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FOX47 NEWS - Planning Madison 2010

Jeff Angileri
Jun 22, 2009, 10:34 PM


Brainstorming a city's future during an economic downturn is all about prioritizing.

Madison, which has been seen as all but recession-proof in past recessions, is, like nationally, feeling the pain, said Tim Bruer, city council president.

Monday's forum of the common council is follow-up to the city's 3 - 5 Year Strategic Development Plan, approved last August.

Since then, a lot has changed economically, and now the city council may have to come up with less expensive ways to grow the business community.

Business software upgrades may have to be postponed; conferences and business conventions scaled back.

The world has changed significantly, so we want a plan that's going to be flexible enough that our staff and policy makers can react quickly and make changes as needed, said Mark Clear, city council member.

Council members say Madison can no longer rely solely on the university and state government to hold the city's head above water. There needs to be more to the Madison brand.

It's really the private sector which creates the jobs, employment, and training and improves the quality of life and is the core of our property tax base, Bruer said.

That starts with providing employers the tools they need that will attract them to the capital city and keep them here -- the number one priority -- recruiting workers. Job growth in Madison's suburbs is outpacing the city by 50 percent.

I'm interested in what our focus is going to be to help unemployed people find jobs, so people don't have to leave, and how we're going to work on helping our homegrown businesses, said Satya Rhodes-Conway, city council member.

And not just white collar jobs, but a mix of blue collar workers, and promoting a green workforce, one based on sustainability.

Said Clear, The most important thing given the currently economy is doing everything we can to grow business in town, bring new businesses to Madison, and encourage employment anyway we can.

No quorum at Monday's meeting, so any major decisions will have to wait.

What impact these projects will have on the city budget is still to be determined. Any plan requiring money from the city would have to be proposed in the 2010 city budget.

As of April, the unemployment rate in Madison was 5.2% -- that's right around 7,200 people.

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