For the past three years, Brookfield, Wisc. - a white-collar suburb of Milwaukee - has significantly increased its efforts to recruit growing businesses. Brookfield is home to 10 corporate business parks, a Fortune 500 company (Fiserv) and a diverse mix of companies in the professional services, manufacturing and financial-services industries. Businesses looking to launch in or relocate to the city can find financial, networking, and management support through the Waukesha County Economic Development Corporation, the Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, and Brookfield's economic development office. As part of a retention effort, the members of the city's economic development office visit at least 80 companies each year.
Neighbor town Wauwatosa is home to the 175-acre Milwaukee County Research Park, which offers tech ventures affordable office space, an incubator the currently houses more than 70 tenants, and access to local angel and venture-capital networks, such as Silicon Pastures.
Brookfield boasts lower crime rates than Milwaukee, and its Elmbrook school system is known for the high academic achievement of its students. Property and housing values are higher in Brookfield than in other surrounding communities; the charming, landscaped suburb entertains residents with a variety of distinctive dining options, 1,500 acres of parks and wetlands, and a local 18-hole golf course. Fox Brook Park, a 173-acre recreational area, features a man-made lake with walking trails around its beaches, and swimming and pedal-boating opportunities during the summer. The warm months also signify the return of Starry Nights, a Friday-night tradition that brings Brookfield residents together with live music, dance and theater in Mitchell Park's Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. While the city lacks a vibrant nightlife and professional sports scene, its residents are only a 15-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee and about 100 miles from Chicago. -Brandi Stewart