American Family Insurance has been part of this community for more than 90 years, and part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. We started as Farmers Mutual in 1927, in the Tenney Building on Madison’s capitol square. Now, we’re a Fortune 400 company.

Through our history, we’ve grown and adapted to meet the changing needs of our customers. We’ve expanded from auto insurance only to multiple insurance products, as well as expanding our geography and our agency force. While many in our community know us through local agents, our distinct advertising messages, or perhaps the charitable work we support, American Family has made significant changes throughout our history.

More recently, we recognized the need to adapt again, adding companies that support our innovation – including The General, Homesite, Networked Insights, HomeGauge and most recently our planned merger with The Main Street America Group. Our revenue has steadily risen, and we are as financially strong as ever.

We’re investing in projects like connected home technology, which benefits our customers and industry. We support entrepreneurs, through American Family Ventures and now with Spark – an eight-story building at 821 East Washington Avenue – just down the hill from where it all began for American Family 91 years ago this week.

This is all part of intentional efforts we’ve made, which enhance the growth and sustainability of our business – but also support the communities where we live, work and serve.

Come visit Spark! Appropriately named, it will be a catalyst for innovation and inspiration in our region. But Spark also represents American Family’s values at work, as we help this community look ahead and make bold moves of its own.

You’ll see this inside the new DreamBank, a free, interactive space to help community members find their passions, and resources to pursue them. It’s also evident in Spark’s other tenants: StartingBlock Madison, with dedicated space for entrepreneurs, and help from established start-ups and business leaders in the Madison area; and an American Family agent office.

Spark is also home to the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, a new venture that will support leaders, coaching them in entrepreneurial thinking, processes and partnerships that address social issues facing our communities, schools and governments.

Together, we’ll tackle issues facing K-12 education, community sustainability and resilience, and economic opportunity for all. These are not new issues, but through collaboration, entrepreneurial thinking and courage, the Institute for Corporate and Social Impact will seek innovative solutions, and measure their impact.

American Family is an established company with the energy and dreams of a start-up. At our core, our mission remains: inspiring, protecting, and restoring the dreams of our customers. But we know to succeed today, we must do even more.

Our planned merger with Main Street America, Spark, and our work through the Institute all demonstrate the courageous innovation happening at American Family.

It’s a journey filled with big changes, bold moves, and exciting work ahead. American Family will help lead this, but we want to partner with our community, and with our customers, employees and agents – and dream fearlessly together.