From “Tours highlight economic value of creative cluster” — With institutions such as Discovery World and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and arts groups such as Milwaukee Film, Milwaukee’s creative industries cluster has been a rising force in the growth of the region’s economy, according to the cultural leaders of Creative Alliance Milwaukee (CAM).

“A recent trend has been that cities, regions and states have been recognizing that there’s something called the creative cluster – the creative industries cluster – and it’s different in various cities, what comprises it, but what is the same in every area is it is a true economic driver,” said Maggie Jacobus, president and executive director of CAM.

To highlight Milwaukee’s creative industries and their broader economic impact, the nonprofit membership organization has developed what it likes to call “Creative Milwaukee Experience” tours.

The tours, geared toward area industry professionals and corporate executives, were initially designed four years ago as a talent recruitment and retention tool for the city. They aim to demonstrate Milwaukee’s vibrant creative community to both new members of the region’s workforce and business leaders considering planting the headquarters of their company in or near Milwaukee.

“The perceived creative culture of Milwaukee has a tremendous impact on the region’s capacity to attract a high-quality workforce,” said Gail Towers-MacAskill, sector manager at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and a CAM board member. “The best and brightest need to have documented evidence for why Milwaukee is the priority place to ‘set the flag’ of their career aspirations. Locally-based companies need to rely on that message to attract the creative (and) design innovation staff that they seek.”

Within greater Milwaukee, the creative industries cluster represents the fourth largest sector, behind manufacturing, finance and insurance, and construction. It also employs 4.2 percent of the regional workforce through more than 4,000 enterprises, according to CAM.

The nonprofit breaks the creative sector down into five distinct categories. Design accounts for 46 percent of the sector, media and film makes up 29 percent, the performing arts claims 12 percent, visual arts and crafts accounts for 11 percent, and the remaining two percent consists of culture and heritage.

A recent Creative Milwaukee Experience tour illustrated the power behind these numbers. With participants representing organizations like the WEDC and companies like Rockwell Automation Inc. and Xorbix Technologies Inc., the tour made stops at sites deeply invested in the city’s creative economy.

At the Betty Brinn Children’s museum, tour attendees learned how creativity is harvested at a very early age – a concept that CAM refers to as “from cradle to career” – and the importance of creative education to cultivate creative thinking and problem solving.

“You don’t just pop out of the other end of the pipeline suddenly creative,” Jacobus said. “Creative thinking and creating problem solving is something that is learned, that needs to be taught and that can be taught.”

At Milwaukee Area Technical College, attendees got a chance to see how students learn computer-generated animation in the School of Media and Creative Arts.

At Milwaukee Film, participants caught a glimpse of Milwaukee’s growing film community and the opportunities the organization is providing filmmakers to hone their art and film lovers to further appreciate it.

And at Discovery World, tour members took away the need for innovation within all disciplines – from brain science to engineering to water technology – by blending technical skills with an openness to artistry.

The variety of stops on the tour and the variety of demographics each caters to reinforces CAM’s conviction that creativity touches all sectors and is an essential element of success in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

“There’s nary a business that doesn’t use some sort of creative talent,” Jacobus said.

While a national standard regarding the parameters of the creative industries is still being laid out, Milwaukee sets its creative industries apart from those of other cities in the role they played in the city’s founding.

“Our creative economy is who we are,” Jacobus said. “It’s from whence we come.”

While outside cities’ creative industries clusters have largely emerged within the last few decades, Milwaukee’s cluster stems back to the city’s roots as brewers, cheese makers, old world craftsmen, architects and manufacturers built up the region and its economy.

“That basis of creative economy has been here for over 100 years, and so I think that’s one of the things that is unique about Milwaukee…We’re just calling it a creative economy now, but it’s always existed,” Jacobus said.

As CAM continues to lead tours of Milwaukee’s creative scene, Jacobus hopes to inspire participants to add their voice to the mix of those advocating the cultural vibrancy and economic vitality of Milwaukee’s creative industries cluster.

“It’s amazing the creative resources and opportunities that are in this region,” Jacobus said “We’re so blessed.”


From “WMEP’s Manufacturing Matters! Conference Focuses on Hot Topics for Manufacturers” — Break-Out Sessions Feature Workforce Development and Innovation.

Take-away strategies to attract and retain skilled and motivated workers, create a culture that embraces innovation, and drive growth through e-business and continuous improvement are the key topics of focus at the May 9, 2012 Manufacturing Matters! Conference in Milwaukee.

The annual conference hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) is designed to provide immediate and tangible benefits to busy manufacturing executives and operations staff. “We’ve been talking to manufacturers all year to make sure that this content is relevant, timely, and worth the investment of one day away from the plant,” said Buckley Brinkman, CEO of WMEP. “We know that manufacturers are extremely busy, so we’ve targeted one-hour sessions for executives and operations staff that are highly interactive and provide information they can take back and immediately use to improve their operations.”

The day-long event will be held at the Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. For more information or to register visit or call 1.877.856.8588.

“We’ve gathered an incredible array of resources, along with a range of networking venues to increase the benefit to manufacturers,” said Buckley Brinkman, WMEP’s Executive Director.


— Finding talented workers is the hottest topic for manufacturers today. Morning keynote, Tim Sullivan, former president and CEO of Bucyrus International Inc. and now special consultant for business and workforce development for the state of Wisconsin, will share his insight into the skills gap from two perspectives — as a manufacturing executive and as a key leader in the State’s approach to addressing the issue.

— The challenge of managing a business through a period of rapid growth, especially in a struggling industry, is the focus on the Afternoon Keynote address. Aaron Jagdfeld, president and CEO of Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems and winner of the 2011 Manufacturer of the Year award, will share his story of managing growth, promoting innovation and the role that all manufacturers have to play in promoting the industry within their own communities.

— Featured speakers include Adam Hartung and Sarah Miller Caldicott, kicking off the new Innovation Track. The author of ‘Create Marketplace Disruption: How to stay ahead of the competition’, Hartung will distill the knowledge gained from 20 years of practical experience in driving change and profit. Caldicott, author of ‘Innovate Like Edison,’ and the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, will share her unique insights into the methods necessary to create an innovative organization based on collaborative teams.

— Prominent industry thought leaders and senior executives from award-winning Wisconsin manufacturing firms will share best practices and insights. Panelists include manufacturing leaders from Phoenix Products Company, Milwaukee; TCI (Trans Coil, Inc), Milwaukee; Plastic Components, Inc., Germantown; MetalTek, Waukesha; Didion Milling, Cambria; Quick Cable, Franksville; Molded Dimensions, Inc., Port Washington; Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp., Port Washington; Rockline Industries, Sheboygan; and Galloway Company, Neenah.

— New this year are “WEDC Idea Exchange Rooms” that will connect presenters with manufacturers in order to share ideas, information and solutions to issues related to Talent Management and Innovation. The rooms will be open all day and attendees are invited meet with presenters and their peers.

— Got a question for a state agency or a banking expert? The conference offers two new ways to get the info you need. — State Agency Listening Posts Agency personnel will be available throughout the day to answer manufacturers’ questions. Participating state departments include: the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); Transportation (DOT); Natural Resources (DNR); Safety and Professional Services (DSPS); Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); Workforce Development (DWD); and Veterans Affairs (DVA).

— Experts are available all day in the Ask an Expert area. Specialists are taking 20 minute appointments throughout the day. Appointments can be booked at .

— Also new this year is the Food & Feed Track, which will review the steps manufacturers can take to become compliant with safety regulations as well as how to avoid common pitfalls during safety audits.

— Multiple break-out sessions are divided into two channels this year: Executive and Operations. The Executive channel will focus on advanced talent management, workforce development, innovation, E-business solutions, and capital/finance; and the Operations channel will focus on continuous improvement, food & feed, and quality/regulatory/legal awareness. Conference sponsors include: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), First Business Bank, Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), Insight on Manufacturing, BizTimes, Logiserve,(R) Inc., Baker Tilly, Michael Best & Friedrich, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Bentley World Packaging, UW E-Business Institute.


WMEP is a private, nonprofit organization committed to the growth and success of Wisconsin manufacturers. Since 1998, WMEP has helped to create and save more than 13,000 state manufacturing jobs, according to results documented by customers. WMEP receives financial support from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, and partners with many public and private organizations to serve Wisconsin manufacturers.

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