Flights to Silicon Vally to improve economic ties, business leaders say

Business leaders say the addition of non-stop flights between Madison and San Francisco will improve economic connections between Wisconsin and the world’s top tech hub.

It was announced Monday morning at the Dane County Regional Airport that flights to and from the Silicon Valley area will begin this summer.

“The Tech Council has long recognized the importance of direct service to Wisconsin’s major
airports and worked through Dane County Regional Airport Director Brad Livingston over time
to make the market-based case for such service to the airlines,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

He notes in a release that getting these flights started has been a goal of the nonprofit Tech Council since the early 2000s.

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon says the Madison area is being recognized more and more as a national leader in technology and entrepreneurial growth, “and this direct flight will only fuel that momentum.”

Getting the flight added was an important part of the chamber’s Access Agenda, a two-year plan for policies at the local, state and federal level. Also, a survey of chamber members in 2016 showed strong support for having this flight.

“We know that connectivity to Silicon Valley investors increases both the likelihood of startups being funded and their long-term success,” Brandon said.

According to the Tech Council, once service begins, Madison will be the smallest city east of the Mississippi and the second-smallest east of the Rocky Mountains to have non-stop flights to San Francisco.

Still notes many similarities between Wisconsin and the Bay Area, including academic
research institutions, federal laboratories, private technology companies in all sectors and rising regional interest from investors.

Some of the biggest Dane County companies have connections to California: Epic, Promega, Exact Sciences, Accuray, CDW, Covance, Thermo Fisher Scientific and others.

“The growth of the tech sector and the economy in general in Wisconsin means its airports
should not be ‘two-stop’ destinations for most business travelers,” Still said.