Southeastern Wisconsin provides a healthy balance of old and new – long-time manufacturing icons thriving alongside cutting-edge technology and e-commerce companies. The Milwaukee Region, ranked as the fifth up and coming tech city by Forbes magazine, features a solid, high-tech base with more than 100,000 residents employed in technology jobs. It is a leader in the production of medical diagnostic instruments, industrial robots, electronic controls, factory automation, printed circuit boards, CAD/CAM processing, avionics, printing technologies and advanced ceramics. It is home to several global technology companies, including Rockwell Automation, GE Healthcare Technologies, Astronautics Corporation of America, Johnson Controls, Modine Manufacturing and Quad/Graphics.


More than 15 percent of the region’s workforce is employed by manufacturers, well above the 9-percent average nationally. Area manufacturers produce goods for a variety of different industries, helping to ensure that the area is not overly dependent on one segment of the economy. Milwaukee remains the industrial controls and mining equipment capital of the world, but it is increasingly known for medical imaging and diagnostic equipment, electric car batteries, wind turbine equipment and solar panels. Three locally based industrial companies are on the Fortune 500 list: Rockwell Automation and Harley-Davidson (Milwaukee); and Johnson Controls (Glendale). Four other industrial companies based in the region have revenues greater than $2 billion: Joy Global (Milwaukee); Quad/Graphics (Sussex); and Briggs & Stratton Corp. (Wauwatosa).

Service Businesses

The service sector has been the fastest-growing segment of the regional economy. Between 1990 and 2011, the service-providing sector has added 123,300 jobs. Service-providing jobs account for more than 80 percent of all nonfarm jobs in southeastern Wisconsin. Health care and social assistance, retail trade, accommodation and food services, and finance/insurance are among the largest service-sector segments. Three Milwaukee-area service companies are included in the Fortune 500 listing: ManpowerGroup and Northwestern Mutual (Milwaukee) and Kohl’s Corp. (Menomonee Falls). Three other service companies based in the region have revenues in excess of $2 billion: We Energies Corp. and Roundy’s (Milwaukee); and Fiserv (Brookfield).

Financial Institutions

Southeastern Wisconsin is a leading financial services center, employing more than 57,400 people in the region. Dozens of financial institutions and fund managers are based here, including Northwestern Mutual, the nation’s largest provider of individual life insurance with approximately $190 billion in assets, and Robert W. Baird & Co., an international asset management, capital markets and private equity firm. Several of the nation’s largest banks have a significant presence in the region, including BMO Harris, Chase, PNC, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. The largest locally headquartered bank-holding companies include: Johnson Financial Group, Tri-City Bankshares and Bankmanagers Corp., which have combined assets of more than $30 billion. 

Health Care

The Milwaukee region is a leader in health care quality and research. Milwaukee is also home to the Medical College of Wisconsin, the state’s largest private research institution, which ranks in the top third of the nation’s medical schools for National Institute of Health research.  Health care is also a major source of employment in the region: Twenty-two percent of service-sector jobs are in health-related occupations. The largest employer is GE Healthcare, which manufactures imaging equipment. 

Information Technologies

The metropolitan region is home to two of the largest data processing firms in the world. Fiserv is the world’s leading data processing provider for financial institutions. FIS serves more than 8,000 financial services firms and businesses worldwide. 


Milwaukee has a vibrant entertainment industry that includes four professional sports teams – The Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball team, the Milwaukee Bucks National Basketball League team, the Milwaukee Wave Professional Soccer team and the Milwaukee Admirals American Hockey League team; the Marcus Corporation, a regional hotel and movie theater operator; and Potawatomi Bingo Casino, which operates a Las Vegas-style casino that attracts more than 6 million visitors to Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley every year.

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