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How Rust-belt CEOs Count On Legacy-industry Challenges To Lure Tech Workers

Industrially-oriented cities have much to offer tech growth

A handful of powerful business leaders in Milwaukee have coalesced around the goal of advancing a digital-tech-oriented transformation of one of America’s most industrially oriented cities. They’ll be closely watched by business and government leaders in other heartland outposts who all covet pieces of the software-based economy that has been mostly developed on the East and West coasts.

Led by Northwestern Mutual CEO John Schlifske, these leaders have formally launched the MKE Tech Hub Coalition with the goal of doubling the number of tech workers in the area by 2025. The other huge Milwaukee-based companies helping to establish the coalition are Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls and Kohl’s, while participants Accenture and Advocate Aurora Health are other significant employers in the area. They’ve collectively committed more than $5 million to begin gaining traction for boosting Milwaukee’s tech-worker population to 150,000 from about 75,000 now by 2025.

“That goal isn’t just sort of blue-sky and double some [random] number,” Schlifske told Chief Executive. “Demand for these tech workers is real on behalf of each company that is a part of [the MKE Tech Hub Coalition].”

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