MadREP in the News

Madison 365: Urban League, MadREP summit focuses on attracting talent to South Central Wisconsin

economic development Madison365 logoSource: Madison 365

The Urban League of Greater Madison and Madison Regional Economic Partnership came together to co-host the 10th annual Madison Region’s Economic Development and Diversity Summit at Monona Terrace on May 10 in Madison. The summit focused on expanding opportunity and diversity in the area by discussing how to entice people from across the country to choose Madison as their work location.

Dr. Ruben L. Anthony, president and CEO of Urban League of Greater Madison, and Jason M. Fields, president and CEO of Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP), opened the event as both of their organizations have played important roles in increasing opportunity and access for people of color in the area. Fields spoke on the Advance Now 2.0 Strategy, a MadREP report and blueprint for continued economic growth in the area, that was released around four years ago.

“It’s for all of us to answer some of those economic questions,” Fields said to the room. “How do we become better? And how do we become better for everybody in our eight-county area? That includes rural, urban, people of the BIPOC community, including everybody. What do we need to do to make sure that this is a thriving place? As Ruben said earlier, what do we want to do to make sure that when people look at our region, with the choice between the North Carolina Research Triangle, Boston, or South Carolina, they choose us? The strategy is going very well.”

Madison community leaders (l-r) Nasra Wehelie, Linda Vakunta, Carrie Braxton, Dr. Jack Daniels, Camille Carter and Theola Carter attend the 10th annual Madison Region’s Economic Development and Diversity Summit at Monona Terrace.

Laura Dresser, UW-Madison Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Director at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy(COWS), gave the first opening speech for the morning plenary session. Dresser spoke on Wisconsin’s current labor and economic state as well as the racial inequalities present throughout it. Jason R. Thompson, co-founder of CAPE Inclusion, importantly followed up with a discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion, an area that if improved, could lead to a stronger workforce.

Breakout sessions at the summit included two presentations on neurodiversity in the workplace by Haley Moss, and improving the quality of life in the midwest for rejuvenation by Amanda Weinstein. These were joined by a panel on youth to adult apprenticeship moderated by Bridgett Willey with panelists Hugh Wing, Seth Lentz, Mitch Staroscik, and Liz Pusch. As well as an additional panel on what talented workers are looking for moderated by Mark Richardson with panelists Clara Tavarez, Angela Arrington, Erin Hillson, and Grace Fernando.

Luncheon speaker Troy A. LeMaile-Stovall, CEO of TEDCO, suggested a shifting of framework for the audience, as he also discussed the importance of technology and innovation in the workforce as we develop both locally and globally.

“Let us not lose who the real competition is,” said LeMaile-Stovall. “There’s some other countries that I can name that are sitting and watching us fight amongst our 50 states in our different regions. They’re watching us fight amongst ourselves over some resources, and they’re thinking about how they think as a country. This is not trying to make a political statement, but we’ve got to rethink how we think about this notion of economic development. We have got to think about it in a much more holistic way.”

The last keynote speaker gave perspective both as a former worker of many odds-and-ends type jobs, and as an expert in DEI. Lela Lee, actress and creator of “Angry Little Asian Girl,” gave insight into how employees may feel in contemporary workplace environments. With issues such as sexism, racism, and other discriminations in the workplace driving potential employees away, a cycle of inability to build diverse communities follows. Lee spoke to the importance of not only attracting and keeping a diverse workforce through combating those adverse experiences in the workplace, but also in supporting diverse communities in the city itself.

“If Madison wants to be a Plan A for good people, Madison needs to provide companies with healthy work cultures, and a vibrant community to live in,” Lee said. “It sounds like the job sectors in greater Madison are amazing, but a pattern has emerged that is noticeable. People vote with their feet, and they leave to other metropolitan destinations like Seattle, the Bay Area, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, and D.C. This made me wonder, are there blind spots in the workplaces? Without offending anyone, I think people for the most part are living out a blueprint that we were given from the generation before.”

Anthony and Fields closed out the event with words of encouragement for sustained commitment to economic and social development in the Madison area and beyond.

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Business Facilities: National Science Foundation Awards $1M To First-Ever NSF Regional Innovation Engines

economic development business facilities logoSource: Business Facilities

The U.S. National Science Foundation has announced the first-ever NSF Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program awards to 44 unique teams spanning universities, nonprofits, businesses, and other organizations across the U.S. states and territories. Each awardee team will receive up to $1 million for two years. The NSF Engines program is anticipated to be transformational for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come.

The awardees span a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic regions that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines development awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation ecosystem within two years to prepare a strong proposal for becoming a future NSF Engine, where they will have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million.

The NSF Engines program has two types of awards. Featured here are the NSF Engines Development Awards, or Type-1 awards, including those just announced, provide up to $1 million for up to two years. Anticipated for Fall 2023, the Type-2 awards will provide up to $160 million for up to 10 years. The first round of Type-2 awards will fund NSF Engines across three distinct phases — the nascent, emergent and growth phases.

Teams From Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Wisconsin, And Across U.S. Receive Initial Awards

Jackson State University, in partnership with The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), received a $1 million NSF toward “advancing food security and climate resilience.” The vision of the award, referred to as the Sustainable Innovation Ecosystem (SIE) Food Industry Engine Development Award, is to develop an innovative ecosystem that: improves health and nutrition, reduces poverty, creates a diverse talent pool of skilled technical workers, and improves economic diversity and resilience across the targeted service region.

University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) was one of 44 teams to receive the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards. When in 2002, NSF established a new directorate for the first time in more than 30 years focusing on Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) that included the focus on establishing regional “innovation engines” throughout the U.S., the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) saw an opportunity to partner and support UNR in order to strengthen the agency’s efforts of turning Nevada into the “Lithium Capital of North America”.

The University of Rochester in New York has received a $1 million Regional Innovation Engines Development Award grant toward the development of next-generation lasers. The advancement of laser technologies in the Rochester region is expected to foster the connection of a variety of institutional, industrial, and business partners toward establishing an innovation and economic hub built around the Science, Technology and Engineering of Lasers and Laser Applications Research (STELLAR).

In Milwaukee, WI, the The Water Council and its partners received the $1 million award to plan a Regional Innovation Engine in eastern Wisconsin addressing water and energy resilience for manufacturers and utilities. The Water Council submitted the proposal with its lead partners MKE Tech Hub Coalition, Wisconsin Technology Council, Marquette University, Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, and Madison Region Economic Partnership. At the end of the two-year Development Award period, the Engine team will apply for a Launch Award of up to $160 million awarded over 10 years.

Revving The “Innovation” Engines

“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation.”

Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact the economy within a geographic region, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.

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Madison 365: It’s Only 10 Minutes: May 12

economic development Madison365 logo

Source: Madison 365

A top exec is leaving Goodwill of Southeast Wisconsin. Plus, a recap of the [Madison Region Economic Partnership and] Urban League’s Economic Development & Diversity Summit and a profile of an Appleton-based culturally-focused mental health practice.


Friday, May 12, 2023 Podcast Episode

Public Service Commission: Gov. Evers, PSC announce Internet for All Wisconsin Listening Tour 

MADISON – Gov. Evers, together with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), announced today the statewide Internet for All Wisconsin Listening Tour, a series of nine in-person and two virtual interactive meetings to help develop the state’s five-year action plan to deploy high-speed internet and improve internet affordability and adoption.

Community leaders and all interested members of the public are welcome to attend this free event. Prospective attendees are advised to visit the event website for additional event information as it becomes available.

Wisconsin could expect an allocation of $800 million to $1.1 billion to implement the state’s five-year action plan for broadband and approximately $25 million to implement the state’s Digital Equity Plan under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s ‘Internet for All’ programs. In December 2022, Gov. Tony Evers and the PSC announced the nearly $6 million federal investment for the state to develop these plans by gathering local input from Wisconsinites in broadband access and digital inclusion activities.

“With nearly everything about our economy, our workforce and our way of life depending on access to high-speed internet, it’s important for folks across the state to come together and share their experience and ideas to bridge Wisconsin’s digital divide,” said Gov. Evers. “We have come a long way to get more Wisconsinites connected than ever before with over 390,000 homes and businesses connected to new or improved internet, but there’s still more work to do. As we invest in Wisconsin’s infrastructure and future, the conversations during this Listening Tour will help guide this important work to ensure all can access affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.”

“Public participation is critical to the Commission’s broadband access and digital equity efforts, so I’m excited for the Commission to hit the road and hear from community members across Wisconsin as we develop the state’s five-year action plan,” said Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “I look forward to the robust dialogue and community engagement during the statewide Listening Tour.” 

The Internet for All Wisconsin Listening Tour is hosted by the PSC’s Wisconsin Broadband Office, in partnership with Wisconsin’s nine regional economic development organizations. If someone is unable to attend an in-person or virtual meeting, they may still submit public comment here.

Event details are as follows: 

demographics madison wisconsin innovation news hero

Internet for All Wisconsin Listening Tour – Southcentral (Madison)

Madison College – Truax Campus | 1701 Wright Street, Madison, WI 53704

Tuesday, May 23, 2023
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM CDT

WPR: Wisconsin has regained almost all the population it lost since 2020, but rebounds have been uneven

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin has regained almost all the population it lost since 2020, despite the fact that deaths are outnumbering births in the state.

But even as more people move to Wisconsin, the state’s post-pandemic population gains have been uneven. Milwaukee County continues to shrink, while the Madison area in Dane County is surging. And several rural counties in northern Wisconsin are seeing relatively high population growth rates, recently released estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

Transplants account for statewide growth, as more Wisconsinites die than are born

Between the official U.S. Census count on April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, Wisconsin lost 13,624 people, a drop of about 0.23 percent.

But, by July 1, 2022, Wisconsin had regained most of that loss, according to the updated census estimates. The state had nearly 5.9 million residents in 2022, which was only 1,186 fewer people than were tallied just after the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

New people relocating to Wisconsin — whether from overseas or from other states — accounted for much of the population rebound between 2021 and 2022, said John Johnson, a research fellow at the Marquette Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

That’s because deaths have been exceeding births in Wisconsin every year since 2020.

Migration is going to be the driver of population change, growth or decline, going forward“Even last year, which was an improvement for the state, we still had more deaths than births,” Johnson said. “Migration is going to be the driver of population change, growth or decline, going forward.”

In 2022, 63,397 Wisconsinites died — 1,758 more than were born. By comparison, more than 7,657 people moved to Wisconsin from elsewhere in the U.S., and an estimated 8,174 people immigrated to the state from other countries, according the Census Bureau totals.

The phenomenon of deaths exceeding births has been decades in the making, Johnson said. Demographers point to factors like the aging of baby boomers, as well as trends seen in other developed nations where people are more likely to give birth later and to have fewer children overall compared to previous generations.

“The pandemic accelerated that trend (of deaths outpacing births),” Johnson said. “The switch from slightly more births than deaths to slightly more deaths than births occurred sooner than we expected, but I think most demographers expected that switch to happen later in this decade.”

In 2020, deaths exceeded births in half of all U.S. states, which was a record high number of states, according to an analysis from the University of New Hampshire. Those trends continued into 2021 (when deaths outpaced births in 26 states) and in 2022 (when there were more deaths than births in 24 states), according to a UNH analysis.

Deaths from COVID-19 itself played a role — an estimated 16,498 Wisconsinsites have died from the disease since 2020. Experts also point to the likelihood of excess deaths, meaning people who died as an indirect result of the pandemic. That could include people whose access to health care was delayed, or those who died of drug overdoses or suicide amid social isolation.

And, on the other end of the life cycle, the pandemic may have motivated parents to delay having children because of worries about finances, health risks or being cut off from social supports.

Population rebounds were uneven, as Milwaukee County kept plummeting

Although Wisconsin has as a whole has attracted enough transplants in the last year to nearly make up for its post-2020 population drop, rebound patterns vary widely across the state.

Those divides could have lasting economic implications, as workforces grow or shrink. Population also translates to political power, since census counts are used to calculate representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and to help determine the boundaries of state and local political districts.

Although Milwaukee County remains the state’s most populous county overall, it’s also lost the most residents in recent years.

The county’s population dropped by 20,834 people between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022, a decline of more than 2 percent.

In a statement, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said the county’s strategic plan aims to retain residents, in part by focusing on people who have been historically underserved.

“Milwaukee County remains at the top of some of the worst lists when it comes to race and health equity, and we’ve been at the top for the better part of the decade — this hurts everyone,” Crowley said. “If we’re concerned about the exodus from the County then we must make the investments to make our region a place people want to stay, settle down, and contribute to the community around them.”

Rates of homeownership, poverty and infant mortality vary widely between white, Black and Latino Milwaukee County residents, according to figures gathered by the county as part of its racial equity public health plan. The city of Milwaukee also routinely ranks as among the country’s most racially segregated.

The county’s post-pandemic population loss is a continuation of a long-term trend. Between the 2020 and 2010 Census, Milwaukee County lost more than 8,200 residents, close to a 0.9 percent drop.

The 2020 figure could shift somewhat, however, if an effort by Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson is successful. Johnson is challenging that city’s official 2020 Census count, arguing the Bureau undercounted the city’s residents by about 16,500 people, leading to millions of dollars in forgone federal funding.

Post-pandemic figures show Dane County growth continues

At the other end of the spectrum was Dane County, which has seen continued population gains since 2020.

Dane County added 6,696 people since 2020, the largest number of new residents for any Wisconsin county, the new Census Bureau data shows, representing a growth rate just over 1 percent.

Madison, Dane County’s largest city, is home to Wisconsin’s state capital and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The county’s largest employers include the health care records company Epic Systems and the insurance companies American Family Insurance and CUNA Mutual, according to the Madison Region Economic Partnership. It’s also home to the scientific research companies PPD and Exact Sciences.

Between 2010 and 2020, Dane County’s population grew 15 percent to more than 561,500 people, according to the U.S. Census.

Although Dane County gained the largest number of residents, several northern Wisconsin counties actually saw the highest post-2020 growth rates as a percentage of their total populations.

Vilas County near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula gained 716 residents since spring of 2020, a 3.1 percent bump. In Burnett County, which borders Minnesota, the population likewise jumped by 3.1 percent, although that increase represented a relatively modest number of 510 additional residents.

Johnson says that could be a result of people who’ve retreated from urban areas to be closer to nature.

“Everyone I’ve talked to thinks it’s the …  lifestyle popularity of moving up there and living in a more rural area with access to great parks and things like that,” he said. “Many more people moved to the Northwoods than moved away from it, and that’s what drove whatever population growth those counties did see.”

Originally published on