A Successful 2017 in Review
2017 was another busy and fruitful year for the Madison Region economy and for MadREP. As the year comes to a close, I would like to once again offer my gratitude to all of our investors, partners and other stakeholders for the manner in which you've driven the economy or facilitated our role in moving the needle.
As you know, MadREP dedicates its time and resources to five foundational planks under our
Advance Now Strategy
: Economic Competitiveness, Human Capital, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Leadership & Diversity, and Marketing. And, because our approach is asset-based, we focus on our industry strengths which include Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Information Communications Technology, Agriculture, Food & Beverage, and Healthcare. This past year we have seen
significant progress in all planks and across all sectors
. A sample of that progress includes:
MadREP's human capital initiative,
Inspire Madison Region
, recently won the Mid-America Economic Development Council's (MAEDC)
top prize for workforce development
, and has made extraordinary strides this year, including being adopted by all 63 public school districts in the region. It now boasts over 500 participating companies, 567 career coaches, 664 careers profiles, and 37,214 student portfolios with a
out of an eligible student population of over 75,000. Special thanks to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, and the John Deere Foundation for helping facilitate our ongoing management of the program.
This year marked the fourth year of continued partnership with the Urban League of Greater Madison in hosting the
Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit
. It was
another record year for attendance
and, once again, served as an opportunity to unveil our Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Survey which saw 468 companies share their practices in 2017. We also unveiled our annual
Madison Region Economic Development Guide
at the Summit. For the first time this year, the publication included our annual report, which also garnered a first-place MAEDC trophy in that category. We continue to have great support from Presenting Sponsors UW Health and Alliant Energy in putting on a great conference. Don't forget to mark your calendars for the 2018 Summit on May 16.
Through early December, we have entertained
nearly 40 requests for information
(RFIs) which are essentially site searches initiated by businesses or their consultants/site selectors. The majority are still pending, but we have managed to come out on top on several that have closed. These include Project Drexel, which is under construction in Columbus; Tribe 9 Foods, which chose Madison for its triumvirate of food companies; as well as an agricultural business and a manufacturer that have chosen this region for their next location, but have yet to make announcements. We continue to host site selectors on a regular basis, and with the help of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitor's Bureau, were
successful in winning the bid to host the
event, which will bring 30 site selectors, 30 projects, and 30 economic developers to Madison in May. We are hopeful that events such as these will expand our opportunities and our success rate with RFIs.
On the startup side, we had a banner year with the
Wisconsin Games Alliance
(WGA), which we helped found in 2015. In October, the WGA hosted
, the Midwest's first-ever game development conference. It was a
remarkable success with 430 attendees
from around the state and Midwest, as well as world-renowned speakers from Wisconsin and beyond. And, plans are already in place for next year's conference -- save the date for October 19, 2018. Our staff also continues to work with entrepreneurs, this year providing
direct business assistance to 20 startups
, including with their pitches and business plans. Entrepreneurial activity continues to surge in the region and next year it will get another boost from the opening of Starting Block Madison.
Next year will also see the release of profiles for our four remaining sectors with Agriculture, Food & Beverage already completed. Because data is so critical to what we do, the sector profiles will facilitate the development of a new five-year plan,
Finally, we provided ED 101 training to both Sun Prairie and New Glarus last year with the former effort informing many of the economic development plans in the city in subsequent months. This training is one of the many things that we do with our ED partners -- all of them integral to the success we've had and that the economy enjoys.
These initiatives, while just a small sampling, reflect
our ongoing commitment to grow the Madison Region's economy
. I look forward to sharing our progress and results in the year ahead, and wish you a very happy holiday season.