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Recap: This fall there are 8 home football games out of the 12 game regular season. We used this rather unprecedented home game advantage as an impetus to ask ourselves how we stack up against other, similar regions. How does Ann Arbor compare to other college towns in the US? 

Ah, autumn… the days are shorter, the nights are crisper, and the stakes are higher for Michigan football.

Some of our more recent comparisons have felt like comparing apples and oranges (e.g. is it all that enlightening to compare State College to Ann Arbor?). Madison, Wisconsin, however, is a natural comparison. Perhaps more so even than Boulder– since we are only separated by Lake Michigan and share many traits. These similarities mean we often compete in sports, for students, and of course, for business.

Both UM and UW are incorporated into the city itself, not as urban campuses but as campuses that transition seamlessly into the downtown. The two schools also rival each other for research spending, both breaking the billion-dollar ceiling. Ann Arbor and Madison show up together on many “Best Cities for ____” lists – two good examples are Livability’s Top 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs 2016  (Ann Arbor #6, Madison #40) and Top 100 Best Places to Live 2016 (Ann Arbor #8, Madison #3).

These similarities mean that our slight differences become more significant:

– Madison is bigger than Ann Arbor (by about 130,000 people) and is a state capital.

– Some say the “feel” is different between the two cities, Madison being bigger, more urban, but not as walkable, with a higher number of distinct neighborhoods.

– Madison is nestled between lakes, while Ann Arbor’s largest natural feature is the Huron River.

– Recently, the “feel” of Ann Arbor has been skewing toward startups, can the same be said for Madison? [Based on venture capital activity over the past two years.]

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 ICYMI – Here are links to the series on our athletic (and economic) competition!

Ann Arbor vs. State College

Ann Arbor vs. Boulder 

Michigan vs. Florida

Michigan vs. Hawaii