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Madison College’s south campus could be an economic driver

The influence of MATC’s planned south campus could be greater than the recent developments on East Washington because of its human and economic impacts.

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Entrepreneurially centered

Not only could there be more business development in close proximity to the south campus, the new campus also will include an arm of Madison College’s entrepreneurial center. Since the majority of employers in Madison are small businesses, the facility will be a resource for them with seminars, workshops, and collaborative engagement with nearby partners such as the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County and the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, Omega Schools and Centro Hispano, the Joyce and Marshall Erdman Access Community Health Center Clinic, Head Start’s Park Street location, and the Literacy Network. The center also exists to review and develop business plans and provide other entrepreneurial services.

“That [Park Street] corridor in itself is a health corridor at the other end, but it can also move down toward the Beltline,” Daniels says. “There is also the potential to have other, different types of businesses, a greater diversity of businesses within that corridor that we can actually assist with education, training, and being engaged collaboratively with other groups that help economic development in that area.”

The 75,000-square-foot south campus building also will be open to the community for meetings, events, and association activities. It will offer a full menu of student services, including financial literacy, and serve as a seven-day-a-week campus with alternative programming such as weekend college for people who can’t take advantage of course offerings Monday through Friday.

It also promises to be more accessible than the Truax campus. In the past, Daniels has cited the transportation issues faced by south Madison residents who want to enroll in programming at the Truax campus. Even with public transportation, it takes a big chunk of the morning — upwards of two hours — to get there. This location promises to make transportation much less of an issue, and will feature shuttle service back and forth between the two campuses for students to get hands-on technical training in various course offerings.

“If it doesn’t make the transportation issue moot, it will greatly minimize it,” Daniels says. “Right across the street from the new site is the bus terminus. We have a number of buses that move throughout the Madison area that come through that terminus. You still are going to have individuals who want to drive a vehicle, and it’s right there off the Beltline near a busy intersection.”

Board approval

Daniels intends to ask for full approval of these plans before the May meeting of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. Once approval is granted, Madison College will consummate the sale of the land and start demolition of the existing structure, a former state office building, in June.

The next key date, however, is April 24, when an announcement will be made on fundraising progress at the existing south campus. The overall fundraising goal of $22.8 million includes $2.5 million to secure a grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Corp., but for now Goldberg will only say that the fundraising is on track.

A number of businesses and foundations have stepped up, including American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, Exact Sciences, the Goodman Foundation, J.H. Findorff & Son, Magna Publications (the parent of In Business magazine), the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, and UW Credit Union.

A number of them specifically cited the labor shortage as the motivation for their donations, Goldberg notes, because they prefer to recruit employees from the local area instead of having to go to southeastern Wisconsin or northern Illinois.

In addition, about 200 Madison College employees have made donations even though most of them probably won’t work at the new south campus site.

Goldberg confides that Daniels convinced him to come out of retirement and lead this fundraising effort to change the narrative for the south side, not grow the college. “As much as I admire about what’s happening on East Washington,” he says, “I believe this has an even more profound human impact in addition to the economic impact.”

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