By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 28, 2004 at 5:01 AM

According to Chris Crawley, founder of a new group called THINK! Cool Milwaukee Initiative, Milwaukee is headed for the economic resuscitator.

"We've lost the diversity battle, the dairy battle, the beer battle and certainly the manufacturing battle," says Crawley. "This is no longer our fathers' economy. It's a new day."

Crawley, who moved to Milwaukee in the late '70s to attend Marquette, is a native of Arkansas but considers Brew City his home and is concerned about its future. Our biggest problems, he believes, are "brain drain" (new grads leaving for larger cities), lack of creativity, regional competition, strained race relations, limited job opportunities and poor public perception.

"We always seemed to be at the bottom of so many of the national municipal mortality statistics that I thought it was time to try to do something about it if I was going to continue to be in this city," says Crawley, who is also the CEO of Think Innovative Media, Inc. in Bay View.

Basically, the mission of Think! is to make Milwaukee a "talent magnet," meaning place where young, intelligent people want to live. Crawley's group researches the way other cities have succeeded in this area.

Interestingly, the types of people that traditionally are undercelebrated by society -- the young, the gay and the creative -- are now coveted by every city in the country and seen as one of the keys to keeping urban areas thriving. Statistically, for instance, gay employees excel in the technology industry (according to "The Gay Index" which has been the best predictor of a region's high-tech success) and creative types are needed in every field to dream up new ways to keep their employer competitive.

Think! was conceived out of a series of conversations Crawley had over the years with a number of people including Dr. Michael Havice, Professor of Broadcast and Electronic Communication at Marquette University, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, John Grozik, Director of Instructional Media Services at UWM, former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt and coworkers.

The group recently launched with an annual Think! Cool Festival, and plans to host Think! Milwaukee JAMM (Joint Association Meeting Mixer) on Sept. 1 that will be a multi-disciplinary gathering at the Historic Hide House to facilitate networking, collaboration and awareness.

"I believe that the only way to do something about it, is to do something about it," says Crawley.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.