Madison, Wisconsin


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Madison Business Signs

The dream of Madison began with former federal judge James Duane Doty.  In 1829, Doty bought more than one thousand acres (4 km squared) of swamp and forest land on an isthmus straddling the Mendota and Monona Lakes.  Doty wanted to build a city in the Four Lakes region.  Eventually, because of Doty’s lobbying, Madison became the capital of Wisconsin Territory.  According to Historic Madison, Inc., Doty named the city after the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, who had died on June 28th, 1836.  Doty also “named the streets [of Madison] for the other 39 signers of the U.S. Constitution.”  Madison was officially platted on October 9th, 1839, and incorporated in 1848.

Modern day Madison is still the capital of Wisconsin.  A 2013 US Census estimate put the population of Madison at 243,344 people.  This makes it the second largest city in the state, after Milwaukee, and the 83rd most populous city in the country.  The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to that same 2013 estimate, has a population of 627,431 people.  This makes it the 85th most populous statistical area in the United States.

In 2004, Forbes magazine calculated that “Madison has the highest percentage of individuals holding Ph.D.s in the United States.”  As can be surmised from this bold claim, the largest employers in Madison are the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and the Wisconsin state government.

Other businesses based in Madison include Spectrum Brands (Rayovac), Alliant Energy, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), MGE Energy, Sub-Zero & Wolf Appliance, American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual Group, and National Guardian Life.

Madison has a thriving music scene.  Musical venues in the city include Barrymore Theatre, High Noon Saloon, Orpheum Theatre, UW Theatre, Majestic Theatre, the Frequency, and the Memorial Union Terrace.  The city is also home to several independent record labels like Crustacean Records, Science of Sound, Kind Turkey Records, and Art Paul Schlosser Inc.
Madison’s other cultural attractions include UW-Madison’s Chazen Museum of Art, the Wisconsin Historical Museum, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  The Overture Center for the Arts serves as the home of the Madison Opera, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Forward Theatre Company, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Madison Ballet.

Madison is probably best known for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Established in 1848, UW, as of Fall 2013, serves 43,275 students in total, with an academic staff of 2,189.  The University of Wisconsin had a $2.02 billion endowment in 2013.  According to its website, UW-Madison contains 20 schools and colleges offering 132 undergraduate majors, 149 master’s degree programs, and 120 doctoral programs.  In 2008, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an RU/VH Research University (very high research activity) category on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s teams – the Badgers – headline Madison’s sport culture.  This NCAA Division I program boasts 23 varsity teams, with the Kohl Center serving as the home of the basketball and hockey teams and Camp Randall Stadium serving as the home of the football team.  In total, all Badgers teams have earned a collective 27 titles.  Other teams in the Madison area include Madison College Wolfpack, whose teams have won 21 titles.  In total, the Edgewood Eagles’ various sports teams have won 35 titles.  The Wisconsin Rugby Club, who play their home games in the Wisconsin Rugby Club Sports Complex, have two titles to their name.  The Indoor Football League’s Madison Mustangs, who play in Breitenbach Stadium, have won four titles while baseball’s NL Madison Mallards, who play at Warner Park, have two titles to their name.

Own a small business in the Madison area?  Are you thinking about starting one?  These resources could help:

Apply for a Business License in Madison

City of Madison | Business & Development

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce

Looking for Madison business signs?

Get the word out there about your small business!  Contact one of our authorized members:

Janesville, WI
Doug Meyers

Custom WoodWorks
Genoa City, WI
AP Andy Pasko