The goal for Communities United was not to organize or manage an ongoing market. The goal was to find ways to connect entrepreneurs to existing market opportunities...
The origins of this project were in two earlier initiatives that emerged out of the Communities United neighbourhoods - Make It Bake It Grow It and EdmontonEats. These two initiatives identified and moved on community members' concerns and hopes around food security, entrepreneurship, and building cultural connections, and they set the stage for future partnerships and projects focused on supporting local entrepreneurs.
For CU, the goal was not to organize or manage an ongoing market. The goal was to find ways to connect entrepreneurs to existing market opportunities, to enhance their business skills, and to work with professionals and organizations that already had market expertise.
Introducing, The Public - Alberta’s Food Incubation Hub.
The Public is a union of two Edmonton businesses, Wild Heart Collective and Makespace, working to serve entrepreneurs and support the growing local food economy. Most importantly for CU, The Public is a group of experienced entrepreneurs with extensive connections in Edmonton’s business sector, and the creators of a number of vibrant, successful, and innovative markets, kitchens, and retail pop-ups.
CU and Action for Healthy Communities (AHC) were looking for local expertise and a connection to vibrant markets, and The Public was looking for new ways to engage with and support entrepreneurs. It was a perfect match.
With CU financial support, and AHC and CU connections to local entrepreneurs, The Public developed the curriculum for Market Ready, a hands-on, immersive program aimed at founders and startups building emerging food, hospitality, and retail brands. The Public delivered two rounds of programming in 2021 and, with the addition of some provincial funding that CU obtained, Markets 101 and Markets 201 were also developed.
CU was always clear that The Public would own these programs - as the goal was to have them continue beyond 2022.
This outcome is an example of partners focusing on what their strengths are, doing what they each do best, and coming together to create something innovative. Not only does The Public organize markets, they now have deeper connections to communities of new entrepreneurs and the tools to support and equip those entrepreneurs as they expand their market reach.
“The model that Communities United uses is really to provide the resources, provide funding, provide guidance, but then trust us to deliver that program the way we know best.”
- Peter Keith - Director of Product Operations, The Public Food Hub Co.