Madison chamber leader touts Wisconsin’s high-tech ‘Third Wave’

Madison chamber leader touts Wisconsin’s high-tech ‘Third Wave’

By Kathleen Gallagher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

ZachBrandonStarting with his very first interview for the job of president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Zach Brandon made it clear: His was not a traditional plan.

Rather than focus solely on established businesses, Brandon wanted to embrace start-ups, the “scalable and salable” companies, as he called them.

Some called it a flash-in-the-pan strategy. They criticized how he never even mentioned major local employer Oscar Mayer in his vision statement.

But four years later, as Oscar Mayer is closing its Madison plant and moving 1,000 jobs out of town, Brandon’s strategy is looking more and more on target. He says start-ups and technology companies have accounted for about 25% of the Madison chamber’s new memberships since he took the top job in 2012.

“Madison’s self concept is starting to change because the chamber decided we can’t follow the business community, we have to lead it,” Brandon said.

Now he wants to get the rest of Wisconsin involved. Read more …