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Year-round public market coming closer to reality in La Crosse

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — Community members, city staff, and business owners took notes from Milwaukee Public Market Co-Founder and President of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation Wendy Baumann in hopes of creating their own public market in La Crosse.

“Generally, they’re a year-round fresh food markets,” said Baumann. “Generally, it’s about individual and independent locally owned small businesses,”

La Crosse Economic Development Planner Andrea Schnick is helping guide the process of establishing a year-round public market that brings people together.

It took over ten years to develop and open the Milwaukee Public Market.

“Somewhere where everyone would go and feel included and find something new and a new experience for them there,” said Schnick.

The city hired a contractor to finish a three part, $130,000 study on creating a public market in the city which is currently in the second phase. They plan to nail down a location where a year-round public market would thrive.

“We have a very successful downtown as it is right now, and looking at the land limitations, we want to still have  adjacency to the water to the amenities downtown but something more on the fringe of downtown,” said Schnick.

At the Bridgeview Farmers Market, people enjoy selling and purchasing local produce but still entertain the idea of a year-round public market, and what it could provide.

“All kinds of produce, that would be just great,” said Shopper Joyce Osuski.

“Maybe just shop around if you’re not really doing anything just to go out,” said Vendor Justin Thaying Yang.

Suggestions for a year-round public market in La Crosse from WXOW’s Facebook post on the issue.

City officials will continue to figure out what exactly residents would want out of their public market, and how it can benefit all who walk through those doors.

“We want to show them the benefits that this is really a community builder,” said Schnick. “This is an economic driver… show them the reasons and communicate that effectively to our community to make sure that everybody is on board.”

Phase three of the process looks at potential businesses that could call the public market home. It took developers over ten years to develop the Milwaukee Public Market. City officials hope the year-round public market won’t take that amount of time. Another aspect to the project is funding which the city is currently examining now through the study. Contractors are looking at a number of different models that would fit La Crosse best.

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Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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