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Dane County is responsible for over half of the state's job growth over the last 15 years, a city strategy report states. Manufacturing is one of the industry's driving Madison's growth. 

PHOTO BY AMBER ARNOLD — State Journal

Dane County has fueled over half the state’s job growth over the last fifteen years, according to a city of Madison economic development plan.

“Madison and Dane County, we really out-punch our weight class, and we’re really an engine for the state economy,” said Dan Kennelly, manager of the city office of business resources.

Kennelly presented the new “Connect Madison” economic development strategy for approval at a meeting of the city Plan Commission Monday night.

Dane County represents 9 percent of the state’s population, but accounted for 56 percent of job growth between 2001 and 2015, with an increase of almost 43,000 jobs, from about 279,000 to 322,000.

That’s an increase of 15 percent over that time period, as compared to a 3 percent increase seen statewide.

This growth, the report says, is “increasingly private-sector driven.” In Madison, the private sector makes up 76 percent of the workforce.

The job growth is also “concentrated at the top and bottom ends of the economic spectrum,” the report said, ranging from food preparation to software engineering.

The data also found that from 2001 to 2012, Dane County added 1,100 new businesses and Madison’s GDP grew from $23 billion to $39 billion, representing 6.5 percent annual growth.

“For all intents and purposes, the Madison regional economy grew right through the recession,” Kennelly said.

Madison also leads in business growth and construction activity.

“If you compare Dane County to the rest of the state of Wisconsin, by really any economic measure, whether it’s job growth or innovation or GDP or what have you, we’re really driving the state’s economy in a lot of ways,” Kennelly said.

The “Connect Madison” plan outlines five economic strategies:

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  • Support small businesses.
  • Grow the tax base.
  • Create jobs.
  • Invest in modern transportation.
  • Support career pathways for youth.

Each strategy is paired with a “priority one” project.

The strategy will act as the work plan for the city’s economic development division and as a cross-agency reference for city decisions.

Commission member Brad Cantrell found the findings significant.

“I think that we should share that with our people at the state, the governor, of the legislature, and show that Dane County is important,” Cantrell said.

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