Crafting a new economic strategy for Waukesha County

Developing “innovation foundries,” advancing “green” technologies and connecting with the Milwaukee 7 initiative are the three critical steps for a new economic positioning strategy for Waukesha County, according to a new report by the Waukesha County Economic Development Corp. (WCEDC).

The strategy for the county was named, “Courageous Economic Development.”

“We call the strategy ‘courageous,’ because it goes beyond necessary but traditional economic development – financing projects, providing demographic information and marketing,” said Bill Mitchell, executive director of the WCEDC. “This new way of thinking looks forward to emerging, high-tech growth sectors like green technologies and will create knowledge-exchange settings for taking business ideas to profit – the critical component of the innovation economy.”

The economic positioning strategy for the county was created by a comprehensive research project that the WCEDC did with Madison-based Vandewalle & Associates.

The strategy identifies three critical steps to position Waukesha County to compete in the global, innovation-based economy:

•    First, the county should develop “innovation foundries,” which are knowledge exchange opportunities to generate innovation ideas.

•    Second, the county should advance environmentally-friendly “green” technologies that benefit companies that are developing products and services that reduce environmental impacts.

•    Third, the county should make sure it participates with the regional Milwaukee 7 economic development initiative.

“In an innovation economy, communities and regions that leverage their economic assets to remain globally competitive will have the best prospects for growth,” said Rob Gottschalk, principal with Vandewalle & Associates. “This is especially true for Waukesha County, which consists of mostly small and mid-size companies that need connections to technology and knowledge sharing.”

In upcoming months, the WCEDC will establish tactics to move the economic positioning strategy forward.

In a first step, the WCEDC and the Racine County Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation (CATI) and the Racine County Economic Development Corp. have formed a partnership under which the innovation and technology transfer services offered by CATI will be made available to Waukesha County businesses.

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