MadREP Report: June 15, 2017
Hot Off the Press: Fourth Annual Madison Region Economic Development Guide

Keeping our commitment to tell the Madison Region's story, MadREP is pleased to announce the release of the fourth Madison Region Economic Development Guide, an annual publication showcasing the Madison Region's many business and quality-of-life assets. The guide serves as a catalyst for new leads and prospect inquiries with distribution to thousands of individuals and businesses across the country.

The articles in this year's publication paint a powerful picture of the region's assets -- from leading industries to our creative and growing talent pool, strategic location and world-class education system. Check out MadREP president Paul Jadin's introduction on page 9 for his list of the Top Five things that make the Madison Region such an attractive place to invest.

The piece is available in print and lives online at, reaching thousands of readers across the globe. We thank the many businesses and municipalities who partnered with us to support its continuation and we invite you to make use of the publication. Please contact us for copies to take on your business travels or display in your workplace. 
Congrats Are in Order: gener8tor Again Receives Top Accelerator Ranking

gener8tor co-founders Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller. Image Source: BizTimes
For the third consecutive year, Midwest-based gener8tor has been ranked among the top 16 accelerators in the U.S. by Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. The rankings are meant to help entrepreneurs make informed decisions while applying to accelerators. gener8tor is one of only four programs ranked in the top 16 that do not have a presence in California. Founded in 2012, gener8tor's 54 alumni have gone on to raise more than $110 million in follow-on financing and employ more than 1,500 people.
Regional Economy: 
Early-stage investments on the rise in Wisconsin

Early-stage investments are on the rise in Wisconsin, according to a recent report from the Wisconsin Technology Council. The Wisconsin Portfolio shows that in 2016, 137 companies raised investment capital, up from 128 in 2015. And total investment dollars jumped nearly 32 percent, from around $209 million in 2015 to over $276 million in 2016. Some of the biggest investments of 2016 were: Propeller Health with $21.5 million; Midwestern BioAg with $21.3 million; Engineered Propulsion Systems for $15.2 million; SHINE Medical Technologies with $11.5 million; and Eatstreet with close to $11 million. Bigger deals are also coming more frequently, with 53 deals involving more than $1 million in 2016. That's up from 46 in 2015 and 38 in 2014. The average investment size also went up, from $1.6 million in 2015 to $2 million in 2016.  
Read more.   
Company Profile:
Lands' End will downsize New York City office, place entire design staff in Dodgeville
Lands' End Inc. is reducing the number of employees at its New York City offices and placing its entire design and merchandising teams in Dodgeville. Lands' End plans "to grow the business from the local talent pool here in Wisconsin," recently named CEO Jerome Griffith said. "We believe that an important part of our success is merging the design and merchandising talent under one roof at our headquarters." Besides making the clothing retailer more efficient, he said, the concentration of staff in Dodgeville "will also help to build a stronger culture within the company with our teams working side by side to create the best product and overall experience for our consumers." Now Lands' End appears to be returning to its roots, with Griffith also stressing better analysis of the company's rich lode of data to judge product performance, identify opportunities and build the business. 

Business Expansion: 
Dollar General cuts the ribbon on Janesville distribution center 

Employees, friends and family members recently wandered through Dollar General's new 1-million-square-foot warehouse, where Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos and Rock County Administrator Josh Smith were among the speakers at the facility's grand opening. "This is fantastic. This is the work of our plan here in Rock County and the Janesville-Beloit area to bring jobs -- good, family-sustaining jobs -- right here," Ryan said. "We have 400 to 500 people here now, and we've had over 7,000 applicants for those jobs," said distribution center director Matt Lucas, adding that the company hopes to increase its local workforce to 600 or 700 in coming years. Gale Price, Janesville's director of economic development, said Dollar General's distribution center is a $100 million investment in the community. It is the largest single economic development effort in the history of the city, he said. 

Business Expansion:
Milton's industrial park booms as projects get underway 

Handy Art is building a 35,000-square-foot facility for new warehouse and office space, and it isn't the only company in the midst of a major construction project in Milton's Crossroads Business Park. A few blocks away, Badger State Maintenance is in the early stages of constructing a new retail center to sell landscape supplies. The company later plans to build six 2,500-square-foot incubator facilities for other businesses. A development boom follows years of efforts to prepare Milton for post-recession recovery. This city with a population of slightly more than 5,000 has positioned itself as a hub for industrial recruitment, and it starts with available land that's ready for development. Several years ago, Rock County started an initiative to designate vacant properties as "shovel-ready" to give communities a competitive advantage for attracting business, said City Administrator Al Hulick. Milton hopes the ongoing projects encourage other companies to fill its remaining vacant lots.

Startup Scene:
Wisconsin startup's invention helps firefighters navigate through burning buildings 
Jeff Dykes' startup has a premise most firefighters are familiar with: Rush into a burning building, and it's pretty easy to get lost in the haze. Dykes and his company, Northern Star Fire, have received the grand prize in the Governor's Business Plan Contest because of the solution he came up with to that problem: A digital compass that can be slapped onto the facepiece of a firefighter's helmet so that it's always visible. What began as a simple idea Dykes submitted to a local "Shark Week"-style pitching competition has now grown into a full-fledged business. Fire departments in cities like San Antonio have been using the compass on a trial basis, and Dykes is now on the verge of finalizing his first major order of 10,000 units overseas. Dykes was among 13 finalists to participate in the contest, organized every year by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Read more.

Capital Connection:
New Bascom Ventures capital fund is premised on UW alumni pride 
The secret ingredient to building a robust investment fund for startups might just be Badger pride. That's the idea behind a new venture capital fund called Bascom Ventures. The 10-week-old endeavor is fundraising from University of Wisconsin alumni to create a pool of millions of dollars to go toward startups with UW alumni at the helm. The fund's managing partner, Greg Baker, said that the idea is to keep alums connected with their alma mater. He said that particularly in the fields of computer science and biotechnology, he sees a lot of promising startups coming from the school's alums. Building a successful portfolio with those companies is a major priority for Baker. For now, the fund is still raising capital. However, Baker predicts that the fund will begin choosing the first companies for its portfolio this month.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Road Tour
July 18, 8am-4pm
The Park Hotel, Madison

Do not miss this opportunity to learn how to access $2.5B in early stage technology funding; meet with agency Program Managers one-on-one; network with industry experts; hear SBIR awardee panels speak on past experiences and best practices; and receive valuable training from SBIR/STTR experts. Find out more.
UW System Wisconsin Idea Dairy Summit
June 19, 8:30am-3:30pm  
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison 
This Summit looks to foster dialogue and partnerships toward a more prosperous future and strengthen this vital Wisconsin industry. Experts will present the latest in research and dairy production techniques and participants will have the opportunity to discuss how the industry could look in the future. Register online.

WIN Luncheon: Virtual Reality - It's a real force in Wisconsin
June 27, 11:30am-1:30pm
Sheraton Hotel, Madison 
Attend the upcoming Wisconsin Innovation Network luncheon to hear Shannon Lory, a partner in Wisconsin-based Arch Virtual, discuss how virtual reality tools are adding measurable value to business and education. Register online.

Request for Proposals: 2018 UniverCity Year
Deadline: June 30, 2017

UniverCity Year is a year-long partnership between UW-Madison and one community in Wisconsin. The program is now accepting proposals from communities interested in partnering during the 2018 calendar year. Review the request for proposals and contact the University Alliance for more info.
Now Accepting Applications: UpStart Fall 2017 Cohort
Deadline: June 30, 5pm

It takes more than a good idea to start a successful business. Issues like accounting, financing and marketing may seem overwhelming and connecting with the right resources can be challenging. WARF's free UpStart program can help. Learn more.
Global Trade Venture: South Korea and Japan
September 8-16, 2017

WEDC will lead a global trade venture to Japan and South Korea. Wisconsin exporters of goods and services are invited to participate in this program, which will include segments in Tokyo and Seoul. In each city, participants will be scheduled for one-on-one meetings with potential partners in the market. Register by July 10.
View more events and opportunities at

Thank you to all our investors
who support our region's economic future through their generous financial contributions.


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