MKE Tech Hub Coalition celebrates one-year anniversary

The Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition is celebrating its one-year anniversary today, recognizing the past 12 months of an overarching theme: collaboration.

Last year at this time, the Tech Hub kicked off with six initial founding members to come together around doubling the technology talent in the Milwaukee region. By today, Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition CEO Kathy Henrich said 57 organizations will be centered around the coalition’s goal, including its most recent addition, Milwaukee Tool.

“We are thrilled to have them along with another eight community members that we’ll be announcing as well,” Henrich told She added that nonprofits, first-year start-ups, service providers and large companies have all joined the Tech Hub throughout the year to support the technology growth of the region. 

Not only does membership include a financial contribution — an important resource, Henrich noted — but each member is also actively involved with the coalition. The expansion of membership aligns organizations in the region around the goal of building tech talent. It also adds elbow grease to progress the Tech Hub’s mission.

“As a small coalition, frankly we have three full-time people and three interns and we’ve worked with partners, we’ll never transform this region by ourselves,” she said. Today, the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition will also announce its newest community board member, she added.

The event is hosted using Milwaukee-based SignalWire. The virtual venue platform’s latest product, SignalWire Work, is as close to an in-person event that Henrich has found. Supported by Wisconn Valley Ventures, SignalWire allows individuals to self-navigate between rooms, go in and out as they please or ask someone to join them in a room for a sidebar conversation — activities that one would be able to do at an in-person conference.

On the platform, Henrich will update event-goers of the Tech Hub’s progress. She noted that doubling the tech talent in Milwaukee is an aspirational goal, let alone something that could be accomplished in one year. Henrich explained it would lead Milwaukee to be larger than the tech region of Portland and would require the equivalent of three Foxconns to come into the region.

“The bigger issue is: are we moving forward to meeting the needs of the employers that are already here while we do this?” she said. 

The year’s successes, including virtual internship programs, partnerships with K-12 schools and recruiting technology companies into the region, are long-term, structural supports needed to reach the Tech Hub’s goal, Henrich explained.

“The critical piece here is that a small nonprofit cannot change the region alone. It takes the collaboration of government, educational institutions, nonprofits, corporations, startups. We consider ourselves a startup, where the initial funding is ‘seed money’ to help initiate progress, but true transformation will require collective investment,” she said. “Everything we’ve done, we’ve done in partnership with other people.” 

Register for the 10 a.m. anniversary celebration here: 

The Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition will be featured on Advancements TV on Nov. 21: 

-By Stephanie Hoff