Governor Tony Evers, at an event held on February 24, announced that the City of Madison will receive $6 million and Dane County will receive nearly $15 million as part of the Neighborhood Investment Fund grant program. Of the amount provided to the City, $4 million is designated towards the creation of the proposed Madison Public Market. The funds were made available by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and are intended to assist local governments and nonprofits working to restore economic activity in Wisconsin following the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Governor’s statement, these funds will be used for community development projects that expand affordable housing, bolster economic, social, and cultural opportunities, and support business development and entrepreneurship. Other Grant recipients include the Black Business Hub, the Center for Black Excellence & Culture, Bayview Foundation and Centro Hispano.
“We are especially pleased that funding has been made available for the proposed Madison Public Market, and that this shovel-ready project has been recognized by the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration as an important business development endeavor, working to restore economic activity following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jamaal Stricklin, Madison Public Market Foundation board chair.
The proposed Madison Public Market is a collaboration between the City of Madison, which owns the former Fleet Services Building at First Street and East Johnson Street, and the Madison Public Market Foundation, which will operate the Market at that location. The Public Market is a vital food and equity-based economic development initiative that is mission-driven to create jobs and new businesses, and to establish an iconic welcoming destination for all.
Stricklin adds, “The Public Market will be a real boost to the regional economy and will benefit substantially from these construction-related funds. Most importantly, we look forward to creating new business development opportunities for regional food entrepreneurs and crafts persons, with an emphasis on those owned and operated by people of color, women, and first generation immigrants. We are thankful that this new funding source will bring us closer to our financial goal, resulting in a market that is welcoming for both visitors to the city as well as local residents looking for a regular shopping or dining experience.”
The City of Madison, led by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the economic development team, have been essential and invaluable partners to the Madison Public Market Foundation in bringing the Market to fruition.
As reported in a Wisconsin State Journal article covering the Governor’s announcement, the City is prepared to move forward with the Market’s construction. “The market’s financing piece is now “locked in,” said Matt Wachter, city planning, community and economic director. The city can now pursue a construction contract, contracts with the operator, the Madison Public Market Foundation, and seek other final approvals for the project, he said.
“With this funding, we will be breaking ground this year in November,” said Madison Public Market Foundation board member Anne Reynolds. “There’s been so much uncertainty over the past two years, but now we finally have some certainty. It’s really exciting. We are confident that the Market will be a cultural jewel, showcasing the very best of our diverse food history, arts, music and crafts.”
Annually, the Market will attract 500,000+ visitors, support 130 new and existing local businesses through permanent and temporary vending space and generate $16 – $20 million in local sales.
The former Fleet Services Building at 202 N. First Street is a 1960s era industrial garage ideally designed and sized for the proposed Market activities. As the final pieces of funding are secured and the necessary City of Madison approvals occur, the building is expected to begin transitioning to Public Market development activity later this year. Market construction is expected to begin in late 2022, with an anticipated opening in late 2023.
More than 200 businesses have completed the Vendor Interest Form to express desire to operate within the Public Market. Some are well-established local businesses interested in the Public Market as a new location to grow their enterprise. Several prospective vendors are interested in a larger space for a restaurant, a bakery, a larger retail space, or food production facility.
The Public Market’s proposed Food Innovation Center will offer new and existing small busineses affordable space as well as access to specialized food preparation, packaging and distribution facilities. New food product testing can easily be arranged by offering samples to Market visitors. The Food Innovation Center will be a complementary space operating in support of existing commercial kitchens available to small businesses.