A foreign delegation featuring 47 government ministers from 28 countries spent Wednesday touring Madison-area centers of technology and entrepreneurship, starting with a tour of healthcare software giant Epic Systems Corp. in Verona and moving on to many examples of UW-Madison-related innovations.
“It’s an opportunity to show off the Madison region,” said Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, which authored the application to include the area in the three-state exchange tour highlighting sectors such as agriculture, information technology and biomedical devices. “We want to show what we’re doing with respect to our partnerships in economic development, and also with respect to the extraordinary research and development going on at the university.”
Organized by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and other federal partners, the six-day exchange tour was to include 41 sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, with Wednesday’s Madison-area events being day four. Known as the third annual Americas Competitiveness Exchange Tour, the first two tours were last year in Mexico and the southeastern region of the United States.
In a phone interview Wednesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams said the exchange tours were an opportunity for delegates “to see first-hand on the ground” examples of successful innovations between government and private business, as well as plant seeds “to increase the prospect of trade and commerce” between the participating countries.
“Out of the sharing of ideas come actual, concrete actions and partnerships and investment opportunities,” Williams said.
Delegate Michael Singh, chief executive officer of the Ministry of Trade and Investments for the Belize government, said Wednesday before the Epic Systems program began that he hoped to hear ideas on the tour that would help his country create more jobs for the 70 percent of its population that’s now under the age of 25.
“We’ve got a mass of young people coming into the workforce,” Singh said, noting Belize was rich with natural resources but sparsely populated, with a small tax base and little practical experience in partnering government with academia and business to improve the economy.
So Singh said he relished the chance to see successful examples of such collaborations, singling out one he saw on last year’s tour of the U.S. Southeast, where he was impressed by the ability of government leaders in Greenville, South Carolina, to lure a large BMW plant, helping to revive the town’s depressed textiles-based economy in part by working with Clemson University to start a new slate of automotive engineering programs.
Buy NowMichel Singh, an officer in the Belize government’s Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection
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