David Reeves on returning to Milwaukee and helping to build a tech ecosystem | Ep. 125

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David Reeves is a Milwaukee native. He got his first taste of entrepreneurship watching his parents operate their fast food restaurants at Grand Avenue Mall. As president of OpenGov, a cloud software provider for municipalities, he brought one of the company’s offices to the city, growing it to nearly 50 employees locally.

During a recent presentation at the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Reeves, now an executive in residence at Marquette University, discussed the decision to bring the company and his family to Milwaukee. He already had a second home in the Third Ward, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it gave him the chance to leave Silicon Valley for Milwaukee.

“It was so exciting to escape to Milwaukee,” he said, acknowledging he wouldn’t have left Milwaukee if the opportunities for careers in technology were available to him locally.

During his Rotary talk, Reeves also discussed some of the lessons he’s learned from a career in the tech industry.

“It’s not about where the technology is today,” he said. “It’s where it’s going.”

He also pointed out that the pandemic has created a chance for Milwaukee to attract more tech talent as remote work grows in popularity.

“If people are not going to be tethered to offices … it’s just a tremendous opportunity for our city to capitalize on the change,” Reeves said.

He’s already involved in a number of efforts to bolster tech talent in the region and is incorporating that in his own career planning as potential offers come in for another CEO or leadership role.

“One of the things I’m really putting down as a decision criteria if I do take another operational role is can I put a presence in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin,” Reeves said, adding he is reticent to take a job if the company will only be in Silicon Valley or on the East Coast.

At the same time, he said business and political leaders need be open to moving faster to attract tech talent from around the country.

“We can’t compete with other cities if we stay hunkered down to old ways,” Reeves said.

Rotary Club of Milwaukee

In partnership with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.