7th Annual Summit Focuses on Access to Opportunity

Thank you for joining us during last week’s Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit! The event, now in its seventh year, is hosted annually by MadREP and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

Dr. Ruben Anthony honors Paul Jadin, declaring him, “an Urban Leaguer for life.”

Over the course of the week, the event’s web page saw over 23,000 views by over 1,200 unique devices. We’re so appreciative that you contributed your time, financial support and insights via our discussion channel.

The two-day event was hosted virtually and featured speakers and panels who consistently reinforced the importance of access to opportunity as the Region weathers the COVID-19 pandemic and moves beyond.

Attendees enjoyed remarks from elected officials (including Governor Tony Evers) and economists, as well as business and thought leaders from our Region and beyond. National Urban League President Marc Morial kicked off the first day reminding viewers that access is fundamental to a strong and equitable economy. His astute use of the metaphor, “sometimes you have to put the jam on the lower shelf” was echoed by attendees throughout the two-day conference.

After scattering to breakout sessions, virtual attendees came back together to listen to Invest Puerto Rico CEO Rodrick Miller speak about building a robust ecosystem through economic inclusion. Notably, he reinforced the role of local government in driving that ecosystem to create opportunity.

Carlos Andrés Gómez began day two by delivering a combination of stories, inspiration and spoken-word poetry that had attendees declaring, “move over Hamilton” in the conference chat.

After another inspiring round of breakout sessions, the event’s audience came back together one last time for a panel discussion on driving diversity from the CEO Suite with SSM Health’s Damond Boatwright, Summit Credit Union’s Kim Sponem and UW Health’s Dr. Alan Kaplan.

This unique collaboration between the Urban League and MadREP serves as a national model for economic growth and economic inclusion. We would like to extend a special thank you to the many sponsors who made the event possible. We are grateful to everyone who helped make this continued collaboration a success.

Thank you also for the overwhelming messages of support for our organizations and speakers. In addition to those, we’ve received some questions. Here are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions:

How do I fill out session feedback surveys for the sessions I attended?
You can do that by visiting the agenda area of the conference website. The surveys are located within the session pages.

How do I fill out the full conference survey?
You can do that by clicking “Event Survey” on the conference webpage.

I saw a session I loved. How do I get a hold of those materials?
Session materials, including slides, are actively being added to those agenda pages. We will continue to update you as new materials become available.

Can I catch videos of sessions I missed?
Yes, videos have been posted to those agenda pages and are available for viewing.

The speaker for my session had a bad internet connection and couldn’t present. Can I still see their presentation?
Yes. The slides have been posted and we are actively coordinating a special recording.

Thank you again for sharing your time with us and please be sure to offer your feedback so we can continue to bring you relevant topics and speakers for years to come.

International Market Access Grants Now Available From WEDC

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has recently opened the 2021 application cycle for the International Market Access Grant (IMAG).

Through WEDC’s IMAG Program, established businesses can receive grant support (up to $10,000, or up to $25,000 for graduates of the ExporTech program) to assist with expenses related to:

• Market customization, such as foreign language translation or international trademark registration

• Consulting services through a variety of organizations, including WEDC’s authorized trade representatives and Gold Key services through the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as others

• Export education assistance with registration for international and export-related conferences, seminars, meetings, webinars and courses

• Trade trips and meetings, including registration and booth expenses for shows and exhibits

To be eligible, companies must be an established business, operating in Wisconsin for at least one year, that manufactures, processes, assembles and/or distributes a product or performs a service with the potential to be exported. The company does not need to be headquartered in Wisconsin; however, it must have export-related operations located within the state which provide economic benefit to the state. For the 2021 grant cycle only, there will be no requirement for grant recipients to contribute matching funds.

Learn more

SOURCE: Katie Wall, International Grants Coordinator, WEDC, katie.wall@wedc.org


Area Tourism Leaders Speak Out

The region’s hospitality industry is in critical condition. After a record year of visitor spending in Wisconsin in 2019, the effect of COVID on the regional hospitality industry has been devastating, imparting both an economic toll on communities and a personal toll on the tens of thousands of regional people who work in the industry. Madison, Wisconsin Dells, Janesville and Beloit each entered 2020 riding waves of recent visitor spending successes. Wisconsin Dells welcomes over 4 million visitors each year, and in 2019 visitor spending contributed to $1.67 billion of economic impact. In Janesville, visitors spent over $147 million in 2019, up 1.6% from the previous year. The greater Madison area saw record visitor spending in 2019, at $1.4 billion while Beloit recorded $264 million spend by visitors.

We spoke with leaders who represent the regional tourism agencies these destinations and asked for their perspective on how COVID-19 has affected their communities and what hope they have for the future.

How important is tourism/hospitality to your community?
Deb Archer, President and CEO of Destination Madison: Madison’s hospitality and tourism industry is a critical piece of the fabric of our community and economy. Beloved local shops and restaurants, iconic Madison attractions, live music and cultural festivals along with sporting events and legacy tradeshows that take place each year – these entities and events are fueled by visitor spending and reflect the vibrant personality of our destination.
Romy Snyder, President & CEO of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau: Tourism is far more than waterparks, attractions, hotels, golf courses and restaurants. Tourism boosts our local economy, employs thousands of people, supports infrastructure and education, enriches our area businesses and creates economic development in our community. Tourism plays a critical role in Wisconsin Dells.
Christine Rebout, Executive Director at Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau: The tourism industry supports over 125 restaurants and 9 hotels in the Janesville community. Visitors to our community help sustain the community’s largest events including the National Water Ski shows, Freedom Fest, Art Infusion and the Tour of America’s DairyLand Bike Race; enhancing our quality of life and providing great activities for local residents to enjoy.
Celestino Ruffini, CEO at Visit Beloit: Our community recognizes that tourism is a strong backbone to our local economy. Before someone chooses to reside or build a business here, they first come as a visitor to experience our tourism-related assets that are deeply valued not only by visitors, but also by our residents.

How has COVID impacted tourism to your destination?
Archer: At the beginning of the year, we had 22,600 local people working in the hospitality industry and now thousands of those workers are without jobs. Many of our incredible community assets are facing immense struggles due to fewer visitors, the cancellation of major annual events and ongoing restrictions.
Snyder: The community of Wisconsin Dells has, and continues, to suffer catastrophic losses as a direct effect from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our spring/summer seasons account for 66% of our annual income and due to the 2 month shutdown in April and May, plus additional restrictive measures lasting through the summer, many area businesses are suffering extreme losses – forcing at least one attraction to close its doors for good (Tommy Bartlett Show).
Rebout: COVID-19 has cancelled over 100 individual events including sports tournaments, group tours, meetings and community events that draw out of town attendees and overnight guests. These lost events totaled over $7 million in lost economic impact for the community through lost revenues to restaurants, hotels, gas stations and retailers.
Ruffini: Beloit’s balanced blend of leisure, business, and group travel has allowed us to sustain ourselves better than some destinations, but the effects will indeed take years to recover from. A negative impact not spoken about as loud has been on the arts and culture scene with the loss of nearly every festival and event that normally would take place in the spring, summer, and fall. The void is emotional, physical, and social especially because these events are the fabric of our community.

How will tourism help your community recover once our region moves out of COVID challenges?
Archer: It is vital for our community to recognize the value that tourism and hospitality adds to our destination. When visitors return to our community, our economy will begin to recover. Until that time, it is up to us – residents – to help support our hospitality workers and businesses. Ordering takeout, shopping at small businesses, supporting arts and culture venues, taking a staycation at an area hotel – these small acts will make a difference for our industry.
Snyder: Tourism is vital for our community’s survival. The amount of services, products, and facilities created by tourism in Wisconsin Dells is not sustainable, based on the local population of residents only. We will rely heavily on the pent-up demand created by COVID-19 to move our loyal visitors to return to the area and support our local businesses once we move beyond COVID-19 challenges.
Rebout: Tourism will be a key driver in economic recovery for Janesville. When the time is right, there is tremendous pent up demand for business and leisure travel and for sporting tournaments. Janesville’s proximity to the Chicago market, natural beauty and well-known affordability will make it an ideal destination.
Ruffini: The movement of visitors to and through south-central Wisconsin creates the successful economies we are so accustomed to. Our community will recover by encouraging our residents and neighbors to buy a meal at a local restaurant, shop for gifts at the home-grown retailer, and experience a new-to-you attraction in the months ahead. Beyond that, tourism will continue enticing visitors to safely come and enjoy the same things that we as residents get to do daily.

To learn more about these destinations visit: visitmadison.com, wisdells.comjanesvillecvb.com and visitbeloit.com.


Source:  Anna Shircel, PR & Communications Manager, Destination Madison

Colliers International | Wisconsin names Chris Richards managing director, market leader of Madison office

New leadership reflects firm’s ongoing growth in Wisconsin

Colliers International | Wisconsin, the state’s largest third party real estate services firm, has named Chris Richards managing director and market leader of its Madison office.

The appointment of Richards, a Madison native, reflects the Firm’s ongoing growth in Wisconsin with offices currently in Milwaukee and Fox Valley. Richards will be responsible for Colliers’ growth in the Madison and the greater southwest Wisconsin commercial real estate market.

“Madison and the surrounding area continue to present tremendous potential for growth, which is why Colliers remains bullish on this region, and why I’m thrilled to lead this high-potential venture,” Richards said. “Colliers’ integrated, full-service approach and its global reach will be a unique offering in the Madison commercial real estate market.”

Colliers manages approximately 12,000,000 square feet state-wide and close to 1 million square feet in the greater Madison market with expectations for ongoing growth.

“Madison is a strong and resilient commercial real estate market regardless of broader economic conditions,” said Lyle Landowski, COO of Colliers International | Wisconsin. “Chris brings a local expertise that, when paired with our broad, integrated approach, will help drive our growth in the Madison area and contribute to the consistent growth we’ve experienced throughout the state.”

While the Madison office is locally owned and operated, it also has access to an array of services and support that Colliers International, a global leader in the industry, provides to all of its local offices and commercial real estate professionals.


Source: Phill Trewyn, Mueller Communications LLC, 414.390.5500, muellercommunications.com

gener8tor Announces 50 Companies Participating in Fall Pre-Accelerators Nationwide

Top-ranked startup accelerator gener8tor announced today the participants selected for 10 of its Fall 2020 gBETA cohorts, including gBETA Madison. The 50 startups are located across the country, and represent a wide variety of industries and verticals, including IIoT, Medtech, SaaS and beyond.

The gBETA Madison Fall 2020 cohort is the 16th program to kick-off since the program’s inception in 2015. The gBETA Madison program has 75 alumni, which have collectively raised more than $37 million.

gBETA is a free, seven-week accelerator that works with five startups at a time for no fees and no equity. gBETA is a program of nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. Each cohort is kept small to ensure meaningful engagement with the gener8tor team, network and other resources. Participants receive intensive and individualized coaching and access to gener8tor’s national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners and investors. The program is designed to help startups gain early customer traction on their product or idea, and establish metrics that can make them competitive applicants for full-time, equity-based accelerators or seed investment.

“The guidance and connections that gBETA and gener8tor provide to entrepreneurs is crucial to move their ideas forward,” said Katie Rice, Venture Associate at WARF and Program Director at UpStart, a gBETA Madison sponsor. “WARF is proud to support this work and grateful for such impactful partners in our ecosystem.”

The 10 Fall programs kicked off on Thursday, Oct. 1 and the startups will work with the gener8tor team over the course of seven weeks to meet mentors, gain customer traction and pitch to investors. Due to COVID-19, the Fall 2020 programs are all being held virtually.

The gBETA Madison program will culminate with a virtual pitch night held with the gBETA Milwaukee and Beloit Fall cohorts. Pitch Night will highlight each of the 15 companies and will be an opportunity to listen and learn more about the companies, network with the founders and other community members, and celebrate the hard work each team put in over the course of the seven week program. Pitch Night will be hosted on Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. To learn more and RSVP, click here.

“The fall cohort represents some of Madison’s best up-and-coming startups,” said Jenni Le, Director of gBETA Madison. “gener8tor is so excited to work with each team and help them along their path to success.”


Source: gener8tor

Media Contact: Jenni Le, jenni@gener8tor.com, 309.431.0852