When you think about Wisconsin, a few things come to mind: cheese, of course, cold winters, and a great football tradition. Both the University of Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers put a standout product on the field nearly every season. Local football fans are justifiably proud of their home teams, but what the Packers are doing now, may get the residents of Green Bay even more excited.
The Packers are currently working with Microsoft to create a “tech incubator” near Lambeau Field. The partnership is meant to bring tech innovation to an area that is not exactly Silicon Valley North. At least… it’s not right now. But it looks like both organizations are going all in to change that.
Last year, Microsoft launched a new effort to develop tech jobs in rural towns and smaller metro areas. They started in Fargo, North Dakota, and are now working toward making the same strides in Green Bay.
In a statement, Microsoft President Brad Smith said, “We are bringing to a smaller city the types of efforts that you tend to see today only in the larger cities in the world…”
Green Bay is fertile ground for this kind of effort. The town loves its Packers, but they need more local business growth if they hope to keep their team. That thought comes from team VP Ed Policy, who said, “What we’re trying to do is make sure that Green Bay is always going to be in an economic position to be able to sustain the Packers…”
Becoming a new hub for tech industry could be a step in that direction for a town looking for an identity outside of football. If they can do that and keep their Packers in the process, any initiative is likely to get broad fan support.
Despite being the smallest US city to have an NFL team, the Packers play in one of the largest stadiums, a venue that houses more than 81,000. Despite having only about 20,000 more people in the city than seats in the stadium, home games have been sellouts since 1959. Tickets are all but impossible to come by, and many fans literally pass them down to the next generation.
The incubator program will allow tech startups to get about four months of time to work in a dedicated space, where they will receive help developing and monetizing their business ideas. If successful, Title Town may just become Tech Town too.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.