Jul 21, 2013

Regional economic development group resets itself

Excerpted from Janesville Gazette
By Jim Leute

The economic development organization promoting an eight-county region that includes Rock County has a new name and a new strategy that officials think could do something the previous didn’t: Attract significant businesses to south-central Wisconsin.

Madison Region Economic Partnership is the new name for Thrive which launched in late 2007 to promote the region as one “of intellectual curiosity and innovative, creative energy.”

The region still includes Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties.

The reason for the name change was straightforward, said Paul Jadin, who was named president of the organization last fall after stints as secretary of the state Department of Commerce and its replacement, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

While the title “Thrive” captured the potential of doing business in this region, it lacked a focus, he said.

“Thrive was a great verb, but it didn’t do much to identify what we are or where we are,” Jadin said. “Thrive could have just as easily applied to Paducah, Ky., or Saskatchewan.”

“Everyone is thinking more regionally, and we’ve got to lead with our largest metro anchor,” Jadin said, noting that nearly 43,000 people commuted into Dane County for work in 2010.

MadREP’s mission is a five-plank platform that will focus on economic competitiveness; innovation and entrepreneurship; human capital; marketing, and improving the region’s cooperation, leadership and diversity.

James Otterstein, Rock County’s economic development manager, has long been involved with MadREP and its predecessors. He recently co-chaired the new organization’s economic competitiveness working group.

“From a big picture perspective, regionalism provides an opportunity to leverage accessible and useful assets that may not necessarily be physically located within a specific ZIP code,” he said.

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