Planting the Seeds of a Stronger Economy
May 12, 2010 5:55 PM
Assistant U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Fernandez stopped in Madison the other day to drop off $4.5 million from the federal government to support the BioAg Gateway. I was there to thank him along with Alder Judy Compton, who has been a tireless advocate for this project in her district.
The federal money is part of funds made available to bolster the Midwest economy after the floods of the summer before last. The city of Madison applied for the money to help build what we're calling the BioAg Gateway on the city's southeast side. The BioAg Gateway is designed to be a kind of research park that brings together scientists and entrepreneurs who are working on products in the areas of agriculture, food and related products. It will also be a public showcase meant to convey information, but also meant to spark the imagination, not unlike the Town Center at the Institutes for Discovery, which I wrote about last week.
In addition to the federal support, the city is kicking in about $2 million in city tax incremental financing, and the State of Wisconsin is contributing $200,000. We're working in partnership with Madison Development Corporation and the whole effort is being led by our Economic Development Division and its head Tim Cooley.
In the end it's all about jobs and finding ways to move our economy out of recession. If there's anything that this deep downturn has been good for, it's the fact that it gives us a strong incentive to think about how we need to transform our economy. One answer is to play to our strengths in university research and the rich farmland that surrounds us. The BioAg Gateway is intended to catalyze and jump start the research-to-development-to production cycle. It will create about 50 direct jobs right away, but its real power is in the thousands of jobs it might be responsible for creating in the years to come.
You can read more about it in this morning's paper at http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/article_a57b48f6-5d4d-11df-8c9d-001cc4c03286.html.