Tech Center: Milwaukee Moves Up Tech Food Chain

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, known for its breweries and scenic views,  has long been heralded as the place to go to relax and have a “cold one.”

Home to Miller Brewing, Joseph Schlitz Brewing and Pabst Brewing, Milwaukee has a long history with serving up beer in the United States. Over the years, the city has attracted international companies setting up their headquarters which include the likes of Northwestern Mutual, Harley Davidson and GE Healthcare.

The latest piece of news that’s helping to move the technology ball for Milwaukee is the $310 million round of funding raised by Baird Capital, which is the direct investment division of local investment firm Robert W. Baird & Co. Through this cash infusion, it hopes to invest in middle-market firms in the technology, health care and industrial solutions industries.

Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Milwaukee and its tech scene:

  • Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth largest city in the Midwestern United States
  • Milwaukee had a population of 595,047 in 2016
  • GDP of the metropolitan area (Milwaukee, Waukesha and West Allis): $91.7 million (2015)
  • Median Household Income: $35,958 for 2015
  • There are more than 230 startups and tech companies
  • There have been 24 startups launched since the beginning of 2017
  • Total funding for the past 12 months is $35,713,979

Helping to propel it further, Milwaukee is set to open up a technology center by A.O. Smith Corp. to study water heating, water treatment and air purification. Essentially this tech center is focused on developing new products and processes to make businesses more energy efficient. The hopes are that this development will help attract and retain tech talent on the northwest side of the city.

In its third annual study on best places for women to work in tech, Milwaukee was ranked 14th in the country by financial software company SmartAssets. Metrics used for this study included gender pay gap, income after housing costs, technology jobs filled by women and four-year employment growth. Though women in the area make 96.8 percent of what men earn, 30 percent of technology jobs are filled by females.

The city has also started a TechHire IT training program, a 10-week intensive learning session in which people learn more technical skills. This program will be held in a $1.2-million TechForce Training Center that was just built in Milwaukee and developed through the help of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. Just last year, Milwaukee was named a TechHire Community by President Obama. “As excited as I was that day for that announcement, I’m even more excited today, because today the students are here,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said of the news. “And the students are going to have the opportunity in 10 weeks to get the skills that are necessary for them to have family supporting jobs.”

In other major technology-focused area news, social media giant Facebook is planning to build out 1,500 apartment units to help with the housing shortage in Silicon Valley. Through this development, it’s likely that the tech-savvy area will continue to see growth in the industry for the foreseeable future.

While Albuquerque has shared its plans to potentially welcome self-driving cars with open arms, Las Vegas is providing an update on all of the technologies, including Hitachi and Cisco, it has infused in its new downtown, which is dubbed the Innovation District.