Diversity of applicants to MarketReady program reinforces Public Market’s goals for inclusivity

Through the years, the Madison Public Market concept has gone through many changes. But one important, guiding principle has remained strong: ensure that the Market is a truly inclusive, welcoming place of community for all who reside and visit Madison. From the City of Madison, to the Friends of the Public Market group, to the newly created Madison Public Market Foundation, all supporters working on this project agree that inclusivity begins by ensuring that merchant opportunities are available to any person with a dream of starting their own food-based business. Thus, the MarketReady program was created to Encourage and stimulate the creation and acceleration of businesses owned and operated by women, persons of color, the economically disadvantaged and others in need of a new career path.

MarketReady is funded by the City of Madison and administered by the Northside Planning Council and FEED Kitchens, in partnership with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation and Dane County UW Extension. They are actively working to provide training, supportive services and micro-grants for entrepreneurs interested in becoming Madison Public Market merchants.

Services Offered by the MarketReady Program include:

  • One-on-one business consulting services
  • Invitations to peer networking events
  • Referrals to other educational and financial services
  • Monthly mentorship meetings with a business coach
  • Additional technical assistance
  • Access to micro-grants

The application process for MarketReady closed on July 1 (you can still apply for the waiting list) with 83 applicants accepted for consideration. Extensive outreach to diverse communities was the key to successful recruitment of applicants. Outreach to these communities occurred in Spanish and Hmong and in association with the Urban League of Greater Madison and Centro Hispano, among others. The breakdown of applicant diversity includes:

  • 59% female
  • 29%  first generation immigrants
  • 29% African American
  • 18% Hispanic or Latino
  • 14% Asian

The primary objective is to provide business training and some initial capital to help prepare these new entrepreneurs for a successful launch in the Market in 2019. Thirty (30) businesses will receive direct assistance over a two year period to prepare them to sell at the market. Fifteen (15) will each receive $3,500 to help pay for initial business costs; five of those businesses will receive $13,000 to set up their market space in the Madison Public Market.

What might this variety of vendors offer to the Market’s visitors? Prepared food from Laotian, Tibetan, Venezuelan, Indian, Cajun and other cultural traditions; clothing from Africa and Asia; handcrafted artwork and more.

Watch for updates about the success of the MarketReady program in future blogs.

Madison Public Market Site Plan Approved!

The City of Madison Public Market Development Committee unanimously voted to approve the current site plan for the Public Market, moving the project forward (See below).

The site plan’s main features include:

  • 50,000 square foot Public Market, including a Food Innovation Center
  • Outdoor Market Plaza for outdoor seating, food carts or outdoor merchants, and live music and other entertainment
  • Pedestrian connection to nearby Burr Jones Field and the Yahara River
  • 4-5 story apartment structure across from the Market
  • Retail space
  • Underground Parking

Committee members expressed a few remaining concerns that were noted by city staff and will be discussed with the architects and developer partners. These concerns included: offering only 1 parking garage entrance/exit, creating an outdoor plaza entrance on the busy E. Washington Street corner (alternative may be to have an indoor entry/atrium), running Market Lane through the property (a member hoped it could be an entire pedestrian area), and creating diagonal parking on only one side of Market Lane (one member suggested that it should be parallel parking on both sides of the street.

The Committee seems to be divided on whether the Public Market should be situated along the railroad tracks and park. However, the property owners prefer placing the apartments on the park and the Public Market on the more visible, accessible street corner. City staff have expressed their support of the current Public Market placement.

The Committee also discussed two updated design mock-ups for the building’s exterior. There was a lot of discussion, differing opinions, and recommendations on the designs. Overall, the Committee preferred the building design pictured in the featured image at the top of this page. However the Committee recommended that a special Committee meeting be scheduled to refine the building design to better reflect a vibrant and engaging Public Market that represents Madison.

While there is still work to be done on finalizing building design, the Committee took a big step forward in approving the site plan concept. Never before has our Public Market been so close to becoming a reality.



Minneapolis’ Midtown Global Market embraces a neighborhood of many cultures

Many aspects of our Madison Public Market were influenced by successful markets across the country. One Market that demonstrates success in entrepreneurship, multi-culture experience, and strong urban development is right next door – the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Friends of the Madison Public Market member James Shulkin, visited the Global Market and has a few insights to share.

A highlight of my recent trip to Minneapolis was a stop at the Midtown Global Market, a 70,000 square foot small business incubator operating since 2006. The Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), along with other non-profits, redeveloped the formerly vacant Sears regional distribution center in the heart of a challenged neighborhood in South Minneapolis. NDC offers entrepreneur training, small business lending, business support/coaching and commercial real estate development. NDC has since trained more than 4000 entrepreneurs, lent more than $7.1 million and has more than 120 small businesses operating in five area incubators across the Twin Cities. In turn, these companies employ over 2200 persons and contribute $29 million to the local economy.

The Midtown Global Market is an internationally themed public market featuring more than 45 small businesses selling fresh produce, crafts, grocery items, bakery and prepared restaurant items. The market attracts visitors who come for the internationally themed, family oriented events regularly held there. Home to over 45 businesses spanning over 22 cultures, the Market provides a global experience by offering extraordinary tastes, locally made arts and crafts as well as music and dance programs throughout the week. Over 1.5 million patrons visit Midtown Global Market each year.

Market founders cite the profound economic difficulties faced by area residents, many of whom are residents of color and recent immigrants (Hmong, Hispanic and East African). Over 32 percent of the population live below the poverty level, and the unemployment rate is 12 percent. Median family income is $18,092. 78.4 percent of housing is occupied by renters.

While these economic barriers are daunting, the Market organizers make note of the impact the Market has made as an economic engine. As testament to the value an enterprise like this has for the community, the organizers confidently state that the project has re-vitalized the neighborhood and has created a dynamic and safe community gathering place offering organic foods and vegetables in a previously underserved area. The corresponding impact on reducing crime and improving the surrounding community’s image has been profound.

What elements of Madison’s cultural diversity do you believe should be represented at the Madison Public Market? What kind of products, cultural events and educational events would you like to see? Our goal is to create a fun and welcoming market that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness.

There’s already been tremendous interest among a very diverse group of potential vendors, especially among those who’ve applied for the MarketReady Program. We are very excited about that! Check back soon for an update on the status of MarketReady.

Read more about the Midtown Global Market and the Neighborhood Development Center at http://midtownglobalmarket.org/