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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Milwaukee’s New Economy

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What Is The New Economy?

  • Innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Education
  • Ethics 

There was a time when an area’s prosperity was directly linked to its natural resources, low-cost labor and tax incentives. The Mountain West mined. The Plains States grew wheat and corn. The Pacific Northwest cut lumber. Cities along the Great Lakes, like Milwaukee, blessed with cheap transportation and abundant water, formed the world’s greatest industrial center.


But that was old economy. In the new economy, a region’s prosperity depends upon its capacity to support innovative firms, institutions and people. Instead of depending on a steady supply of cheap labor, tax breaks and ever-more-precious natural resources, new economy companies seek out locations where workers are educated and resources are used wisely.

The Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan organization devoted to increasing America’s competitiveness in the global economy, reports that even though globalization is increasing, the economic focus is on smaller regions such as states or metropolitan areas.

That’s because innovation happens where workers, companies, universities and governments can interact easily. “Some areas have done very well at using their resource advantages or developing into innovation hot spots,” the council noted. “Regions such as Silicon Valley, Boston and San Diego have leveraged access to educated workers and have developed into strong and leading centers of innovation.”

So what do Milwaukee and Wisconsin have to offer? That’s what we will be exploring in future columns.