Pull together – or pull apart?

The past is defined by the rise and fall of great metropolises. Rising like Berlin, Atlanta, Shanghai; falling like Rio, Detroit, and Athens. The future will be less lenient on those regions that fail to plan, act and commit to economic development strategies.

Why? Commerce is now truly a global game, investable capital is in its most fluid state, and technology is at its most disruptive point. Thriving in this fast shifting world requires talented people and metropolitan regions anchored by strong cities that have become the globe’s most desirable location for talent.

So, if anyone still thinks that the Milwaukee area can compete for economic prosperity without acting as one connected region, please take a seat, because without a regional economic development strategy, Milwaukee won’t be standing for long.

We encourage you to read and comment on the Milwaukee 7 Framework for Economic Growth. It is the product of a collaboration to update our regional strategy for economic growth. Yes, “strategic plans,” especially those that don’t have a quarterly earnings test to measure their substance, end up collecting more dust than jobs. What makes this strategic plan more than shelf material is the active engagement of the Milwaukee 7 leadership and staff and their commitment to act on the plan.

Since its inception in 2005, working under its strategic framework, the Milwaukee 7 has directly impacted 15,688 jobs in the region with a combined payroll of $646M. Not a bad return on the $12 million invested to date. M7’s track record is not meant as guarantee of future results, but as a basis for holding the region’s economic development strategy accountable to its investors and community partners. It is also a reflection of the commitment we will need to have as “one region” if we are going to continue to raise our prosperity.

No matter where we live, work, play or learn in this region, we are connected by a common economic bond, so it makes great sense to connect ourselves to a common economic development strategy. If we don’t pull together, we will certainly pull apart.

Tim Sheehy is president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

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