Sep 22, 2011

MadREP Launches ‘Advance Now’ Strategy Development Process


MadREP, the economic development partnership for the eight-county Madison Region, announces the launch of the eight-month strategy development process for Advance Now: Madison Region’s Strategy for Economic Growth. The process relies heavily on public input and engages both public- and private-sector leaders to define the region’s roadmap for sustained economic growth.

“Though our region has tremendous assets, we’ve lost ground over the past few years in terms of business growth and job creation,” notes Jennifer Alexander, president of MadREP. “The time for a unified vision and bold action is now.”

In the wake of the recession, the Madison Region sits at a pivotal moment for shaping its economic prospects. While the region’s many assets position it for success on several levels, the region is falling behind on the road to economic recovery. MadREP’s 2010 State of the Madison Region Report revealed that the area was outpaced by four of five peer regions in employment and business growth, and that per capita income is dropping at a higher rate than peers. Wisconsin ranked #43 in Forbes’ 2010 rankings of the Best States for Businesses, and Moody’s February 2011 analysis ranks the Madison MSA 327 out of 392 nationwide for projected employment growth through 2014. Advance Now will directly address these challenges, positioning the Madison Region to compete in today’s global marketplace.

The project begins with the online community survey found here. All citizens from throughout the eight-county region (Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk Counties) are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions on topics including education, workforce, quality of life, and business climate. The survey is available now until October 11, 2011. 

This information will be used for the first of four distinct phases of the Advance Now strategy development process. The initial Competitive Assessment phase will provide analysis of the region’s position using economic and industry data and feedback from key constituencies. The second phase includes a Target Cluster Analysis, identifying the most important existing and emerging targets for regional leaders to pursue. In the third phase, leaders will define the Core Strategies of Advance Now, combining research with action items aimed at addressing challenges and capitalizing on opportunities for visionary growth. The development process culminates in the creation of a detailed Implementation Plan that MadREP and its regional stakeholders and partners will be poised to execute, with clear goals, action steps, and performance measures, as well as a structure for updating the process in the coming years. 

The development process will be overseen by a strategy committee of 24 community stakeholders led by co-chairs Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), and Bill Johnston, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal. The strategy committee, along with the region’s Economic Development Professionals Network, will provide leadership and insight while committing to the successful, timely implementation and evaluation of the plan.

The entire Advance Now process will be directed by leading economic development strategist J. Mac Holladay, CCE, PCED, and his Atlanta-based firm Market Street Services. Mr. Holladay has a proven track record for facilitating economic transformation in cities and regions across the country and will lend a critical external perspective to this process. Mr. Holladay has been in the community and economic development field since 1972.  He served three Chambers of Commerce over a 13-year period and is the only individual to head state-level economic development organizations in three different states.

The creation of the Advance Now strategy also positions MadREP to obtain a federal Economic Development District (EDD) designation for the Madison Region. The U.S. Economic Development Administration granted MadREP $97,500 in funding assistance to create a comprehensive economic development strategy, which leads to the EDD designation. This designation will create much-needed funding opportunities, including seed money for revolving loan funds, planning grants, and infrastructure funding. With seven EDDs already in Wisconsin covering 85 percent of the state, the attainment of this EDD designation will cover the important missing piece of the Madison Region.

Additional funds for Advance Now are provided by sponsors Madison Gas and Electric and American Family Insurance.

MadREP will document the Advance Now process at, a dedicated website with research findings, blog updates, and opportunities for public involvement.

MadREP is the economic development partnership for the eight-county Madison Region, established to grow the region’s economy in ways that preserve and enhance quality of life. We are committed to providing businesses and communities with efficient access to capital; growing the industries and sectors that comprise our region’s greatest assets; informing smart decision-making by delivering valuable research and data; and collaborating across communities to share best practices and promote our region. We create value with initiatives that focus on long-term, sustained results, aimed at building the region’s competitive advantage. The Madison Region includes the counties of Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Market Street Services, Inc. was founded in 1997 as an alternative to the traditional community and economic development consulting firm. The company’s experience and perspective is firmly rooted in the knowledge gained from being practitioners in the field, rather than looking “from the outside in.” The firm’s founder and CEO, J. Mac Holladay has more than 30 years of experience in community and economic development, both as a Chamber professional and as state economic development director. Market Street’s staff has worked with clients throughout the country to not only devise measurable, achievable strategies, but also have first-hand experience in clarifying what is needed from an organizational standpoint to successfully implement those strategies. 

Market Street’s clients are as diverse as Austin, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Coachella Valley, California. In the past fourteen years the firm has worked in over 130 communities and 29 states. Market Street has facilitated strategic planning processes for many of the nation’s best-practice economic development organizations, including the last two five-year strategies for Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Hopkinsville-Christian County, Kentucky; and Waco, Texas.