Putting Greater Madison on the ICT Map
Excerpted from In Business Magazine
By Joe Vanden Plas
It’s been five years since Madison has developed a worthy successor to the High-Tech Directory, but MadREP appears to be creating something that might go much farther in the cause of business development.
The High-Tech Directory, compiled by Madison Gas and Electric, was discontinued in 2013, but a lot has changed in four years. That change is being captured in a new map of information communications technology organizations. The prime mover in this map-making project is Michael Gay, senior vice president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP), and the project is about more than simply identifying components of the local information technology ecosystem.
With the assistance of a mapmaker intern at MadREP, Gay is developing a map of organizations engaged in information communications technology — both companies and entities such as University Research Park.
With a combination of logos and business descriptions and geocoding to their postal address, MadREP will use the map to market Madison’s critical mass of technology firms, available capital resources, and talent to site selectors. The idea is to explain that Madison’s ICT chamber is loaded, not only with established companies like Epic, but also emerging local companies such as Forward Health Group, Filament Games, and Per Blue.
In the spirit and necessity of promoting the entire ecosystem, the map also will include co-working spaces such as 100 State, business resources such as Sector 67, gener8tor, and Capital Entrepreneurs, and the noteworthy presence of technology giants Amazon and Google.
The map also will help tell a story about the depth of IT talent being produced by UW–Madison’s computer science program and talent being lured to Madison by technology employers. An ancillary but very important benefit could also be to limit whatever brain drain still hampers local efforts to develop the ICT cluster.
The map was created for ICT site selectors such as Newmark Cornish & Carey in San Francisco, one of northern California’s largest commercial real estate brokerage firms. The firm does a great deal of site selection work for prominent ICT companies looking to expand geographically, and its site selectors visited Madison last June on what MadREP refers to as a “fam” tour (familiarization tour). While here to investigate the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, particularly in information technology, they also talked about the value of such a cluster map.
Paul Jadin, president of MadREP, says the site selectors have developed something similar in the Bay Area, and the local map would primarily be used in presentations to other site selectors and to explain exactly what kind of technology density exists here.
MadREP, the economic development agency for the eight-county, south-central Wisconsin region, also is collecting data for a broader version of the ICT map for the Greater Madison area — with a Dane County focus — as technology organizations in Fitchburg, Middleton, Verona, and other local communities get some recognition, as well.
Jadin says the map will not only be replicated for Greater Madison, but for ICT organizations in the south central region and then for other technology sectors such as biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and health care.