Smart Decisions

It makes sense to invest in our best

The smartest thing I ever did as editor of this magazine was turn the job over to Brennan Nardi. For one thing, she’s a better magazine editor than I am (in other words, she actually knows what she’s doing). But beyond that she’s a real talent, and as our magazine is increasingly honored with awards and recognition, more folks are coming to the realization that Brennan’s one of the best young editors in the country.

But what makes the best of the best so good is their unique voice and perspective on the communities they serve. As editor for a relatively long time now (in magazine years), it is time for Brennan to use her voice a little more, and so we’ve made a few changes around here. Jen Winiger (whose job as publisher I had nothing to do with other than cheer from the sidelines of WISC, where we were both part of the management team some years before she took the magazine gig) is also a terrific writer, and so Brennan and I asked her to pen the opener each month. She’s actually done it before, and she’s really good at it. And she said yes, which helped.

You’ll also find a new monthly column by Brennan that I am excited to say will add depth, breadth and a fresh viewpoint on this city we all love. She’s been weaving together her vision for this magazine and her life as a Madisonian for better than ten years now, and it’s time we hear what she’s thinking about.

Now, there is one other small reason I told Jen I wanted to promote Brennan to editor five years ago. I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted to keep her at Madison Magazine. That’s what smart managers do, right? Give your best, most talented employees reasons to stay. Well, that same theory works for a lot of things. It works for good companies, college graduates, young entrepreneurs, doctors and nurses, venture capital, consumer dollars and more—the key to a successful, growing, healthy anything is to keep those resources and assets.

That is especially true for states. In a global, knowledge-based economy, places where people like to live, buy local, invest in regional enterprises and start businesses will thrive. Places that don’t will die. So it seems pretty clear: we need to Keep It In Wisconsin. Thus a new and exciting multimedia project we’ve entered into with our partners WISC-TV, TVW and

Keep It In Wisconsin is a vehicle for promoting our state’s business, goods and talents. It’s a platform for informing people how they can grow our economy and create jobs we’ll need to be successful while supporting our local farmers, manufacturers, schools, health care providers, entrepreneurs and, of course, products. Ultimately, it’s all about choices. Every time we make a decision where to shop, what to buy, who to patronize, we pick from multiple options. Even small choices can have a huge cumulative effect on our economy. And for Keep It In Wisconsin we are defining those decisions broadly.

Part of launching this effort has been meeting with business, government and civic leaders around the state, and we’re learning a lot. Londa Dewey has great insights into the workforce challenges QTI is facing. Tim Metcalfe knows this stuff so well and his own grocery business is a wonderful example of buying local. Paula Bonner explained how she’s navigating the twin competitive challenges of keeping our alumni here—or attracting them back—while promoting the Wisconsin Idea of spinning off world-changing research and technology to the benefits of those around the globe. Greg Dombrowski at Johnson Bank and Jim Bradley at Home Savings make a compelling case for locally owned financial institutions (think “what goes around, comes around”), and Jennifer Alexander and Sean Robbins from Thrive convinced me we can and should be keeping our investment dollars right here.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about all of this in the weeks to come. We’re all pretty pumped about the potential benefits of Keep It In Wisconsin—benefits I’ve already reaped by my wise choice of an editor and columnist. Oh, yes, there’s another new column. This one. And I’ll be doing, well, pretty much this—writing about stuff I seem to find myself in the middle of here on Raymond Road and about town.

Neil Heinen is editorial director of Madison Magazine. Contact him at

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