A Greater Madison Vision Survey

Survey Overview

In the fall of 2018, the A Greater Madison Vision survey asked people to rank the importance of four types of change expected to occur with growth. The survey then prompted participants to rank regional strategies in order of priority and select their preferred scenario for the greater Madison region’s growth. Survey takers were also invited to comment on their preferences and concerns for the future. Finally, participants had the option to provide anonymous demographic and location information about themselves.

Nearly 9,200 people completed the survey from September through November, and just over 2,100 people submitted comments. Staff from the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission analyzed survey data. The survey's key takeaways are listed below. More in-depth findings are available in the following resources:

Breakdown of survey participants by zip codes and demographics
Survey results handout (PDF)
Survey results summary (PDF)
Detailed survey results report (PDF)
Survey results presentation to the Fitchburg Chamber (December 2019)

Top eight takeaways from survey results

1. Environmental challenges, including climate change and increased risk of flooding, are a top priority for the region.

More renewable energy and green infrastructure are at the heart of the preferred growth strategies for respondents. Using more electric cars and buses powered by wind and solar is one strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support renewable energy. A regional approach is necessary to create the green infrastructure needed to manage and filter rainfall and melting snow.

2. Issues of access to opportunity continue to be a high priority for most people and groups across the region.

More community-based resources like education, job training and health services through community and senior centers, nonprofits and health providers ranked second among top priorities. Groups more likely to experience economic hardship (including respondents who are seniors, have a lower income, live in rural areas, and people of color) ranked these as a top priority.

Better connecting education and work is valued among respondents who want to see more access to opportunity, such as schools preparing a diverse student body for technologically advanced workplaces. Better pipelines to existing jobs ranked higher than promoting tech job growth.

3. Expanding transit and housing options are high priorities, depending on location and demographic groups.

Expanding transit is among high priorities for people living in greater Madison’s central urban area (including Fitchburg and Monona) and is favored among those with higher incomes and education, as well as young adults.

Expanded housing options are a priority for those most likely to experience greater housing cost burdens due to location and income: lower- and middle-income respondents, those 50-64, and urban residents.

4. Preservation of farming areas is a high priority for people in rural communities and outside of Dane County.

Preserving more farming areas is a priority for respondents who value local food production, decreasing environmental impacts to the rest of the county (particularly to water quality), aesthetics, and regional character. Comments, however, are mixed as some want to preserve space for smaller farms with diverse products (as opposed to encouraging expansion of large, industrial farms) and others see developing farmland as a solution to affordable housing shortages.

5. Conservation priorities in growth are most important to people who weighed the four different scenarios, maps and costs of an expanding population.

Overall, people want to see more compact and community-oriented growth and development that generates environmental, economic, fiscal, and transportation benefits. With more renewable energy and green infrastructure as the most popular priorities, along with favoring maps that show the environmental and cost savings for conservation-minded growth, this model is a favorite.

6. Integrated approaches to interconnected challenges are major themes in respondents’ comments.

Thoughtful planning and cooperation among government, builders, public services and transportation demands will be required as our region grows. For people who participated in A Greater Madison Vision’s survey, their comments reveal a desire for solutions to the interconnected, complex challenges we face in the future.

7. Youth envision a future with more local sustainability and resilience.

Local energy production – purchasing power from local companies and using more local solar power – was the option youth aged 19 and younger rank higher than other respondents.

Youth ranked more locally grown food as a higher priority than overall survey respondents.

8. People of all demographics and locations expressed the desire for more social connections.

By large numbers people did not choose the “go-it-alone” future where individual communities look after themselves and rely more on technology to work and communicate remotely. Many comments expressed the desire for more, rather than fewer, social connections.

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