MadREP New name, new identity

The right name can make all the difference. That’s what the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) is discovering. The economic development group formerly known as THRIVE changed its name during 2013 and is already seeing results.

“While THRIVE is a great name, we really needed to put a more identifying name in there. People see ‘Madison’ and they know exactly where we are,” said Paul Jadin, the organization’s president.

The Madison area is known as a hot spot area for entrepreneurs, and Jadin said MadREP is doing its best to help innovators and entrepreneurs by offering space for businesses to start out and providing mentors.

“We want to get the more rural areas of our region involved in economic development, and having these spaces can help us do just that,” he said.
The organization continues to move forward on the ideas set out in its Advance Now initiative, which it launched in 2012, and focuses on comprehensive economic development growth.

Jadin said MadREP is making key steps forward in advancing regional diversity, cooperation and leadership as well as innovation and entrepreneurship.
“It’s critical to get on the radar screen of site selectors, and this name change has helped us do just that. “

MadREP is focusing on recruiting businesses from three key sectors: agriculture, life sciences and information technology.

“When people think about IT, we want them to think of the Madison area like they do about Boston or the Silicon Valley. We are really ahead of the country when it comes to IT,” Jadin said.

If that’s true, part of the credit goes to EPIC, the electronic medical records company, and to the area’s strong technical colleges and the University of Wisconsin. “IT is part of who we are,” said Jadin.

The focus on life sciences and agriculture are related not only to the university’s presence, but also start-ups in the region who are already making a name for themselves. In addition, Jadin said, “we have some companies we are targeting (to move here), but want to keep those under wraps for now as we continue our efforts.”

Besides working on a publication targeted to site selectors, MadREP is counting on Xconomy, a business news website which opened its ninth U.S. hub in Madison back in December, to get out the word that the region is a great place to do business.

“They are all about innovation and having them locate in Madison is a huge win,” he said. “We hope they will tell stories about what’s going on here and that will garner us more attention.”

But it’s not all about attracting outside companies into the region. MadREP makes sure to keep its focus local with visits to area businesses. “We are doing more visits to area businesses to understand their concerns. Retention is very important, and if they are thinking about expansion, we want to know about it and want them to do it here,” Jadin said.

“We have a lot going on right now and it’s an exciting time for the region,” he said.

— Marybeth matzek

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