MadREP Announces Entrepreneur Bootcamp in Partnership with Lightship Foundation & The American Family Insurance Institute

Lightship’s Bootcamp is a free entrepreneurship education program, serving underrepresented early-stage business founders.

Lightship Bootcamp is coming to Madison, WI. September 19-21, 2023.

Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) and Lightship Foundation unveiled plans to bring the Lightship Bootcamp program, powered by the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (the Institute) to the Madison Region. The organizations will host three days of “bootcamp” (September 19-21, 2023) at the Goodman South campus of Madison College, providing mentorship, specialized curriculum, and networking for underrepresented entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses within South Central Wisconsin.

“We’re ecstatic to unite with the American Family Institute to introduce Lightship Bootcamps to Madison, Wisconsin,” says Candice Matthews Brackeen, CEO, Lightship Foundation. “Our aspiration is for this partnership to ignite the flames of innovation and opportunity, enriching neighborhoods and empowering founders from diverse backgrounds.”

Bootcamp is designed to help founders rediscover, refine, and reinvent their business strategy while reevaluating their product, sales, and marketing strategies. Interested founders should apply now at lightship.education/apply.

“Equitability, accessibility and inclusivity is sewn into the very fabric of everything we do. When we prioritize equitableness and strategically create opportunities, exciting things start to happen.”

MadREP President & CEO Jason M. Fields, CEcD, CFEI, CCRS

The Madison Region’s upcoming Lightship Bootcamp also serves as the first formal program under the Economic Equity & Investment priority of the organization’s newly formed “Bridge Wisconsin” initiative led by Bridge Wisconsin Chief Strategy Officer Tonnetta Darcel Carter. The initiative works collaboratively to close economic gaps and drive innovation for rural and urban communities, supporting five strategic priority areas: Housing, Early Childhood Education, Economic Equity & Investment, Workforce Development, and Sustainability.

“Equitability, accessibility and inclusivity is sewn into the very fabric of everything we do,” says MadREP President & CEO Jason M. Fields, CEcD, CFEI, CCRS. “When we prioritize equitableness and strategically create opportunities, exciting things start to happen. Lightship Foundation’s Bootcamp, powered by the American Family Institute, is the perfect opportunity to expand economic equity across our region and formally launch our Bridge Wisconsin initiative.”

“The Institute is excited to bring together mission-aligned organizations like Lightship Foundation and MadREP to provide equitable opportunity to founders within the Madison Region,” said Nyra Jordan, social impact director with the Institute. “We believe this is a place where founders of color can thrive, and we want to provide access to world class resources as early as possible.”

“Access to capital has been historically disproportionate for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color,” says Dr. Jack Daniels, President of Madison College. “At Madison College, we pride ourselves on providing equitable and affordable access to resources, technical assistance, and education in our communities. We are excited to host the entrepreneur bootcamp at our Goodman South campus and to welcome Lightship Foundation to our Region.”

Request for Qualifications

MadREP, the regional economic development organization for the eight county Madison, Wisconsin region seeks qualified consulting services to assist with a nine month EDA funded grant project to update the Regional Five Year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), in line with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) CEDS guidelines, requirements and process. The project will begin in May 2023 and must be completed by January 2024.

Proposals are due by 4:00 PM CST on Wednesday May 3, 2023.

Contact MadREP at 608-571-0408 with questions or to request a copy of the RFQ.

Questions Received

1. I notice the scope is for 8 counties, but the EDD is only 6. SWRPC will be working on their CEDs in parallel to MadREP, from what I understand. What does this mean for MadREP’s CEDS and the overlap counties? Will one entity do the work for those two counties and the other agrees to the outcomes, will both entities be engaged with Green and Iowa counties to try to jointly come to agreed upon outcomes, or will the two entities be preparing differently-focused, but hopefully consistent strategies for those two counties? If you could speak to any expected level of coordination with SWRPC that would help us with our response.

MadREP will be working in coordination with SWRPC in the fulfillment of Green and Iowa counties to have consistent strategy through the eight-county region. MadREP will also be coordinating with Ho-Chunk. 

2. Could you describe what you are thinking about in terms of stakeholder meetings – how many, timing, in-person vs virtual, etc. 

MadREP will be coordinating stakeholder engagement within the ring counties (exclude Dane county) through our established office hours in each county over the next few months (proper meeting dates are being worked through). It would be ideal to have virtual stakeholder groups per sector due to time constraints on the plan development, but we are open for suggestions through the response and your expertise. 

We plan to have a survey sent out to all stakeholders shortly after the contract is awarded- coordination of survey will be between the consultant of choosing and MadREP team. 

Please remain flexible in your response and share most effective practices of you and your firm.

Our Top Five for 2023

    2023 is shaping up to be a formative year for both MadREP and the Madison Region. We’re looking forward to engaging with partners like you throughout the year as we work on these top five priorities.

    1: Urban Meets Rural Meets Innovation

    We’ve been hard at work building a coalition to address the gap between the prosperity and innovation resources for rural and urban communities. To be successful, economies must acknowledge and leverage the interdependence between their urban and rural assets. In 2023, we look forward to sharing this exciting new project with all of you.

    2: Celebrating the Summit’s 10th Anniversary

    Please mark your calendars now for May 10, 2023 when MadREP and our partners at the Urban League of Greater Madison host the tenth annual Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit. We hope you will join us for a day of dynamic speakers, interactive workshops, networking, and celebration.

    3: Strategic Planning

    Every five years, the Madison Region must create our Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and ensure it is accepted by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The strategic plan then guides economic development activities within the Region and all requests for EDA funding must fall in line with that strategy. This year MadREP will lead planning efforts for our third CEDS, which will guide us for the next five years.

    4: Launch Revolving Loan Fund

    In 2021, MadREP announced the creation of a USDA revolving loan fund (RLF) focused on entrepreneurs and growing businesses in Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Iowa, Green, Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk Counties. In 2023, MadREP will operationalize the fund, increasing access to capital for regional businesses. The program will provide gap financing that will supplement loans from traditional lending sources.

    5: Reports & Data

    In 2023 MadREP plans to issue four data-driven reports, including “Sector Strategy for Economic Recovery” and our ninth annual “Workplace Leadership & Diversity Survey” results.

    MadREP Pilot to Encourage Vanpooling in Madison Region

    With Wisconsin experiencing record low unemployment levels, businesses across the state are struggling to fill open positions and, in many cases, to retain the employees they already have. talent development commute enterprise logo

    One challenge many employees face is reliable transportation to their places of work. For others who are currently not employed but would like to be, the lack of transportation options is often a major contributor to them remaining out of the workforce.

    To help both existing employees and potential employees who are facing transportation challenges, the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) is partnering with Commute with Enterprise to provide an innovative and sustainable shared mobility option: vanpooling.

    “MadREP’s pilot will provide $500 per van per month for up to three van pools to help underwrite the cost to our partners and participants,” said MadREP President and CEO Jason M. Fields. “Each vanpool is customized to the specific needs of its five or more vanpoolers. The remaining cost will be covered by company, the vanpool riders, or a combination of the two as determined by each company.”

    “With record low unemployment and in an effort to keep their shifts full, many employers are looking into providing benefits they may not have considered before,” said MadREP V.P. of Talent & Education Gene Dalhoff. “Our pilot project is meant to provide an incentive to companies to explore the feasibility of using employee van pools to help with employee retention and attraction.”

    “Dane County’s rapid growth requires innovative solutions to address public transportation needs outside of Madison and I applaud MadREP’s pilot workplace vanpooling program to open up more options for employers to connect their employees to work in a way that is better for the environment,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Making these connections will help Dane County stay on track with our climate action plan to reduce emissions and ensure that Dane County continues to be a great place to live and work.”

    Companies and vanpool groups can choose a qualifying vanpool vehicle from Enterprise’s selection of makes and models that includes crossovers, SUVs, minivans, and large passenger vans. Vanpoolers may choose to upgrade their vehicles with optional high-end features such as satellite radio, in-vehicle Wi-Fi service and power ports for individual seats.

    Commute with Enterprise also provides 24-hour roadside assistance, liability insurance and maintenance. And as part of Enterprise’s Complete Clean Pledge, Commute with Enterprise provides best practices for cleaning and Complete Clean Starter Kits for new Commutes to ensure vehicle cleanliness.

    “This pilot project, although limited in size, is meant to serve as a proof of concept to help demonstrate the benefits to companies of such a program,” said Fields. “Our goal will be to secure additional funds to grow the program exponentially over the next 12-24 months.”

    Companies and commuters in the Madison Region interested in joining the program can visit commutewithenterprise.com/commute/en/partners/madrep.html.

    Wisconsin State Journal | Jason M. Fields: Help more people of color seek STEM careers

    Wisconsin State Journal & madison.com cobrand logo

    Some days, I feel like crying. Some days, I feel like shouting. So many days I ask myself, “Are they even listening?”

    Federal, state and local leaders need to consider the harm of not facilitating economic development strategies that help people of color establish sustainable ecosystems to empower them to create wealth.

    For a community to create wealth, it needs a workforce that can withstand the test and trials of an economic downturn and, as we found out in 2020, a worldwide pandemic.

    Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This also is true of computing positions, which have significantly increased in recent years.

    According to Pew Research Center, Hispanic adults have a substantial disparity in STEM workforce representation. Hispanic workers make up 17% of the entire workforce across all occupations, but only 8% of STEM workers. Their share of all STEM workers has increased by 1% since 2016, in line with their overall workforce growth.

    Black employees account for 11% of all employed people, but only 9% of workers in STEM fields. Furthermore, their participation is lower in some STEM employment clusters, with only 5% in engineering and architecture jobs. Since 2016, the percentage of Black workers in STEM jobs has been unchanged.

    Pew Research Center also tells us white workers account for two-thirds of STEM workers (67%) compared to 63% across all occupations. Engineers and architects are disproportionately white workers (71%). On the other hand, they make up 62% of computer workers, which is a minor underrepresentation. Since 2016, the white percentage of employment in STEM occupation clusters has decreased, following the overall reduction in white employment across all occupations.

    When compared to their 6% share of overall employment across all occupations, Asian employees are overrepresented in STEM occupations, accounting for 13% of workers. About 3% of STEM employees are Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or those who identify with two or more racial groupings.

    Let’s assume we recognize the advantages of having STEM workers. Let’s also assume we already understand that our communities collectively benefit when we empower people of color, including Black and Indigenous people, with opportunities to be successful. Then why are we not seeing more dollars and policies targeting these communities, which would do just that — create wealth?

    As president and CEO of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, my first responsibility is to ask and answer the question: “Is our region a great place to live, work and play?” My second is to evaluate, “for whom?”

    The Wisconsin State Journal recently reported that “Wisconsin received close to $2.5 billion in federal relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. All told, the state has been allocated more than $4.5 billion in federal coronavirus stimulus funds.”

    Given the growing opportunities to support people of color through economic development strategies and policies that prioritize funding STEM-related endeavors, it would be a huge loss if in 10 years we looked back on this moment in history and realized that the billions in American Rescue Plan Act dollars generated no return on investment for communities of color.