Regional plan sets direction for economy with a framework for growth

By JIM ZEHNER
Communications Manager, Milwaukee 7


>>View the M7 Framework Economic Growth Executive Summary
>> View the M7 Framework for Economic Growth

To move the Milwaukee Region forward on the path to new-economy growth, the Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Development Partnership engaged in an 18-month strategic planning process, known as Metropolitan Business Planning, to produce a shared roadmap for the region, aligning existing and new initiatives around a common vision for economic growth.

Milwaukee 7 (M7), founded by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Mayor of Milwaukee and the MMAC, convened more than 150 regional stakeholders to brainstorm, analyze, vet and identify promising strategic initiatives to grow the regional economy.

The results of these activities have culminated in the Milwaukee 7 Framework for Economic Growth, a metropolitan business plan that features a detailed analysis of the levers that drive the region’s growth and an integrated set of strategies (outlined on page 10) tailored to our unique assets and opportunities.

Creating an action plan
To identify the region’s place on the path to transformation and articulate a set of integrated growth strategies, M7 engaged a broad array of regional stakeholders in the process of Metropolitan Business Planning: a proactive, fact-based, action-oriented approach to targeting, aligning and leveraging regional assets for inclusive growth in the next economy.

Through coordinated execution of targeted initiatives, the region will achieve synergies and magnify growth across all parts of the economy, realizing its full potential in the new global economy.

There are five market levers that interact to define the characteristics, opportunities and performance of a regional economy:

1.  Enhance industry clusters and concentrations
2.  Develop and deploy human capital aligned with jobs
3.  Foster innovation and entrepreneurship
4.  Improve infrastructure and the efficiency of the built environment
5.  Create effective public and civic institutions

Setting a new course for regional prosperity
M7 Regional Plan focuses on nine strategies

The global economy is undergoing a dramatic transformation that favors metropolitan regions, where assets concentrate and their dynamic interactions enable greater efficiency and productivity. A region that identifies its path to participate successfully in this transformation – intentionally building on its unique assets – will forge ahead.

Reflecting the assets, challenges and opportunities revealed in the market analysis and business planning process of the Milwaukee 7’s regional plan, the Milwaukee Regional Framework for Economic Growth, an integrated set of nine strategies has been developed to move the Milwaukee region forward on the path to new-economy growth.

1.  Become a leading innovator, producer and exporter of products and services related to energy, power & controls
  The resurgence in U.S. manufacturing will lead to greater demand for industrial automation and controls equipment. The region’s energy, power and controls cluster is large, highly concentrated and well-positioned for growth. Prominent companies in this cluster include world leaders Rockwell Automation and Johnson Controls. 
       
 2. Become a global hub for
innovation and start-up activity in water technology
  The U.S. market for water and wastewater services and products is estimated at $139 billion in 2012, while the global market is nearly $500 billion. Our access to the Great Lakes – 21% of the world’s surface fresh water – provides economic advantages. The region has a competitive edge in attracting and growing water-related industries, which benefit from close proximity to this plentiful resource.  The Water Council is focused on water research and business acceleration.
       
 3. Leverage the region’s geographic, supply chain and human capital advantages to grow the food & beverage cluster    Food manufacturers, processors and artisans comprise more than 300 firms and employ 14,000 people, creating one of the strongest concentrations among major U.S. markets. This industry also has a dedicated network of employers (FaB), focused on talent, innovation and business development. Initiatives include tailored curriculum at MATC, a career resource center and small business accelerator.  Executives from Ocean Spray, Palermo’s Pizza, and O&H Danish Bakery are leading this effort.
       
 4. Enhance the export capacity and capability of the region’s firms, focusing on small-and
medium-sized enterprises
  Given that the majority of the world’s purchasing power is outside the U.S., increasing export activity is imperative to our economic future. The region has all the necessary components in place to develop a broader export base. The Milwaukee region was selected to participate in a national “Global Cities Initiative” to develop a comprehensive plan to increase exports.
       
 5. Align workforce development
with growth opportunities in targeted, high-potential industry clusters
  Perhaps the most critical factor for increasing productivity is to upgrade and align the skills of the workforce with the occupations that are and will be demanded by employers. Solving this challenge is critical to the region’s core cities and minority populations, whose unemployment rate remains high. Specific actions include: improving real-time data around supply and demand for certain skills, improving curriculum, and fostering career mobility.
       
 6. Foster a dynamic, richly
networked innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem
  There is significant momentum among private, public and institutional actors to boost new firm creation and build the competitive advantage of existing firms. High-priority clusters present opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. We must cultivate an integrated ecosystem for entrepreneurship; accelerate new technologies in legacy industries; stimulate tech transfer; and augment capital resources.
       
 7. Catalyze “economic place making” in the region’s core cities and strategic locations throughout the region   The physical development pattern in the region reflects its old-economy history and needs to be reshaped to align with next-economy drivers of growth. The region must reconnect its underutilized human capital assets to economic opportunities and better leverage its strategically located land assets.
       
 8. Modernize regional infrastructure to enhance efficiency, cost-effectiveness and connectivity   High-quality transportation, broadband and reliable energy contribute to growth by enabling enhanced productivity of private-sector firms. Strategic investments to improve the transportation network will better connect workers to employers and suppliers to customers. Expanding and upgrading public transit is critical, as is re-building the aging freeway system.
       
 9. Enhance inter-jurisdictional cooperation and collaboration
for economic growth
  Government fragmentation and disjointed approaches to economic development activities hamper growth potential. This strategy seeks to streamline government services; pursue opportunities that cross jurisdictional boundaries; and build solutions that include public, private and civic sectors working together.

 

May 11, 2014