State tech leaders say another dead-last startup ranking is ‘wake-up call’

By Polo Rocha, WisBusiness

Wisconsin Welcome SignWisconsin tech leaders say the state’s failure to break out of its dead-last ranking in startup activity should be a “wake-up call” to policymakers.

But one of the researchers behind the rankings says the state shouldn’t panic, noting the numbers are just one piece of the puzzle. The rankings from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation came just as the Madison area was celebrating entrepreneurship and technology through its weeklong Forward Festival.

And for the second consecutive year, Wisconsin ranked 50th in the nation.

“It’s going to take time to move the needle,” said Matt Cordio, the co-founder and CEO of Startup Milwaukee. “And it’s good we’re talking about it every year so we’re reminded we should be doing more.”

The rankings largely focus on new business creation in Wisconsin, finding the state’s startup density is significantly lower than any other state; it also ranks 49th in its rate of new entrepreneurs.

A separate “Main Street” ranking from the foundation ranks Wisconsin 6th when looking at survival rates of small businesses.

“What that tells you is Wisconsin is not encouraging new entrepreneurs, but they’re keeping small businesses around very well,” said Kauffman Foundation program officer Evan Absher.

Aaron Hagar, WEDC’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation, pointed to those Main Street numbers as a sign that the state’s startups are more likely to stick around. Read more …

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