Packers and Microsoft form business accelerator partnership for Titletown District.
That was the description used the most on Thursday to define TitletownTech – the partnership that the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft Corp. are embarking upon.
The software giant is teaming up with one of the NFL’s most iconic teams to build a technology and innovation center in the Titletown District. The development would help established and emerging businesses through technology, as well as provide capital for new ventures.
When two world-renowned brands team up to foster economic development and advance digital technology in this type of partnership, it gets people’s attention.
“We believe as a company that TitletownTech is a game changer for this region,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.
“I think that this is a … game changer for the area, for the region, not just for northeast Wisconsin but for the state of Wisconsin,” said Peter Zaehringer, vice president of economic development for the Greater Green Bay Chamber.
Consider this: When Zaehringer travels to recruit businesses and talent to the area, he’s competing with about 3,000 other communities. Those communities all tout their schools, cost of living, quality of life, that they’re all great places to live.
But not many of them have identifiable brands like the Packers and Microsoft in their communities.
When you mention those two entities, people start to listen. Then you can talk about the great quality of life we have here, the relatively low cost of living, the great schools, a rejuvenated downtown and excellent health care centers.
You can then talk about the established companies here — nationally and internationally known businesses like Schreiber Foods, Schneider National, Georgia-Pacific; the four-year colleges that include a medical college partnership and plans for a STEM center; the smaller-scale innovative developments, like in the Rail Yard district with the planned technology accelerator; the well-known hospitals and clinics, the roads, rails, port and airport. The type of amenities that you find in metropolitan cities but on a smaller scale. You can compete against these other similarly-sized communities.
“I cannot wait to get on the airplane and market this to the East Coast and to the West Coast,” Zaehringer said Thursday. “People will take this seriously simply because of the partners that are behind this and the quality of mentorship and curriculum that will be provided in that location. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Nor could we.
In order for greater Green Bay to be a resilient community, it needs this type of commitment, investment and diversity. It can’t rely on only one sector of the economy, like tourism, to carry us. It needs the manufacturing, health care, service and technology industries, as well as the tourism industry.
Instead of watching the best and brightest young adults from northeastern Wisconsin leave for better opportunities, we can keep them here.
Thursday’s announcements came on the heels of a visit by AOL co-founder Steve Case, who awarded a $100,000 grant to a Green Bay company as part of his Rise of the Rest pitch competition. It’s an effort to create more jobs and attract entrepreneurs to regions like this.
The Packers and Microsoft are to be congratulated. Not only is each company investing $5 million in TitletownTech, they’ve pledged to donate all profits and capital returns from the TitletownTech Venture Capital Fund to philanthropy and economic development.
In other words, the success of their venture will breed more success in greater Green Bay, northeastern Wisconsin and the whole state.
As Brad Smith said, the truly vibrant, healthy and successful communities have a few “crown jewels,” Smith said.
This partnership is that crown jewel.