Update: Alder looks to close latest funding gap

The Cap Times reported on September 19 that Alder Sabrina Madison intends to submit an amendment to the 2023 Capital Budget, seeking to further fund the construction of the Market. She and others will ask that an additional $1.6M be approved.

“I am interested in seeing the project through because I believe the economic and social impact it will have on the city is immeasurable,” said Madison, the alder for District 17, who was a member of the Market Ready Advisory Committee in 2017 to help select the entrepreneurs who will take part in the eventual market.

The City of Madison has two options in regard to the low bid by the contractor.  The first is to do nothing, in which case the project will not move forward.  The second is to amend the 2023 Capital Budget in the weeks ahead to add $1,641,071 to the Public Market budget. Alder Madison’s proposed amendment meets that condition.

Moving forward, the Council will likely introduce the resolution at the October 3rd Common Council meeting to both approve the bid/contract and amend the 2023  Capital Budget Public Market project by a minimum of $1,641,071.  The resolution would be referred to Board of Public Works on October 4th, to Finance Committee on October 9th, and back to Council for action on October 17th.

You can read the Cap Times article here.

In Memoriam: Leslie Watkins

Leslie Watkins

We mourn the passing of our friend and former Madison Public Market Foundation board member Leslie Watkins. She died March 5, 2023 at her Madison home surrounded by family and friends after a battle with pancreatic cancer. A Wisconsin State Journal article describes her as “the brightest light in any room”. Leslie was an entrepreneur, marketing expert, community advocate, retail guru and arts impresario. With her stationery store Paperteria, she became one of the first female African American retailers in Downtown Madison. She will be missed by many friends, family and associates.

Madison Public Market Foundation announces major private funding partners

CUNA Mutual Group, Boardman Clark, Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation among others provide major investments in the construction of the Madison Public Market

The Madison Public Market Foundation is pleased to announce that over the course of the last few years, a variety of corporate and philanthropic leaders have provided gifts to the Madison Public Market’s construction project, providing significant impetus towards making Madison’s first public market a reality. Among the list of prominent contributors is CUNA Mutual Group, who along with the City of Madison, State of Wisconsin, and Dane County, has provided a lead gift to the project.

CUNA Mutual Group’s generous gift of $1.5 million, one of several donations by Madison-area companies and foundations, is made specifically towards the creation of a proposed food innovation facility. To be known as TruStage MarketReady Hall, the facility will be located within the Public Market. Recently, CUNA Mutual Group announced its plans to unify its businesses under the single, TruStage brand, in 2023.

“CUNA Mutual Group believes a brighter financial future should be accessible to all,” said Robert N. Trunzo, president and CEO of CUNA Mutual Group. “We’re excited to invest in this project and support an innovative facility that will help our community’s entrepreneurs access the critical space and equipment they need to create and maintain thriving businesses in Madison.”

Many entrepreneurs who dream of scaling up their businesses, such as food carts and catering services, face insurmountable barriers due to the high cost of commercial kitchen facilities. TruStage MarketReady Hall will provide affordable access to specialized commercial equipment and facilities, assisting entrepreneurs in taking their food-based business to the next level of production and success. One of the benefits of locating a shared commercial production kitchen within the Public Market is the community and entrepreneurial support that will be built into the facility. TruStage MarketReady Hall is an integral component of the proposed Madison Public Market, a vital public gathering place intended to support diverse, minority-owned businesses, create jobs and new businesses, while creating a vibrant, welcoming celebration of food and culture.

According to Karen Crossley, Madison Public Market Foundation Board President, the CUNA Mutual Group gift, in addition to a variety of other private investments, has offers a significant boost to the Market’s fundraising activity.  Importantly, it enables the Public Market to support entrepreneurs in an inclusive, community-based facility that will provide major impact for the growth of small and minority-owned businesses. “We are very excited that Madison Public Market has been a priority among philanthropic leaders and that CUNA Mutual Group sees the Market to be complementary to the company’s purpose to make brighter financial futures accessible to all. We are confident that TruStage MarketReady Hall will support a variety of regional and local entrepreneurs and startups, offering significant economic benefits to many companies and individuals.”

The Madison Public Market wishes to acknowledge the generous gifts of a variety of donors. Thanks to the support of the following contributors, and a total of 300 gifts to the Market from

individuals, companies, and foundations, the Madison Public Market Foundation has achieved its goal of raising $3 million in support. Major contributors to the project include lead gifts from City of Madison, State of Wisconsin, Dane County and CUNA Mutual Group, as well as:

$100,000 – $500,000

  • Boardman Clark
  • Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation
  • Anonymous Donor

$10,000 – $99,000

  • Madison Gas & Electric Foundation
  • Evjue Foundation
  • Heartland Credit Union
  • Old National Bank
  • Madison Community Foundation
  • American Family Insurance Company
  • Hooper Corporation
  • Dan and Natalie Erdman
  • Karen and Alan Crossley
  • Laura Heisler and Steve Goldstein
  • Willa Schlecht
  • Trey and Shelly Sprinkman
  • Sue Goldwomon

Community members who have not yet contributed are still welcome to give. The Madison Public Market Foundation has recently launched a finale funding campaign – Ready, Set, Market! – to raise a final $500,000 to set up our vendors for success, to create culturally rich community spaces and to ensure the Market thrives beginning on day one. Everyone who gives during this

brief campaign will be named on our “Global Table” donor wall at the Market. To donate, visit madisonpublicmarket.org.

About the Madison Public Market

The 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, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization which will operate the Madison Public Market. The City is in the process of preparing construction bids to renovate the existing structure, a 1960s era industrial garage ideally designed and sized for the proposed Market activities. The Market is intended to be a cherished and inclusive community gathering space with food, art, music, and events that will bring an estimated 500,000 people together each year.

The Madison Public Market Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that will manage and operate the Market.

Market construction is expected to begin in late 2023. Completion is expected in early 2025. To learn more about the proposed Madison Public Market, visit www.MadisonPublicMarket.org.


Madison Community Foundation funds Market’s art expressions

The Madison Public Market Foundation is pleased to have been named a recipient of a $40,000 grant from the Madison Community Foundation (MCF). Announced on December 28, 2022, MCF offered total of $697,500 in grants to 12 nonprofits throughout the Madison area. The grants address opportunities and support organizations are in five focus areas, which include learning, community development, arts and culture, environment, and organizational capacity building. To support “Art, History and Culture”, the MCF grant will be used by the Madison Public Market Foundation to support art at the Public Market, particularly works celebrating Madison’s Indigenous, Black, Hmong and Latinx artists and communities. Read more.

Mayor’s Statement on the Passage of the 2023 Budget and Public Market Funding

I am very glad that the Common Council took another look at the plans for the Madison Public Market and gave it some thoughtful consideration. The Council expressed strong support for the Market Ready participants and I agree that the equity and empowerment aspects of the project are its most exciting features. I look forward to the Public Market becoming a reality.

This budget puts our money where our values are, building a better Madison that will be strong and resilient for years to come. I thank the Common Council for unanimously adopting the budget.  – Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

Source:  Mayor’s Office, City of Madison, November 17, 2022

Great news! Common Council votes 17 – 3 to save the Public Market

Great News! The City’s Common Council alders voted 17 – 3 to request $4.5 million from the TID #36!  Initially, Alders Syed Abbas, Regina Vidaver and Nasra Wehelie proposed using up to $6 million from a robust TIF district on the East Washington Avenue corridor to close the gap, but the council on Wednesday, November 16, supported an option to deliver $4.5 million in TIF given the county’s contribution and the potential for other savings. This vote is an extremely important vote of confidence for the Market’s construction, and allows us to actively plan for construction. Visit the In the News page to read the media coverage for this important development.

Common Council could decide fate of the Public Market – Call to action for 11/15 Council Meeting

This is the final moment!

The fate of the Madison Public Market and the many opportunities for building equity-based wealth in Greater Madison will be decided by the City’s Common Council next week.

There is a path forward for the Public Market!

Over the last few weeks, there has been renewed energy and public support for the Market.

City Alders Syed Abbas, Regina Vidaver, and Nasra Wehelie have proposed a budget amendment to the City’s 2023 Capital Budget that provides up to $6 million to cover the Market’s unexpected funding gap. The Madison Common Council will vote THIS WEEK on this amendment. If it’s approved into the capital budget, the Public Market will FINALLY break ground next spring.
We need your help one last time!

As the Common Council considers additional funding for the Market, it’s important that we the public share one more time why the Public Market is important to you.

1. Attend tomorrow’s 11/15 Capital Budget Public Hearing at 5:30pm in person and register to speak or simply register in support but not wishing to speak. (details below)

2. Attend tomorrow’s 11/15 Capital Budget Public Hearing at 5:30pm virtually and register to speak (details below)

3.  If you aren’t able to attend the Public Hearing, email the Council at [email protected] by 5pm tomorrow (more details below)

Take Action by 5pm Tomorrow!
1. Attend tomorrow’s (11/15) Common Council Capital Budget Public Hearing in person.
City-County Building
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Room 201

You can register in support and speak, you can register in support and not speak, or you can register in support and be available for questions. All of these options are highly impactful. Make sure that somewhere on the registration form you write that you are in support of the Public Market amendment.

2. Attend tomorrow’s (11/15) Common Council Capital Budget Public Hearing virtually and register to speak in support of the Market. You can register online by clicking here.

3. If you aren’t able to attend the meeting in person or virtually, then send an email to [email protected] by tomorrow at 5pm. Simply state that you support the Madison Public Market funding amendment and provide your home address. 1-2 sentences is all that is needed.

Urgent and Immediate Call To Action: Save the Madison Public Market!

We need your help! To help convince Mayor Rhodes-Conway and Common Council members that the community is solidly behind the Public Market, a groundswell of support must be shown. 

The Public Market Foundation has fulfilled its commitment to raise a significant amount of money for the project, developed a brand and marketing strategy, worked with City staff to complete the design process, and engaged the community to create a strong foundation for a successful Market. The project is shovel-ready!

Despite the progress made to bring our dream to fruition, the proposed Madison Public Market is again in danger!  

A sudden and unexpected funding crisis has developed. Recently, the City withdrew its application from a $3.45M Federal Government Economic Development Administration grant opportunity, a vital part of the funding plan. Because of the nearly two-year pandemic-induced delay, anticipated costs of construction subject to inflation may add an estimated $1.8M. The project now has a $5.25M gap in funding.

The Mayor’s 2023 capital budget reauthorizes the current $7M in TID funding, but does not include additional City dollars to fill the $5.25M gap. As the Market is a City project, we must implore the City to immediately fill the funding gap to keep the project moving forward. The $5.25M can come from the E. Washington Corridor TID#36, instead of general borrowing. This TID is spinning off $10M annually for the next five years, meant to be reinvested in city economic develoment projects. The Public Market is a perfect use for these dollars.

Market funding will be discussed by City Alders when the capital budget goes to the Finance Committee in mid-September. This is our chance to have the additional $5.25M amended to the 2023 City capital budget. 

Your supportive emails to the Common Council members are crucial, now more than ever. Please ask them to add $5.25M to the 2023 Capital budget. If this doesn’t occur, the Market will face yet another significant delay. Your messages to the Alders should occur prior to the September 12 Finance Committee meeting, and again before they meet to approve the Capital Budget on September 28. Messaging should continue as often as possible until such time that the Common Council votes on the Capital Budget in November.

A quick note to the alders is great! Please clearly say that you are strongly supportive of the Madison Public Market. If you wish to say more, we have provided “talking points” you may wish to use in your communications with the Alders. Write to them at: 

Common Council Alders: [email protected] or  https://www.cityofmadison.com/Council/contact/

To find email addresses of your individual Council Alder: https://www.cityofmadison.com/Council/councilMembers/alders.cfm


Madison Public Market Foundation Receives $4 Million Neighborhood Investment Fund Grant

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. 


Year End Update: 2022 will be the year that our Public Market breaks ground!


As we look ahead to a new year, we are more hopeful than ever that our Public Market will FINALLY become a reality in Madison. We can’t thank you enough, donors and friends, for continuing to support and believe in this exciting project.

Our progress continues toward a groundbreaking in fall of 2022. Our forward momentum includes:

  • New community supporters: Despite the challenges, the community continues to help us move the Market forward. We’ve received support from a variety of generous corporate and philanthropic leaders in 2021. (see below)
  • State funding opportunities: Both the City of Madison and the Madison Public Market Foundation submitted grants for WI recovery funding. Because of construction delays and other unforeseen challenges, the project has a funding gap that can be mostly filled by these opportunities.
  • Federal EDA grant: Throughout 2021, City staff have been meeting with representatives at EDA to secure this important federal funding. We expect a final award in early 2022.
  • Weekly progress: For the last year, the City of Madison staff and Madison Public Market Foundation have been meeting every week to keep the project moving forward. We greatly appreciate our wonderful team at the City.

We are so close to putting shovels in the ground, and it’s critical that we are successful. We continue to receive requests for affordable space in the Market, as businesses struggle and look for options.

Together, we can build a community-focused iconic destination that celebrates the best of Madison, supports 100+ small businesses every year, and puts minority-owned businesses front and center.

If you haven’t already, please consider the Market for your seasonal giving. The more folks who join with us, the sooner we can open the doors.

Happy Holidays and New Year!
Jamaal Stricklin, Chair
Madison Public Market Foundation