The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

The Economy & You #43 – Milwaukee: The City with the Most Corporate Clout

In the past, cities and the economic strength were judged on the number of business headquarters that were located within their city limits. I read an interesting blurb at The Atlantic Cities blog.  A map was constructed that shows the geography of U.S. corporate headquarters that ranked cities by the number of Fortune 500 headquarters per city.

As expected, New York led the list with 18 corporate headquarters, followed by Houston, Minneapolis and Atlanta. But an interesting thing happens when the size of the city or metropolitan area is factored in.



The Martin Prosperity Institute performed an analysis calculating the number of corporate headquarters per one million people. New York drops to 13th place; Houston is 12, and Atlanta is 16th place.  Milwaukee takes the top spot in this ranking followed by Minneapolis; Hartford, Connecticut; and Columbus, Ohio. Chicago was ranked 31st or second to last.

This is an interesting perspective as a conference recently explored the potential of a cooperative Chicago-Milwaukee economy.  The idea of a collaborative effort between the two cities first appeared as part of a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which advocated closer ties within the Chicago-Milwaukee economy.

Milwaukee and Chicago face similar economic development challenges involving workforce and regional infrastructure. One of the biggest issues is the need to train and recruit workers to fill skilled manufacturing jobs. Cities like Milwaukee and Chicago continue to struggle with finding qualified workers to fill job vacancies. 

Infrastructure is also a growing concern as transportation systems (roads, bridges and airports) continue to struggle for needed maintenance dollars. Logistics is a key component of business strategies as the need to deliver goods to market is the lifeblood of manufacturers.

If managed correctly, collaboration between Chicago and Milwaukee could be an economic benefit to both cities.  Regional cooperation must move forward to identify what areas of mutual interest and benefit exist and what policies and initiatives can help to achieve those mutual goals.


One response

  1. This is a calculation of Fortune 500 companies per capita which appears limited to municipal boundaries, rather than MSAs. Milwaukee has 3 such companies – Manpower, Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual. Yes, we are fortunate to have those 3 companies, but this hardly illustrates that Milwaukee is a hub for global headquarters, rather we have 3 homegrown companies giving us the “hometown discount” and not moving elsewhere. Additionally, if MSAs were the level of geography, cities like Chicago and NY would be much higher given the dispersal of headquarters to beltline communities (like McDonald’s in Oak Brook, IL).

    July 26, 2012 at 1:57 PM

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