Milwaukee Unexpectedly Listed as Great City for Startups

Popular business magazine Inc. just named Milwaukee as one of three unexpected cities for startups, despite Milwaukee’s lack of startup activity in recent years. Here’s why.

Out of the nation’s 40 largest metropolitan areas, the Milwaukee region ranked second-to-last in Kauffman’s 2016 Index of Startup Activity Report, which evaluates startup activity in states and metro areas. Thus, it came as a surprise when popular business media outlet Inc. recently listed Milwaukee as one of three great, underrated cities for startups looking to save some money.

Inc. cites abundant co-working spaces, low rent costs and venture capital funding growth as notable assets for budding entrepreneurs who are looking for a more affordable alternative to big cities. In 2016, Milwaukee saw $111.8 million in venture capital funding for startups – a remarkable 145 percent increase from the previous year. Milwaukee’s proximity to Madison, a well-established startup hub, serves as an additional benefit.

Recent efforts to re-brand Milwaukee’s image to the rest of the world may prove to be more critical than ever as outsiders look to the city as a potential location for growing startups. (Outsiders don’t exactly see Milwaukee as a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city booming with business opportunity.) Milwaukee’s potential for startup success, along with the recent rise of in-movers to the area, suggest that economic growth may be on the horizon for Cream City. 



Elisabeth Wallock is a contributing digital editor at Milwaukee Magazine. She graduated from Colorado State University and has interned at Marie Claire in New York and Urban Outfitters in London.