Counties: Columbia • Dane • Dodge • Green • Iowa • Jefferson • Rock • Sauk

    Thrive is the economic development partnership for the eight-county Madison region. Centered around Dane County and the Madison area, Thrive’s assets include UW-Madison and a young and highly educated workforce.

    According to Thrive, more than 60 percent of adults in the region hold an associate degree or higher, while 28 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, greater than both the state and national averages.

    Nearly 58 percent of the region’s population falls within the typical workforce range of 20-59 years of age. This is higher than both the state and national averages. Additionally, 25.6 percent of its total population in the 0-19 years age range.

    In April of 2012, Thrive launched “Advance Now: Madison Region’s Strategy for Economic Growth” to serve as a consensus blueprint for the Madison region’s collective economic development efforts over a five-year period.

    Centered on five goal areas, the strategy was developed based on feedback from more than 2,000 regional leaders and citizens. Thrive will partner with public and private sector entities from across the region to implement the strategy from 2013-2017.

    This follows a 2012 board reorganization and concentrated private sector fundraising campaign. “It will allow us to be more aggressive in economic development,” Thrive president Paul Jadin said.

    There are also plans to hire additional employees to boost the organization’s efforts aimed at business retention, expansion and attraction.

    Thrive touts itself as being committed to providing businesses and communities with efficient access to capital in order to grow the industries and sectors that comprise the region’s greatest assets; informing decision-making by delivering valuable research and data; and collaborating across communities to share best practices and promote the region.

    Thrive’s top draws include UW-Madison, a hub of academic research.

    “It’s an extraordinary asset,” Jadin said.

    Strengthening target industry clusters will allow the Madison region to be more globally competitive in business development, retention, and attraction, he added.

    Thrive will look to further develop the region’s key clusters, including agriculture. The Madison region boasts some of the richest agricultural soils in the world and the largest agriculture employment bases in the state, with nearly 60,000 jobs directly related to agriculture. That figure accounts for 20 percent of Wisconsin’s total agricultural employment, according to Thrive.

    Several food-related incubators throughout the eight-county region support a growing cadre of local food entrepreneurs.

    Other clusters include bio-technology, advanced manufacturing, health care and health care information technology, the latter of which is being bolstered by companies such as rapidly growing medical software firm Epic, whose operations are based in Verona, near Madison.

    Other key activities of Thrive include continuing efforts to advocate for infrastructure improvements that businesses need for growth; streamlining state and municipalities’ permitting and regulatory processes to make it easier to do business in the region; working closely with Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the state on promising business development opportunities; and increasing collaboration and partnerships between local economic development organizations in the region to create synergies and minimize overlap.

    Getting existing businesses in the region to expand is a top priority for Thrive.

    “The Madison region needs to move forward quicker. We are going to work aggressively to grow what we already have,” said Jadin, who has served as both the Secretary of Commerce and Secretary and CEO of the WEDC. Jadin previously was president and CEO of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and served two terms as mayor of Green Bay.

    Attracting high-profile members to Thrive’s board of directors is a key step in allowing the organization to become more effective.

    “It will allow Thrive to become what it was intended to be,” Jadin said.

    Thrive also has established a set of performance metrics pertaining to economic development, including keeping data on the number of firms in the region visited in business retention and expansion efforts; increasing annual visits by relocation prospects; and calculating the number of jobs recruited to the region.

    Thrive Economic Development

    615 E. Washington Ave., P.O. Box 71, Madison, WI 53701
    (608) 443-1960 |

    President: Paul Jadin

    Summary: Thrive is a regional marketing and economic development organization for the south central part of Wisconsin. The region is anchored by Madison, the state capital and home of the UW-Madison.

    Counties (8): Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, Sauk

    Notable businesses: Epic Systems Corp., American Family Insurance, American Girl Brands LLC, Quad/Graphics Inc., John Deer & Co., Monroe Truck Equipment Inc., Colony Brands Inc., Lands End, Generac Power Systems, Trek Bicycle Corp., ABC Supply, Frito-Lay, W.W. Grainger Inc., Crystal Farms, Spectrum Brands Inc.

    Population: More than 1 million

    Major airports: Dane County Regional Airport (Madison)

    Colleges and universities (10): 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, UW-Whitewater

    Top industries: Health care, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, education, life science, design and technology, government

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