Imagine a place where healthy snacks are prepared for school children. Local produce is processed for salad bar programs in schools. Food entrepreneurs come for support and information. Job training for bakery and food service skills is offered to unemployed, underemployed and disadvantaged youth and adults.
The Northside Planning Council in Madison did more than just imagine such a place. For its first foray into economic development, the 20-year-old nonprofit community advocacy group decided to go “all in.”
The result is the creation of a shared-use food processing kitchen and food business incubator in the Madison area, called Food Enterprise and Economic Development Kitchens (FEED, for short).
When complete, the 5,400-square-foot FEED facility will house five commercial kitchens. And the plan is to rent the food business incubator out on an hourly rate to enable a wide variety of food businesses to start and grow. In addition to the kitchens, there will be on-site business planning and development classes, and financing assistance, offered by the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.
The Northside Planning Council’s successful fundraising campaign is now winding down. But donations are still needed and always welcome. Here’s the the FEED website.
Request for Proposals from general contractors have been issued and will be accepted until Jan. 30. And then construction should start soon on the $1,056,000 facility which will be built on property owned by Dane County Airport at 1502 Pankratz Road, Madison.
And then the vision of increased availability of locally produced, healthy and affordable food projects in south-central Wisconsin will finally become a reality for the Northside Planning Council.
Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 414-225-1817.