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Keisha Harrison named first CEO of Madison Public Market

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The Board of Directors of the Madison Public Market Foundation (MPMF) today announced that Keisha N. Harrison has been selected to serve as the Market’s first Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In this role, Harrison will have responsibility for shepherding the final phases of the facility construction, lead the tenant build-out phase, and “establish the Madison Public Market as the premier regional market location,” according to a press release. She will provide strategic, operational, and financial leadership while fulfilling the mission and vision of the MPMF and the Market – “to create a vibrant, year-round public marketplace where entrepreneurs and businesses owned and operated by women, first generation immigrants and people of color can get their start.”

Harrison comes to Madison from Indiana, where she was most recently Executive Director of the Indianapolis City Market Corporation. She led activities related to the operation and restoration of the historic city market. Duties included implementation of policies and procedures, vendor leasing operations, stakeholder collaboration, budget development and monitoring, strategic planning and organizing special events. Harrison worked to improve food access for the community with responsibility for a weekly farmers’ market operating alongside the City Market. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Dartmouth College and her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I’m thrilled to join the vibrant community of Madison as CEO of the Madison Public Market Foundation. Together, we will create a dynamic and inclusive space that celebrates local food and entrepreneurship, and brings fresh opportunities to our city,” Harrison said in a statement.

“On behalf of the Madison Public Market Foundation that will serve as the Market’s operator, the City of Madison and the community at large, we are beyond thrilled to introduce Keisha Harrison as the Madison Public Market’s first Chief Executive Officer. Keisha brings abundant skills and talents to this position, and is enthusiastically and fully committed to bringing our shared community vision for the Market to life,” MPMF president Karen Crossley said in a statement.

The Madison Public Market Foundation (MPMF), a 501(c)3 organization, has been working closely with the City of Madison, community leaders and engaged local citizens for nearly two decades to build a Public Market.  The Madison Public Market promises to be an inclusive, lively marketplace highlighting much of what makes the Madison community so special: locally grown and prepared delicious food, refreshing beverages and handcrafted artwork, jewelry, wearables, and collectibles. The Market will be a year-round public marketplace focused on supporting new entrepreneurs, especially those who are immigrants and people of color.

The Market’s TruStage MarketReady Hall will house a food -oriented entrepreneurship and business center that will support small business owners who wish to grow, scale, and create food-related products. TruStage MarketReady Hall entrepreneurs will be offered shared, affordable access to commercial food production equipment and infrastructure that are often beyond the reach of typical low-capital start-ups.

The City of Madison is currently repurposing the former Fleet Service Building at the high-traffic corner of First and East Johnson Streets along the East Washington corridor in downtown Madison. The city will maintain ownership of the building while the MPMF will oversee the daily operation of the Market, a model that mirrors similar projects around the country.

The former Fleet Services Building, located at 200 N. First Street, dates back to the 1950s. It boasts a large open space with 45,000 square feet that will house up to 30 permanent vendors, 100+ seasonal/temporary vendors annually, areas to host public/private events, a commercial kitchen, and large garage doors to welcome an open-air breeze during warmer months. Situated on 3.5 acres, the site will accommodate outdoor seating, live entertainment, food carts, and parking. To date, more than 230 applicants have expressed interest in vending within the Market.

The Market is projected to attract 500,000+ visitors each year, support 130+ local businesses, create 100 jobs, and generate $16 million in local sales annually. The renovation was initiated in December of 2023 and the Market is currently scheduled to open in late Spring 2025.