455 Science Dr., Suite 160
Madison, WI 53711
Executive Director: Paul Jadin
Counties: Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, Sauk
Major industries: Advanced manufacturing, biosciences, education, food and beverage, government, health care, agriculture, information technology, life sciences
major employers: American Family Insurance, Associated Milk Producers, Inc., Beloit Health Systems, Colony Brands, Inc., Del Monte Foods, Divine Savior Healthcare, Epic Systems Corp., Fort Healthcare, Generac Power Systems, Inc., Ho-Chunk Nation, John Deere & Co., Kalahari Development, Kraft Foods, Lands’ End, Mercy Health System, Monroe Clinic, Quad/Graphics, Inc., Spectrum Brands, Trek Bicycle Corp., University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW Health System
largest Airport: Dane County Regional
College and universities: Beloit College, Blackhawk Technical College, Edgewood College, Herzing University, ITT Technical Institute-Madison, Madison Area Technical College, Madison Media Institute, University of Phoenix-Madison campus, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
A major goal for the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) in 2015 was to better identify assets within five key sectors – advanced manufacturing, agriculture/food and beverage, health care, information technology and life sciences – and leverage those assets to improve production capacity, exports and workforce development.
The year got off to a good start when
MadREP was designated an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It had applied for IMCP designation for its agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing sector.
“An IMCP designation is an important signal to potential investors that these communities are good places to spend their money,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a statement. “By breaking down silos and encouraging communities to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to their strategic plans, we are ensuring that precious federal dollars are used on the most high-impact projects, and in ways that maximize return on investment.”
“We dedicated hundreds of hours to this project,” noted Paul Jadin, executive director for MadREP. The partnership has received a $200,000 grant to increase the capacity of the agriculture, food and beverage sector. This includes establishing an 80-90-person consortium to determine the best ways to move the sector forward. Grants will also be requested for feasibility studies to decide how to repurpose the Oscar Mayer property in Madison and the Tyson Foods facility in Jefferson. Jadin also hopes to receive IMCP grants to establish University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research, the Madison Public Market and to expand the gaming industry.
Jadin is excited about the gaming industry in the Madison region. Companies include Raven Software, Filament Games, Human Head Studios and dozens of smaller developers. “A key executive of EA Games from Orlando recently told me he sees Madison as one of the top five gaming centers in the country,” said Jadin.
MadREP has assisted gaming companies to find capital for investment, development and expansion. An ideal place for gamers to set up shop will be the high-tech-oriented StartingBlock Madison, a 50,000-square-foot center where entrepreneurs, investors and advisors can network and create next-generation businesses. Scheduled to open in late 2016, StartingBlock will provide affordable and flexible workspace, accelerator programs and access to investors.
Making sure regional businesses have enough talented workers is also a top priority. The Business and Education Collaborative (BEC), established in November 2014, is comprised of leaders from private-sector companies, academic institutions and government agencies who work together to develop innovative programs that will create a future workforce with the skill sets local businesses need the most. The goal is to ultimately create an ongoing dialogue between educators and businesses that ingrains a culture of collaboration and problem-solving in the region’s overall economy.
Inspire is another new program that introduces young people to various career options. Participating students are assigned a coach at a company who provides workplace learning experiences – often through job shadowing, internships or apprenticeships – that may lead to job opportunities in key industries, especially advanced manufacturing. “Inspire wants to onboard 375 companies this year,” said Jadin.
One way to improve economic growth with minimal expense is to find new markets for existing products. This includes international exports – a channel that many companies don’t understand. Foreign exports can be highly profitable, especially when a product is the perfect choice for an underserved market. MadREP has been highly active in bringing foreign trade groups to tour the Madison region and speak with business leaders, as well as undertaking foreign trade missions.
In April 2015 Madison was selected to participate in the Third Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE), a tour designed to showcase advanced technology centers, innovation hubs, public-private partnerships, exports and foreign direct investments in the Midwest. Madison hosted a group in April with 45 representatives from Latin American countries. “We have also hosted Swiss, German and Dutch delegations, as well as traveled to Argentina to better understand its market needs,” said Jadin.
The key to the Madison region’s successes, noted Jadin, is the collaborative spirit and drive that exists between education, government and industry in all eight counties to help translate ideas into viable solutions for the regional economy. “In 2016 we will continue to map our core assets and build upon them,” said Jadin. “This is essential for improving the quality of our workforce and our overall brand.”