Microsoft TechSpark Initiative launches in Northeast Wisconsin

Published: Oct. 5, 2017 at 5:27 PM CDT
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A new economic development initiative launched in northeast Wisconsin Thursday.

Our area is one of just six US communities chosen for Microsoft TechSpark.

Speaking via Skype at Fox Valley Technical College, Microsoft president and Appleton native Brad Smith explained the TechSpark Initiative.

"Really work more closely with communities to learn and experiment and to innovate and invest in new ways that we hope digital technology can contribute," said Smith.

Communities with rural and smaller metro areas fit the criteria.

Smith says the Fox Cities and Green Bay areas are perfect because of strong public education, a welcoming nature and a commitment to industry.

"Industry like paper or insurance, where there are new opportunities through the use of digital technology," said Smith

Techspark has 5 programs encompassing partnerships and support for tech organizations, start-ups and non-profits. Plus, resources for education, careers and expansion of rural broadband.

Fox Valley Tech and 4-H are both excited for its arrival.

"When we look at where the majority of our students are, it's along the Highway 41 corridor where the internet is,” Doug Waterman, Fox Valley Tech's dean of IT said. “So by really having that access to the internet across all areas really opens it up to us."

"This is going to take our young people to the next step of digital learning, future workforce development," said Melinda Pollen of 4-H Brown County.

Microsoft hinted Thursday that a big TechSpark announcement is expected in the coming weeks.