With the city of Madison and its metropolitan area popping up consistently in national rankings on economic vitality, many people would assume all is well in the seven other counties that make up the Madison Region Economic Partnership.

Don’t assume too much.

Data to be revealed Thursday at MadREP’s “State of the Madison Region Economy” event will highlight significant challenges facing the seven counties outside Dane while breaking down research reports on the region’s five target sectors: agriculture, food and beverage; advanced manufacturing; healthcare; information communications technology; and bioscience.

To register from the 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday event at The Edgewater, 1001 Wisconsin Place, visit madisonregion.org/SOTMRE. Individual tickets are $75.

“Our rural areas are significantly under-performing compared to Dane County,” said MadREP President Paul Jadin, who will present the region’s next five-year economic development strategy.

William Fruth, president at POLICOM Corp., will discuss how the Madison region stacks up against Ann Arbor, Austin, Boulder, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lincoln, Portland, Raleigh and Salt Lake City. While the Madison metropolitan statistical area ranks 12th in the nation for economic vitality, the larger eight-county region doesn’t score as well.

Jadin noted that some parts of the MadREP region are “broadband deserts,” meaning slower or even non-existent connections to the internet are holding back economic progress. “It’s not just a problem in northern Wisconsin,” he said.

Job growth is strong in Dane County but flat to even declining in some of the seven surrounding counties: Columbia, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk.

Daily migration data reveals that roughly 50,000 people per day are commuting to Dane County from those seven counties – and that 42,000 per day are moving in the opposite direction. Another 46,000 people are commuting each day to Dane County from the rest of the state’s counties.

Jadin noted that housing costs, which were once seen as a plus for the Dane County economy, are not the advantage they once were.

“Cost of living is becoming a detriment to Dane County, where it used to be an asset,” he said.

More details on the reports will be available at the presentation.