Cooperation between people and businesses will lift Wisconsin’s economy out of the pandemic stronger than it was before, says Madison Region Economic Partnership President and CEO Jason Fields.

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In a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce virtual event yesterday, Fields said more cooperation between rural and urban businesses will help achieve goals for both areas and improve the state’s economic outlook. The former Milwaukee lawmaker added he wants to see less fighting over legislation and government funding between businesses with different needs. He argued that initiatives, such as broadband expansion or agricultural support, benefit all areas of the state.

He also said many businesses are unsure exactly what the post-pandemic future holds. In order to mitigate that uncertainty, he said businesses and organizations should be working together to build more partnerships to support each other and create a more “holistic approach.”

Partnerships will be beneficial even after the pandemic, he added.

“We want to have the people in place, we want to have strategies in place for people to grow, we want to be in a position to attract talent,” Fields said.

He suggested Wisconsin businesses leverage their connections with each other to attract more workers to fill empty jobs while enticing Wisconsinites already here to stay and continue to grow the state’s economy.

He said businesses, especially in the tech industry, looking to attract workers should “brag” a little more about what Wisconsin has to offer: good housing, job opportunities, business growth and high quality of life.

“When we come out of this we want to be running. We don’t want to be playing catch-up,” he added.

Fields said groups in Milwaukee and Madison like MadREP should make sure businesses in rural areas know they want to work with them rather than just tell them what to do.

“We have to send a message … We’re here to help you with broadband, we’re here to help you with economic development, we’re here to help you with grant dollars and startups and attracting companies to your region,” he said.

-By Adam Kelnhofer