Urban League: Announces location for the Black business hub as part of partnership with the city of Madison and CDA to develop village on park

(Madison, Wis.) (Mar. 3, 2021) – Leaders from the City of Madison, the Urban League, the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and the Community Development Authority today announced a new partnership to redevelop the Village on Park, which is located at a key gateway into downtown Madison along the Park Street Corridor. The City and the CDA aim to see the Village on Park become a site which enriches the South Madison Community by serving as an economic anchor that draws social and economic resources to the area, to create business development, employment, and social enrichment opportunities for local residents.

The collaboration with the Urban League will be the catalyst for this development. After assessing, at least, a half dozen sites along the Park Street corridor, the Urban League has chosen the corner of Park Street & Hughes Place to locate the South Madison Black Business Hub. The Hub itself is an extensive community collaboration that includes not only the City, but the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, Dane County, and other key partners. The Urban League, City, and CDA staff are collaborating on the siting, design, and financial structuring of the Hub.

This Hub is being designed not only as a physical space to allow minority business owners an opportunity for a storefront location, but also to serve as a community hub and nationwide model for others to duplicate. A site which drives an entrepreneurship ecosystem that promotes the development, stabilization and growth of Black and other minority owned businesses that will spur economic development in South Madison and Dane County in general. The Urban League wants to make sure that Black and other BIPOC entrepreneurs and business owners are at the heart of redevelopment and wealth creation opportunities in South Madison. The Hub is inspired, in part, by the Sherman Phoenix located in Milwaukee, WI, and its community-driven, equitable economic empowerment model.

The Hub is currently modeled as a 50,000 to 60,000 sq. ft., three-story, Class A office building. Roughly half of the space will accommodate retail and other businesses much like the Sherman Phoenix. These tenants will range from start-ups to established business looking to expand and/or take on storefront locations for the first time. The Hub will integrate mission-based commercial and retail uses that can accommodate a wide variety of innovative economic and entrepreneurship activities including food, personal care, financial services, entertainment, government programs along with an ecosystem of business support services. The Urban League is negotiating with several other commercial tenants that will bring over 100 employees and occupy roughly 25,000 sq. ft. in the building, providing a strong anchor for long term financial viability of the project. 

“I am delighted that the City is collaborating with the Urban League and Community Development Authority in the creation of the Black Business Hub,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “This project will bring energy and opportunity to South Madison as it provides employment opportunities, supports entrepreneurs and new business, and more.”

The project received a strong jumpstart last fall with a $100,000 planning grant from Dane County followed later in the year by a $2 million funding commitment from Dane County to assist with capital costs. Just last week, the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact announced a $400,000 commitment to the project which will be used to seed a loan fund to support entrepreneurs looking to locate in the facility. In addition to funding, businesses will have access to a full complement of intensive technical assistance, including individualized coaching to develop strategic business plans, connections to other business support resources, mentorship and access to a network of culturally competent business experts.

“This partnership with the City will provide the Hub with an ideal location to achieve its objectives,” said Anthony. “We’ll be located at a highly visible intersection, just off the beltline at the getaway into downtown. Moreover, thanks to this partnership with the City, we’ll bolster our presence in the heart of Madison’s oldest African American enclave where we are already working to generate wealth and stability through our new Home Ownership 2.0 program which launched last fall.” 

The vision for The Hub emerged after more than two years of extensive engagement led by multiple stakeholders including the Urban League, which involved more than 150 civic leaders, neighborhood residents, government officials, business leaders, and others. These individuals have coalesced around a common vision – Agenda South – which seeks to ensure that the rapidly encroaching economic development is equitable, rather than gentrifying. A community advisory team of nearly 20 individuals has developed a set of guiding principles to ensure the project achieves these goals.