Study says La Crosse could support a Public Market

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- For La Crosse Economic Development Planner Andrea Schnick, the idea of bringing a public market to the city was built from the ground up.

"I heard from several members of the community that this was something they would like to see in the city of La Crosse. So in order to make sure that it was successful we wanted to speak with a consultant," said Schnick.

That consultant was Aaron Zaretsky, who has worked with over 30 cities around the world helping building public markets.

This week, the city released a 112-page study authored by Zaretsky on the feasibility of bringing a market to La Crosse.

"There's about 20 different criteria that go into finding an ideal situation where a public market is likely to thrive. And we went through all those different criteria for La Crosse and pretty much in every one of those criteria La Crosse really stood out," said Zaretsky.

Unlike farmers markets, public markets are open year round for 6-7 days a week and are often located within a building.

"This would be a much larger, fresh food component, ethnic food component with some retail as well," said Schnick. "But more geared towards the fresh and healthy foods."

Now that the study has been complete the city will move onto the next phase.

The next step is to find a site for the potential public market.

Schnick says next month city officials and consultants will begin scouring the city looking for the perfect location.

"We'll look all the way from the southside of the city to the northside. So Bridgeview Plaza, Valley View Mall. We want to get a really comprehensive overview of the city and then start digging in on to some key sites," said Schnick.

According to Zaretsky, a good location is essential to having a successful market.

"They create millions of dollars in new tax revenue, scores of new entrepreneurial opportunity and hundreds of new jobs," said Zaretsky.

Once a possible site is determined, Schnick says the next step would be to create a business plan for the market.

She says best case scenario, residents in the Coulee Region could see a public market open up within the next couple of years.