through high-growth entrepreneurship in a given locale.”
“Working closely with our partners, we are eager to construct a tangible plan that cultivates a self-sustaining and holistic ecosystem for entrepreneurship,” said Julia Taylor, Greater Milwaukee Committee president. “We’re pleased that Milwaukee was chosen to conduct this ground-breaking initiative.”
“Forward-looking policy, culture and the private sector are critical for high-growth ventures and can bring extraordinary value to a city,” said Daniel Isenberg. “OPEN for Enterprise focuses on scale-ups and a growth mindset to generate significant job growth and create a culture that propels the growth of other entrepreneurial firms to follow.”
Milwaukee’s program will kick-off with a public event on May 6. For more information, visit www.scaleUPmilwaukee.org.
About The Greater Milwaukee Committee
The Greater Milwaukee Committee is a private sector civic organization whose mission is to contribute to the cultural and economic base of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The organization was formed in 1948 and is comprised of the top leaders in business, the professions, labor, education philanthropy and nonprofit community development. For more information, visit www.gmconline.org or call 414-272-0588.
About Daniel Isenberg
Daniel Isenberg is a Babson Global professor of entrepreneurship practice and the founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project (BEEP), the global action research subsidiary of Babson College that helps societies around the world create the policies, structures, programs and culture that foster entrepreneurship. In June 2010 Harvard Business Review published his “How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution,” as the “Big Idea” feature article, and is publishing his forthcoming book, Worthless Impossible and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value.
Isenberg has taught at Harvard, Columbia, Insead, Reykjavik, Theseus, and the Technion, and has been an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and active angel investor. Isenberg has a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
About American Express OPEN
American Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners and entrepreneurs with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at www.OPEN.com and connect with us at openforum.com, facebook.com/Open, facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday, twitter.com/OPENForum, twitter.com/shopsmall and linkedin.com/company/american_express_open.
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.
1Report by Baruch College and Babson College
2 American Express OPEN’s 2012 analysis of the most recent Census data
- Daniel Isenberg
- Governor Scott Walker