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A familiar gateway to Downtown Madison could welcome a new community resource. Madison College has bold plans for a full-service campus on Madison’s South Side at the corner of Badger Road and Park Street.

Fundraising is underway for the campus, expected to open in 2019. This multimillion-dollar project is significant for the college, for South Side residents and for the broader community. Here’s why: Madison’s South Side is rich in diversity and service-oriented nonprofits. Madison College’s anticipated investment in this neighborhood offers tremendous potential benefit for residents, the small businesses lining Park Street and the organizations now serving the area. College leaders are exploring opportunities to work with these neighbors to extend the college’s reach and impact in the diverse urban corridor.

Over the years, Madison College has been an underappreciated asset in our community. Today, Madison College is poised to be a catalyst for economic opportunity and empowerment. We are seeing an increasing number of living-wage jobs available to those who develop the skills needed for these jobs. Madison College is critical in helping to develop those skills. While there are barriers and challenges to address, it is an exciting time to help people prepare for and find employment that can sustain families and propel them to a better life.

Madison College is planning to partner with the Madison School District to offer some of the district’s high school students a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum at the campus. These academic disciplines have become increasingly important to our local, regional and global economies. Female students and those from communities of color have been underrepresented historically in these disciplines. This partnership is promising because it represents an opportunity to create new possibilities for our community’s youth.

Madison consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the country. We have abundant natural resources to enjoy, a healthy economy, world-class institutions and international companies, as well as a vibrant cultural and social scene. Yet we have our challenges, like any community. We have to ensure we are meeting the needs of all members of our community. It is through collaboration and partnership that we can address these challenges.

Transportation can be a barrier to high-quality education. The highly visible corner off the Beltline is well situated for a technical college, drawing students from across south-central Wisconsin. Metro Transit’s south transfer point is across the street from the site, enabling convenient bus access for South Madison residents and thousands of others across the region.

Madison’s South Side is rich in diversity and needs an economic engine such as this campus. For more information about the South Madison campus fundraising, including a challenge grant to double the impact of your donation, go to www.supportmadisoncollege.org. This important addition to our community is worthy of our support.

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Wolter is chairman of the board for Madison Gas and Electric.

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