Collaboration Council Surpasses Fundraising Goal

MADISON, Wis. – The Capital Region Collaboration Council announced today that it has received pledges of $2.6 million over the next three years for the Regional Economic Development and Stewardship Entity, surpassing its goal of $2.4 million.  Rick Phelps, fundraising chair, announced the results at a celebratory reception attended by over 150 regional business, government, education, and non-profit leaders at the Dane County Regional Airport.

    With the funds secured, Terri Potter, co-chair of the Collaboration Council, announced that 19 business and community leaders from throughout the Capital Region  have been chosen for the Board of Directors of the newly formed and still provisionally named Regional Economic Development and Stewardship Entity (REDE).  Potter, who retired in January as President and CEO of Meriter, will serve as board chair.

    Phelps, a senior vice president at M & I Bank and former Dane County Executive, said the pledges came from 154 contributors from all over the Wisconsin Capital Region.  Pledges were made by business, government, education and non-profit organizations and individuals and ranged from a few hundred dollars to $100,000 over the next three years.

    ”The breadth of support for the effort has been tremendous,” Phelps reported.  “The private sector has been a true champion by committing close to ninety percent of the funding.  Combined with the public sector contributions from the Department of Commerce, Dane County and many cities, villages and towns, this has truly been a collaborative effort.” 

    Newly appointed Secretary of Revenue Roger Ervin confirmed that REDE will receive a $270,000 Wisconsin Department of Commerce grant over two years.  Gov. Jim Doyle and Department of Commerce Secretary Mary Burke had previously shared this commitment, which is in line with their contributions to other regional efforts throughout the state, including the Milwaukee 7 and the New North.

      Potter said one of the REDE board’s first actions would be to define the initial, specific economic sectors on which it will focus for the eight-county Wisconsin Capital Region. The Collaboration Council will take the lead in identifying the initial key quality of life issues for which the REDE should take a catalytic role in addressing. The Capital Region is comprised of Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties.  

    ”We live in a global economy where stewardship and regionalism are economic imperatives,” Potter said. “It is no longer Madison versus Middleton versus Monroe.  It is the Capital Region versus Austin versus Beijing and Brazil.  At the same time, as the region grows, we need to preserve and enhance our assets and the quality of life that make this region unique.

    “That requires a regional approach. The economy and major quality of life issues, such as transportation, water and education, do not recognize jurisdictional borders. There is no shortage of efforts or ideas, but to address these critical issues, we also need focus and collaboration.  REDE will be a catalyst to address these key areas that span borders and sectors.”

    REDE will have three objectives: to grow the economy by focusing on target industry sectors that leverage regional assets, to be a catalyst for addressing major quality of life issues, and to build a regional culture, regional decision-making, and raise awareness of our regional assets and opportunities.

    “In its first year, the REDE will work to develop regional guiding principles, a targeted sector and issue-based strategy, a regional website, communication and leads-sharing system, corresponding sector and issue-based metrics and it will formally adopt a name and brand,” said REDE President Jennifer Alexander. “REDE will partner with private, public and non-profit organizations focused on the targeted industry sectors and quality of life issues, as well as regional economic developers, elected officials and academic institutions.”

    The Collaboration Council – a regional cross-section of leaders from business, government, education and non-profits – is an initiative to grow the regional economy in ways that preserve and enhance the quality of life.  More than 200 leaders from throughout the Capital Region have been involved as volunteers for more than two years.