In the year 2025

15 Madison leaders spell out their visions for the Capital City.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

With apologies to Zager and Evans, whose 1969 hit song “In the Year 2525” offered an ominous futuristic warning, we set out to get a more positive take on the year 2025 in Madison. In our look at the Capital City 10 years hence there is nothing shocking to worry about, just visions of what this community can become by the very people who are now shaping its future. — Joe Vanden Plas

Dr. Ruben Anthony, Jr.

Visioning through an equity lens

By 2025, the Greater Madison Area should have taken advantage of the ethnic, social, and economic lessons learned to implement a transformational road map that will lift people of color beyond endemic disparities. Madison will no longer be a place of achievement disparities; it would have figured out how to produce the best students in the nation, regardless of race.

My 2025 vision is for a city that recognizes the true value of diversity and harnesses the regional and economic advantages that come from boldly celebrating these differences. My hope for 2025 is that poverty and unemployment would be viewed through an equity lens and that a rate for black citizens five or six times higher than white citizens is a thing of the past. Madison will be a place where sustainable family wages will be the norm; there will be adequate affordable housing and a fair climate for minority-owned businesses.

In 2025 Madison, “equal access to opportunities” would not be just a catchy phrase, but the order of the day. I envision a more inclusive place that recognizes that when all children and families do well, the community is better off and their race does not matter. In 2025, there would be stronger city and suburban cooperation and an action plan, grounded in reality, to make Madison a “Best” place to live for all citizens.

Dr. Ruben Anthony, Jr. is president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison.

Deb Archer

A place to emulate

By 2025, I believe Madison will be widely perceived as a truly distinctive place where quality and appreciation of life, cutting-edge innovation, and incomparable intellectual capital merge to create a community that is highly regarded regionally, nationally, and internationally as an enlightened place to live, work, and play.

Madison will have plans underway (or possibly completed) for a thriving multimodal public transportation system, exceptional public access and spaces along it lakes, a reimagined and flourishing region around the Alliant Energy Center campus, and housing and job infrastructure that supports people of all backgrounds. How will we become a place to emulate?

  • Through continued emphasis on collaboration in economic development initiatives.
  • Through comprehensive planning and investments in forward-thinking public and private infrastructure to support a diverse population.
  • By nurturing the authentic features and elements that make Greater Madison special: our lakes and countryside, our commitment to the health of the whole human, and our Native American and European cultural heritage.
  • By building our profile as a destination and attracting dynamic events where ideas are exchanged and where people experience our intellect, personality, and natural beauty.

Deb Archer is president and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Michael Barbouche

Health care haven

The momentum of the Affordable Care Act will translate into numerous changes in the gross economic model of health care delivery. Just as the San Francisco area became synonymous with smart phones, the Midwest will emerge as the global leader in medical innovation because of the large economic expansion of health care technology and service companies based in Madison.

Following in the benevolent footsteps of Epic, numerous solutions will emerge in Madison that solve some of the most vexing problems facing patients, doctors, and communities. Some very attainable predictions:

  • Madison leads the nation in the conversion of now-empty hospital floors into community support centers for the mentally ill.
  • All physicians, regardless of specialty, are paid a salary.
  • MMSD announces an across-the-board 30% raise for all teachers and the hiring of 15% more teachers for the 2025 school year as a result of reduced health insurance costs.
  • UW Medical School announces a record number of applications to their primary care residency programs.
  • Entitlement reform leads to the most unlikely of outcomes — a 34% net decrease in Medicaid expenditures across the state.
  • Not a single child with asthma in the Madison area is admitted to the hospital.

Michael Barbouche is the founder and CEO of Forward Health Group.

Wendy Baumann

Feminine business force

Minority- and women-owned businesses already are showing strength and outperforming all businesses nationally. While inflation-adjusted “sales receipts” dollars decreased for all U.S. and Wisconsin firms (2007–12), they have increased for women- and minority-owned firms.

At the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., our vision around women’s entrepreneurship provides accessible quality business education coupled with accessible capital. Increased collaboration between organizations such as WWBIC and partners like the Doyenne Group could create not just one fund for women but many funds for women in business.

Just 27 years ago, the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 swept away state laws requiring women to have male co-signers on their business loans. In one short generation, women-owned enterprise has exploded into the fasting-growing sector of the U.S. economy. This law also created Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), a national network assisting women entrepreneurs.

Today, the nation’s 1.1 million women-owned firms employ nine million people, and Wisconsin’s 16,500 women-owned firms employ 170,000 workers. WBCs have made an impact and women in the economy are a true force.

In 2025, let’s see Madison lead the way economically through entrepreneurship, which provides local resources and jobs. We need Madison and Wisconsin to take note of the increased formation of many diverse women-owned ventures and see how we can further support this significant, positive economic impact.

Wendy Baumann is president and chief visionary officer for the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.

Rebecca Blank

Taking education higher

Here’s what I envision at UW–Madison 10 years from now:

Our faculty and staff will be even more engaged with the global community while continuing their outreach to our local community and our state in the best tradition of the Wisconsin Idea.

Our Global Health Institute will be linked with projects in multiple countries, with a multidisciplinary approach that tackles issues as diverse as emergency medicine and women in agriculture.

Our students, whether they’re coming fresh from high school or later in life as returning adults, will use a host of new technologies to enhance their studies in ways that fit their unique educational needs. For a sneak peek, check out our Educational Innovation initiatives, which are injecting more active learning opportunities into large introductory lecture courses and helping instructors redesign face-to-face classes to take advantage of online activities.

Cherished campus landmarks like Bascom Hill and the Terrace will be joined by some great new spaces, like the Hamel Music Center. The biomedical complex on the west end of campus will continue to grow as our researchers learn more about how to improve human health and well-being.

Our university may look and feel different than it does today, but here is what won’t change — our standing as a world-class institution and our commitment to teaching students to think critically, communicate powerfully, and use their Badger tenacity to change their world for the better.

Rebecca Blank is chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.



Zach Brandon

2025, the intrepid era

Intrepid; adjective; in·trep·id: Characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude, and endurance.

A decade from now, we will look back on this moment and realize we were standing on the ground floor of an economic expansion that could only be realized in Greater Madison. We will be in a golden era, an era of [IN]novation, of en[TREP]reneurship, and of being [ID]entifiable. An era built on the best of our past while embracing the ambition of our future. An era defined by our ability to move forward without leaving others behind. An era in which:

  • Greater Madison, known for education, athletics, and quality of life, also became well known for business — a world-class region solving the world’s problems.
  • We became the world’s health tech leader and Epic turned out to be the economic trend, not the anomaly — all possible because of the perfect constellation of software publishing, bioscience, and information technology sectors.
  • Commercialization efforts at UW–Madison, along with venture capital and an influx of new talent, allowed entrepreneurial seeds to be sown.
  • Legacy companies expanded, embraced disruption, and innovated.
  • Multinational, publicly traded companies sited offices, recognizing that Greater Madison was uniquely positioned for significant growth.

Our unique blend of density and scale will allow us to push forward, focused on community wealth creation, not just wealth preservation. We’ll also be a place that is unafraid to accept our imperfections and discontent enough to address them. A Greater Madison.

Zach Brandon is president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.

Jennifer Cheatham

Model schools

Our vision as a school district is that every school will be a thriving school that prepares every student for college, career, and community, regardless of race or income level. We want to become a model public school district — one that proves that a public school system can serve every child well.

We want graduates who have the skills and abilities to succeed in an ever-changing world. In addition to mastering complex academic content, that also means cultivating cultural competence, confidence, creativity, self-knowledge, making connections to the community, interpersonal skills, and a growth mindset.

Helping our students acquire these skills and abilities will require responsive school environments where students experience personalized learning that helps them prepare for the future they want, where innovative strategies help schools build on students’ assets, address their needs, and connect them to the world around them, and where creative educators who recognize the talents of every child aspire to be part of our team. It will also require a community that embraces the strengths of all of our young people, expects the very best of them, and organizes their support around them.

But we aren’t waiting for 2025. We are making progress today and moving with urgency to make our vision a reality for every child.

Jennifer Cheatham is superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Ted DeDee

Artistic expression

I envision a creative and thriving Madison in 2025, where an inclusive and accessible arts community is celebrated locally and regionally.

Wonderful performing and visual arts organizations already established here will engage and collaborate with more and more local artists to produce new and re-envisioned work. A workforce that embraces a creative and intergenerational community committed to life-long learning and engagement with arts activities will support that effort.

The demand for new and unique arts experiences will continue to grow without sacrificing traditional art forms. Madison will continue to build its attractiveness as a regional destination for higher education, research, tourism, and general business growth because of its unique quality of life supported by the arts.

I envision “Any Given Child,” the arts equity collaboration Overture began two years ago with the City of Madison, the Madison Metropolitan School District, and the arts community, showing significant results in Madison classrooms. Students graduating in the class of 2025 will be more imaginative and innovative, more qualified to collaborate and problem-solve, and ready to succeed in their career pursuits and have a greater ability to lead a new generation.

I also envision a prolific arts community that produces multiple homegrown performers recognized for their work by winning a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, Golden Globe, or Oscar nomination and award.

Ted DeDee is the president and CEO of the Overture Center for the Arts.

Marla Meyer Frank

That’s entertainment

Madison in 2025 will be a Midwest cultural hotspot, having developed in response to the current influx of young professionals and an emergent creative class.

The rapid growth of the tech sector combined with continued strong employment in health care, finance, education, and state government will provide a mass of consumers with disposable income sufficient to support a diverse mix of entertainment.

A vibrant creative sector will respond to this demand by offering a wide array of world-class options for going out.

Madison in 2025 will be known for its excellence in the culinary, performing, and visual arts, and its entertainment hub will be recognized as a strong quality-of-life indicator. This will create a positive feedback loop, with more business and creative talent locating here.

I anticipate multiple entertainment districts, each with a mix of restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues. Each district will attract national, regional, and local artists to share their vision and talents, and will be populated by unique local businesses. Density, proximity, and ease of access by all modes of transportation will enable local and regional consumers to patronize the districts on a frequent basis.

Madison schools will offer a well-rounded art curriculum to introduce potential consumers to the arts and encourage all students to develop their talents in music, art, dance, theater, and cuisine.

Our artists and businesses will thrive in an exciting entrepreneurial climate with the support of engaged and diverse neighborhoods, affordable housing, and a community that values the arts.

Marla Meyer Frank is the CFO of Frank Productions.

Otto Gebhardt

Capitol ideas

Over the next 10 years, the Capitol East District will continue to grow as the gateway to downtown, creating a one-stop, live-work-play neighborhood built with sufficient mixed-use density and inclusive of all ages — from millennials to empty-nesters.

The district will be energized through retail, entertainment, public spaces, commercial, and residential, and will be active during all parts of the day — from morning coffee spots to great restaurants to night-time entertainment. The East Washington corridor will be a walkable area, making car ownership optional while bridging the Marquette and Tenney-Lapham neighborhoods.

With the opening of the Constellation, the activation began and has opened the door for further development projects. The movement has continued to grow strong from there: Breese-Stevens Field, now managed by the Mallards organization, will be fully updated and home to over 200 events per year ranging from sporting events to festivals to concerts. New retail, bars, and restaurants will continue to fill in the corridor.

In the next 12 months, the multi-use Galaxie Project, with commercial and retail on the lower levels and residential above, will be completed, including the full-service Festival Foods grocery store. On the south side, the vision continues with the Cosmos, a fully commercial development which includes StartingBlock Madison, American Family Insurance, a performance venue by Frank Productions, and over 100,000 square feet of office space. With this evolution, the Capitol East District will be the most exciting area of the city to live, work, and play.

Otto Gebhardt is the CEO and founder of Gebhardt Development.



Paul Jadin

Advanced strategy

By 2025, all development partners who have a role in MadREP’s Advance Now strategy will be aligned to take full advantage of local capacity while recognizing that the region’s assets make the whole significantly greater than the sum of its parts.

MadREP’s sector-based approach will highlight those local assets and convey their value to companies considering the region for relocation and expand its international reach to ensure more foreign investment opportunities while adding at least 200 new exporters.

Sub-regional economic development entities will be actively engaged in business retention, expansion, and data development, and will be able to promote their local geography by aligning with the region’s marketing strategy. That will, in turn, be coordinated with the state brand to leverage greater resources to tell the region’s story.

Education and business will routinely engage in robust dialog that ensures our future workforce is trained for in-demand roles. Graduation rates will improve because schools will be better equipped to identify vocational opportunities by ninth grade, making the final three years of high school more relevant. This will create a more inclusive economy as increased employment opportunities become available to all citizens.

Finally, the Madison region will create at least five centers of excellence in areas like agriculture, information technology, gaming, and precision manufacturing. These advancements will solidify the region’s position as not only one of the country’s 10 most innovative locations but also one of the nation’s best economies.

Paul Jadin is president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP).

Lisa Johnson

Bioscience beacon

Unlike an aging building that must be torn down and rebuilt with new intentions, in 2025 Madison’s bioscience community will have flourished from its distinguished foundation to form innovative economic development branches that will make this city a global hub of continuing yet diversified bioscience strength.

This will be achieved by visionary leaders who recognize our strength was not acting as individual sectors of health IT, therapeutics, diagnostics, life science tools, and medical devices, but rather as a convergence to form an internationally acclaimed bio-health cluster. This industry recognized we could not act from only a Madison perspective but through challenging ourselves to realize our power comes from acting collaboratively, not solely from predisposed, local viewpoints.

In order to compete globally in a dynamic world economy, we partnered with Midwestern states for entrepreneurial talent and medical technologies. Our statewide manufacturing sector realigned around our bioscience community to serve this growth sector and, in turn, developed into an internationally competitive manufacturing base. Madison led the way in turning the tide from an aging state to a state that retained and attracted top young talent with technology-oriented positions that challenged their intellect and their desire to have meaningful and impactful careers.

The 10-year period from 2015 to 2025 saw Madison achieve half of its economic growth through biomedical success and collaborations and by advancing technologies from our university system to commercialization. By 2025, UW–Madison became a beacon of hope for advancing scientific discoveries in treating and curing diseases.

Lisa Johnson is CEO of BioForward.

Mayra Medrano

Leading Latinos

The Latinos in Madison 2025 will continue to contribute to Madison’s diverse and culturally important business and professional community.

The Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County will remain focused on creating and expanding new Latino-owned businesses and will remain at the table in making decisions to empower all Madisonians.

We are going to be part of the advanced and emerging technologies in Madison as Latino professionals expand their professional networks and community engagement. The Latino Chamber of Commerce will bridge the gap of global markets — markets that are crucial to Wisconsin’s dairy and farming industries.

We will assist in closing market gaps so that Latino and Latina entrepreneurs can create jobs, sell their products, and develop a strong and influential Latino middle class in Madison.

The “Browning of America” began in the 80s, was cultivated in the 90s, and within the last 10 years we have seen the fruits of the growing Latino professional class and entrepreneurial spirit flourish not only in Madison but nationwide.

By 2025, Latinos will comprise 15% of the national electorate. The Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Latino professionals will be a major influence in the political scene at all levels of our country. Why? ¡Sí, Se Puede! (“Yes, yes, it can be done.”)

Mayra Medrano is president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County.

Joe Parisi

Partners in progress

For the last 10 years, 70% of Wisconsin’s population growth happened in Dane County, as did 56% of Wisconsin’s private-sector job growth.

We consistently have the lowest rate of unemployment in the state, and new businesses and homes are going up at a steady pace as more families choose to plant roots here than any place else in Wisconsin.

In the next 10 years, we must continue to build on our successes in Dane County.

We need to focus on what we know works: a strong university system, a thriving technology culture, and an emphasis on strong communities as our culture.

As our population grows, we must work to ensure that everyone in our community has access to all our community has to offer through a continued focus on strategic investments in development — economic, housing, early-childhood interventions, technology, and the trades.

A strong quality of life is vital to our economic well-being. It’s imperative that we continue our partnerships to address mental health challenges, clean up our lakes, maintain our parks, expand our bike paths, and resurface our highways.

Dane County will continue to lead the state because of our long-term focus and our recognition that we all do better when our neighbors do better.

Joe Parisi is the county executive of Dane County.

Scott Resnick

Era of entrepreneurism

Entrepreneurs engage in a constant effort to challenge the status quo and seek new opportunities. We saw the 1960s define Madison as a bastion of progressive politics, and now, decades later, we will position our city by 2025 as a place of innovation, where anyone can grow a new idea.

We will reminisce about how Epic, Exact Sciences, and EatStreet spun off dozens of new companies. At first, we will see exciting new products and jobs for the region. Spawning from this economic surge, Madison entrepreneurs will expand beyond technology and into areas of transportation, art, public policy, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and social justice.

How do we get there? We must challenge the status quo, and by doing so Madison can make its dreams of tomorrow a reality. Madison must be vigilant in its effort to tackle the tremendous challenge of making entrepreneurial culture more inclusive. Good ideas come from everyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. We must encourage our entrepreneurs to become part of our civic conversation within government, community boards, and nonprofits. In turn, these organizations will embrace programs that deliver solutions and reject programs that do not.

Our city will be viewed as a model. Eventually, the entrepreneurial spirit will no longer be “siloed” in technology, and we’ll allow new thoughts to flow through our civic institutions. Madison 2025 will be a place of upward mobility, rooted in our progressive ideals, and manifested into a drive for innovation, bold thinking, and a community where everyone can prosper.

Madison alder Scott Resnick is affiliated with StartingBlock, Capital Entrepreneurs, and Hardin Design & Development.

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