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Development agencies will use pandemic relief funds to study region’s economic potential
BUSINESS

Development agencies will use pandemic relief funds to study region’s economic potential

Thomas Perez at MATC

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez talks with officials during a visit to an advanced manufacturing facility at Madison Area Technical College.

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Two local development agencies have secured federal pandemic relief funds to identify what sorts of economic development projects would be best suited to each part of the Madison region. 

The Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) announced today that they would put the $160,000 they received through the federal CARES Act toward the $200,000 initiative. 

Over the next 20 months, the two agencies will study Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk Counties and map their specific assets — for example, labor force strengths or local supplies of raw material. They’ll then use that information to determine where to invest in enhancing industry sectors like advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, biological sciences and health care.

The Madison Region Economic Partnership, which leads economic development efforts for the eight-county Madison region, and the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, which does planning for Dane County and the municipalities with incorporated areas within the county, say their goal is to develop a “Pandemic Recovery Sector Strategy” that would target investments to the communities that can benefit most. 

“This is a great opportunity for CARPC to work with MadREP on a regional approach to pandemic recovery,” said CAPRC Executive Chair Larry Palm. “It’s important to take an integrated approach to pandemic recovery, looking at economic development along with housing, land use and transportation.”

[A new hospitality training program, from the folks who brought you Just Bakery]

The funds will also allow MadREP to update its comprehensive economic development strategy, called Advance Now 2.0, as well as the extensive accompanying reports on industry sectors. The 900 pages of reports, released in 2019 after years of research by MadREP and University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, examined several key sectors for the region. Now, with new data released since, the agency would like to refresh those reports before acting on their findings. The agencies have not yet determined what contractors they will hire to conduct the studies. 

The $160,000 grant comes from the Economic Development Administration, part of the $1.5 billion that the $2.2 trillion CARES Act allocated in March 2020 for economic development assistance programs that would help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. The two agencies will cover the remaining $40,000 in costs for the initiative.

This March, another federal pandemic stimulus package, the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan Act, allocated an additional $3 billion to the Economic Development Administration. 

“We’re very excited to receive this CARES Act funding and looking forward towards the next round of federal funds under the American Rescue Plan Act,” MadREP President & CEO Jason Fields said.

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