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Madison Forward: City embraces state motto in face of pandemic

Madison Forward: City embraces state motto in face of pandemic

From the Madison Forward, Part 1: Region's business community pushes ahead series
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Long the state's motto, "Forward" also represents the way out of the pandemic.

The statue was commissioned for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago as a way to reflect the devotion and progress of Wisconsin.

“Forward,” created by Jean Pond Miner of Menasha, would ultimately find a home on the grounds of the Wisconsin state Capitol before the bronze lady was moved in 1990 down State Street to the lobby of the Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters. A replica took her place, was damaged during protests last summer and is being repaired.

But the state’s motto has rarely been more in need.

The last 14 months have brought misery, fear and loss. Our lives have been disrupted, our communities challenged.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent orders to close businesses or severely restrict their operations had devastating consequences for many sectors, particularly restaurants, bars and the hospitality industry.

Many didn’t make it. Others found a way to limp through, by reinventing themselves, moving to curbside pickup or beefing up their online operations. Still others found their products and services in unprecedented demand, forcing them to find new suppliers, quickly expand their workforce and retool their operations.

The common thread in all these success stories is resilience. Ordinary people powering through the tears and anxiety, going deeper in debt, risking enterprises built up over years with seat-of-the-pants changes to carefully drawn-up business plans.


Businesses that couldn't reopen last spring turned to online and curbside delivery. Those that could ramped up safety precautions, including plexiglass barriers, mask requirements and hand sanitizer.

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal brings you some of these stories of resilience, the first in a two-part series about businesses emerging from the pandemic. Next week, our reporters examine many of the ways in which the experiences of the last year have forever changed how we shop, work and play — and how businesses are responding to those new realities.


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