By Oona Mackesey-Green
Madison Public Market’s MarketReady Program collected 83 applications before the deadline to apply passed July 1. The applications flowed in over the course of a three-month outreach process within communities around Madison, with the support of community partners like Centro Hispano, Heymiss Progress, Madison Alliance for Black Economic Empowerment, Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, Latino Academy of Workforce Development, Latino Chamber of Commerce, MGE and the Urban League of Greater Madison.
MarketReady will accept 30 applicants to receive technical assistance and coaching; 15 of that cohort may also receive micro-funding through the program. Although MarketReady participants are not guaranteed a vending spot in the Madison Public Market (the Public Market’s vendor selection process has not been announced and will take place independently), the program aims to prepare new and growing entrepreneurs for the opportunity of the Public Market, as well as for other venues such as food carts and brick and mortar restaurant and retail spaces.
While many applicants hailed from the Northside — 20 percent reported living in the 53704 ZIP code — applicant demographics demonstrated a high level of interest in entrepreneurship within communities around the city, including within populations that have faced historical barriers to entrepreneurship. Fifty-nine percent of applicants identified as female, 29 percent as first-generation immigrants, 4 percent as American Indian or Alaskan Native, 14 percent as Asian, 29 percent as Black or African-American, 18 percent as Hispanic or Latino and 38 percent as White. Business ideas ranged from ready-made meals to homemade body care products to jewelry, clothing and more.
During the month of July, MarketReady coordinator Ian Aley and FEED Kitchens Manager Adam Haen invited all applicants to one-on-one meetings to discuss their business. The application evaluation process will continue through August, with an advisory committee of community members and business owners selecting the program’s 30 participants. Participants will be announced the first week of October. Applicants who are not accepted to the program will receive referrals to other sources of local financial and technical support and will remain on a waitlist for MarketReady, should space open in the future.