City of
Madison

District 12

Alder Syed Abbas

Image of Alder Syed Abbas,
Council Vice President

Alder Syed Abbas,
Council Vice President

Contact Information

Home Address:

P.O. Box 7671
Madison , WI 53707

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Abbas’ Blog

Madison Public Market

August 31, 2020 12:08 PM

Dear Neighbors, 

As you may or may not be aware, the Public Market is in District 12. As the alder of this district, I would like to express my support for the public market. I have requested the Mayor's office to keep all City funding for the Public Market in the upcoming budget. Below are some reasons why I support the Public Market and why it would be a great asset for the community. 

For decades, Public Markets have been economic drivers within the communities they serve. In Madison, our Public Market will create a $20M annual economic impact that will reach across the region. The Madison Public Market team is harnessing this economic power to focus on growing entrepreneurship among diverse communities and then making these entrepreneurs visible and accessible to our entire community. For both entrepreneurs and visitors, our Public Market will provide a catalyst to individuals and families on their journey to becoming financially stable and successful. The Market emphasizes equity through entrepreneurship and is already being embraced as a place in Madison where businesses owned and operated by people of color can get their start. There is no other public facility in our community dedicated to bringing people of all backgrounds together to celebrate, prioritize, and support minority-owned businesses.

The Northside Planning Council explained it best in a recent Op-Ed: "The Madison Public Market is a public investment in building wealth for communities of color by leveraging the power of local food. We know that with robust infrastructure and policies dedicated to racial equity, local food is an effective vehicle for antiracism work.  A public market alone cannot accomplish this, but a public market centered on equity and in partnership with the Healthy Retail Access Program, FEED Kitchens, WWBIC, UW-Extension, a terminal market, numerous other partners and last-mile delivery infrastructure can play a powerful role in boosting minority entrepreneurship and wealth-building." 

The flexibility of the Public Market design enables the market model to adapt to assist small businesses with recovery and resilience. Instead of hosting weddings and other private events, the large event space could be used to support food access. Space is being reserved in the Market for temporary vendors, as many of the current 250+ interested vendors have expressed an interest in daily, weekly, or monthly rentals. While the Market will permanently house 30 businesses, the temporary vending stalls and expansive event space can serve 100+ entrepreneurs every year. 

There are plenty of models for creating an equity-based, successful public market. Other public markets in communities like Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia have assisted thousands of diverse people in achieving financial growth and attract a highly diverse audience. We know we can accomplish this in Madison too. The Madison Public Market Foundation has studied these models, visited these incredible markets, and applied their best practices to our local framework.

The Madison Public Market Foundation was asked to provide $2.5M towards the project and then an extra $500K during last year's budget cycle. The Foundation has come through with $3M in donations and pledges. They have upheld and surpassed their end of the agreement. If New Market Tax Credits are passed by and City funding is cut or eliminated, the Foundation will not be able to make up the difference, especially during a pandemic. The Foundation believes it can raise an additional $500K, but this money is critical to providing a hefty operations reserve to support the first few years of business, seed funding for programming to support diverse entrepreneurs and food access, and additional costs like outfitting the commercial kitchen, staffing area, etc. The Foundation can't extend all of its dollars raised to support capital costs without an operating reserve going into its first year of business. Monies in TID #36 were meant for building economic opportunity through infrastructure enhancements in the E. Washington Ave. corridor. No other project will build economic opportunity, especially for small businesses, like the Public Market. It is a perfect use of these funds. While this funding may be used for projects such as the Town of Madison Annexation or pay more down on the current parking facility, the long-term gains of utilizing the funding for a Public Market are unparalleled. Let's also not forget that the Fleet Services Building is in a significant flood area. Construction on the Fleet Building will include significant flood mitigation and water diversion/reuse enhancements. These improvements will make a critical impact on building flood resiliency in the area.

The City has many tough decisions to make over the next few months. There will need to be significant investment to address budget shortfalls and much needed programming to support multiple, current crises. However, after months of COVID sickness and isolation, our community needs to have something hopeful to look forward to. It's just as important as addressing the significant challenges of today. A Public Market is an important symbol of the City's prioritization and recognition of building wealth in communities of color through a space that will soon become a beloved, top destination in our community and will be "the" place to visit for a taste of Madison's culture. The project is shovel-ready, our community is ready... this is a long-term investment opportunity that we can't afford to pass by.  

Public Market

Stay safe and well,
Syed




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