Thrive: Regional leaders will rally around new approach to economic development


Jennifer Smith, Communications Specialist


‘Roll call’ ceremony is planned

Madison, Wis. (Dec. 12, 2008) – In a ceremony set for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at Monona Terrace, leaders from business, government, education and non-profits in the eight-county Madison Region will sign a landmark agreement called the Regional Principles of Collaboration that will guide economic development with a focus on preserving and enhancing quality of life in the region. Wisconsin State Journal Publisher Bill Johnston will lead this event; media are welcome to attend.

Participants will include leaders from Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties. The ceremony will cap the meeting of the 56-member Collaboration Council, a group of regional leaders who work in conjunction with Thrive, the regional economic development enterprise. Thrive works in a unique model of economic development that emphasizes opportunities that arise from the region’s natural assets.

The roll call is one of three key events will take place during the Tuesday, Dec. 16 meeting. Media are welcome to cover any of these:

2:15 Release of the first-ever annual State of the Madison Region report

3:15 Release of the first-ever Madison Region’s Assets and Opportunities report

4:30 Roll call ceremony celebrating adoption of Regional Principles of Collaboration

In adopting the Regional Principles of Collaboration, leaders from across the eight counties, business, education and non-profits including the members of the Collaboration Council, will agree to work within a set of shared principles to foster regionalism and work cooperatively.

“We will succeed by building upon our strengths as a region, leveraging our regional assets for focused, target sector development and a grow-your-own, entrepreneurial approach,” said Thrive President Jennifer Alexander.

Alexander noted that building upon the region’s strengths will require a nuanced understanding of the region. The first-ever State of the Madison Region report, slated for public release just prior to the roll call ceremony, tells the story of the eight-county region by focusing on six topic areas: Life at Work, Life at Home, Life at School, Life in our Communities, Life on the Move and A Healthy Active Life. The report includes information on income, education, crime rates, home ownership and more, and measures the Madison Region against five comparable regions across the nation. Terry Ludeman, a well-known retired state economist, served as a Thrive consultant on the project and will present report highlights at the meeting.

Also slated for presentation prior to the roll call ceremony is a new Madison Region’s Assets and Opportunities report, the product of a year-long initiative to collect and map information about the region. The report offers an inventory of the region’s natural and uniquely-defining resources and sets out key opportunities built around those assets. The opportunities include growing the regional food production and processing industry, realizing the region’s potential as the North American bike capital, developing specialty tourism packages, developing the region’s bioeconomy and more.

“These opportunities presented themselves as we have taken stock of our assets as a region. The task before us now is identifying the best ways to move forward,” said John Biondi, Thrive board chair and president of C5-6 Technologies. “Thrive will be a partner in this process of bringing together the right groups to act on these opportunities. We also pledge to help leaders in the Madison Region make the most of the new tools we are providing in the hope of creating other opportunities in a difficult time.”