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COVID-19 | FEDERAL RELIEF

Madison Public Market, Black Business Hub among biggest winners in latest round of COVID relief spending

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Gov. Tony Evers (copy) (copy)

Gov. Tony Evers' is seeking a second term this fall.

Madison and Dane County will get nearly $21 million to invest in local initiatives to boost disadvantaged communities, including the final capital funding piece for the long-sought Madison Public Market on the East Side, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday.

The funding is part of Evers’ program that uses federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The city is getting $6 million, including $2 million for the Bayview Foundation’s $52 million redevelopment of its diverse, international, low-income community at the corner of West Washington Avenue and Regent Street Downtown, and $4 million for the $16.5 million Public Market to be forged from a city-owned building at 200 N. First St.

The county will receive $14.8 million, including $5 million toward supporting entrepreneurs through the Urban League of Greater Madison’s $25.5 million Black Business Hub that will rise at the Village on Park mall on the South Side; $5 million toward expanding economic and other opportunities through the coming $38 million Center for Black Excellence and Culture on the South Side; and $4.8 million to help Centro Hispano build new facilities on the South Side.

“With this funding, we will be breaking ground this year in November,” said Madison Public Market Foundation board member Anne Reynolds. “There’s been so much uncertainty over the past two years, but now we finally have some certainty. It’s really exciting.”

The market’s financing piece is now “locked in,” said Matt Wachter, city planning, community and economic director. The city can now pursue a construction contract, contracts with the operator, the Madison Public Market Foundation, and seek other final approvals for the project, he said.

Bayview’s redevelopment includes a four-story, 48-unit apartment building now under construction, a three-story, 25-unit apartment building and eight, two-story townhouses with a total of 57 units on 4.6 acres. The idea is to move current residents into new buildings as they’re built and then demolish the older ones.

On Wednesday, Bayview announced it has exceeded its $4 million capital campaign goal and will extend the campaign in the hope of raising an additional $2 million to increase the long-term stability of programs and operations essential to the organization’s continued success and to offset the significant increase in construction costs due to the pandemic.

The capital campaign will continue, foundation executive director Alexis London said. A portion of the new state grant will go toward that, and a portion will go to housing costs that are not a part of the capital campaign, she said.

“Bayview residents were significantly affected by the pandemic; these funds will strengthen our community for years to come,” she said.

With the $5 million in state money, The Center for Black Excellence and Culture has now raised $17 million of its $36 million capital campaign in six months, said the Rev. Alex Gee, the center’s CEO and founder.

The Center is a first-of-its-kind Black-inspired, Black-designed and Black-led multimillion-dollar project in Madison and is poised to open its doors at 655 W. Badger Road in late 2023. The building will be a three-level, 65,000-square-foot destination for cultural, health, business, arts and community development.

The Urban League has now raised nearly $17.5 million for its $25.5 million Black Business Hub, and with Thursday’s announcement the nonprofit now has sufficient funds to begin construction in the next week or two, with fundraising to continue, officials said.

Centro Hispano, now located at 810 Badger Road, is looking to create new facilities that can better support its mission, Wachter said. The city has already purchased a property at 833 Hughes Place to combine with city-owned properties at 837 Hughes Place and 2405 Cypress Way to help create new facilities on the block, he said.

Targeted aid

The grants come from $250 million Evers allocated to local municipalities, counties, tribes and nonprofit health care organizations for projects meant to boost disadvantaged communities.

“I am glad to award these funds to help local leaders and community-based organizations working together to continue to serve and bolster their neighborhoods, ensuring they don’t just recover but thrive,” Evers said Thursday.

Recently, Evers announced $9 million for Beloit, $15 million for Milwaukee and $10.5 million for Milwaukee County.

Evers Grant

In total, $200 million is for a Neighborhood Investment Fund grant program and another $50 million is for a Healthcare Infrastructure Capital Investment grant program. Both programs are using money from federal COVID-19 funds, over which Evers has sole discretion as governor — a point of contention in the Legislature.

Currently, the governor has sole discretion over how federal funds are spent, but there has been a growing push among legislative Republicans seeking more control over how the executive office doles out federal funds — primarily in recent years as the federal government pumped billions of stimulus dollars into the state to help address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Republican-led Assembly approved a constitutional amendment, SJR 84/AJR 112, to give lawmakers final say over how the governor spends federal funds allocated to the state. Evers would not be able to veto that proposal.

Evers has vetoed several efforts in recent years by Republicans seeking control over federal funds.

Top 10 Wisconsin political stories of 2021 (based on what you, the readers, read)

2021 was another big year in Wisconsin politics. Sen. Ron Johnson said some things. Voters elected a new state superintendent. Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans clashed over mask mandates. Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay. Here are 10 political stories you, the readers, checked out in droves.

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Since the start of the outbreak, Gov. Tony Evers has issued multiple public health emergencies and a series of related orders. 

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Sen. Ron slammed the impeachment over the weekend as “vindictive and divisive,” and possibly a “diversionary operation” by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.

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"I wouldn’t run if I don’t think I could win," said Johnson, who is undecided on a re-election bid. 

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The board had previously not required masks in schools after some in the public voiced opposition.

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With a new order announced, Republicans may be forced to start the process all over again to vote down the governor's emergency order and accompanying mask mandate, but the most likely outcome appears to be an eventual court decision.

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Fort McCoy officials acknowledge there were initial problems with food supply, but that and other issues are being addressed.

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The idea is in its infancy and all options, including declining to pursue anything, are on the table.

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Gableman has asked the court, which plans to take up the matter on Dec. 22, to compel the two mayors to meet with him.

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Deborah Kerr said she has also voted for Republicans and tells GOP audiences on the campaign trail for the officially nonpartisan race that she is a "pragmatic Democrat."

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Limbaugh died Wednesday at 70.

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