Tag Archives: Rotary

Brandon on Madison’s Business Climate

–submitted by Rick Kiley; photo by Mike Engelberger

Brandon ZachZach Brandon, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, addressed our Club regarding “Madison’s Business Climate,” citing four trends to explain where we are headed.

The first trend is “sector density,” the types of jobs and industry we have.  These include growing industries such as biomedicine and bioscience, health tech and information technology.  Three-fourths of local jobs created are diverse sources in the private sector, not just Epic Systems; recent hiring is by Google, Amazon, Zen Desk and Microsoft.

One reason for this job creation is jobs in technology and engineering are easily filled with local employees and do not pay relatively high salaries.

The second trend is our development of talent.  We are a large market for software creation.  State-wide software development is nearly as large an employer as manufacturing.

We have a significant in-migration of “millennial” workers, born in the late 1970s.  Unlike most cities, in Madison this group tends to buy homes and settle.

The third trend cited is our area’s reputation.  We have a lot to boast.

Recently, Forbes magazine listed us fifth among cities “winning the battle” for info-tech jobs; the Millken Institute ranks us eleventh among cities for high-tech job growth; per capita, we rank fourteenth for raising venture capital to fund early-stage companies.

In addition, we rank #1 among cities for successful aging.  What underlies these encouraging rankings?  Proximity to education, Mr. Brandon says.  However, we are nearly the most income-segregated city, a troubling situation that requires the attention of the entire community.

The fourth trend is wealth creation.  “Madison is the epitome of how to win the coming jobs war”, he says.

Concluding, Mr. Brandon sees the Madison area as “on the upswing,” but we “need to learn how to brag” to communicate our strengths, that “we are the next big thing;” “we solve the world’s problems;” and “we export solutions.”

CLICK to watch the video on our club’s YouTube Channel.

Have the Conversation and Do It Now…

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photograph by Loretta Himmelsbach


Jim Jaeger and Sandra Nuernberg urged all Rotarians and guests to begin the process of planning for future medical care.  Jaeger and Nuernberg represent the Association of Spiritual Caregivers working with Meriter Foundation and the Gundersen Medical Foundation in La Crosse.

All of us have likely thought about end of life care; some of us have created a living will or other advance care document.  But how many of us have had the “conversation” with our family, friends and agents about end of life care?   60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is extremely important, but 56% have not communicated their end of life wishes.

Jaeger and Nuernberg showed a video about a couple who were having the conversation.   Benefits include peace of mind, putting your family at ease about what decisions to make for you when you are unable, having an agent to represent you who is willing and capable of advocating your wishes on your behalf.  And knowing what you want done at end of life will potentially save money and extend life by taking the pressure off.

Jaeger noted that Advance Care Planning is a process, beginning with you and others understanding that decisions will need to be made in the likely event you will not be able to do so.  Next you need to reflect on what you do want to happen, then have a discussion with loved ones, medical advisers and agents about your wishes.   Those choices will be written down and then this should be part of your medical record.

Also, plan to review this document over time as your situation may change and you may want to alter your plans.  There are resources and organizations to help you have “the conversation”.   For an information booklet answering commonly asked questions about advance care planning, contact Gundersen Health System,
La Crosse, WI 800-362-9567, ext. 56748.

Next in Madison: StartingBlock Madison

–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photography by Loretta Himmelsbach

Austin Reed Wolter

George Austin (center), Madison’s former Planning and Development director and President of AVA Civic Enterprises Inc., provided the introduction about what StartingBlock Madison is planning to do to encourage, develop and grow entrepreneurs by bringing them into an entrepreneur hub that will place them in contact with peers, mentors, investors and consultants.

The building will be located in the 800 block of East Washington Avenue and American Family Insurance is funding the construction of the first 50,000 sq. ft. phase of a 160,000 sq. ft. building.

Founded in 2012, StartingBlock Madison is dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurs, growing Madison’s economy and providing educational opportunities regarding entrepreneurism.  It will be able to do this because of the strong support of MG&E Energy and American Family Insurance.

Dan Reed (left), Managing Director of American Family Ventures, spoke about his company’s investments in new technology companies in areas like automobile safety through their Direct Venture Capital program.  Their support of StartingBlock Madison is an extension of this concept.

Gary Wolter (right), Chairman & CEO of MGE Energy Inc., sees StartingBlock Madison as expanding the Madison entrepreneurship environment and helping to grow the economy.  He explained the stretch goal as “how can I change the world?” and sited those Madison entrepreneurs that have done that such as Jamie Thompson’s Cellular Dynamics, Pleasant Rowland’s American Girl and Judy Faulkner’s Epic.

The positive response to the three presenters and the concept of StartingBlock Madison that represents the combined efforts of corporate, educational, and civic entities including the City of Madison suggests StartingBlock and the entrepreneurs it cultivates are sure to be successful.

We would like to thank Madison City Channel for videotaping our meeting this week.  The program will be rebroadcast on analog basic channel 98, digital channel 994 & AT&T U-verse 99 as follows: Friday, April 17 at 8 PM; Wednesday, April 22 at Noon; Friday April 24 at 5 PM; Sunday, April 26 at 5 PM.  You can also watch this program on the WEB.

First Hike of the 2015 Season – Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Black Earth

–submitted by Dawn Crim; photography by Karl Gutknecht

1 ALeopold_Hike

On Saturday the Hiking Fellowship Group enjoyed its first hike of the season organized by Rotarian Karl Gutknecht with Bob Miller,  President and Executive director of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, and board member and Rotarian Deb Gilpin on hand at the Black Earth location. What a wonderful way for over 25 Rotarians and friends and two dogs to welcome spring! Bob provided background on the 38 acre site in front of the Leopold Lodge that can be rented for camping trips, meetings,etc. An excellent location for our group photo too.

Aldo Leopold 5

The site has wonderful hiking trails. We hiked the first loop, about 1.5 miles consisting of mature woods, and rocky outcroppings. This path had somewhat steep terrain that took us high in the treetops before winding down into the valley. Once at the bottom, Bob shared stories of several scouting troops who rent out the site to test for hiking badges and other camping adventures.  We embarked on the second loop which was about 1 mile. This path was not as steep as the first and had a fire pit and council ring at the top.

Aldo Leopold 6  Aldo Leopold 7  Aldo Leopold 3

Our hike concluded with a picnic lunch on the wooded deck of the Alexander Studio. The studio has high cathedral ceilings, a center stage and originally served as a rebirthing center in the early 1970’s.

It was a beautiful day and great location to kick off the hiking season. Bob invited us all to visit the Monona Aldo Leopold Nature Center later this summer.

Aldo Leopold 1


Autism Research and Treatment in Wisconsin

–submitted by Carol Toussaint; photo by Loretta Himmelsbach

Graupner Sallows 4 8 2015What is autism and why do we read and hear so much more about it today than even a few years ago?  Drs. Glen Sallows and Tamlynn Graupner addressed that question for the Rotary audience Wednesday, April 8.  They  explained that research such as they are engaged in has added to the understanding of the causes and interventions which means even mild cases are now included in the statistics.

Speaking in tandem, raising questions and responding to the symptoms that trigger parents, teachers and physicians to look for autism (ASD), the speakers noted that “everyone looks for it now” so, of course, it is more  prevalent.  Not that long ago it was thought that between two to five of every 10,000 patients were diagnosed with ASD.  Fewer people were looking for it because no one thought there was a treatment.  Now it is estimated that there are 1 in 108 people in Wisconsin with ASD and reporting is more accurate  because of both research and improved methods of record-keeping.

The news that autism, characterized by symptoms of delayed social language, delayed social interaction and repetitive/unusual interests, can be diagnosed at 12 months or even younger is the key to successful treatment.  That about half of treated children improve to the average range, understanding language, improve on behavior and self care, and most will speak, is positive news.

Dr. Sallows is cofounder and President of the Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP) and has been working in the field of autism for over 25 years.  Dr. Graupner is cofounder  and CEO of WEAP and her research through the UW Waisman Center involves studying the brain bases of the symptoms of autism.  Both are dedicated to continuing to find new ways of addressing autism.  If that results in reporting a higher incidence of ASD, it does not mean an epidemic.  It will mean more attention to and perhaps improved means of intervention at a younger age.

Wisconsin is Open for Business

–submitted by Bob Dinndorf; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

KleefischLieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch discussed our State government’s commitment to making Wisconsin a great place for employers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and workers through tax relief and especially job training.

The Lt. Governor is a former small business owner and news reporter. Widely credited for coining the phrase, “Wisconsin is Open for Business,” LG Kleefisch has played a key role from day one in business growth and retention in Wisconsin.

As Wisconsin’s “Jobs Ambassador” and leader of the Governor’s Small Business Summits and Tax Reform Roundtables, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch touched on a range of topics that could be characterized as “overcoming adversity.” She opened with her personal story about how she staged her run for the Lieutenant Governor’s seat. Rejected by her own party as a candidate, she ran in the 2010 primary against three opponents. At that same time, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Still hospitalized on Election Day, she was released to vote on the condition that she return for continuing treatment. She did and won on two fronts: the election by 21 percentage points and successful treatment of her cancer.

In terms of overcoming economic adversity, the Lt. Gov. quoted a Wall Street Journal headline: “Uncertainty is the enemy of recovery” as a means of characterizing the Wisconsin approach to economic recovery. She stated “we’ve given families and businesses certainty” and cited several measures illustrating that result in Wisconsin unemployment at 4.8%; 156,000 people have gone back to work and that local property taxes have been lowered.

A continuing issue is the skills gap in Wisconsin that prevents many jobs from being filled. She asked Rotarians to check out the website http://www.jobcenterofwisconsin.com which displays 84,915 jobs are unfilled in Wisconsin at the time of the Rotary meeting (the number had increased to 85,206 less than an hour following our Club’s meeting as this summary was being written). The site will be enhanced soon to add even more job postings aggregated from other sites. As part of the solution, she said “Wisconsin has a fantastic technical college system.” Ultimately, the goal is about fulfilling our State motto: Forward!