New program prepares business owners for Madison’s future public market

New program prepares business owners for Madison’s future public market
Photo courtesy of the City of Madison and Graham Babba Architects

A new program is grooming a diverse group of Madison-based entrepreneurs and first-time business owners for a public market slated to open in 2019.

Thirty people were selected to participate in the MarketReady program, run by the Feed Kitchen and funded by the city of Madison with $250,000.

Ian Aley, coordinator of the MarketReady program, said it’s important that businesses representing different cultures are included in the market.

“There are people that are making body care products. There are people that are doing prepared food, snacks, everything from egg rolls to tamales to traditional Indian clothing. It’s just across the spectrum,” Aley said.

Members of the cohort will learn marketing skills, develop business plans and receive assistance on applying for permits. Over the next two years, participants will receive one-on-one training and also meet in groups.

Carmell Jackson currently runs a soul food catering company called Melly Mell’s and is looking to expand her business with the help of the program. Jackson previously owned a restaurant but had to close her business due to illness and a lack of resources.

“I feel that I succeeded but I failed when it came to all the stress and the headaches of trying to keep that business open without that working capital and that support that I needed that I’m hoping the public market will bring,” Jackson said.

Aley said all members are not guaranteed a spot in the public market, but participating in the program increases their chances of becoming official vendors.

At the end of the program, five entrepreneurs will be given $17,000 each to help run their businesses.

Official vendors for the public market will be announced in fall 2018.