Madison ranks highly as a cutting-edge city

Greater Madison has all the right ingredients, including green tech, in place for long-term success.
Panel Ezine Cutting Edge

Madison is used to ranking highly on national lists, so it should come as little surprise that it’s been included in a new study of the Top 30 Most Cutting-Edge Metros, according to CommercialCafe.

Madison came in at No. 19 on the list, tops in the Midwest, and it stands out for being the fourth-smallest city in the ranking. Madison scored particularly high on the list for:

  • Bike sharing stations — 46 per 100,000 residents, which is the third highest among the metros on the list;
  • Tech and green employment — 9.73%, which is the seventh highest among the metros on the list; and
  • Energy Star buildings — 16.56 per 100,000 residents, good for 11th on the list.

The No. 1 spot on the list of smartest metros in the U.S. was earned by Boulder, Colorado.

To determine the list, CommercialCafe considered the following variables, among others: how electric-vehicle (EV) friendly the cities were; how many bike sharing stations they had; how focused on technology and green technology their economy was; and how fast their internet was. Notably, all the metros included in the study were analyzed on a per capita basis, therefore placing them on equal footing regardless of size or prominence.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll nearly everywhere, Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, says Madison still has all the right ingredients in place for long-term success.

“Before the pandemic hit, having the nation’s most sector-diverse economy, world-class higher education offerings, a high concentration of young, educated, high-quality, affordable talent, and locally built companies exporting global solutions were among the factors that helped Greater Madison rate favorably compared to the nation’s largest, most cutting-edge metros,” explains Brandon. “Since then, organizations from Brookings to Moody’s Analytics to Bloomberg have highlighted our region as an economic bright spot for the nation’s recovery.”

Brandon notes Greater Madison’s industry diversity and resiliency, as well as talent in-migration, are all strengths. However, in terms of what the community needs to focus on to stay on the cutting edge, “one only needs look at some of the aspirational metros on the coasts to see the challenges that come from rapid growth, particularly in innovation sectors. Just as technology can empower, it can also create greater economic disparity.”

A commitment to inclusive growth is paramount, as is investing and supporting diverse entrepreneurs with new business ventures, says Brandon. Additionally, as a region Greater Madison must stay ahead of the curve on infrastructure demands, including increasing the supply of workforce housing.

Still, the foundation for keeping Madison at the front of the pack is firmly in place.

“The Chamber’s role in this is to hone and amplify our region’s business brand and help companies recruit top-notch talent,” Brandon states, “most notably through two major, interconnected initiatives:, a website that provides a virtual experience for online visitors to explore Greater Madison, and a first-of-its-kind virtual reality platform that enables companies to make the Greater Madison experience portable and accessible to prospects all over the world.

“Greater Madison’s value proposition is different from what you see on the coasts,” adds Brandon. “In the report naming Madison the Best Place to Live for 2021, a resilient economy and high employment combined with remote work readiness, affordability, natural beauty ,and culture to make this an attractive place for business and talent alike. That is reflected in both homegrown companies like Exact Sciences continuing to grow here and coastal businesses like Illumina and Accuray investing more here.”

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