Sometimes you've got to get out of town to appreciate what's possible in your own backyard. Last week a group of sixty Madison business, civic and political leaders, start-up founders, investors and entrepreneurs hopped on a bus to Chicago to tour that city's most talked about co-working space for digital start-ups, 1871. The trip, organized by Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce president Zack Brandon, was an opportunity in part to see how such spaces for creating companies and growing economies are working elsewhere, but also to get a vision for how something like the proposed Starting Block development on East Washington Avenue might actually look and function.
What's clear is these places are where a great many entrepreneurs want to be, and as a result it's about building community and a sense of place. But it's also about density and friction and co-working that are proven to spawn new ideas, new products and new jobs. And, in the case of Starting Block, transform neighborhoods.
This sector, along with life sciences, health care, medical devices manufacturing, green energy and others are the future of the greater Madison Region. We now have a little better picture of what that future might look like.