The Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network: Five Years On

Wisconsin is in the news a lot these days and, unfortunately, the picture is not that flattering.   Yet, Wisconsin has a long history as an innovator in terms of new public policies.  Five years ago, Wisconsin was one of the first US states to get serious about entrepreneurship as an economic development priority.    At that time, the state created the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network (WEN), which brings together more than 400 organizations and individuals who work across the state to support and nurture emerging and growing entrepreneurial ventures.   A new study looks at WEN’s impact over the past five years, and the numbers are very impressive.  Overall, WEN has helped start 432 businesses, which have in turn created 1,109 new jobs and retained an additional 420 positions.   One of WEN’s cooler innovations is the creation of county-level Inventor and Entrepreneur Clubs where aspiring entrepreneurs can meet and interact with fellow inventors and entrepreneurs.   These clubs, started with small seed grants, have been a great success.  Forty-two I&E Clubs now operate across Wisconsin, with 38% of clubs reporting that members have created new jobs and 29% reporting that members have accessed new sources of funding.  Congratulations to the WEN team for five years of pioneering work!

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