Creative Alliance Partner in Greater Milwaukee Committee’s MiKE Initiative

(posted: Oct 14, 2011)

Creative Alliance Milwaukee is proud to announce a new partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Committee on an innovative program called MiKE (Innovation in Milwaukee).  This new program is made possible by funding from an unprecedented new private-public collaboration, ArtPlace.

MiKE will serve as a hub for design, technology and innovation companies and allow The Greater Milwaukee Committee to align the region’s assets in advanced manufacturing with globally innovative companies and serve as a creative source for rapid innovation and local talent to compete on the world stage.

Manufacturing today relies on technology to operate virtual factories, build electronics, create medical equipment and automation systems. The interface of design between technology and the customer often creates the competitive advantage for existing products and systems and the basis for new products whether that end user is B to B or in a retail environment. Milwaukee ranks second in the nation among the top 50 metros for manufacturing jobs

“Manufacturing is at the core of Milwaukee’s economy. What we’ve created with the design, technology and innovation cluster is the ability to enhance Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector with creative and cutting-edge technology,” said Julia Taylor, President of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. “Our goals are hi-tech talent for design and technology start-ups, physical and virtual spaces that promote open source entrepreneurship, and a council consisting of top level leadership to guide the growth of Milwaukee’s design, technology and innovation cluster.”

Focusing on the strength of our region’s design assets was a conclusion of the 2011 Creativity Works!Milwaukee Regional Creative Industries Project, an EDA and NEA funded economic study of the region’s creative industries cluster commissioned by the Creative Alliance, which was completed this year in partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Committee. This analysis reported that the design cluster is the largest segment, comprising 46% of the total creative industries, providing the underpinning for developing the newest venture—the creation of a new cluster area of design and technology.

“The Creative Alliance is proud to partner with the Greater Milwaukee Committee by providing project management support for an initiative that will help the region’s economic development through investing in the growth of our creative industries,” said Mike Jones,  Vice President of Corporate Affairs, MillerCoors, and Board Co-Chair of Creative Alliance Milwaukee. Other partners in the initiative include ART Milwaukee, BizStarts Milwaukee, Spreenkler Talent Labs and the GMC Talent Dividend.

MiKE will be built around three core elements:

1. Developing hi-tech talent for design and technology start-ups aligned with service and product delivery for companies in the cluster and for entrepreneurship within the cluster;

2. OPEN MiKE- a physical and virtual space that promotes open source entrepreneurship and technology prototyping;

3. And the MiKE Council, a leadership group consisting of CEOs and top level management from our major manufacturing and global innovation companies and leading higher educational institutions.  The council will guide the growth of Milwaukee’s design, technology and innovation cluster.

MiKE’s programs will be housed in downtown Milwaukee in The Shops of Grand Avenue, where the Creative Alliance has worked closely with the mall’s management to  develop Creativity Works Here, a collaboration that has successfully attracted creative businesses to the Plankinton Avenue building as part of the revitalization of unused mall space.

Announced for the first time on September 15, ArtPlace is an initiative of 11 of America’s top foundations working in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies. Its aim is to drive revitalization across the country by putting the arts at the center of economic development. ArtPlace has now announced its first round of grants, investing $11.5 million in 34 locally initiated projects in cities from Honolulu to Miami. Each project supported by ArtPlace has been selected for developing a new model of helping towns and cities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation and more.

The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as “creative placemaking,” has emerged over the past twenty years as a promising way to increase the vitality of communities and help them grow. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts built on its two decades of work in creative placemaking by announcing the first grants in its new Our Town program, designed to support public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while energizing the overall community. ArtPlace takes this movement a step further, as the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking across America.

“ArtPlace is accelerating creative placemaking, where cities and towns are using the arts and other creative assets to shape their social, physical and economic futures,” said Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts. “This approach brings new partners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development.” The Chairman saw the potential in Milwaukee firsthand when he visited in September 2010 to celebrate the NEA’s investment in the Creativity Works! project. “There’s much more understanding in Wisconsin about the value of the arts than I think there is in many states,” said Chair Landesman in the NEA’s 2010 Annual Report.

“Economic development historically has been about bagging the buffalo—competing for the big employer to move operations to your city,” said Carol Coletta, President of ArtPlace.  “But now we know the economic development game is all about how you deploy local assets to develop, attract and keep talent.  So why would you not deploy every asset you have—including artists and the arts—to do that?  That’s what ArtPlace is all about.“

“ArtPlace represents a new paradigm,” says Luis A. Ubiñas, President of The Ford Foundation and Chairman of the ArtPlace Presidents’ Council. “It brings to the arts the kind of economic development thinking that has long been pursued for attracting and developing businesses, big and small, across the country. ArtPlace’s integrated, interwoven approach has the potential to kick-start local economies and transform communities.  The arts can play a central role spurring local economic activity.”

The Creative Alliance’s collaboration with the Greater Milwaukee Committee on MiKE represents one of its first strategic initiatives based on the recommendations of Creativity Works!. Other initiatives in support of developing our creative industries include the Creative Hub website, www.creativealliancemke.org; Creative Hub Live networking events; funding advocacy; and creative education program development. CAM is also working on a strategic plan that will support other sectors of the creative industries that are so critical to the growth of our regions economy.  The results of that  strategic planning work will be announced soon.

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