Young Professionals Weigh In on Future of Dane County

What would it take to keep you here for the next 25 years?

That's the questions Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk asked members of the Madison Area Growth Network (MAGNET) Wednesday night.

A few months ago, Falk announced an initiative aimed at both developing and preserving the county, called Attain Dane!.

Wednesday night's listening session rounds out a series across the county. Falk met with about 30 MAGNET members, to find out what the younger generation suggests to make Dane County a better place to live and work.

"I am excited and I'm very pleased that the executive would take the time out to speak with us," says MAGNET member Tracie Gilbert.

"Figuring out how we want our county to grow, what to develop and what to protect, is singularly the most important issue people talk to me about," says Falk.

Those in attendance were asked what they like about Dane County, and what they'd like to see improve.

"Improve transportation options for our county," says MAGNET Public Policy Coordinator, Matt Kures, "As we become more spread out as a place to live and work, we need options to move people around."

Some of the questions were prompted by a recent MAGNET report that found nearly half of the county's young professionals move away from Madison.

"This is a great first step," says Kures, "It allows us to say what it is: is it jobs, is it quality of life, is it housing costs? It's going to be different things for everyone and by listening to those opinions we can do a lot to move us in that right direction."

But most attended because they have a vested interest in the future of the county.

"They're our pride and joy now but they are our leaders today and the leaders of tomorrow," says Falk, "They are making the decisions for the future that will determine whether we have a county for the generation after them."

Dane County is growing at a faster rate than any other county in the state, at 60,000 people a decade.

Falk's Attain Dane! public input period goes through July 1.


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