MILWAUKEE – A highway connects us, but worlds divide us — or perhaps not. Can Madison and Milwaukee learn to love each other? What ideas and initiatives can help mend this star-crossed relationship and let it bloom for the good of our state?

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz will talk about their vision for greater economic and cultural collaboration between Wisconsin’s two largest cities at the Monday, Sept. 11, meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network in Milwaukee.

Business leader and former Waukesha County Executive Tom Hefty and Trevor D’Souza, a Milwaukee venture capitalist whose firm invests in companies in both cities, will react to the mayors’ remarks. Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still will moderate.

Registration for the meeting is available online through the Tech Council website or at the Hyatt, 333 W. Kilbourn, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 11. Lunch will be served at noon and the presentation will begin at 12:30 p.m. Registration is $25 for individual WIN members, $35 for non-members and included with WIN corporate memberships. Click on WIN events at

Barrett and Cieslewicz, a native of Milwaukee County, took part in a similar forum May 16 in Madison, hosted by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. At the time, they pledged to hold a Milwaukee forum to highlight their plans for the “M2 Collaborative.”

“Milwaukee and Madison have much more to gain by working together than by competing,” said Still, who also moderated the Madison forum. “These two cities must compete in a global economy, and that begins by building on their mutual strengths.”

Milwaukee and Madison are two points along what the Tech Council calls “the I-Q Corridor,” the 400-mile stretch linking Chicago and the Twin Cities, as well as many Wisconsin communities in between. The “I” in the I-Q Corridor stands for ideas, innovation, intellectual property, investment and interstate; the “Q” suggests quality of life, workforce, education, research and more.

“The barriers between Milwaukee and Madison are far more historic than real,” Still said. “We welcome the efforts by Barrett and Cieslewicz to work together, and look forward to hearing about the work of the M2 Collaborative.”

Barrett and Cieslewicz are both serving their first terms as mayor in their respective cities. Barrett is a former state legislator and member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Cieslewicz was a Dane County supervisor, legislative aide and executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Hefty is the former CEO of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Wisconsin and served as acting Waukesha County executive. He is currently of counsel to the law firm of Reinhart, Boerner Van Deuren, which has offices in Milwaukee, Madison and Waukesha. D’Souza is a partner in the Mason Wells Private Equity firm and a member of the “Spirit of Milwaukee” board. Both are members of the Tech Council’s board of directors.

The Wisconsin Innovation Network is the membership subsidiary of the Tech Council, which is the independent, non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the Governor and the Legislature.

Read more on the relationship between Milwaukee and Madison:

August 26 – Madison and Milwaukee: So close, yet so far (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

August 26 – On the cutting edge: Madison builds itself into a potent hub for high-tech industries (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)