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Weinert Center Teams with Federal Reserve for Entrepreneurship Forum

by Marguerite Darlington Friday, February 13, 2015

Developing human capital identified as key to economic growth for local startups

Business and government leaders gathered at the Wisconsin School of Business’s Fluno Center last week to discuss the challenges and opportunities of starting a new business in the state of Wisconsin, and the experts agreed that developing and attracting a workforce with specific skills is critical to the health of our state’s entrepreneurial economy.

The forum, titled “Growing Entrepreneurship in Wisconsin,” was hosted by the UW-Madison Wisconsin School of Business’s Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

“One of our goals is to improve entrepreneurship in the state and in the nation, so we want to get these potential obstacles and solutions in front of people who can help change things,” says Dan Olszewski, director of the Weinert Center. “We want to do everything possible to make our students and alumni successful entrepreneurs.”

weinert federal reserve economic development forum uw-madison wisconsin school of business

Steve Kuehl, Economic Development and Wisconsin State Director, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; and Rebecca Kleefisch, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Wisconsin.

The forum featured key figures in Wisconsin government and regional monetary policy, including William Testa, vice president and director of regional programs for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Rebecca Kleefisch, lieutenant governor of the state of Wisconsin.

Testa delivered the Fed’s assessment for Wisconsin, which was “making progress but slow to come out of the recession. Recent activity however looks promising.” Kleefisch offered insight into the steps that the state was taking to improve the climate for entrepreneurs, including lowering business taxes and continued investment in employee development.

Their remarks were followed by a panel discussion with Jon Eckhardt, executive director of the Weinert Center and venture investor; Greg Robinson, managing director of 4490 Ventures, a technology-focused venture capital firm based in Madison; and Mark Cook, professor at UW-Madison and serial entrepreneur.

Eckhardt spoke on the two primary mechanisms that the University can foster the formation of high quality companies.

“The University of Wisconsin has a successful history of fostering entrepreneurship by forming companies based on science invented on campus,” says Eckhart. “Until very recently, the University of Wisconsin has overlooked the opportunity to foster entrepreneurship by training, supporting, and levering student and alumni entrepreneurs who have the potential to start companies based on technologies invented anywhere in the world. To join the entrepreneurial ranks of MIT and Stanford, UW-Madison should fully invest in this second model.”

The Weinert Center and the Federal Reserve are teaming up for a second forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 26. For more information on this event, visit the Federal Reserve’s website.