International Business

The Milwaukee Region’s economic future depends on a focused and aggressive global trade and investment agenda that better positions the region’s firms to compete in world markets. To take advantage of the fundamental shifts in the global economy, the Milwaukee Region needs to expand its global engagement by increasing exports and attracting foreign investment.

Exports are critical to the Milwaukee Region’s economic growth and job creation. In 2014, metro exports totaled $10.1 billion (12% of metro GDP) and supported nearly 31,000 direct jobs (both figures ranking Milwaukee 35th out of the nation’s top 100 metros). Regionally, exports totaled $15.3 billion in 2012 (16% of regional GDP). Meanwhile, Milwaukee lags in growth of foreign direct investment (FDI). The region’s share of employment in foreign-owned enterprises (FOEs) increased only slightly in two decades, from 3.4% in 1991 to 3.7% in 2011, while the U.S. share of FOE jobs grew from 4.6% to 5.4%, respectively, during the same time period. 

Export Development
The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center offers a comprehensive Export Assessment to evaluate new and existing exporters and consultants that can recommend the resources that could benefit you best. The SBDC has offered no-cost, confidential consulting since 1980 – a trusted partner in your success. Learn more about the Export Development Program.

Global MKE Trade & Investment Plan
Setting a new global course for the Milwaukee Region has begun through participation in the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The GCI is a multi-year collaborative process that brings a network of metropolitan areas together to establish actionable plans that promote greater global trade and economic competitiveness. The recently published Global MKE Trade and Investment Plan combines export and foreign direct investment strategies into a single, highly coordinated plan with a common goal and objectives to strengthen the region’s global connections and support sustainable economic growth.

Milwaukee EB-5 Visa Foreign Investor Program
Created in 2007 to stimulate investment  and new jobs in the U.S. economy, the federal EB-5 regional center program has grown rapidly. The program offers foreign investors and their families the opportunity to apply for green cards in exchange for investment in qualified local projects. In the Milwaukee Region, this has resulted in a total investment of more than $250 million in the past five years. Learn more about the EB-5 Visa Program.

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