Last updated on June 4th, 2020 at 10:05 am
My fellow Milwaukeeans,
Let’s get real. Milwaukee has long suffered from systemic racism and inequality. If we really love our city, we must acknowledge there is a lot of work to be done to build a more inclusive and equitable community, startup ecosystem and local economy.
As the founder of Startup Milwaukee, I implore you to get engaged with organizations directly supporting underrepresented startup founders in our community, such as:
- The Blueprint, an initiative of Young Enterprising Society that operates an accelerator program for underrepresented startup founders in Milwaukee.
- The Milky Way Tech Hub, an initiative of Jet Constellations focused on transforming Milwaukee into a tech hub that represents the city’s diverse population through community workshops, panels, talks, hackathons, and design thinking sessions.
- WePivot, an organization striving to create the conditions where the most marginalized individuals in Milwaukee are included, fulfilled, and empowered resulting in a more diverse tech industry in our community.
- If you are an underrepresented founder please let me know if there is any way I can help – by amplifying, by introducing you to my network, or anything else.
As a Milwaukeean, I urge:
- Traditional economic development organizations with broad public and private sector support such as the MMAC, Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. and Greater Milwaukee Committee to work collaboratively to establish venture capital and loan programs backing underrepresented founders in Milwaukee. We have the opportunity to make Milwaukee a leader in funding underrepresented founders, but our civic leaders must finally prioritize investing in these founders as a top priority. The future of our region’s economy depends on it.
- The media to tell more stories of the challenges underrepresented startup founders face raising capital and accessing support resources in our community.
- The mayor and Common Council to immediately enact sweeping police reform mandating a zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent, and non-resisting individuals in an arrest.
- Every Milwaukeean to have conversations with our neighbors that make us feel uncomfortable but are rooted in action and support businesses owned by people who do not look like us.
Since our founding in 2011, Startup Milwaukee has been committed to providing an open platform for innovators in our community. We continue to champion bringing bold ideas to the forefront in our community and helping them find support. Now is the time for action. We must hold ourselves, our neighbors, and our civic leaders accountable for taking action and building a stronger, healthier community that works for ALL of Milwaukee.
We must commit to acknowledging, addressing, and eliminating racial injustice in our community and our country. The journey will require empathy, bold action, shared commitment and accountability. I am confident that together, Milwaukeeans will choose the right path forward.
Matt Cordio is the founder and president of Startup Milwaukee, the co-founder and president of Startup Wisconsin, and founder and president of Skills Pipeline. You can follow him on Twitter at @MattCordio.