Milwaukee mayor heads to SXSW to promote city as tech hub

NOW: Milwaukee mayor heads to SXSW to promote city as tech hub

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Mayor Cavalier Johnson will pitch Milwaukee as a destination city for tech companies and startups at a first-of-its-kind conference at the South by Southwest festival.

Johnson will make that pitch in front of executives, startups, investors and more on Friday, March 10.

"If there is a trail to be blazed, then I am happy to have Milwaukee blaze that trail, to draw additional attention here," Johnson said.

Other cities from around the world will also make presentations at the conference, but Johnson says Milwaukee has plenty of attributes that set it apart.

"Businesses, especially in this climate, with COVID, where downtowns have been hollowed out, businesses have doubled down on Milwaukee, and so many other things, really excited to talk about those things in Austin," he said.

The mayor will have support from other business leaders, like Milwaukee World Festival President Sarah Smith Pancheri, who says attracting talent is vital to building a tech hub.

"We've heard from employers that places like Henry Maier Festival Park and Summerfest, as well as the sports teams -- that's a great way to attract talent to our community," she said.

Gary Witt, executive director of the Pabst Theater Group, agrees that a tech hub is not all about people who know how to code, it's about quality of life.

"We can't have a city of a million people, where 300,000 people are languishing on the lower end of poverty. That's going to create a future where we have stolen cars and drug problems and gunshots being fired, that's leading the newscast on a nightly basis," Witt said.

Johnson says cities across the world will also make presentations. He'll get three minutes to present, and three minutes for questions from the audience. Johnson told CBS 58 that he expects it to be the "fastest six minutes of his life."

For more information on the Milwaukee presentation at SXSW, click here.

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