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Jumpstarting a New Regional Narrative

Milwaukee is home to several Fortune 500 headquarters and twenty-five higher educational institutions — most of which have engineering and/or nationally recognized STEM programs. The city sits beautifully on Lake Michigan's banks and is a little more than an hour's drive from Chicago's urban and cultural amenities. So why does everyone think of beer and cheese when they think of Milwaukee? And why are headquarter companies having so much trouble recruiting tech talent?


The phone call to Waymaker came just before the public announcement of the arrival of Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing conglomerate. If headquarter companies were having trouble with retaining and recruiting talent, what would it look like when one of the largest suppliers for Apple came into the market and hired thousands? Could Milwaukee evolve into becoming a competitive tech hub? Waymaker took on both challenges and set off to help the market reposition itself internally and externally and to convince the region that Milwaukee was already competitive as a mid-sized tech market.


Milwaukee’s biggest employers were enjoying plenty of growth in digital and technology occupations. Some had opened tech offices on the west coast, while others had expanded globally to leverage tech talent supply. Using employer input to customize a list of standard technology occupations, Waymaker worked with Milwaukee’s top 30 employers to customize the definition of tech for the market, therefore counting $27B in tech impact annually. 


Historically, it had been understood that economic development work is different and, therefore, separate from private industry. The private sector has no role in influencing or contributing to economic development efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Waymaker used Milwaukee’s new $27B tech reality to unite public and private leaders. CEOs of the region’s largest companies gathered alongside the Mayor to announce that Milwaukee was already a tech hub.


  • Innovation Ecosystem Study: Tech Talent Impact 

  • Strategic Framework 

  • Governance & Organizational Capacity Services

& Findings

  • Defined $27B in tech eco impact

  • Industry + Mayor of MKE press conference launching tech hub initiative 

  • Creation, launch & $5M funding of independent nonprofit


“Julie’s ability to bring together leaders across the spectrum was critical in making Austin the tech hub it has become. Waymaker would be a huge asset for any region trying to grow.”

— Joel Trammell, Founder, American CEO

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