Counties: Kenosha • Milwaukee • Ozaukee • Racine • Walworth • Washington • Waukesha
The economy of the Milwaukee Region (M7), while always evolving, is grounded in manufacturing. Sixteen percent of the region’s workforce is employed in manufacturing, ranking second in the nation among the top 50 metros for manufacturing jobs. The region’s diverse mix of manufacturing companies produces everything from basic foundry parts to low-emission engines, advanced aviation systems and sophisticated industrial controls. The region is especially noted for engine and equipment manufacturing, automation and advanced manufacturing and medical technology.
The M7 is a national leader in precision manufacturing and the production of sophisticated industrial controls and medical imaging equipment. According to the M7’s website, “its skilled workforce, engineering support and manufacturing heritage have also made it the nation’s leading producer of mining machinery, hoists, monorails, speed changers, drives and gears.”
Serving Wisconsin’s most densely populated region, the Milwaukee 7 was launched in September 2005 to create a regional, cooperative economic development platform for the seven counties of southeastern Wisconsin.
“It’s rare for a company to look at just one municipality when deciding whether to expand or relocate,” said Jim Paetsch, vice president of corporate relocation, expansion and attraction for the Milwaukee 7. “Companies aren’t limited by municipal borders. What they are buying is an entire region.”
The group claims that through its efforts, 8,100 jobs have been created or retained in the region since its founding, with an impact of more than $430 million in direct payroll and $600 million in capital investment. The M7 has also leveraged millions of dollars in federal earmarks, state assistance and other municipal investments for business projects.
A region-wide effort is essential because companies often draw employees from multiple communities in a given area, Paetsch said. Services such as air travel and other vital transportation are evaluated by businesses looking to grow or move their operations. The M7 region hosts the state’s largest airport, easy passenger rail access to and from Chicago, a sea port with transport access to the Atlantic ocean and a robust highway and freight rail system. The region’s technical colleges and universities provide critical training and research support, including applied technology centers that manufacturers can use to test their designs and create prototypes. Technology transfer programs help companies turn ideas into marketable products.
The Milwaukee 7 touts a number of “wins” for the region. Milwaukee Electric Tool will expand its research and development center in Brookfield, creating 100 new jobs and a planned $75 million expansion by Baptista’s Bakery in Franklin. Brookfield will have the first production facility in the United States for Thomas Magnete, a German manufacturer of fluid power devices for the automotive and machinery markets; Spanish firm Sic Lazaro, a producer of industrial counterweights, will establish its first manufacturing operation in North America on Milwaukee’s far north side. Another Spanish firm, Ingeteam Inc., a manufacturer of wind turbine generators, has built a plant in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley (which has easy access to interstate, rail and sea transport), to serve as the company’s North American headquarters.
“The Milwaukee 7 has been successful in getting all different parts of the region to think as a single, functioning economic engine,” Paetsch said.
This is especially true when dealing with foreign companies looking to expand or launch operations on United States soil.
He pointed to the decision by Ingeteam to locate in Milwaukee as evidence that the Milwaukee 7 has been successful in attracting business investment.
“Ingeteam could have gone anywhere,” he said. “It went through a rigorous process and ended up here by choice. This shows that we can compete for global investment and win.”
Although attracting businesses to the region often garners headlines, convincing existing businesses to remain and expand in the region often is even more important, Paetsch said.
As evidence, he mentioned the decision by Sussex-based commercial printer Quad/Graphics Inc. to add 1,300 jobs in the region following the acquisition of its large Canadian rival, World Color Inc. The jobs could have been added at any of Quad/Graphics’ other numerous locations in North America, but Southeast Wisconsin ended up as the preferred choice, Paetsch said.
“It’s all about getting deals done.”
Milwaukee 7 (M7) Economic Development
756 N. Milwaukee St., Suite 400, Milwaukee, WI, 53202
Executive director: Pat O’Brien
Summary: M7 is the regional marketing and economic development organization southeastern Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, the state’s largest city. The region also includes the Kenosha area, which has grown significantly in part because of its proximity to the Chicago area.
Counties (7): Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha
Notable businesses: A.O. Smith, Bon-Ton Department Stores, Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, Fiserv, GE Healthcare Technologies, Harley-Davidson Inc., Johnson Controls, Joy Global, Kohl’s Corp., Manpower, MillerCoors, MGIC, Modine, Northwestern Mutual, Quad/Graphics Inc., Rockwell Automation, Roundy’s, S.C. Johnson & Son, Snap-On, The Marcus Corp., Wisconsin Energy Corp.
Population: 2 million
Major airports: General Mitchell International Airport (Milwaukee)
Major seaports: Port of Milwaukee
Colleges and universities (30): Alverno College, Bryant & Stratton College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, Carthage College, Concordia University Wisconsin, DeVry University, Gateway Technical College, High-Tech Institute-Brookfield, ITT Technical Institute-Greenfield, Kaplan College, Marquette University, Medical College of Wisconsin, Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Mt. Mary College, Nashotah House, Ottawa University-Milwaukee, Sacred Heart School of Theology, Sanford-Brown College, University of Phoenix-Milwaukee Campus, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, UW-Whitewater, Waukesha County Technical College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology.
Top industries: Manufacturing, educational and health services, information, insurance, banking and finance, leisure and hospitality, printing, professional and business services, government